During the middle of
April, the 18th Ohio
had occupied the prosperous little Alabama
town of Athens,
whose population was about 900. On May 1, a 112-man Confederate cavalry force
arrived at Athens and forced the Ohioans to make
a hasty retreat to Huntsville.
The cavalrymen "were greeted with cheers & a waving of hats & handkerchiefs by
the citizens on the square." Reports indicated that some of the townsfolk may
have fired on the fleeing Yankees from the windows of their houses.
The next morning Turchin and his entire brigade marched into
without opposition, for the Confederate horsemen had left as rapidly as they had
arrived. What happened next has become known as the "Rape of Athens". Turchin
assembled his men and told them: "I shut my eyes for two hours. I see nothing."
He then rode to a meadow outside of town and stayed there for the remainder of
the day as his soldiers looted the town and terrorized its citizens.
After rampaging through stores
and filling their pockets with jewelry and money, the soldiers plundered private
homes. At least one girl was raped, and the violent behavior of the soldiers
caused a pregnant woman to suffer a miscarriage and die.
Turchininoff, soldier, born in the
province of Don,
30 January, 1822. He entered the artillery-school at
in 1836, was graduated in 1841, and entered the horse-artillery service as an
ensign, he participated in the Hungarian campaign, in 1849 entered the military
academy for officers of the general staff, was graduated in 1852, and was
assigned to the staff of the Imperial guards. During the Crimean war he was
promoted till he reached the grade of colonel, was senior staff-officer of the
active corps, and prepared the plan that was adopted for the defence of the
coast of Finland.
He came to the United States
in 1856, and was employed in the engineer department of the Illinois Central
railroad company until 19
June, 1861, when he was appointed colonel of the 19th
was born and raised in Selma,
Alabama and served four years in the USAF and 11 years
Alabama Army National Guard. He holds a Bachelor and Master degree in History
University, with work passed the masters at the
University of Alabama
and USMA West Point, New York.
<>He married the Carol Sue Cruse Ikerman of Little Rock and have a
total of 14 children and grandchildren. He retired from the
of North Alabama
after 38 years in the
Top : A one pound U.S.
Ketchum grenade - Patented by
Bottom: A 2-1/2" C.S.
Selma Arsenal Grenade - Inventor unknown.
THE FIRST HAND GRENADES
During the Civil War, two kinds of hand grenades were made, but they
saw little use in combat. One of them, patented in August 1861, carried a
percussion cap and an activating "plunger" that was not inserted until it was
about to be thrown. Rated as effective at a distance of about twenty-six yards,
this explosive piece was known by the name of its inventor, Ketchum.
A more sophisticated grenade,
"the Excelsior," was developed in 1862 by
Hanes. Its cast-iron shell held fourteen nipples, to
each of which a percussion cap was attached before it was thrown. Hanes
insisted, correctly, that at least one cap was sure to trigger an explosion. In
practice, men trying to use his device often hit a cap accidentally and had a
hand or arm blown off. As a result, it seems never to have been used in battle.
Soldiers who may or may not
have heard of the Ketchum grenade or the Excelsior sometimes improvised similar
weapons. At Vicksburg, Confederates in
Louisiana units stuck short, lighted fuses into 6 and
12-pounder shells, then rolled them into ranks of Union sappers.
demonstration of this weapon was enough to make believers of opponents.
Confederate Captain John
Hickey said that when one of the
city's forts was stormed, "the air was made black with hand grenades which were
thrown at us by every Federal soldier who got inside the works." Similar
explosive devices were made on the spot by Federals at
Describing some of the action
Union Colonel P. C. Hayes said an assault by troops under
Confederate Lieutenant General James
Longstreet reached a deep ditch dug
by Federals. Confederates, he said, jumped into the ditch in order to raise
According to him, "This action
was fatal to them. Our men, being unable to reach them with their heavy guns,
lit the fuse of the shells, which they threw by hand into the ditch, where they
exploded, slaughtering the helpless occupants by the wholesale."
Records do not indicate the
number of engagements in which improvised explosives were
rolled or thrown against foes. Nevertheless, they were employed frequently
enough to show that although technology to produce suitable hand grenades did
not yet exist, the concept behind these weapons was fully developed by men in
both gray and blue.
Yank" and "Johnny Reb" got into a cannon ball "game"
in 1861 that lasted for 4 terrible years. Several hundred thousand cannon balls
were "thrown" from cannon during that time. Anybody who "caught" one usually
lost, or at best, was put on the injured reserve list for a lengthy spell.
There were other projectiles
that did not require a cannon or gun to be thrown. These small explosive devices
were hand held and hand thrown, and at times, they were literally played catch
with. They were called "grenades" and were used by troops both within and
without fortifications and from boat/ship to ship/boat. The throwers sometimes
saw the same projectiles they had just lobbed at the other guy coming right back
at them...and exploding!
Ignition of the charge in the
small round Selma Arsenal made Confederate grenade shown above was through a
paper time fuse stuck in a tapered wood fuse plug. Lighting the fuse, prior to
throwing it, had to be problematical.
The thrower had to have some means of igniting the fuse, and things
had to be relatively dry. It also had some other drawbacks such as blowing up in
one's hands if held too long or it being thrown back by the enemy, if left
sputtering too long at their feet.
They were also catchable on the fly. I have not read or heard any stories or
reports of this grenade being used, let alone, thrown back. Per Dickey &
George's "Field Artillery Projectiles of the Civil War," spherical grenades of
this type have been found in the Alabama River at the site of the Selma Arsenal
and one was found on the site of the siege of
. Scattered reports of
other finds have also been reported.
Ketchum grenade utilized a firing cap set upon a nipple within the projectile
body to ignite it's charge. A slightly convex metal plunger, at the nose of the
grenade, had to be depressed through the striking of something hard and solid to
drive it back upon the nippled firing cap. A small pressure spring attached to
the side of the plunger stem held the plunger in place during flight. The flight
was stabilized by 4 thin cardboard like fins set into a wood tail-piece
protruding from the rear of the projectile. The wood tail-piece also held the
powder charge within the grenade in place.
The Ketchum grenade is known
to have been used in Virginia,
Mississippi. It was also carried on
Desperate at Port Hudson was one scene where the
opposing troops played catch with them. The defending Confederates picked up the
initial salvo which failed to explode and threw them back at the Union attackers
where they did explode.
The Confederates laid blankets behind the parapet and the grenades
fell harmlessly on them. They then threw them down, with some force, into the
moat at the hapless Yanks gathered there. They apparently worked there but over
100 Ketchum 3 and 5 pounder grenades were recovered at Port Hudson but not one
grenade fragment was found indicating that the success rate of this weapon left
something to be desired.
It was not at all fool-proof
but offered proof of a foolish design and made fools of those who
approved of its testing and use. Eventually, as history has proved, man would
get it more or less right and the game of throwing and catching grenades would
become a lot less fun.
The Election of Officers
December 2005 –
No meeting Scheduled in December
We Who Study Must Also Strive To Save!
President - firstname.lastname@example.org
Vice President - email@example.com
Treasurer - BrianB1578@aol.com
Secretary/Editor - firstname.lastname@example.org
(If you are interested in being an officer for the coming year,
a call, or talk to him at the meeting.)
If you missed last months program and the story of the three stooges of
Vicksburg, you missed an excellent program.
Many thanks to Historian
who has served at
reports that Macarthur Museum of Arkansas Military History, as of the second
week in October has surpassed the attendance for the entire 12 months of 2004
There are several events coming in October and November: Big Boo-seum Bash on
October 31 and the site dedication for the Korean War Memorial on Nov. 12. This
year will mark the fourth straight year of increases in our on-site attendance.
is located near the
intersection of Red Pine and
in Fort Smith,
. To reach the battlefield, take Geren off
Highway 45 in southeast Fort Smith
and then turn right on Red Pine. Red Pine ends at its intersection with
. The battlefield is to the right.
pages 81/2 by11 Soft Bound
pages 81/2 by 11 Soft Bound
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