Saturday, August 20, 2011

Close Only Counts With Grenades

The Ketchum Hand Grenade, used by the Union Army was patented August 20th 1861 by William F Ketchum.

The Ketchum Hand Grenade was a cast iron ball with cardboard fins to stabilize it in flight. The percussion cap which set off the powder charge was in the noise of the grenade, and would go off when it landed. They often didn’t land right and so didn’t detonate. The Ketchum’s came in three sizes 1, 3 and 5 pounds. It had three pieces, a plunger, the casing and a tailpiece. The Ketchum had to be thrown in an arc, so that it would land nose first and the plunger would cause detonation.

William Ketchum demonstrated his grenade for the army, throwing it like a dart and hitting targets which exploded with high power. When Union troops used them, however they found the grenades had weaknesses. As seen from the Confederate side, Lieutenant Howard C Wright said that the grenades started “falling among the Arkansas troops they did not know what to make of them, and the first few which they caught not having burst, they threw them back upon the enemy in the ditch. This time many of them exploded.”

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