Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Artillery (plus a few strange weapons)

(Arranged by Type, Bore (in inches), Weight of piece, Weight of Projectile, Weight of Charge, and Range)

US 1841 12-Pound Howitzer: 4.62, 788, 8.9, .75, 1072 yards

US 1841 24-Pound Howitzer: 5.82, 1318, 18.4, 2.00, 1300 yards

US 1857 12-Pound Howitzer ("Napoleon): 4.62, 1227, 12.3, 2.50, 1680 yards

US 1861 3" Rifle: 3.00, 820, 9.5, 1.00, 2788 yards
(3" Ordinance Rifle)

US 1857 6-Pound: 3.67, 884, 9.5, 1.00, 1523 yards

US 1863 Parrott 10-Pound Rifle: 3.00, 890, 9.5, 1.00, 2970 yards

UK Blakely 12-Pound Rifle (CSA): 3.10, 700, 12.0, 1.50, 1760 yards

UK Whitworth 12-Pound Rifle (CSA): 2.75, 1100, 12.0, 1.75, 800 yards

US 1857 James 14-Pound Rifle: 3.67, 875, 12.0, .75, 1700 yards

US 1861 Parrott 20-Pound Rifle: 3.67, 1750, 20.0, 2.00, 4400 yards

US Model 1861 Seacoast Mortar: 13.0, 17,000, 218, unknown, 4200 yards
The most well known of these mortars was the "Dictator" which had to be mounted on a rail car.

CS 1861 Brooke: 10.0, 22,000, 140, 16 260 yards
Useful against ironclad vessels.

Canister: Tin can filled with Minie balls packed in sawdust. Used as anti-personnel round. Effective up to 400 yards.

Grape Shot: Larger iron balls secured in either a canvas bag or metal plates. Used as anti-personnel rounds. Effective up to 1000 yards. Mostly used after 1862 as more rifled guns arrived on the field.

Shell: A hollow sphere filled with explosives and set off either by a percussion fuze (impact) or timed fuze (air burst). Effective up to 800 yards.

Shot: A solid bolt used to damage walls, earthworks, wagons, and formations of troops. Effective at long ranges.

Shrapnel: Hollow iron shot filled with lead balls and set off either by percussion fuze (impact) or timed fuze (air burst). Effective up to 1000 yards. This replaced the Grape Shot.

Rifled Ammunition: Bolts that were grooved to fit rifled guns. Others had an expanding base to catch the grooves. Best example is the Whitworth bolt.

Loading and firing

1. If the gun was already fired, the ventman covers the touch hole with a gloved thumb as the rammer sponged the barrel to kill any sparks.

2. The loader gets a round from the caisson and carries it in a pouch similar to a haversack. He goes to the front of the gun and places the round into the barrel. The round is attached to a powder bag.

3. The loader then uses a rammer to push the round down into the barrel.

4. The Gunnery Sergeant then uses a screw to elevate (up and down) the gun while a crew member moves the "tongue" to traverse (left and right) the gun. A gun sight is placed on the touch hole for that purpose and is removed once the gun is sighted.

5. The ventman then shoves a priming wire into the touch hole, which pierces the powder bag.

6. The Gunnery Sergeant then pushes a primer into the touch hole and into the powder bag. A lanyard is attached to the primer.

7. The Gunnery Sergeant then pulls the lanyard taunt. At the command "fire" the lanyard is pulled in a sharp, fast manner. The primer is set off, igniting the powder, the explosion causing the round to travel out the barrel and head downrange.

8. The gun lacks a recoil mechanism, so the gun crew must move the gun back into position for the next firing.

Other weapons:

Gatling Gun: .58 caliber, hand cranked, gravity fed, six barrel machine gun which fired 600 rounds a minute. This gun was prone to jamming and was considered too radical for wholesale use.

Billingshurst-Requa battery: This consisted of twenty-five .54 caliber barrels that was laid parallel and loaded with a bar that held 25 bullets. A single percusion cap ignited the powder and fired the weapon.

Union Repeating Gun (The "Coffee Mill" gun): .58 caliber, hand cranked, gravity fed, single barrel machine gun that was prone to overheating. One was used with success on March 29, 1862 at Middleburg, VA.

Vandenburgh Valley Gun: .45 caliber, hand cranked, magazine fed, 85 barrel gun that too slow to load to be of much use.

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