A Beautiful Glittering Lie
One bullet can make a man a hero… or a casualty.

What does 'shell' mean?

Find out what shell means. Shell is explained by J D R Hawkins - author of A Beautiful Glittering Lie

shell

A hollow projectile which was shot from a cannon. The shell was filled with gunpowder and lit by a fuse. When the fuse burnt down to the level of the powder, the spark would cause the shell to explode. Artillerymen could judge when they wanted to shell to explode by gauging the length of the fuse. In my novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie, the term "shell" is used as follows:

(Pages 35-36)
Soldiers from other regiments wandered into camp, describing the turmoil that had swirled around them. Brigadier General J. E. B. Stuart, Confederate cavalry commander, had hurled his cavaliers into the New York Zouaves, and as the Yankees retreated, all hell broke loose. Civilians from Washington City had driven over to witness the battle, bringing along their ladies, complete with picnic lunches, parasols, and fine carriages. However, when the Federals “skedaddled,” they almost killed the Washington elite. An artillery shell worsened the situation when it hit a wagon, clogging the road that had been their escape route. Congressman Healy was captured by the Confederates and taken prisoner. The Rebels were calling it the “Bull Run Races.”

(Page 60)
The situation was worsening in Huntsville, as Union soldiers went on a rampage. Their commander, Ormsby Mitchel, turned a blind eye to his soldiers’ pilfering. Federal gunboats patrolled up and down the Tennessee River, shelling towns and settlements along the banks. The Yankees burned, plundered, and foraged from the poor displaced souls, and raiding parties became more frequent. When David learned of the abomination, he considered joining up with a local group of Rebels who were retaliating. These guerrillas, as they were known, were a force to be reckoned with, for even though their group was small, they were fiercely lethal.

(Page 68)
As soon as the men took their position, the Union soldiers opened fire. The Alabamians were forced to endure an unmerciful bombardment, since no other regiment appeared to support them. While they lay in wait, tolerating the shelling, General Johnston slowly rode up to them. He sat upon his mount, staring off at the advancing Union army. Suddenly, a piece of shell struck him in the shoulder, knocking him off his horse. As rapidly as he had fallen, a group of litter bearers besieged him and carried him off the field.

(Page 68)
abandoned Yankee camp, but before the men reached their refuge, another shell exploded in their midst, killing several. Agonized screams pierced the air, and the survivors yelled and cursed as they fled. Union soldiers advanced toward them in the dark. Their voices carried across the field, so the Alabamians could tell they were being pursued. Hiram and his comrades turned and fired upon their adversaries. The Yankees returned the volley. Fighting continued for several minutes until the Federals retired.

(Pages 73-74)
Confederate General Whiting rode forward, and soon the bridge was repaired, enabling the men to cross. The Confederates shelled the woods to make sure no Yankees were waiting to ambush them, and then they cautiously proceeded, clearing debris from their path while they forged ahead. Generals Ewell and A. P. Hill joined them, taking one road, and the Alabamians took another. On June 27, they reached Cold Harbor, but only after considerable effort, because obstacles and sharpshooters hindered their progress.

(Page 74)
They advanced across. The stench of smoke and sulfur rose up to meet them as they fell victim to the waiting Union artillery and small guns. The roar was nearly deafening, and several men fell screaming to their deaths while the regiment progressed. Smoke was so thick and suffocating that the Rebels choked and coughed. They could barely see ten feet in front of them, but they knew they had to persevere. The Alabamians advanced to find a brigade of A. P. Hill’s Virginians lying in front of the enemy’s lines. Hill, in his distinctive red shirt, rode up and down the line, immune to the shelling. Out of ammunition, and too exhausted to move, the Virginians were forced to endure the shower of bullets and shrapnel that hailed down upon them.

(Page 79)
Two days later, the Rebels continued their pursuit of the Federals. They reached the Rappahannock, and moved upriver under constant shelling from their adversaries. The 4th Alabama was ordered to the front of the advancing Confederates. They charged, driving the Yankees into the river. As a result, many who couldn’t swim drowned, while others were killed or captured.

(Page 80)
The men were forced to tolerate heavy artillery fire and skirmishing until 4:00 p.m., when the fighting started in earnest. Hiram knelt to load his musket, stood, and fired on command with his comrades, who were positioned in a line. The veterans continued pouring shot and shell into their foe, some falling randomly to the ground as they were hit. He heard a gun go off behind him, and a man down the line from him fell dead. A group of soldiers behind him started yelling, creating a commotion.

(Page 84)
That evening, the regiment was ordered to position itself on the Sharpsburg and Hagerstown Pike, about a mile from Sharpsburg near the Dunker Church, which was a simple, small, whitewashed, one-story structure sans steeple. The men learned that it was named after German Baptist immigrants, who baptized their brethren in the creek, thus acquiring the nickname “dunkers.” The soldiers remained there under heavy shelling throughout the next day until sunset, when McClellan sent a force across the Antietam River, so they moved forward to meet it. They marched through an open field while a cyclone of shells burst around them, and along with the clatter of their musketry, created such a ruckus that their commanders’ orders were lost in the din. Few were hit, however, and as dusk set in, the explosion of colors set off by the shells gave a spectacular display.

(Page 85)
General Hood directed his men back to the church to retire. Suddenly, a shell flew by, blowing off the top of Lieutenant King’s head. The body dropped limply into a pool of blood and brain matter. Bud and Hiram looked at each other, dazed, their faces blackened by gunpowder. They turned and walked away, putting the horrific sight behind them, both knowing there was nothing they could do for the man.

(Pages 97-98)
They came up from the town as though on parade, and appeared to be unstoppable, like they would keep going over and through the Confederate line. With grape, shell, and shot, the Rebel guns immediately began their deadly work, pouring a storm of lead into the advancing foe, and they blew holes into the dark, solid columns, which were filled in like water rushing around a fractured dam. The thunderous salvos of cannonade shook the ground, retorted by the Yankees’ counter-barrage. The men in gray let loose a bloodcurdling Rebel yell and fired a storm of lead canister into the faces of their enemies as they approached, which was enough to send the bluecoats reeling. They stumbled, taking cover behind the bank. A line of colorful Zouaves passed them, but they could not withstand the Rebel onslaught either. They fell back in confusion.

(Page 98)
With his own comrades entrenched on either side of him, Hiram and the North Alabamians observed the fighting. Burnside reignited his attack in earnest at two o’clock by shelling another regiment of Rebels, who stood their ground in a sunken road behind a stone wall. One advance after another tried in vain to break the Confederate stance, but all were unable to penetrate the line. The Yankees marched up the hill until there were so many of their dead clogging the battlefield that the advancing Federals were unable to climb over them. The frozen ground in the sunken road gave way to mud and slush beneath the feet of hundreds of thrashing combatants. Some slipped and fell on grass made slick with the blood of their fellow soldiers. At last, twilight engulfed the battlefield, forcing the Yankees to fall back.

(Page 98)
When at last the order was given to march, it was late afternoon. The men moved down the road at a double quick until they reached the front, where they formed a line of battle. Subjected to heavy shelling, the veteran Alabamians crested a hill to observe a newly formed brigade of Rebels retreat as fast as their legs could carry them, while the gunners, covered in powder from head to foot, frantically loaded and fired their pieces. All around, bullets whizzed, shells burst, and men yelled and cursed.

(Page 100)
At the advent of dawn, shelling and skirmishing resumed. Hiram’s regiment moved out into the open, near the edge of a wood. All fell eerily quiet while they waited for the command. Noticing two captains and an adjutant nearby, Bud decided to join in on their conversation, for he was curious to hear their plan of action. As he neared, a ball ricocheted, narrowly missed Hiram, and headed straight toward the threesome. Several men yelled out warnings, but one of the captains reacted too late. He was struck directly in the chest, his torso turned into a mass of jellylike flesh as he collapsed in a heap. Before the litter bearers could deliver him to the field hospital, he was dead.

(Page 100)
The shelling had resumed. Several of their comrades ran toward them.

(Page 100)
Shells started flying at them, whistling and bursting all around. While they ran, shot and canister hit the ground, sending a torrent of dirt in their faces, and creating huge craters that they frantically zigzagged to avoid. The Confederates dashed up the hill, escaping the turmoil. Bud glanced back over his shoulder. He saw a shell fly straight at Hiram. It hit him. Hiram’s body exploded like a ripe tomato.

(Page 100)
The shell had done its work so completely that only a blood-splattered hole in the ground remained. There was no indication that his friend had ever been there, let alone, existed at all. He couldn’t believe his own eyes, and thought it must be a terrible dream. No one seemed to notice, except for Blue Hugh, who stared at Bud, horror-stricken. Expecting him to cynically wish Hiram good-bye, Bud felt his gut roil, and wretched in convulsive vomiting until his stomach was empty.

(Page 101)
The next day, December 15, they waited for renewed fighting, but nothing happened until late afternoon, when they received slight shelling. The Federals spent a good portion of the day burying their many dead, until nightfall hindered their progress.

Search result for 'shell' in A Beautiful Glittering Lie

Chapter 1: Chapter One
76.
"... he added, “We’ll discuss it later with your ma.” David smirked. His mother would give in, he was certain. Removing his hat, he ran his long fingers through his thick shoulder-length hair, dark brown in color like that of a pecan shell. Noticing, Jake followed suit, doing the same, although ..."

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Chapter 3: Chapter Three
"...the New York Zouaves, and as the Yankees retreated, all hell broke loose. Civilians from Washington City had driven over to witness the battle, bringing along their ladies, complete with picnic lunches, parasols, and fine carriages. However, when the Federals “skedaddled,” they almost killed the Washington elite. An artillery shell worsened the situation when it hit a wagon, clogging the road that had been their escape route. Congressman Healy was captured by the Confederates and taken prisoner. The Rebels were calling it the “Bull Run Races.” ..."

-------------------------------------------
Chapter 6: Chapter Six
"...The situation was worsening in Huntsville, as Union soldiers went on a rampage. Their commander, Ormsby Mitchel, turned a blind eye to his soldiers’ pilfering. Federal gunboats patrolled up and down the Tennessee River, shelling towns and settlements along the banks. The Yankees burned, plundered, and foraged from the poor displaced souls, and raiding parties became more frequent. When David learned of the abomination, he considered joining up with a local group of Rebels who were retaliating. These guerrillas, as they were known, were ..."

-------------------------------------------
Chapter 7: Chapter Seven
"...As soon as the men took their position, the Union soldiers opened fire. The Alabamians were forced to endure an unmerciful bombardment, since no other regiment appeared to support them. While they lay in wait, tolerating the shelling, General Johnston slowly rode up to them. He sat upon his mount, staring off at the advancing Union army. Suddenly, a piece of shell struck him in the shoulder, knocking him off his horse. As rapidly as he had fallen, a group of litter bearers besieged him and carried ..."
"...Because the position of the regiment was on open ground, it moved at twilight toward the cover of trees and the abandoned Yankee camp, but before the men reached their refuge, another shell exploded in their midst, killing several. Agonized screams pierced the air, and the survivors yelled and cursed as they fled. Union soldiers advanced toward them in the dark. Their voices carried across the field, so the Alabamians could tell they were being pursued. Hiram and his comrades turned and ..."

-------------------------------------------
Chapter 8: Chapter Eight
"...Confederate General Whiting rode forward, and soon the bridge was repaired, enabling the men to cross. The Confederates shelled the woods to make sure no Yankees were waiting to ambush them, and then they cautiously proceeded, clearing debris from their path while they forged ahead. Generals Ewell and A. P. Hill joined them, taking one road, and the Alabamians took another. On June 27, they reached Cold Harbor, ..."
"...barely see ten feet in front of them, but they knew they had to persevere. The Alabamians advanced to find a brigade of A. P. Hill’s Virginians lying in front of the enemy’s lines. Hill, in his distinctive red shirt, rode up and down the line, immune to the shelling. Out of ammunition, and too exhausted to move, the Virginians were forced to endure the shower of bullets and shrapnel that hailed down upon them. ..."
"...Two days later, the Rebels continued their pursuit of the Federals. They reached the Rappahannock, and moved upriver under constant shelling from their adversaries. The 4th Alabama was ordered to the front of the advancing Confederates. They charged, driving the Yankees into the river. As a result, many who couldn’t swim drowned, while others were killed or captured. ..."
"...The men were forced to tolerate heavy artillery fire and skirmishing until 4:00 p.m., when the fighting started in earnest. Hiram knelt to load his musket, stood, and fired on command with his comrades, who were positioned in a line. The veterans continued pouring shot and shell into their foe, some falling randomly to the ground as they were hit. He heard a gun go off behind him, and a man down the line from him fell dead. A group of soldiers behind him started yelling, creating a commotion. ..."

-------------------------------------------
Chapter 9: Chapter Nine
"...Pike, about a mile from Sharpsburg near the Dunker Church, which was a simple, small, whitewashed, one-story structure sans steeple. The men learned that it was named after German Baptist immigrants, who baptized their brethren in the creek, thus acquiring the nickname “dunkers.” The soldiers remained there under heavy shelling throughout the next day until sunset, when McClellan sent a force across the Antietam River, so they moved forward to meet it. They marched through an open field while a cyclone of shells burst around them, and along with the clatter of their musketry, created such a ruckus that ..."
"...was still too dark to see, the men could hardly determine who was shot, except for random screams that came across the field both near and far, and they were unable to distinguish between blue and gray uniforms. Solid shot cracked into skulls and bones, which sounded like breaking eggshells. ..."
"...General Hood directed his men back to the church to retire. Suddenly, a shell flew by, blowing off the top of Lieutenant King’s head. The body dropped limply into a pool of blood and brain matter. Bud and Hiram looked at each other, dazed, their faces blackened by gunpowder. They turned and walked away, putting the horrific sight behind them, both knowing there ..."

-------------------------------------------
Chapter 10: Chapter Ten
"...They came up from the town as though on parade, and appeared to be unstoppable, like they would keep going over and through the Confederate line. With grape, shell, and shot, the Rebel guns immediately began their deadly work, pouring a storm of lead into the advancing foe, and they blew holes into the dark, solid columns, which were filled in like water rushing around a fractured dam. The thunderous salvos of cannonade shook the ground, retorted by ..."
"...With his own comrades entrenched on either side of him, Hiram and the North Alabamians observed the fighting. Burnside reignited his attack in earnest at two o’clock by shelling another regiment of Rebels, who stood their ground in a sunken road behind a stone wall. One advance after another tried in vain to break the Confederate stance, but all were unable to penetrate the line. The Yankees marched up the hill until there were so many of their ..."
"...When at last the order was given to march, it was late afternoon. The men moved down the road at a double quick until they reached the front, where they formed a line of battle. Subjected to heavy shelling, the veteran Alabamians crested a hill to observe a newly formed brigade of Rebels retreat as fast as their legs could carry them, while the gunners, covered in powder from head to foot, frantically loaded and fired their pieces. All around, bullets whizzed, shells burst, and men yelled and ..."
"...At the advent of dawn, shelling and skirmishing resumed. Hiram’s regiment moved out into the open, near the edge of a wood. All fell eerily quiet while they waited for the command. Noticing two captains and an adjutant nearby, Bud decided to join in on their conversation, for he was curious to hear their plan ..."
157.
"... in horror as blood flowed over his hand, covering it in crimson, and saw that he had been shot through the neck. The shelling had resumed. Several of their comrades ran toward them. “Come on!” yelled Blue Hugh. “They’re comin’ back!” “I can’t leave him!” Bud screamed. He ..."
"...and bursting all around. While they ran, shot and canister hit the ground, sending a torrent of dirt in their faces, and creating huge craters that they frantically zigzagged to avoid. The Confederates dashed up the hill, escaping the turmoil. Bud glanced back over his shoulder. He saw a shell fly straight at Hiram. It hit him. Hiram’s body exploded like a ripe tomato. ..."
"...The shell had done its work so completely that only a blood-splattered hole in the ground remained. There was no indication that his friend had ever been there, let alone, existed at all. He couldn’t believe his own eyes, and thought it must be a terrible dream. No one seemed to ..."
175.
"... his own forgiveness. The next day, December 15, they waited for renewed fighting, but nothing happened until late afternoon, when they received slight shelling. The Federals spent a good portion of the day burying their many dead, until nightfall hindered their progress. That evening, Bud ..."

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"Civil war tore families apart, and many of those families fought to stay together every step of the way. "A..."

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