|Description and Photograph||
The extremely rare pack of cartridges shown here was made at the Confederate Arsenal in Augusta, Georgia; known simply as the Augusta Arsenal.
When war was forced upon the South she was ill prepared. There was not a single sizable powder mill within the Southern States. When supplies from the North and abroad were cut off early in the War, this deficiency was keenly felt. Without powder, the South was defenseless, disaster loomed. And that disaster was not far off; it was estimated that the Confederacy had no more than one month’s supply of powder.
Colonel George Washington Rains was selected by Confederate President Jefferson Davis to establish a powder mill with all haste. Davis selected well. Colonel Rains, in record time, established one of the largest and most efficient powder mills in the world. While the need of powder was the impetus that drove the establishment at Augusta, eventually all manner of ammunition and accoutrements were produced at the facility.
During the War, tens of millions of cartridges were produced as the Augusta Arsenal. Each of these cartridges had to be individually wrapped, then rewrapped ten to a package along with twelve percussion caps, and finally, one hundred of these ten-packs were packed in waterproof protective wooden crates for shipment to the front. Like the pack of cartridges shown here, each packet of cartridges had to be labeled with the type and caliber of the enclosed ammunition as well as the date and location of issuance. The preprinted label shows that these were made early in the War, 1862; the lack of information that was placed on cartridge packs made later, which would show the month and the gauge or caliber, were not yet in use. This is a witness to the newness of the enterprise.
Even though tens of millions were made, these cartridges are extremely rare today, between the needs of War, the post war need of powder and lead, and especially given their fragility almost none survived intact. Not only has this packet survived the intervening years, it has done so in spectacular condition. The cartridge packet and its label are in excellent original condition; it would be virtually impossible to upgrade this example because, this is simply the very best!
For a history of the Confederacy’s use of the shotgun see http://oldsouthantiques.com/osnfsp6.htm