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A round shot (or solid shot, or a cannonball, or simply ball) is a solid
The cast iron cannonball was introduced by French artillery engineers after 1450 where it had the capacity to reduce traditional English castle wall fortifications to rubble. French armories would cast a tubular cannon body in a single piece and cannonballs took the shape of a sphere initially made from stone material. Advances in gunpowder manufacturing soon led the replacement of stone cannonballs with cast iron ones.
Round shot was made in early times from dressed stone, referred to as gunstone (Middle English gunneston, from gonne, gunne gun + stoon, ston stone), but by the 17th century, from iron. It was used as the most accurate projectile that could be fired by a
In land battles, round shot would often plough through many ranks of troops, causing multiple casualties. Unlike the fake gunpowder explosions representing roundshot in movies, real roundshot was more like a bouncing bowling ball, which would not stop after the initial impact, but continue and tear through anything in its path. It could bounce when it hit the ground, striking men at each bounce. The casualties from round shot were extremely gory; when fired directly into an advancing column, a cannonball was capable of passing straight through up to forty men. Even when most of its kinetic energy is expended, a round shot still has enough momentum to knock men over and cause gruesome injury.
When attacking wooden ships or land structures that would be damaged by fire, the cannonball would be heated to red hot. This was called a "hot shot". (On the shot called "the single deadliest cannon shot in American history," see
Round shot has the disadvantage of not being tightly fitted into the bore (to do so would cause jamming). This causes the shot to "rattle" down the gun barrel and leave the barrel at an angle unless
Round shot has been totally replaced by modern
In the 1860s, some round shots were equipped with winglets to benefit from the