Both the conical shape of the minnie ball and the ridges at its base that fit into the grooves of the rifled musket allowed this bullet to be fired at a much faster speed. The minnie ball would spiral through the air and upon contact could shatter the bone of the unlucky soldier who met its path. By late war, when the fighting came to Petersburg, rifled muskets and minnie balls were predominately used by the soldiers.
These short-chambered pieces were used for lobbing shells at great elevations into the fortifications of the enemy. Mortars were well-suited to lobbing shells short distances in the trench warfare that developed, and they saw extensive use during the siege of Petersburg.
The model 1842 was the standard arm of the U.S. infantry prior to 1855. At the outbreak of the Civil War thousands of these arms were stored in U.S. and state arsenals. Additional thousands were in the hands of state militia. As a result, the model 1842 saw extensive Civil War action, especially in the first two years of the war. They fired a solid round shot known as buck and ball shot.