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Ketchum Hand Grenade

Louis

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The Ketchum Hand Grenade was a type of grenade used in the American Civil War.

Patented by Mr. William F. Ketchum of Buffalo, NY in August, 1862, the artifact exhibits an elongated form with a center swell that tapers to a round opening at each end.- A small tubular device of soft metal with a flange (similar to an engine cylinder valve) was fitted to the impact end (nose) that accommodated a nipple for holding a percussion cap. Nipple is still visible when flange is removed.- The powder charge was placed in the shell and when ready, a wooden shaft fitted with four pasteboard or thin wooden fins was inserted into the opposite end of the grenade.- The fins stabilized the grenade’s flight and assured it landed nose first, which was required for detonation; this requirement also made them largely inefficient.- They were manufactured in one, three, and five pound sizes.-

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They were used in battles such as Vicksburg and Petersburg.- Union forces who used the Ketchum grenade in great numbers in their attacks at Port Hudson found its limitations. Many failed to explode when thrown into the Confederate defenses, and were subsequently thrown back into Union positions.- The Confederates also devised a method to render the Ketchum useless by rigging blankets to catch the grenades.-

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