An effective, serviceable cannon before the American Civil War, the 12 pdr. Field Howitzer was a poor weapon in comparison to new weapons such as the 12 pdr. "Napoleon" Light Field Gun, and 3 inch rifles. Most howitzers in Federal service were melted down, and replaced with more Napoleons, except in the west where light and more maneuverable weapons were required. The Confederate Army, with a shortage of usable cannon, maintained them in their arsenal for most of the war.
The 12 pdr. Field Howitzer was by far the most effective field piece of the war for use at any range under 400 yards. Its large shells gave it firepower, while its light weight, less than 800 lbs, made it highly mobile and easy to position, even by hand.
FOR FURTHER READING
- In Service With:
- United States Army
- Confederate States Army
- Virginia Military Institute; Arkansas Military Institute;
- State of Georgia; State of New York; State of Connecticut
- Type: Muzzleloading Field Howitzer
- Purpose: To support infantry and cavalry forces by firing explosive shells in a high trajectory over enemy fortifications for plunging and ricochet fire, and also for short range anti-personnel missions using spherical case shot and canister.
- Invented By: Various Cannon Manufacturers at the request and specification of the US Army Ordnance Board in 1831
- Years of Manufacture: 1841 to 1863
- Tube Composition: Bronze
- Bore Diameter: 4.62 inches
- Inner Chamber Diameter: 3.67 inches
- Rarity: Uncommon to Rare
- Rate of Fire: 1 rounds per minute
- Rifling Type: none
- Standard Powder Charge: 1 lb. Cannon Grade Black Powder, 0.75 lbs. for Case Shot
- Muzzle Velocity: 953 ft/sec. for Case Shot; 1,015 ft/sec. for Canister; 1,054 ft/sec. for Shell
- Effective Range (at 5°): With Shells, 1,072 yards (0.6 miles)
- Effective Range (at 3° 45'): With Case Shot, 1,050 yards
- Projectile Flight Time (at 3° 45'): With Case Shot, 4 seconds
- Projectiles: 8.9 lb. Shells, 11.0 lbs. Case Shot, 9.64 lbs. Canister
- 15 shells, 20 spherical case shot, and 4 canister rounds per limber box
- Typical Number of Projectiles Per Gun: 156 rounds in 4 Limber boxes (39 ea.)
- Tube Length: 53 inches
- Tube Weight: 788 lbs.
- Trunnion Diameter: 3.67 inches
- Carriage Type: No. 1 Field Carriage (900 lbs.), 57" wheels
- Total Weight (Gun & Carriage): 1688 lbs.
- Horses Required to Pull: 6
- No. of Crew to Serve: 8
- No. in North America from 1861 to 1865: about 250
- No. of Original Pieces That Are Known to have Survived Until Today: ?
- Cost in 1862 Dollars: about $500.00 (US)
- US Casting Foundries: Cyrus Alger of Boston,Massachusetts; N.P. Ames of Springfield, Massachusetts; Miles Greenwood’s Eagle Foundry, Cincinnati, Ohio; William Marshall’s Western Foundry, St. Louis, Missouri; B. F. Lemmon, New Albany, Indiana
- CS Casting Foundries: Tredegar Foundry, Richmond, Virginia; Leeds & Co., New Orleans, Louisiana; Quinby & Robinson of Memphis, Tennessee; the Washington Foundry in Richmond, Virginia; Columbus Iron Works in Columbus, Georgia; Noble Brothers, Rome, Georgia; Quinby & Robinson, Memphis, Tennessee; T.M. Brennan, Nashville, Tennessee; and a few other small vendors.
- Variants: 12-pdr Iron Field Howitzer, Tredegar variants looked similar to Ordnance Rifles, with a more prominent reinforce at the breech.
- Special Notes: In companion to the 6 pdr. Smoothbore Field Gun, the 12 pdr. Howitzer was designed to fire at a higher trajectory in order to attack targets masked to flat trajectory gun fire.
Because of its mobility, the piece was readily adaptable for close infantry support. The 12-pdr howitzer's great weakness was its effective range, which is not much over 1,000 yards, well under that of even the 6-pdr gun. It made the piece an easy target for other artillery.
FOR FURTHER READING
- Civil War Artillery at Gettysburg, Cole, Philip M, Da Capo Press, New York, N.Y., 2002.
- Field Artillery Weapons of the Civil War, by Olmstead, Hazlett, & Parks, Univ of Delaware Press, 1988.
- Artillery and Ammunition of the Civil War, by Warren Ripley, Battery Press, 1984.