Reply To: Cartridge Size at the Battle of the Nile, 1798

Home Forums Nautical Research: 1500 – 1830 Cartridge Size at the Battle of the Nile, 1798 Reply To: Cartridge Size at the Battle of the Nile, 1798

David Manthey

I’ve collected a number of references which can show the ranges produced with different gunpowders and shot. One, which is based on data compiled at Woolwich, is Adye, Ralph Willet, “The Bombardier, and Pocket Gunner.” Boston: E. Larkin, 1804. He gives “Ranges with Sea Service Iron Guns. 1796”, which includes a table where the charges are typically either 1/3 or 1/4 of the weight of the ball. For 32 pounders, elevate at 2 degrees and use 1/3 the ball weight as the charge to get an expected range of 1200 yards (single shot, range to first graze). Using 1/4 the weight, you get a range of 1000 yards. He goes on with different elevations and expected ranges.

Robertson, John, “A Treatise of Mathematical Instruments.” London: printed for J. Nourse, 1775, gives some artificial textbook examples where he uses changes that are 2/3 the weight of the ball (16lb of powder with a 24lb ball), but his ranges are clearly maths exercises and not based on reality.

Smith, George. “An Universal Military Dictionary,” London: J. Millan, 1779, gives a “Table of fittest charges for various guns” where the charges are either 1/2 or 1/3 the weight of the ball, with 1/3 being the more common. For a 32 lb ball, 10 lb 12 oz of powder yields a measured range of 2103 yards at 5 degrees and 2118 yards at 5 degrees 30 minutes.

d’Antoni, Alessandro Vittorio Papacino and Captain Thompson, trans. “A Treatise on Gun-powder; a Treatise on Firearms; and a Treatise on the Service of
Artillery in Time of War,” London: T. and J. Egerton, 1789, gives examples with 32lb (Piedmont, about 26lb English) with charges ranging from 11 lb 8oz to 18 lb (English — the translation converts the charges, but not the ball). Some of d’Antoni’s earlier works use 8 to 12 lb Piedmont for charges for a 32 lb ball.