Shrapnel

Since I was a child playing with G.I. Joe action figures, I have know that shrapnel is the word for shell fragments, particularly those designed to purposely explode from an artillery round to injure enemy soldiers.  What I only recently learned, however, is that the word has an eponym.

Henry Shrapnel was a British lieutenant who invented the explosive shell in the mid-1780s.  Until that point, artillery was used mostly to attack enemy fortifications or armament.  His invention made it an effective anti-personnel weapon.  The British army did not fully embrace the idea until the start of the nineteenth century when it proved its worth in several Napoleonic battles, including Waterloo.
Source: “March 13, 1842: Henry Shrapnel Dies, But His Name Lives On” Wired

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