The Dry Ball isn't a new invention.

Help Support Muzzle Loading Forum:

Eterry

62 Cal.
Staff member
Moderator
MLF Supporter
Joined
Aug 15, 2010
Messages
2,951
Reaction score
1,884
Location
Between Red River Station and Doans Crossing, Tx.
Having more spare time on my hands of late I've been doing more reading, always a great pastime.
In reading Captain Randolph Marcy's book, The Prairie Traveler, circa 1859, he speaks of the dreaded Dry Ball on page 152.
"As incomprehensible as it may appear to persons accustomed to the use of firearms, recruits are very prone, before they have been drilled at target practice with ball cartridges, to place the ball before the powder of the piece."
So it isn't a new problem, far from it. I always figured it was a common occurrence, but to see it in writing is another matter.
 

tenngun

Cannon
MLF Supporter
Joined
Jan 27, 2008
Messages
18,145
Reaction score
11,207
Location
Republic mo
I don’t know of a written reference but ball screws are seen back to fifteenth century
 

Notchy Bob

54 Cal.
Joined
Apr 6, 2014
Messages
1,521
Reaction score
2,329
Location
Florida
Has anyone come across other writings regarding military troops and dry ball? Surely someone saw it before the 1850s.
This isn't military, but it dates to some time between 1834 and 1837:

2021-09-28 (1).png


This was from Four Years in the Rockies, or, the Adventures of Isaac P. Rose, written by James B. Marsh, published in 1884. Marsh wrote the book based on conversations with Isaac Rose, and from notes Mr. Rose had made and shared with him. The "Indian fight" described here (page 79, I think) involved the Blackfeet and one of the Nathaniel Wyeth expeditions to the mountains. This book is a great read, but is probably less widely known than some of the other references of the period. That link will take you to the digitized version on the Babel/HathiTrust website.

In any event, the native man who borrowed St. Clair's rifle "dry balled" it in the heat of battle, as described in the text. Rose didn't say how they cleared it, but it was apparently more than anybody wanted to deal with during the battle, when others had functional weapons.

We've all experienced the dry ball phenomenon at some point, I'm sure, and I doubt the old timers were immune to the problem. There are bound to be some more examples in the literature.

Good thread, @Eterry !

Best regards,

Notchy Bob
 

Eterry

62 Cal.
Staff member
Moderator
MLF Supporter
Joined
Aug 15, 2010
Messages
2,951
Reaction score
1,884
Location
Between Red River Station and Doans Crossing, Tx.
Now the only thing left is to shoot your ramrod. Then you can join the elites!

Notchy Bob
That I have done, but on purpose.
At the range with a new 54 cal fast twist carbine with synthetic rod.
Stuck the rod, jag, and cleaning patch at the breach. I pulled the nipple, dribbled in a few grains of ffg, replaced the nipple, capped her and aimed at the 50 yard target. The rod hit the ground about 40 yards and bounced over the berm. We found it in fine condition. It's still being used.
 

windini

36 Cl.
MLF Supporter
Joined
Aug 29, 2021
Messages
57
Reaction score
82
Location
WNC
Ta Daa!

Back in bidness. Very glad it was so easy only a tad difficult.
Ball 1!.jpg
 

Latest posts

Top