Original U.S. Civl War Confederate States Bormann Fused 12lb Cannon Ball - Battle of Chickamauga

Item Description

Original Item: One-of-a-kind. This is a Confederate 12lb cannon ball with a Confederate 5 1/2 second Bormann fuze. We were told that this example was excavated in Catoosa County, GA having been part of the Battle of Chickamauga (September 18–20, 1863), but we have no way to verify this information. The ball measures approximately 4.5 inches in diameter with a 14 inch circumference. Some of the markings on the fuze are legible. Overall condition is very good with fantastic eye appeal.

The Bormann fuze is named after its inventor, Belgian Army Captain Charles G. Bormann.  The Bormann time fuze was employed by the United Stated Ordnance Department as early as 1852.  The time fuze is contained in a tin and lead disk.  This disk has time markings indicated in seconds and quarter-seconds graduated up to 5 1/4 seconds.  The artillerist used a metal punch to pierce the thin metal at the desired time marking.  This exposed a section in the horseshoe-shaped horizontal mealed powder train, which is covered by a thin sheet of tin.  When the cannon discharged, the flame from the explosion ignited this powder train.  It would burn in a uniform rate in both directions, but one end would terminate in a dead-end just beyond the 5 1/4 second mark (Confederate copies are 5 1/2 seconds). The other end would continue to burn past the zero-mark, where it would travel through a channel (1) to a small powder booster or magazine.  This powder then exploded, sending the flame through a hole in the fuze underplug to the powder chamber of the projectile.  The purpose of the brass or iron fuze underplug was to form a solid base of support for the soft metal fuze, which could have easily been damaged during firing.

The Battle of Chickamauga gave Confederate General Braxton Bragg a striking tactical victory. Union General Rosecrans concentrated his army just south of Chattanooga in the valley of Chickamauga Creek by September 18. Bragg’s reinforced Army of Tennessee, which with its almost 70,000 men outnumbered Rosecrans’s Army of the Cumberland, attacked on September 19 and 20. Bragg wanted to cut Rosecrans off from Chattanooga. Then Bragg planned to trap and envelop Rosecrans. Fighting started on the September 19 as it had at Gettysburg, with a cavalry and infantry skirmish that escalated into a general engagement. There was no decisive result after the first day.

Confederate assaults on September 20, although not developing as planned, shattered part of the Union line; the breakthrough was spearheaded by Longstreet’s forces. After Rosecrans and about one-third of the Union army fled the field, George H. Thomas conducted a tenacious defense on Snodgrass Hill on the Union left and withdrew in good order. Although it was a tactical victory, Chickamauga failed to convey any long-term advantage to the Confederates.
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