On April 3, 1812, Wellington is writing to Lord Liverpool about the shrapnel shells which are being used by the British and Portuguese against the French in the siege of Badajoz. Shrapnel shells are an anti-personal weapon. In other words, they are designed specifically to kill soldiers from a great distance. In 1812, these shells were still relatively new. They were developed in 1784 by Lieutenant Shrapnel of the Royal Artillery whose name they bear. His shell was a hollow cast-iron sphere filled with a metal balls, powder and a crude time fuse. The objective was to time the lighting of the fuse so that the shell would break open near the target and release the musket balls. The explosive charge would scatter the shot and fragments of the shell casing. The shells thus increased the range of canister shot. They were first used in 1804 by the British. Wellington used them in his Peninsular campaigns and later at Waterloo. On April 3, 1812, he is writing to Lord Liverpool about the modifications he has made to the shrapnel shells so that they are more lethal. The letter to Lord Liverpool is reproduced below.
I enclose the answer which I have received from Marshal Sir William Beresford, on the reference made to him by your Lordship's desire, respecting the value of the spherical case shot called Shrapnell's shells. Since I wrote to your Lordship on that subject , I have heard that they have been very destructive to the enemy in Badajoz, when thrown from 24 pounder carronades; and I have directed that some of them may be loaded with musket balls in order to remedy what I have reason to believe is a material defect in these shells, viz., that the wounds which they inflict do not disable the person who receives them even for the action in which they are received.
I have the honor to be &c
Are you sure that he meant to make the shells more deadly through this method? Or did he believe that the musket balls would deliver a more clean wound that wouldn't lead to severe infection??ReplyDelete
ex) that the wounds which they inflict do not disable the person who receives them even for the action in which they are received."
never mind, I read that wrong!ReplyDelete