Shrapnel, Henry (shrăpˈnəl) [key], 1761–1842, British general, inventor of the shrapnel shell. The shell, consisting of a steel case filled with bullets and an explosive charge, is fired in midair by a time fuse and scatters shot and shell fragments with great and deadly force over a wide area. Adopted by the British army in 1803, this antipersonnel weapon became important in modern warfare. An artillery officer, Henry Shrapnel also improved the construction of howitzers, mortars, and small arms.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.