.577

by Jim Lamason on October 24, 2007 · 0 comments

On my desk in front of me, is a relic. If you are knowledgeable about the ACW, you will now what the title means.

Its the caliber size of the minie ball or bullet that was used during the war.

I did not obtain it from the National Park at Gettysburg, nor Antietam, nor Bull Run, or even Chancellorsville. Nope its not from parkland at all.

Ok, where did you get it you may ask? That’s question one. Number two, and what is your point? That’s coming.

The answer is , from the back yard of a private home in Gettysburg. Recovered when the owner some 25 years ago, was turning over his garden.

Its obviously been fired. Why? Because the dimple in the back the existed before its fired is gone, and the back of it the rear end, the flange is slightly raised so that it would seat in the barrel is it raced out of the muzzle of the gun, causing it to spin which gave it, its range and accuracy.

Its one of over 7 MILLION rounds of ordinance used at Gettysburg. There is no sign of blood on it, (I had it tested) and its pristine except a small shallow grove near its point.

7 Million rounds. That includes artillery, rifle muskets, smooth-bore muskets, carbine and hand gun. If you take that number and divide it by 50,000 that comes out to 140 rounds per casualty.

Common sense tells us, well me for that matter, if a man, was hit a 140 times with just a rifle bullet like I have sitting in front of me, well nothing would be left. Or very little.

For those of us, who study the war in depth, we are constantly reminded of the accuracy of the weapons of the time. How they out gunned the tactics of the day. Made them antiquated.

7 Million rounds. Granted a lot of them were probably never fired. The chaos of battle, would have I am sure, caused a good portion of that to have been left on the field unfired, unused, left in the ammunition boxes of the day.

Ok so why this thought.

It struck me over the weekend, as I was working in the office, this single solitary bullet is history, has an aura of history that surrounds it.

I found myself asking myself questions… What was the soldier that fired this, shooting at?

Did he really miss that target? And grabbed “air”? Or is the small grove, nick as it were, where it side swiped a soldiers canteen, or a piece of a belt buckle,or did it ricochet off of the ground? Or did it after a journey of hundreds of feet , finally fall to the ground, spent?

And why after a 140 plus years is it now in my hands?

I hold it. Feel its weight, its substance.. And I close my eyes.. And for a moment in time, a small window into the past opens…

And I picture a soldier, a young man, aiming at what ever………… And beginning another journey for some one in the future, that he knew not of, and know him not..

Hmmmm .. .577 Its a tie. Its a bond back to a time, when this nation stood on the brink of disaster.. and when as Joshua L. Chamberlain said at the dedication of the 20th Maines Regiments monument on a rocky hill, forever known in history as Little Round Top over 4 miles from where it is most likely was found.

“In great deeds something abides. On great fields something stays. Forms change and pass; bodies disappear; but spirits linger, to consecrate ground for the vision-place of souls. And reverent men and women from afar, and generations that know us not and that we know not of, heart-drawn to see where and by whom great things were suffered and done for them, shall come to this deathless field, to ponder and dream; and lo! the shadow of a mighty presence shall wrap them in its bosom, and the power of the vision pass into their souls.”

Joshua Lawerence Chamberlain

Yes……… Its a door way to a Vision Place of Souls. Its deed was meant to take life. Instead it gave life, and continues to give life, to a passion to understand this time in history.

I like that………..

Jim


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