British Service Small Arms Ammunition
By J.D. Winterburn

This page is based on research done by Colour Sargeant Joe Winterburn.

From the "Bombadier and Pocket Gunner" by Ralph Willett Adye, 8th Ed., 1827
"Ammunition - for small arms, in the British service, is generally packed in half barrels, each containing 1000 musquet, or 1500 carbine cartridges.  An ammunition wagon will carry 20 of these barrels, and an ammunition cart 12 of them:  their weight nearly 1cwt. each.

The cartouch boxes of the infantry are made of so many different shapes and sizes, that it is impossible to say exactly what ammunition they will contain; but most of them can carry 60 rounds."

"Musquet ammunition, &c. is now carried in a limber wagon constructed to carry 20 boxes; each empty box weighing 12 lbs. and capable of containing 1000 cartridges.  The same description of waggon carries 14 powder cases, 80lb. of powder in each case:  these boxes are contrived so as to be carried on mules.

An experienced boy will form about 1000 ball-cartridges per diem, the paper being first cut to the size; - another will pack 4000, or 400 packages of 10 cartridges in each: - another boy will fill 1000 with powder.  About 1 1/2oz. of twine is used to make and pack 1000."

Statement of the Annual Proportions of Ammunition allowed for the Exercise and Practice of Regiments of Infantry, Millitia, and Rifle Corps.
Infantry and Militia Regiments of Light Infantry
Spring Allowance, due 25th March 20 Rounds of
Ball Cartridges
30 Rounds of
Ball Cartridges
40 Rounds of
Blank Cartridges
40 Rounds of
Blank Cartridges
2 Flints 2 Flints
Autumn Allowance, due 29th September 10 Rounds of
Ball Cartridges
20 Rounds of
Ball Cartridges
20 Rounds of
Blank Cartridges
20 Rounds of
Blank Cartidges
1 Flint 1 Flint
Rifle Corps
Sixty Rounds of Ball-Cartridges and Three Flints per Man, of which Proportion Two-thirds are issued in the Spring, and the remainder in the Autumn.

N.B. It is usual to issue Materials to Rifle Corps for making up the Ball-Cartridges; and to Regiments of the Line and Militia for making up their Blank Cartridges.


British Service Musket Cartridges


"The best method of making cartidges seems to be that used in the army.  It is this, - Take the soft brown paper called whitish brown or wrapping and cut it into pieces of the form represented in Plate 1, (see illustration) which is of these dimensions; the side AB measures about six inches, BC about five and a half, and CD about two inches.
A piece of wood about the size of the ball; this is called the former:  make one end of it hollow to receive a part of the ball; lay the former upon the straight edge BC with it's hollow end about an inch from the side AB.
roll the paper partly round the former;
then with the ball press in the corner of the paper so as to cover the hollow end of the former;
and keeping fast the ball, roll on till the paper is all wrapped round the former;
having before taken a piece of twine and fastened its two ends to something that will not easily be moved, and so far apart as to leave it slack, you are now to take with the twine a singe turn around the paper, below the ball;
then running in the end of your forefinger till it touches the ball, pull upon the string that it may girt the paper, and by turning round the former, with one hand you will presently form a neck below the ball;
which being afterwards tied with a piece of coarse thread,
will secure the ball from slipping out; the withdrawing the former, the cartridge is ready to be charged with powder;
in doing which you must put in more becasue part of it is to be taken for priming;  having properly filled the cartridge, twist the top, and work is done.  The size of the paper above described will server for a one ounce ball; if your ball be less, the paper may be somewhat smaller.  One thing should be remembered, that if the cartridge exactly fits your firelock when the barrel is perfectly clean, it will be too large, and difficult to be rammed down, when it becomes foul by firing; and 'tis dangerous firing when the ball is not rammed well home; for this therefore you are to make allowance."

The finished product,
ready to be loaded into a musket

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