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Manufacture of Minie Bullets

[Royal Visit to Woolwich Arsenal, 1855]

Source: The Illustrated London News, Dec 8, 1855, p.675

Her Majesty called the King of Sardinia's special attention to the machines for manufacturing minie bullets. Four of these wonderful inventions are united in one block, and each block produces noiselessly and without the waste of a grain of metal 120 perfect minie bullets every minute. Four such blocks of machinery are in operation day and night, never once even for a second ceasing their labours. Every twenty-four hours 600,000 minie bullets are added to the gigantic resources collecting daily for next year's campaign—a campaign which all the world looks forward to as a decisive one. These minie machines—if we may use the expression—require no care beyond that of one boy to each, to oil the wheels, and occasionally draw away the boxes of bullets as they become full.

An ingenious little machine for making wooden plugs to fit into the base of minie bullets, instead of the iron cup formerly used, was also examined with interest. At a row of small benches numbers of workmen were employed in making "friction-tubes," a clever adaptation of the principle of the congreve match, applied to firing sea-guns. Its construction is novel, and we will not, therefore, make it public. On a large table in the room were arranged specimens illustrative of every process of manufacture adopted in the Arsenal, which were carefully examined by her Majesty.