The 6-pounder Smoothbore Field Gun was a lightweight, mobile piece that was a favorite of the field artillery in the first half of the nineteenth century. This popular workhorse of the Mexican War era was regarded as obsolete by the Union army, but was still employed by a Confederate army that could not afford to pass on functional ordnance with it's shortage of available guns and resources.
FOR FURTHER READING
- Models: 1835; 1838 "Light" or "Cavalry"; 1840; 1841 "Standard"; 1841 "Cadet Guns"; Rifled 6-pdrs.
- Type: Muzzleloading Smoothbore Field Gun
- In Service With:
- United States Army
- Confederate States Army
- 1841 Cadet Version: Virginia Military Institute, Arkansas Military Institute, Georgia Military Institute
- Purpose: Support for the infantry and cavalry forces in the field
- Invented By: Various Cannon Manufacturers at the request and specification of the US Army Ordnance Board in 1835
- Rarity: Common to Uncommon
- US Casting Foundry: Cyrus Alger & Company (Boston), Ames Manufacturing Company (Boston), Henry N. Hooper (Boston), Revere Copper (Boston), Eagle Foundry (Cincinnati), Western Foundry (St. Louis), Benjamin Lemmon (Indianapolis)
- CS Casting Foundries: Tredegar (Richmond), John Clarke (New Orleans), Leeds & Company (New Orleans), Quinby & Robinson (Memphis), A.M. Paxton (Vicksburg), A.B. Reading & Brother (Vicksburg)
- Years of Manufacture: 1841 to 1863
- Tube Composition: Bronze
- Cost in 1861 Dollars: $400.00 (US)
- Model 1835, 58 Accepted, Bore Length (Cal) 15.7, Weight 743 Lbs.
- Model 1838 Light or Cavalry Model, 98 Accepted, Bore Length (Cal) 14.0, Weight 690 Lbs.
- Model 1840, 27 Accepted, Bore Length (Cal) 14.0, Weight 812 Lbs.
- Standard Model 1841, 854+ Accepted, Bore Length (Cal) 15.7, Weight 880 Lbs.
- Model 1841 Cadet, 10 Accepted, Bore Length (Cal) 11.7, Weight 570 Lbs.
- Rifled 6 pounder Guns, some are cast with rifling, others were rifled after casting in the James Type I. system.
- No. in North America from 1861 to 1865: approx. 700
- No. of Original Pieces That Are Known to have Survived Until Today: approx. 300
- Bore Diameter: 3.67 inches
- Tube Length: 60 inches
- Bore Length: 15.7 calibers, or 57.5 inches
- Rifling Type: None, Smoothbore
- Trunnion Diameter: 3.67 inches
- Tube Weight: 884 lbs.
- Carriage Type: No. 1 Field Carriage (900 lbs.), 57" wheels
- Total Weight (Gun & Carriage): 1784 lbs.
- Horses Required to Pull: 6
- No. of Crew to Serve: Typical - 9, 1 Gunner, 8 Numbered Crew Positions
- Could operate at a reduced rate with as few as 3 Crew
- Standard Powder Charge: 1.25 lbs. Cannon Grade Black Powder
- Projectiles Types & Weights: 6.15 lbs. solid round balls, 5.5 lbs. case shot, 6.8 lbs. canister
- Typical Number of Projectiles Per Gun: 200 rounds
- Loaded in four - 50 round / mixed ammo chests
- Cannon had one limber with chest; Caisson had one limber with chest, and carried two additional chests.
- As of 1850: 35 solid shot, 5 spherical case, and 10 canister rounds per limber box, 50 total
- As of 1862: 25 solid shot, 20 spherical case, and 5 canister rounds per limber box, 50 total
- Sights: Short front site on the muzzle, and a pendulum hausse rear sight centered on breach.
- Rate of Fire: 2 rounds per minute
- Muzzle Velocity: 1,439 ft/s
- Effective Range (at 5°): using solid shot, up to 1,523 yards or 0.86 miles
- Effective Range (at 4°): using spherical case, 1,200 yards or 0.68 miles
- Projectile Flight Time (at 4°): using spherical case, 5 seconds
This gun was the main workhorse of Mexican War, but was considered obsolete by the Civil War era. It's design shows the last vestiges of the highly decorated artillery profiles that had prevailed until the beginning of the century: breech band, cascabel fillet, fillet and roundel at the throat, and an echinus on the muzzle face were also features of the M1841 12-pounder. All were dispensed with on the M1857 Napoleon that displaced both these weapons as the smoothbore of choice for both armies. Attempts to convert some of these guns to rifles, using the James system of rifling, had only marginal success.
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.