Ammunition column
An ammunition column consists of military
A military is an organization authorized by its greater society to use lethal force, usually including use of weapons, in defending its country by combating actual or perceived threats. The military may have additional functions of use to its greater society, such as advancing a political agenda e.g...

 vehicles carrying artillery
Originally applied to any group of infantry primarily armed with projectile weapons, artillery has over time become limited in meaning to refer only to those engines of war that operate by projection of munitions far beyond the range of effect of personal weapons...

 and small arms
Small arms
Small arms is a term of art used by armed forces to denote infantry weapons an individual soldier may carry. The description is usually limited to revolvers, pistols, submachine guns, carbines, assault rifles, battle rifles, multiple barrel firearms, sniper rifles, squad automatic weapons, light...

Ammunition is a generic term derived from the French language la munition which embraced all material used for war , but which in time came to refer specifically to gunpowder and artillery. The collective term for all types of ammunition is munitions...

 for the combatant
A combatant is someone who takes a direct part in the hostilities of an armed conflict. If a combatant follows the law of war, then they are considered a privileged combatant, and upon capture they qualify as a prisoner of war under the Third Geneva Convention...

 unit to which the column belongs. Thus the ammunition columns of a division
Division (military)
A division is a large military unit or formation usually consisting of between 10,000 and 20,000 soldiers. In most armies, a division is composed of several regiments or brigades, and in turn several divisions typically make up a corps...

, forming part of the brigade
A brigade is a major tactical military formation that is typically composed of two to five battalions, plus supporting elements depending on the era and nationality of a given army and could be perceived as an enlarged/reinforced regiment...

s of field artillery
Originally applied to any group of infantry primarily armed with projectile weapons, artillery has over time become limited in meaning to refer only to those engines of war that operate by projection of munitions far beyond the range of effect of personal weapons...

, carry reserve ammunition for the guns, the machine gun
Machine gun
A machine gun is a fully automatic mounted or portable firearm, usually designed to fire rounds in quick succession from an ammunition belt or large-capacity magazine, typically at a rate of several hundred rounds per minute....

s of the infantry
Infantrymen are soldiers who are specifically trained for the role of fighting on foot to engage the enemy face to face and have historically borne the brunt of the casualties of combat in wars. As the oldest branch of combat arms, they are the backbone of armies...

 and the rifle
A rifle is a firearm designed to be fired from the shoulder, with a barrel that has a helical groove or pattern of grooves cut into the barrel walls. The raised areas of the rifling are called "lands," which make contact with the projectile , imparting spin around an axis corresponding to the...

s of all arms. Generally speaking, the ammunition column of each of the artillery brigades furnishes spare ammunition for its own batteries and for one of the brigades of infantry.

In the British Army

All ammunition columns are officered and manned by the Royal Artillery
Royal Artillery
The Royal Regiment of Artillery, commonly referred to as the Royal Artillery , is the artillery arm of the British Army. Despite its name, it comprises a number of regiments.-History:...

. They are not reserved exclusively to their own brigades, divisions, &c., but may be called upon to furnish ammunition to any unit requiring it during an action. The officers and men of the R.A. employed with the ammunition column are, as a matter of course, immediately available to replace casualties in the batteries. Teams, wagons and materiel generally are also available for the same purpose. The horse artillery, howitzer
A howitzer is a type of artillery piece characterized by a relatively short barrel and the use of comparatively small propellant charges to propel projectiles at relatively high trajectories, with a steep angle of descent...

 and heavy brigades of artillery have each their own ammunition columns, organized in much the same way and performing similar duties. The ammunition column of the heavy brigade is divisible into three sections, so that the three batteries, if operating independently, have each a section at hand to replenish the ammunition expended. The horse artillery brigade ammunition columns carry, besides S.A.A. for all corps troops other than artillery, the reserve of pom-pom
QF 1 pounder pom-pom
The QF 1 pounder, universally known as the pom-pom, was an early 37 mm British autocannon. It was used by several countries initially as an infantry gun and later as a light anti-aircraft gun. The name comes from the sound it makes when firing....

 ammunition. In action, these columns are on the battlefield itself. Some miles to the rear are the divisional and corps troops columns, which on the one hand replenish the empty wagons of the columns in front, and on the other draw fresh supplies from the depots on the line of communication. These also are in artillery charge; a divisional column is detailed to each division (i.e. to replenish each set of brigade ammunition columns), and the corps troops column supplies the columns attached to the heavy, howitzer and horse artillery brigades. The ammunition thus carried includes ordinarily seven or eight kinds at least. S.A.A., field, horse, howitzer and heavy gun shrapnel, howitzer and heavy gun lyddite shells, cartridges for the four different guns employed and pom-pom cartridges for the cavalry
Cavalry or horsemen were soldiers or warriors who fought mounted on horseback. Cavalry were historically the third oldest and the most mobile of the combat arms...

, — in all twelve distinct types of stores would be carried for a complete army corps. Consequently, the rounds of each kind in charge of each ammunition column must vary in accordance with the work expected of the combatant unit to which it belongs. Thus, pom-pom ammunition is out of place in the brigade ammunition columns of field artillery, and S.A.A. is relatively unnecessary in that attached to a heavy artillery brigade. Under these circumstances, a column may be unable to meet the particular wants of troops engaged in the vicinity; for instance, a cavalry regiment
A regiment is a major tactical military unit, composed of variable numbers of batteries, squadrons or battalions, commanded by a colonel or lieutenant colonel...

 would send in vain to a heavy artillery ammunition section for pom-pom cartridges. The point to be observed in this is that the fewer the natures of weapons used, the more certain is the ammunition supply. (C. F. A.)

The first projectiles fired cannon
A cannon is any piece of artillery that uses gunpowder or other usually explosive-based propellents to launch a projectile. Cannon vary in caliber, range, mobility, rate of fire, angle of fire, and firepower; different forms of cannon combine and balance these attributes in varying degrees,...

 were the darts and stone shot which had been in use with older weapons. These darts ("garros") had iron
Iron is a chemical element with the symbol Fe and atomic number 26. It is a metal in the first transition series. It is the most common element forming the planet Earth as a whole, forming much of Earth's outer and inner core. It is the fourth most common element in the Earth's crust...

 heads or were of iron wrapped with leather
Leather is a durable and flexible material created via the tanning of putrescible animal rawhide and skin, primarily cattlehide. It can be produced through different manufacturing processes, ranging from cottage industry to heavy industry.-Forms:...

 to fit the bore of small guns, and continued in use up to nearly the end of the 16th century. Spherical stone shot were chosen because of cheapness; forged iron, bronze
Bronze is a metal alloy consisting primarily of copper, usually with tin as the main additive. It is hard and brittle, and it was particularly significant in antiquity, so much so that the Bronze Age was named after the metal...

 and lead
Lead is a main-group element in the carbon group with the symbol Pb and atomic number 82. Lead is a soft, malleable poor metal. It is also counted as one of the heavy metals. Metallic lead has a bluish-white color after being freshly cut, but it soon tarnishes to a dull grayish color when exposed...

 balls were tried, but the expense prevented their general adoption. Further, as the heavy metal shot necessitated the use of a correspondingly large propelling charge, too great a demand was made on the strength of the feeble guns of the period. Stone shot being one-third the weight of those of iron the powder charge was reduced in proportion, and this also effected an economy. Both iron and stone shot were occasionally covered with lead, probably to preserve the interior of the bore of the gun. Cast iron
Cast iron
Cast iron is derived from pig iron, and while it usually refers to gray iron, it also identifies a large group of ferrous alloys which solidify with a eutectic. The color of a fractured surface can be used to identify an alloy. White cast iron is named after its white surface when fractured, due...

, while known in the 14th century, was not sufficiently common to be much used for the manufacture of shot, although small ones were made about that time. They were used more frequently at the latter part of the following century. Towards the end of the 16th centurynearly all shot were of iron, but stone shot were still used with guns called Petrieroes (hence the name) or Patararoes, for attacking weak targets like ships at short range.

Case shot are very nearly as ancient as spherical shot. They can be traced back to the early part of the 15th century, and they have practically retained their original form up to the present date. They are intended for use at close quarters when a volley of small shot is required. With field guns they are not of much use at ranges exceeding about 400 m; those for heavy guns are effective up to 1000 m. In the earlier forms, lead or iron shot were packed in wood casks or in canvas
Canvas is an extremely heavy-duty plain-woven fabric used for making sails, tents, marquees, backpacks, and other items for which sturdiness is required. It is also popularly used by artists as a painting surface, typically stretched across a wooden frame...

 bags tied up with twine like the later quilted shot. In the present type small shot are placed in a cylindrical case of sheet iron, with iron ends, one end being provided with handles. For small guns
the bullets are made of lead and antimony
Antimony is a toxic chemical element with the symbol Sb and an atomic number of 51. A lustrous grey metalloid, it is found in nature mainly as the sulfide mineral stibnite...

 — like shrapnel bullets — while for larger calibers they are of cast iron weighing from 2 ounces 3.5 pounds (60 g to 1.6 kg) each.

In artillery, a grapeshot is a type of shot that is not a one solid element, but a mass of small metal balls or slugs packed tightly into a canvas bag. It was used both in land and naval warfare. When assembled, the balls resembled a cluster of grapes, hence the name...

 is now obsolete. It consisted generally of three tiers of cast-iron balls separated by iron plates and held in place by an iron bolt which passed through the centre of the plates.

There was also another type called quilted shot, which consisted of a number of small shot in a canvas covering tied up by rope. Chain shot, in the days of sailing
Sailing is the propulsion of a vehicle and the control of its movement with large foils called sails. By changing the rigging, rudder, and sometimes the keel or centre board, a sailor manages the force of the wind on the sails in order to move the boat relative to its surrounding medium and...

 ships, was much in favor as a means of destroying rigging
Rigging is the apparatus through which the force of the wind is used to propel sailboats and sailing ships forward. This includes masts, yards, sails, and cordage.-Terms and classifications:...

. Two spherical shot were fastened together by a short length of chain. On leaving the gun they began gyrating around each other and made a formidable missile
Though a missile may be any thrown or launched object, it colloquially almost always refers to a self-propelled guided weapon system.-Etymology:The word missile comes from the Latin verb mittere, meaning "to send"...


Stephen Batory, king of Poland, invented red-hot shot in 1579. The English
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 used them with great effect during the siege of Gibraltar
Gibraltar is a British overseas territory located on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula at the entrance of the Mediterranean. A peninsula with an area of , it has a northern border with Andalusia, Spain. The Rock of Gibraltar is the major landmark of the region...

, especially on September 13, 1782, when the French
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 floating batteries were destroyed, together with a large part of the Spanish
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

fleet. Martin's shell was a modified form; here a cast-iron shell was filled with molten cast iron and immediately fired. On striking the side of a ship the shell broke up, freeing the still molten iron, which set fire to the vessel.
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