Artifact of the Month Collections Naval History

May 2016 Artifact of the Month | Naval Grapeshot


By Jodi Frederiksen
Collections Manager

At the outset of the Civil War, the South was faced with the challenge of supplying its army and navy with munitions, which were acquired largely by three means: capture, manufacture, or purchase from abroad.  The last of these was the least reliable, particularly after the South was blockaded by the Union Navy in 1861.  As southern states seceded, Federal arsenals were captured, and their contents confiscated for use by burgeoning southern forces. When the Confederate government moved to Richmond, the Ordnance Department was formed under Colonel Josiah Gorgas.  Drawings like the one below, of naval grapeshot, were used like blueprints to standardize the manufacture of munitions.  The large spherical shot in this canister was designed to tear into the sides of naval vessels.  Guns, shot, and powder were produced at times during the war in Richmond, as well as in arsenals in Macon, Charleston, Salem, and Atlanta. 

The Artifact of the Month is on display in the lobby of our White House and Museum of the Confederacy location. Come see it for yourself!

Find other interesting artifacts by searching the Museum’s collection here