Poison and Explosive Bullets
C. M. Calhoun

What I now propose to write, I scarcely know to what chapter of my book to give it assignment, it being so revolting to the finer instincts of a cultured, refined and those calling themselves a christian nation. Would that it were only rumor, but alas, its only too true, and setting out to give facts and facts alone, letting consequences fall upon the guilty party, I propose as far as my observation extended, and that of others, in whom implicit faith can be placed, to tell the whole truth of the great uncivil war. It is well known except in heathen countries, and so practiced in christian warfare, that the great aim in battle is not to kill, but to wound. The reasoning is; a man killed is but one and he lies there until the battle is over. Not so with one wounded, as oftentimes it counts as three, if severely, it requires two of his comrades to take him off the field, and if the situation is very hot, they may be sometime in finding a surgeon and getting back. The Northern people accused us of manufacturing and useing explosive and poisoned bullets during the great war. To show the falsity of this charge, and showing very plainly that the Northern army did use them, I will quote from an article written by the Rev. H. D. Hayden, who served in the first Virginia regiment, who gets his knowledge from official papers on file in the war department at Washington. This historian's knowledge is based on witnessing some running sores at the present day, now having been made 40 years ago, whose limbs are double their natural size, a mass of corruption. The parties having in this length of time suffered the pains of a living death. These wounds were received at the battle of Gettysburg, have been by medical men pronounced as something unusual in appearance, and non healing in their nature. Some of these parties retain the bullets, which prove beyond doubt that such death-dealing missils were used by the Federal army. Says Mr. Hayden "The bullet was in two parts, one hollowed out and the other also hollow, being encased in the larger and containing the poison, the latter being loose would slip out and remain in the body or pass through leaving its poison. In 1864, the day the negro troops made their drunken charge at Chafins Farm, I picked up many of these explosive balls, which are still preserved by me. Mr. Davis positively denies that such ammunition was ever manufactured by the Confederate Government, while it is on record in the ordinance department in Washington that one Samuel Gardner, Jr., offered to sell these poison and explosive bullets to Mr. John Tucker, Asst. Sec. of war. It reached Mr. Lincoln and he writes "Will Gen. Ripley consider whether this explosive shell will be valuable in battle. In June 1862 Brig-Gen. Rufus King, at Fredericksburg, made requisition for some of these shells in September 1862. The chief of ordinance of the 11th corps recommended the shell to the Asst. Sec. of war; who ordered 10,000 rounds to be purchased. Of this number 200 were issued to Mr. Gardner for trial. In October 1862 the chief of ordinance of the 11th corps then stationed at Fairfax, sent in a requisition for 20,000 rounds of these explosive and poisonous bullets and notwithstanding Gen. Ripley's disapproval, the Asst. Sec. of war ordered and had issued to the 11th corps the remaining 9,800 which was obeyed. In November 1862, Mr. Gardner offered to sell his explosive shell to the Government at 35 dollars per thousand, calibre 58. The Asst. Sec. of war at once ordered 100,000 rounds. In June 1863, the second New Hampshire made requisition for 35,000 of these shells and received 24,000. The second New Hampshire regiment was at the battle of Gettysburg and 49 of its number lie buried there. This statement is from official sources, obtained from the archives at Washington.

In 1866 the year after our war had ended, the Russian government issued a circular, calling a convention of the nations, for the purpose of declaring against the use of such explosive projectiles being used in war. To this circular the then chief of ordinance of the United States, Gen. A. B. Dyer, replies to the secretary of war, J. M. Schofield; under date of Aug. 19th, 1868, I heartily concur with the Russian government and hope our government will respond in behalf of humanity and civilization. I consider them barbarous and no more to be tolerated that the poisoning of food and drink to be left in the way of the enemy. Such a practice should not be tolerated, among any people above the grade of savages; yet it was alright for this government to use them only a short time before this. Mighty religious had some of them become when the country was not at war, but at piece with all nations. This Gen. Dyer, also states, that this explosive shell certainly kills when this is not the art of war, as a wounded man cripples an army for the time more than one killed. In the pat office report of 1863-4 will be found No. 40,468 Samuel Gardner, Jr., of New York. Improvement in Hollow Projectiles, Pat dated, Nov. 3rd 1863. So this should ever set at rest the vile slander place upon our government for their manufacture and use and place it where it justly belongs.


Liberty Dethroned by C. M. Calhoun
Believed to be privately printed, Greenville South Carolina, 1903, pages 240-242.