Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Hanes Excelsior Percussion Cap Grenade
Here is one from the bad idea bin. The Hanes Excelsior Percussion Cap Grenade. It was patented in 1862 by an W. W. Hanes for use in the American Civil War. It is a cast iron orb filled with gunpowder like the classic "Rocky and Bulwinkle" bomb. However instead of the classic open burning fuze, it is instead liberally covered with 10 nipples for percussion caps, which are small pressure sensitive explosives used to ignite a larger charge. It only took the detonation of one cap to set off the grenade, so if it were dropped or handled roughly it would certainly blow up inadvertently. And percussion caps are not always easy to use in the best of situations. To imagine Civil War soldiers in a trench, scared, hungry and being shot at using this thing without blowing themselves up is a stretch of the imagination. There is no record of their use in battle, so we can hope that no one was killed with this thing, either or purpose or on accident. Very few exist today.