Civil War Ketchum and Haynes Grenade
Top : A one pound U.S. Ketchum grenade - Patented by William F. Ketchum of Buffalo, NY.
Bottom: A 2-1/2" C.S. Selma Arsenal Grenade - Inventor unknown.
The Ketchum Hand Grenade was a grenade used in the American Civil War. It was
patented on August 20, 1861 by William F. Ketchum, and was partially adopted in the
Union Army. They were used in such battles such as Vicksburg and Petersburg (both
major sieges in the war).
The grenades have the appearance of a cast-iron ball, or a skinny dart, having fins of
cardboard to stabilize the flight. They assured landing on the nose, which was backed by
a percussion cap that set off the main powder charge in the body. The grenades were
largely inefficient because they had to land on their nose to detonate. In one incident
Confederates caught them in blankets and hurled them back at the attackers.
Ketchums came primarily in 1, 3 and 5 lb. varieties. The most recognized Confederate
copy is the Raines Grenade. It was even less effective In most cases, the body was the
same, but a long cloth streamer was substituted for the fins, and the plunger was a contact
The grenade was a three-piece weapon, consisting of the plunger (or nostril), casing
(body or orange shell, containing main charge), and tailpiece. The slightly convex metal
plunger was removed to set the percussion cap on the nipple within the casing; the
plunger was refitted through means of depressing by the striking of something hard and
solid to drive it back. This proved to be difficult, especially in the fray of battle. The
wood tailpiece was removed to place the powder charge inside the shell, and then set
firmly back in to hold the powder within. Trajectory had to be an arc in order for the
plunger to detonate the piece. A small pressure spring attached to the side of the plunger
stem held the plunger in place during flight. The grenade was stabilized by four thin
cardboard fins set into a wood tailpiece protruding from the rear