Augusta Arsenal Grenade Tubes


Description and Photograph




     The box shown here measures 11 X 11 X 7 approximately.  This is intentionally not an exact measurement so that it cannot be copied accurately.

     It is marked Imp-rd Grenade Tubes 100 and AA on opposite sides.  Also, painted on one side is the numeral 3, this presumably meaning box “3” of a larger shipment.  The AA stands for Augusta Arsenal and the “Imp-rd”, improved Grenade Tubes.  The tubes were Gabriel Rains’ invention; also referred to as “sensitive tubes.”  The sensitive tubes were used in grenades, land mines and torpedoes. 

     The Augusta Arsenal kept daily report ledgers, though not all reports survive.  The ledger begins in June, 1863, but it was not until the fourth quarter of 1863 that hand grenades appear in the ledger, when 1,100 were sent to Charleston, South Carolina.   

     The ledger records individual steps in the fabrication process.  For example the June 17, 1864 “wants” list show the need for “1000 Hand Grenade guide sticks and 1000 tin tubes.”  These tin tubes that are referred to are Gabriel Rains Improved Grenade Tubes.  Production varied considerably, from 150 to 1750 per month.  However as the War settled down to a  close quarter siege, the production stepped up until a total of 8,550 hand grenades were produced in the last twelve months of the War.  These were shipped to Atlanta, Wilmington, Charleston and Richmond.  One entry lists 200 sensitive tubes finished, 500 cut off for grenades, thus the grenades used a shorter version of the sensitive tube than those used in the land mines and torpedoes.

     In the schematic shown below, the top image is captioned “sensitive tube ready to be inserted in tin tube” the second reads “Tin tube ready to receive sensitive tube” and the third reads “sensitive tube fixed in tin tube, the tin tube is inserted in grenade first.”  The second image shows a longitudinal view of the Rains grenade with the tube inserted.  The third shows a complete grenade made at the Augusta Arsenal. (The schematics and much of this information comes from the preeminent work on the Augusta Arsenal, “Never for Want of Powder”)

     The box is the only known survivor of what was approximately 85 boxes used to ship the grenade tubes to the various fronts.  This particular box was found in the same Quartermaster Depot Sheds in Washington, Georgia that contained a group of canteens and crates leftover from the War.  The time capsule’s history was described in North South Trader Magazine’s issue number 1, Volume 37.     




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