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Muzzle loading guns used artillery shells, which were affixed to a wooden base and a cloth bag filled with one to two pounds of black powder.

The shell was put into the muzzle of the artillery piece and rammed down into the breech of the gun.

Next the bag, which was filled with black powder, was pierced with a sharp wire through a hole at the breech of the gun. This would ignite a friction primer, which is nothing more than a copper tube filled with ignition powder and fulminate of mercury.

Next the artilleryman would pull the lanyard, which would push a serrated wire through the primer; this in turn would ignite the charge and cause the gun to fire.

A good gun crew could load and fire 3 rounds every minute.