Known in the US Navy as a canister, this was ‘any kind of old iron, stones, musket-bullets or the like which we put into cases to shoot out of our great ordnance. These are of great use and do much execution amongst men … upon the upper deck when we come near or lie board by board.’ Thus Sir Henry Mainwaring in The Seaman's Dictionary (1644). The cases in which the old iron etc. was stuffed were normally made of wood although occasionally canvas bags were used if wooden cases were not readily available. But there was a danger that the bags might get caught and torn open by projections and irregularities inside the barrel of the gun, which could damage its bore, and wooden cases were always preferred.
Subjects: Maritime History.