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"Untie ten rounds of ammunition"

PostPosted: June 11th, 2017, 9:29 am
by jf42
I thought I would share this question from Napoleon Series Discussion Forum. I rely on NWF for insights on weapon handling.



"I came across the following order given to a British infantry battalion about to go into battle in 1815:

"untie ten rounds of ammunition"

Does anyone know what this means?

Thanks! "


http://www.napoleon-series.org/cgi-bin/ ... ;id=180699



I am aware that musket ammunition was stored and transported in waxed packets. Perhaps these were secured with cord, but did infantry only fix individual rounds into the blocks in their cartouche pouches when action was imminent?

Re: "Untie ten rounds of ammunition"

PostPosted: June 11th, 2017, 9:55 am
by Josh&Historyland
JF.

The incident comes from the battle of Quatre Bras, when the Guards entered the wood. What it means specifically other than what can be implied, IE to make the cartridges easier to draw etc. Upon preparing to go into action the ensigns uncased and took up the colour's, officers below field rank dismounted and handed their horses to their servants to be taken to the rear, bayonets were fixed and ten rounds untied. It's all in Franklin's Osprey Book. If I may quote from an old thread:

"Josh: nyway the troops were ordered to untie a given amount of rounds ( 10 I think the number was). I took this to mean to open or free up the cartridge in some way, if so one would assume cartridges being inspected on a parade could be quite easily opened for the grains to be checked."

"Reply from Mark Roads: I don't know absolutely for certain the situation in the early 1800s, but I do know that cartridges in the 50s were in tied up wrappers of ten & I fully expect this was the same for many preceding decades. So that would agree with what you have posted, however this enabled inspection of whole cartridges, not their contents. Anyone with even a little experience would be able to tell their condition by examining the cartridge complete without resorting to breaking one open, or opening one to inspect the powder, which would be extremely fiddly in that situation.

A great deal of time was invested in the 1850s/60s in perfecting waterproof cartridges & wrappers & there was a lot of success with this. However I do not think this was anything new, merely improving on methods that were already in place. My impression was that there was quite a degree of moisture resistance already in use."

Josh.

Re: "Untie ten rounds of ammunition"

PostPosted: June 11th, 2017, 10:50 am
by jf42
Ah yes, that rings a bell. I think that might even have been a thread I started.

I am still a little unclear. Was this a process by which cartouche pouches were 'topped up'? Presumably, pouches should contain a full complement o rounds immediately before action, so ten rounds might well be far short of that amount.

Re: "Untie ten rounds of ammunition"

PostPosted: June 11th, 2017, 11:06 am
by Josh&Historyland
I wish I knew, JF. I've yet to find another instance let alone a proper explanation. The original thread was to do with powder.

Josh.

Re: "Untie ten rounds of ammunition"

PostPosted: July 10th, 2017, 12:58 pm
by 348 White
Clinton inspecting the Allied army in the Low Countries in 1814 referred to the Hanoverians with small pouches having to use just 'two packets of ten (rounds) each and wrapped in fresh covers as often as this may be necessary to prevent the cartridges from being damaged.'

Re: "Untie ten rounds of ammunition"

PostPosted: July 10th, 2017, 1:50 pm
by jf42
348, do you think that note presupposes that the packets of ten remained wrapped ('tied'?) until circumstances allowed or orders required them to be 'untied' and fixed in the blocks of soldiers' pouches?

Re: "Untie ten rounds of ammunition"

PostPosted: July 20th, 2017, 11:09 am
by 348 White
The block was mainly replaced by cartridge trays by the later period of the war. I've read an article that claims that cartridges were wrapped originally wrapped in dozens, but were changed to tens as the boxes without blocks were adopted.

Re: "Untie ten rounds of ammunition"

PostPosted: July 21st, 2017, 9:07 pm
by jf42
Thanks for that detail, but blocks or trays, at what point would soldiers be ordered to remove -'untie' - cartridges from packets and arrange rounds ready for use; or, to put it another way, how soon before action?