Misinterpretation of name of a Civil War bullet

Gerald Cohen gcohen at MST.EDU
Sun Jul 31 20:29:39 UTC 2011

For those who might be interested, here is a letter to the editor
(Wall Street Journal, Feb. 18, 1992, p. A21/2) about how the fearsome
Civil War bullet "Minie ball" was misinterpreted as "miniball"
(title): "'Minie" A Fearful Name In Battles of Civil War"

    "Your Jan. 15 page-one article on explosive-ordinance
disposal (EOD) in Kuwait said Charles Hall, the young EOD
man you profiled, spent his youth searching for "miniballs" from
Civil War battlefields.  More likely they were "Minie" balls,
named for their inventor, French officer Capt. Claude E. Minie.  They had
hollow bases and conical rings and expanded enough when fired to engage the
rifling of the barrel, making the far more accurate rifle (as opposed to a
smoothbore) practical as a military weapon.

    "These were the bullets of choice in the Civil War and far from being
the teeny-weeny projectiles suggested by the article, they were a whopping
0.58 inches in diameter, a full inch long, slow moving and heavy with a
fearful stopping power that could wrench off an arm or a leg with one shot.
They were effective to a range of about 250 yards and deadly to about 500
Waldoboro, Maine."

Gerald Cohen

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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