Ketchum Grenade

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The Ketchum Hand Grenade was a grenade used in the American Civil War. It was patented on August 20, 1861 by William F. Ketchum, and was partially adopted in the Union Army. They were used in such battles such as Vicksburg and Petersburg (both major sieges in the war).


The grenades have the appearance of a cast-iron ball, or a skinny dart, having fins of cardboard to stabilize the flight. They assured landing on the nose, which was backed by a percussion cap that set off the main powder charge in the body. The grenades were largely inefficient because they had to land on their nose to detonate. In one incident Confederates caught them in blankets and hurled them back at the attackers.

Ketchums came primarily in 1, 3 and 5 lb. varieties. The most recognized Confederate copy is the Raines Grenade. It was even less effective In most cases, the body was the same, but a long cloth streamer was substituted for the fins, and the plunger was a contact explosive.


The grenade was a three-piece weapon, consisting of the plunger (or nostril), casing (body or orange shell, containing main charge), and tailpiece. The slightly convex metal plunger was removed to set the percussion cap on the nipple within the casing; the plunger was refitted through means of depressing by the striking of something hard and solid to drive it back. This proved to be difficult, especially in the fray of battle. The wood tailpiece was removed to place the powder charge inside the...
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