This is a replica of the 1841 Mountain Howitzer. It was used in the Civil War in the West Virginia. It was light weight and easy to break down. The size made it the ideal cannon to use on the treacherous mountains. However, it was still just as deadly to the opponent as a bigger cannon at close range. The major perk was that with the small cannon the soldiers were not exhausted before they even reached the battle.
They were first made for John C Fremont. He needed a cannon
he could take with him on his second expedition to map the Oregon Trail. The
winter was too bad and they had to leave the cannon to seek shelter at Sutter’s
Fort. Then the design was used to fight the Native Americans, the Mexican-American
War, and the Civil War.
Both sides used it in the Civil War. Since this cannon was
smaller it did not shoot as far as other cannons could. However, the mountain
howitzer was used in fast attacks because of their light weight. They were also
used for when troops had to travel far away since they were lighter. At most
historical sites there are the bigger cannons but this site features this small
cannon. The cannon could be taken apart for easy transport. It also had two
more nicknames. It was also called the Bulldog by troops and the gun that bombs
twice by the Native Americans.
This is the type of cannon that was used in this area of
West Virginia because of the mountains. If the soldiers would use the bigger
cannons, they would have been exhausted by the time the fight would start. They
would not make as much ground. Using the smaller cannon also had its down side
if you were matching to a big city. They might have a cannon there permanently
that is bigger than the one being transported.
It weighed less than just a barrel of bigger cannons. It could
be taken apart. This meant it could be put on animals to pull it. This saved
even more soldier strength. It shot multiple pieces of debris instead of one bullet.
This was good in close range fighting. It would injure multiple soldiers at one
time. Then the military could finish off any opponents that were still alive
after the original strikes were over.
The 1841 Mountain Howitzer,
thought to be the type used in Rowlesburg during the Civil War. A howitzer (as illustrated above by
Peter W. Gaut) is a short-barreled, large-caliber cannon designed to throw
shells at a higher trajectory than regular field guns. This makes them useful
against enemy troops behind fortifications or concealed in rugged terrain. The
mountain howitzer was a special gun, designed on such a small scale that the
entire piece could be taken apart and carried on pack animals. Although its
4.62-inch bore could handle the same 12-pounder ammunition as regular
12-pounder gun, a complete mountain howitzer, including the carriage, wheels
and barrel, weighed less than the barrel alone of a larger 12-pounder field gun.
Mountain howitzers generally fired
spherical case shot, canister or grapeshot. All of these types of ammunition,
which scattered small shot and shell fragments, were effective within the
shortened range of the mountain howitzer. Case shot for mountain howitzers
carried a load of 82 lead musket balls. The shell was exploded above enemy
positions by a fuse. Case shot was usually fired at enemy positions several
hundred yards away. Canister consisted of tin-plated iron cylinders loaded with
round shot packed in sawdust. Most Civil War canister contained iron shot, but
canister rounds for the mountain howitzer were crammed with a load of 148
.69-caliber lead musket balls. Fuses were not needed for canister. A round of
canister burst when the cannon was fired, blasting its load of musket balls out
of the muzzle as if fired from a tremendous sawed-off shotgun. Canister was
used from distances of about 400 yards to point-blank range. The load of lead
from a round of canister made a little mountain howitzer as deadly as any other
cannon at close range. Because mules were nearly always
used to carry mountain howitzers by packsaddle, companies with these little
guns were sometimes called jackass batteries. If the terrain
permitted, the mountain howitzer could be mounted on its carriage and drawn by
means of a pair of shafts by one of the mules. A few units did away with the
packsaddles altogether and used a pair of horses to draw the gun.
This article was excerpted from: Norris, David
A. Confederate Gunners Affectionately Called Their Hard Working Little
Mountain Howitzers 'Bull Pups'. (America's Civil War, September 1995),
10, 12, 14, 16, 20, & 90 Inscription on maker.