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Close-up of grapeshot from an American Revolution sketch of artillery devices
Grapeshot is a type of anti-personnel ammunition used in cannons. Instead of solid shot, a mass of loosely packed metal slugs is loaded into a canvas bag. Grapeshot can also be improvised from chainlinks, shards of glass, rocks, etc. When assembled, the balls resemble a cluster of grapes (hence the name). On firing, the balls spread out from the muzzle at high velocity, giving an effect similar to a shotgun, but scaled up to cannon size.

Grapeshot was devastatingly effective against massed infantry at short range. It was used to savage massed infantry charges quickly. Cannons would fire solid shot to attack enemy artillery and troops at longer range (although the shrapnel shell was invented to increase the effect of grapeshot at a distance) and switch to grape when they or nearby troops were charged.

Grapeshot was largely replaced by canister shot during the early 19th century, with the cloth bag being replaced with a wood-sealed metal canister, guided by a wooden sabot. This gave improved range and more controllable dispersal and allowed the shot to be safely fired at higher velocity.

Conflicts in which grapeshot was infamously and effectively used include:



Since the passing of muzzle-loaded cannon and the introduction of the fixed round, grape has been replaced by canister or case round, where a brass cartridge contains the shot.

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