Lt.Arty 6 pdr. Smoothbore Field Gun

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CivilWarTalk

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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.

ARTILLERY PROFILE
  • In Service With:
    • United States Army
    • Confederate States Army
    • 1841 Cadet Version: Virginia Military Institute, Arkansas Military Institute, Georgia Military Institute
  • Type: Muzzleloading Smoothbore Field Gun
  • Purpose: Support 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
  • Years of Manufacture: 1841 to 1863
  • Tube Composition: Bronze
  • Bore Diameter: 3.67 inches
  • Rarity: Common to Uncommon
PERFORMANCE

  • Rate of Fire: 2 rounds per minute
  • Rifling Type: None
  • Standard Powder Charge: 1.25 lbs. Cannon Grade Black Powder
  • 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
  • Projectiles: 6.15 lbs. solid round balls, 5.5 lbs. case shot, 6.8 lbs. canister
    • As of 1850: 35 solid shot, 5 spherical case, and 10 canister rounds per limber box
    • As of 1862: 25 solid shot, 20 spherical case, and 5 canister rounds per limber box
WEIGHTS & MEASURES
  • Typical Number of Projectiles Per Gun: 200 rounds in 4 Limber boxes
  • Tube Length: 60 inches
  • Bore Length: 15.7 calibers, or 57.5 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
  • No. in North America from 1861 to 1865: approx. 700
  • No. of Original Pieces That Are Known to have Survived Until Today: approx. 300
  • Cost in 1861 Dollars: $400.00 (US)
MANUFACTURING
  • 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)
  • Variants:
    • 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.
  • Special Notes: Workhorse of Mexican War, but considered obsolete by Civil War
This gun 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.

ADDITIONAL PHOTOS


1575038207497.png

Tredegar cast 6 pdr. named "Edenton",
made from melted plantation bells.
Muzzle is marked 1531/E.B.
Shiloh NHP, NPS Photo.

FOR FURTHER READING
ASSOCIATED LINKS
 
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CivilWarTalk

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6-PDR. BORE MARKINGS

IMG_0474.JPG

Antietam NB: M1838 Light 6-pdr Bronze Field Gun
Made by Cyrus Alger & Co. of Boston, Massachusetts
Registry # , Cast in 1841, Weight
©Michael Kendra, November 2019

IMG_0471.JPG

Antietam NB: 6-pdr. turned 3.80-inch bronze James rifle, Type 1
Made by Miles Greenwood, Eagle Foundry of Cincinnati, Ohio
Registry #69, Cast in 1861, Weight 874 lbs.
Inspected by J.B.
©Michael Kendra, November 2019

IMG_0516.JPG

Antietam NB: 6-pdr. turned 3.80-inch bronze James rifle, Type 1
Ames Manufacturing Co. of Boston, Massachusetts
Registry "OHIO", Cast in 1861, Weight 872 lbs.
Inspected by: "L.B.DAVIES"
©Michael Kendra, November 2019
6-PDR. RIGHT TRUNNION MARKINGS

IMG_0476.JPG

Antietam NB: M1838 Light 6-pdr Bronze Field Gun
Cyrus Alger & Co., 1841, Muzzle Face Stamped "N.J."
©Michael Kendra, November 2019

IMG_0469.JPG

Antietam NB: 6-pdr. turned 3.80-inch bronze James rifle, Type 1
Greenwood Registry #69, Insp. JB, 1861, Wt. 874
©Michael Kendra, November 2019

IMG_0518.JPG

Antietam NB: 6-pdr. turned 3.80-inch bronze James rifle, Type 1
Ames, Registry OH, INSP LBD, 1861, WT. 872
stamped "OHIO" & "L.B.DAVIES"
©Michael Kendra, November 2019
6-PDR. BREECH MARKINGS

IMG_0470.JPG

Antietam NB: 6-pdr. turned 3.80-inch bronze James rifle, Type 1
Greenwood Registry #69, Insp. JB, 1861, Wt. 874
©Michael Kendra, November 2019

IMG_0519.JPG

Antietam NB: 6-pdr. turned 3.80-inch bronze James rifle, Type 1
Ames, Registry OH, INSP LBD, 1861, WT. 872
stamped "OHIO" & "L.B.DAVIES"
©Michael Kendra, November 2019
6-PDR. LEFT TRUNNION MARKINGS

IMG_0477.JPG

Antietam NB: M1838 Light 6-pdr Bronze Field Gun
Cyrus Alger & Co., 1841, Muzzle Face Stamped "N.J."
©Michael Kendra, November 2019

IMG_0520.JPG

Antietam NB: 6-pdr. turned 3.80-inch bronze James rifle, Type 1
Ames, Registry OH, INSP LBD, 1861, WT. 872
stamped "OHIO" & "L.B.DAVIES"
©Michael Kendra, November 2019
RIFLED 6-PDR. BARRELS

IMG_0463.JPG

Antietam NB: 6-pdr. turned 3.80-inch bronze James rifle, Type 1
Greenwood Registry #69, Insp. JB, 1861, Wt. 874 (15 grooves, RH Twist)
©Michael Kendra, November 2019

IMG_0517.JPG

Antietam NB: 6-pdr. turned 3.80-inch bronze James rifle, Type 1
Ames, Registry OH, INSP LBD, 1861, WT. 872 (15 grooves, RH Twist)
stamped "OHIO" & "L.B.DAVIES"
©Michael Kendra, November 2019
 
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Rusk County Avengers

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As far as cost on iron vs. bronze on the M1841 6-pounder, (and its brother the M1841 12-pound Field Howitzer), copper and zinc, (ingredients for bronze) were not as common or easily obtainable as iron, thus an already expensive metal was more expensive as most sources I've found show it was imported. Which is why before the military started experimenting with bronze guns, almost all US made cannon were cast iron.

Plus I've read something somewhere of it being considered not only cheaper but smarter to use iron wherever possible to prevent the US running out of foreign metals for casting cannon in the middle of war with a foreign nation like Britain after the War of 1812. Thus by relying on cast iron, you avoid running out of bronze to cast cannon if Britain has a blockade.

I've always found that funny as the next major war was internal, (not counting the short Mexican War).
 

ucvrelics

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Thank you for your reply.. @ucvrelics
Would cast iron last longer in a actual battle if you had to load it fast before it got hot or exploded?
Not really as there were some that did have a failure but not enough to worry about. It was all about the metal. New casting and gun designs of iron made guns was the norm after the first 2 year of the CW in the north.
 

JPChurch

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Thanks for the topic about the 6 Pounders!!! I hope you continue with other profiles. I have some live fire videos of artillery competition at Ft. Shenandoah when I was active N-SSA. I wish I knew how to transfer all the VHS-C tapes I made of so many of the skirmishes and different events. Old stuff, like back in the late 80's. The solid shot really kicked up the berms!!! Somewhere is (are) a video(s) of a 12 pound smoothbore firing cannister and then double cannister at huge targets out in a field. Unbelievable!!! Seeing/being part of live fire or even being part of a cannon crew at a re-enactment is great stuff. I've done both. I am an artillery fan after all.........
 
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Rhea Cole

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As far as cost on iron vs. bronze on the M1841 6-pounder, (and its brother the M1841 12-pound Field Howitzer), copper and zinc, (ingredients for bronze) were not as common or easily obtainable as iron, thus an already expensive metal was more expensive as most sources I've found show it was imported. Which is why before the military started experimenting with bronze guns, almost all US made cannon were cast iron.

Plus I've read something somewhere of it being considered not only cheaper but smarter to use iron wherever possible to prevent the US running out of foreign metals for casting cannon in the middle of war with a foreign nation like Britain after the War of 1812. Thus by relying on cast iron, you avoid running out of bronze to cast cannon if Britain has a blockade.

I've always found that funny as the next major war was internal, (not counting the short Mexican War).
The six pounders were returned to depo. Three of them were melted down to created two 12 pound Napoleons. Same number of men & horses, exponential increase in fire power at a modest increase in barrel weight. There were 6 pounders at Forts Negley & Rosecrans along with other backwater works, but the A.o.C. Did not take them into the field after Jan '63.
 
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CivilWarTalk

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The six pounders were returned to depo. Three of them were melted down to created two 12 pound Napoleons. Same number of men & horses, exponential increase in fire power at a modest increase in barrel weight. There were 6 pounders at Forts Negley & Rosecrans along with other backwater works, but the A.o.C. Did not take them into the field after Jan '63.
Interesting, so you could look at it like a six gun battery of 6 pounders would be converted into a 4 gun battery of Napoleons, but they of course need new No. 2 Field Carriages.

So what would they do with the leftover No. 1 Field Carriages from the 6 pounders? Would they be refurbished and turned into carriages for 10 pounder Parrotts? So, I'm thinking a lot of early 10 pdr. Parrotts had recycled 6 pounder carriages, perhaps!
 

Rhea Cole

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Interesting, so you could look at it like a six gun battery of 6 pounders would be converted into a 4 gun battery of Napoleons, but they of course need new No. 2 Field Carriages.

So what would they do with the leftover No. 1 Field Carriages from the 6 pounders? Would they be refurbished and turned into carriages for 10 pounder Parrotts? So, I'm thinking a lot of early 10 pdr. Parrotts had recycled 6 pounder carriages, perhaps!
After Stones River, General Rosecrans rationalized the crazy quilt of cannons in the newly designated Army of the Cumberland. The Wierds, rifled James, James rifles, 2.9" Parrotts were all, as much as possible, replaced by 3" Parrotts & Ordinence Rifles. The six pounders & 12 inch howitzers were replaced with Napoleons. This greatly reduced the stress on supply when the Tullahoma Campaign began June '63.
 

Belfoured

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Interesting, so you could look at it like a six gun battery of 6 pounders would be converted into a 4 gun battery of Napoleons, but they of course need new No. 2 Field Carriages.

So what would they do with the leftover No. 1 Field Carriages from the 6 pounders? Would they be refurbished and turned into carriages for 10 pounder Parrotts? So, I'm thinking a lot of early 10 pdr. Parrotts had recycled 6 pounder carriages, perhaps!
Another good question, the answer to which I don't know. Obviously the same carriage was used for the 6 lb, the 10 lb Parrott, and the Ordnance Rifle so I suppose they could have been recycled to either of the rifles. Hazlett's book notes that the carriage was subject to damage to the cheeks and the trail when used for the rifles because of the greater recoil than the 6 lb produced due to the heavier projectiles. No idea whether in light of that they would want to recycle a carriage that may already have seen hard use. (At Shiloh the First Minnesota Light had one of its 6 lb rifles disabled almost from the gitgo when the carriage "broke" at the trail).
 
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