Colt Navy Revolver Italiano: Colt Navy Revolver (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In the Civil war, a sidearm was developed by both Union and Confederate sides called the revolver. It consisted of a handle, rotating cylinder and barrel.
To load this fast-firing weapon, first a small copper cap is placed on the back of each hole, of which there were normally about six.
the revolver was then put on a stand (not everyone had a stand, actually, hardly anyone did have one) with the barrel pointing upward, and a little less than a teaspoon of black powder was poured down each hole in the cylinder.
Now, a lead ball is placed on top of each hole, and do you see the extra stick thing underneath the barrel? It folds down and pushes the lead ball all the way into the hole, sort of like a garlic crusher. Then a bit of wax is pushed manually on top to keep the bullet in. Finally, the gun is ready to shoot.
The hammer of the gun is cocked back, the gun is aimed, and when the trigger is pulled, the hammer shoots forward, hits the copper, and a spark is ignited which lites the powder, blowing the ball out with considerable force.
By the way, I actually don’t know yet what the copper caps did. Obviously they were essential, but Copper does not produce a spark when struck, but maybe it is because it transports heat so well. If anyone knows and would like to comment, please do!