Haymarket Affair Digital Collection

Illinois vs. August Spies et al. trial evidence book. People's Exhibit 44.
The Alarm (Newspaper) article, "Bombs," 1885 May 2

13 p.
Introduced into evidence during testimony of Eugene Seeger (Vol. K p. 627-634), 1886 July 29.
Transcript of article.

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People's Ex. 44.

THE ALARM, May 2, 1885.


The manufacture and use of the deadly dynamite bomb made easy.

The weapon of the Social Revolutionist placed within the reach of all.

The Terror of Tyrants. (Translated from Freiheit by A. A.)

Before entering upon a discussion of dynamite operations on a large scale, it is best, perhaps, to make a few remarks concerning bombs constructed with percussion primers. There has been in use bombs of several shapes i. e., the three cornered, the dice shape and pyramid shaped bombs, All these bombs are provided on each side of their surface with a percussion primer and cap, so that whichever side strikes the ground an explosion follows. The drawback to this kind of primers, however, is in the possibility of striking on soft ground or mud, in which case no discharge takes place on account of the non-restrictive force of such ground. Should these kinds of bombs be loaded with dynamite, it would then be necessary to provide the primers before screwing the same into the shell of the bomb with a small detonation char[ge]

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reaching inside of the bomb. This can best be done if the hole running through the primer is made large enough to take at its end reaching into the bomb the open end of the detonation chamber. There should be a tight fit, too, to prevent the detonating chamber from falling out of the screw -- end of the primer. If that should occur a discharge of the cap (ordinary percussion cap) would only take place while the bomb would remain intact. The addition of the inner chamber to the primer only necessitates the screw-end of the latter to be somewhat thicker than that of an ordinary primer of an old styled musket, because of the bigger hole through it to receive the inner chamber. As the detonation chamber is filled at its bottom (closed end) one with fulminate of mercury (like a common cap) it is important that its empty space should be filled with some powder for the purpose of conducting the spack from the cap on the primer to the bottom of the chamber. Finely crushed gun powder will answer the purpose very well. Whoever believes that he may suspend the use of a detonating chamber, is certainly not well posted on the properties of dynamite and mistakes the same with the properties of gun powder or fulminates of either mercury or silver. Bombs loaded with either of the latter named explosives need no other construction than a primer and a cap, but not so with dynamite bombs, and the latter bomb,

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we assume here to be used for revolutionary acts, because gun powder has too little, and fulminate of either silver or mercury too much force. The phrase "too much force" is simply meant in the following sense, if the shell of the bomb is not very thick the fulminator will burst the same to atoms, in which case no one standing not in close proximity of the explosion would get hurt, because only the concussive air could operate some questionable results. Should, on the otherhand, the iron shell be thick enough to prevent its bursting into fragments too small to kill, the missile would become too heavy for a good throw. A bomb filled with fulminate of silver or mercury of a size containing eight cubic inches, or exactly two inches diameter on each side of it where a dice shaped one would require an iron shell of at least one-third of an inch in thickness, and missiles of a larger accordingly thicker. The weight of such a bomb would be very much in danger of missing its aim, besides encumbering the operator in every movement. It is on this account that the well-known Orsina bombs missed their aim and purpose nearly on every occasion. They contained, according, to their shell thickness, too much fulminate of mercury. They too, were all provided with numerous primers mounted with caps, and had to light on one of them, no matter how they may have fallen, so that there was no failure due to that part of

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the Orsina bomb construction. It should also be kept in mind that bombs filled with fulminate of mercury are far more dangerous to the operator than dynamite bombs, and that the fulminate cannot be as easily stored as the latter material. The globular and cylindrical bomb which we hold by far the best, and of the construction of which we will speak hereafter, will, however, receive some attention here. If the fuse construction is not desired on these kinds of bombs, they need only one percussion primer, because that part of a globular bomb where the primer is located can be of a little heavier casting than the rest of the shell, or some lead may be soldered around it, and the law of gravitation will take care that the bomb always falls on that side, striking the primer.

The egg shaped bomb for the percussion primer construction is also highly recommended. Have it cast in the shape of an egg, have the larger or butt end of the egg cast double the thickness of the smaller or pointy end of the same. If the primer with detonating chamber is fitted into the heavier end of the shell, no failure is possible, except the bomb should into soft ground or mud, or be thrown against a house, fence, etc., when it strikes sideways, the percussion primer bomb will always have some deficiencies which can never be wholly eradicated, and we hold the fuse to be a more reliable

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construction, provided however, that the detonation chamber is always attached, knowing that many will yet adhere to many or all of these systems here described we thought it merely our duty to discuss the same. Those who would use them can only profit by it, but we would ask them to pay also some attention to the following bomb construction which is by far the most reliable and most effective: A very thin glass pipe, which may be bought at any large glass-ware store, is immersed with one end in sulphuric acid which will draw itself slowly into the pipe. When the acid has drawn up about one inch the pipe is swung out so as to permit the acid to draw up further, in order to gain at both ends empty. The pipe is wiped off and the one end held over the flame of an alcohol lamp in order to melt the ends together. This process is very simple. The pipe is continually turned, when after a little while it can be twisted off like soft wax. In less than two minutes the melted part is cold enough to be touched, when the same process is repeated with the other end, about an inch apart from the acid. In this manner is procured a thin glass vial filled with the acid and naturally closed at both ends. The length of the pipe depends on the inside diameter of the bomb in which it has to take its place for duty. Then is procured a pipe of the same length of thin tin. The diameter of the tin tube must be of the size to receive the end of a detonation

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chamber, which can be bought at every gun shop, and is about the size of a musket cap, but longer. The detonation chamber is then stuck into the thin tube with its open end, so that its closed and serves as the closing end or lid of the tin tube. The filled and naturally closed glass vial before mentioned, is now slid into the tin pipe; a small funnel is now taken to fill all empty space between the glass vial and the tim pipe with a mixture of chlorate of potash and very fine powdered sugar, each of equal proportions. After the tin pipe having been thus filled, the other yet open end is now closed with a second detonation chamber, and in exactly the same manner as the first opening has been closed. Chlorate of potash is a very cheap drug, costing about thirty five cents a pound. This apparatus is now laid inside of an empty bomb shell, so, that either end of the pipe (the ends being formed by detonation capsules or chambers) touch the inner wall of the shell. The shell now can be filled with the explosive (dynamite) and be closed. The missile is now ready for service. If the bomb is thrown now the fine glass pipe will burst from the concussion the bomb receives. The sulphuric acid contained in the glass tube will come in contact with the mixture of the tin tube which surrounds it, ignite the same, which will cause the chambers of both ends to detonate, the concussion of which explodes the dynamite. This

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process however, takes place with the rapidity of lightning. As the minutest quantity of the fluid contained in the glass tube will ignite any given quantity of the mixture contained in the tin tube, the effect is momentus and perfect. As the late Alexander II of Russia could testify had the bomb throwers in their zeal of courtesy not demonstrated this fact in too close proximity to his person.

H. S. -- If glass tube is over the flame little bent, before filling, fragibility is increased.

Comrade -- in article "Co-operation", it ought to read "delirous". Reform instead of "delicious". Please correct in this issue in article on explosives as follows: "Adherence" instead of "abhorance", as it now reads.

In operating with dynamite, the scholar of revolutionary warfare, should never for one moment, lose out of sight the main principle inherit in the explosive i.e., that its tremendous force is only caused through the lightning rapidity with which it expands itself (explodes). This is the reason why it developes its greatest force always toward the side where it finds the strongest resistence. Thus, if a blasting box of dynamite is placed on the ground, other sides being free, the explosive will strike a deep hole in the ground. If, however, the box is placed close to a wall the effect will show itself to be the greatest towards that object. Even if

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dynamite is placed in a very strong iron box, finding equal resistance all around, the greatest effect will still be noticed on the side where the box has laid. A large quantity of its power is lost, however, because expended in overcoming the resistive force of the heavy iron walls that confine it. This is the reason why only tin boxes should be used in destroying walls, etc. The contrary course must be pursued if a destructive force in every direction is intended, as in cases of bombs, be the same used in a room or in the open air to annihilate a crowd. The two cases effect to one side only, and success on all sides alike must therefore be treated accordingly and separately. If the bomb is filled, supplied with proper detonation chamber and good fuse, the missile is ready for action, and a test of such a bomb as we have here described will here be given. A bomb cast of two hemispheres of zinc, half an inch in thickness and soldered together to form a globe of four inches in diameter (outside measure) took a charge of dynamite of one-third of one pound. On account of its heavy weight it was not thrown, though it was ascertained that such a bomb could be thrown about one hundred and twenty five feet. The aim of this test having been to ascertain the destructive force of the missile the following course was adopted: The bomb was laid on the ground a flagstone of five square feet with a thickness of four inches was laid on it, with one end, and after having the

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fuse provided with a small piece of fungus punck in order to gain time to get out of danger it was lit. The effect was enormous. The roar the explosion caused was fully equal to a cannon. The flagstone was bursted into about 20 pieces, flying up from 10 to 15 feet. A hole of two feet diameter and about just as deep was visible on the spot where the bomb had been lain. It was a difficult task to discover pieces of the shell of the bomb, and only after a long search the operators were rewarded by finding pieces about the size of a revolver ball. Every one of these pieces found had very shaggy, teeth-like eyes, and were picked up from thirty to forty feet from the place of explosion. Supposing now this bomb had been laid or thrown on the table of carousing millionaires, or thrown among the law twisters of a legislative assembly, or even thrown into an omnibus filled with Pinkerton murderers, what a beautiful effect it would have had and how wonderfully it would have increased our propaganda.

But as an easy and procurable and cheap bomb is of the utmost importance in the revolutionary warfare of the proletariat the following description of such a missile will prove of interest. Take an ordinary cast iron pipe, such as are used by plumbers for either water or gas construction. The diameter should not exceed two inches. Cut such a pipe in pieces of from five to six inches long. Have on each end cut a small screw, and have for each end a cap or screw lid

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fixed to close both ends. The cap of course is provided in this case with the funnel screw. Have in one end of the caps bored a hole through which the detonation cap with the fuse can be inserted, and proceed in every particular as prescribed with other bombs. Some bombs have also been tried with satisfactory results, and create great destruction if thrown between a crowd of social reptiles. It must, however, not be reckoned upon to do much damage inside of a building if the persons to be injured are not in the same room where the missile is thrown into, or near by where the bomb falls. If such a missile is thrown into the hall of a house, shattered windows, bursted doors, broken staircases, fractured or chipped off walls, and a big sound will fill the bill of damage.

The best form of bomb is, as already stated, the globular form, because of the equally resistive force on all sides of the missile which renders its destructive power in every direction alike. This is of great importance, because bombs are generally used only to operate amid a crowd of assailants or other social fiends. The hollow shell ought to be of cast iron. But the next question is where to get them? To order them at a foundry would lead to detection in cases where the revolution is not fully developed and secret operations is the only course left revolutionists. If no trustworthy friend, who is employed at a foundry can be had, who is able to furnish such supplies, empty shells of zinc may well answer

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the purpose. Such shells can be manufactured in every home. It only requires one hemisphere of a globe the size of the desired bomb, as a casting form, which, however, must be of brass. This hemisphere of course, must also be procured from a trustworthy person. Once in possession of such a form, 50 half globes can be cast easily in one day, at an ordinary fire. Two such himispheres or half globes can be soldered together and the shell is ready. A filling hole of about three-quarters of an inch in diameter must, however, be left, in which is cut a funnel screw. A symmetrical top, with a fitting wall screw made of iron or brass closes the filling hole. If, on account of complication, a percussion primer cannot be used and the fuse is resorted to, it is necessary that the top or wall screw should contain a hole large enough to pass a detonation chamber into it and reach well into the dynamite. A water proof fuse, thick enough to fit tightly into the detonation chamber, and about 6 to 8 inches in length. The length of the fuse necessary to explode the bomb at the desired time, must be ascertained by practical trials with unloaded shells provided with detonation chamber and fuse only. The distance the bomb can be thrown will serve as a guide. If a bomb reaches its destination it should explode at once to leave no time of escaping its destruction or extinguish its fuse.

N. B. -- If no detonation chamber can be had, the same can

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easily be made in the following way: Cut off the closed end of a tubular penholder about an inch long. If no fulminate of mercury to charge it can be bought or made, the process of which will also be published hereafter, it can be procured from the paper torpedo, generally known as "Ladies crackers", a toy of fire works sold for Fourth of July celebration. One box of these toys, containing 25 of the large sized torpedoes, can be bought in season at every street corner for about 20 cents. The wholesale price is from 10 to 12 cents. Take a pair of scissors and cut off the twisted top of the paper, open it carefully and let the fine gravel contained in them drop out slowly and you will notice at the bottom a small quantity of small powder, not purely white but having a bluish tint. This powder is fulminate of mercury mixed with potash, the exact substance contained in detonation chambers and also in percussion caps. In each of these torpedoes there will be found as much as the point of a penknife will hold. The contents of eight of such torpedoes will be sufficient to fill your end of the tin penholder up to from one-eighth to one-quarter of an inch from the bottom. The quantity suffices to explode any dynamite bomb. If the bottom of the new-fashioned chamber or capsule should be too thick, pierce it in the following manner: Cut a sound stick of hardwood, fitting it into it. Put the capsule over the stick and stand it on the table bottom up. Take the sharp point of a knife and drive

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it with a stick of wood or mallet through the bottom of the capsule. The incision thus made to more easily burst it, should, however, be hammered together again to prevent the fine powder from falling out. After charging it with the fulminate, the fuse which should be thick enough to completely fill the chamber should be inserted. The fuse must touch the fulminate at the bottom. The top or open end of the chamber where the fuse sticks out should be pinched together in order to hold the fuse tight. The same course should also be observed with blasting boxes intended for buildings, etc. The detonating chamber should reach well into the dynamite and fasten well at the surface of the bomb or blasting box whereever it may be attached to. If the fulminate is procured from torpedoes, care must be taken that not the least kernel of sand remains in it, because an explosion at the slightest movement may follow. If blasting utensils are bought by men for actual use in outposts skirmishing, a disguise of their person is advisable, because it is every revolutionists's duty to cover his tracks as well as possible and save himself for the great cause. Should he fall into the hands of the hired marauders of capitalists, and the evidence against him should be overwhelming, only in that event should he make bold of his deeds. He then should appear as an avenging messenger before his judge and not as an offender. In no case will an earnest revolutionist try to clear himself at the expense of a brother revolutionist. Note by A. A.

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