From the Shiloh Hiker's Guide - Cannons and Artillery

NH Civil War Gal

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I'm sure @TomP is familiar with this. It was posted on FB last night and I thought it was interesting and other people might like to see it. Certainly I don't have the knowledge and this is something I can study. What is a "WIARD" though? Never heard of one of those.

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TomP

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Actually Wiards were field artillery. There just were not that many of them.

Norman Wiard (pronounced weird) was a native Canadian, and a brilliant inventor of artillery and ordnance. His cannons had several innovative features and the uniquely designed carriage was years ahead of the competition.

Unfortunately, none of his guns were purchased by the War Department.

Wiard served as the army’s Superintendent of Ordnance Stores, which should have guaranteed him some lucrative contracts. The problem was Wiard’s abrasive personality and unbridled tongue. He alienated his boss, the very conservative Chief of Ordnance James W. Ripley, who was the man responsible for purchasing all weapons for the U.S. Army.

As a result, the only Wiard cannons to see service in the field were those bought by individual states.

His field guns primarily came in two sizes; a 2.6-inch (6-pounder) rifle, and 3.7-inch (12-pounder). They were made using a new technique mixing wrought iron and scrap steel, resulting in an exceptionally strong barrel.

One of the unique features of the design allowed for the barrel to be elevated to an incredible 39° degrees, significantly higher than the 5° degrees on nearly every other field cannon of the era.

Jokes abound how at full elevation it could provide adequate anti-aircraft fire.

Puns aside, when it was elevated to the full 39° degrees the rifles could hit targets over five and a half miles away.

There is no mistaking a Wiard in the field. The carriage cheeks (the two wooden side pieces which support the barrel) are teardrop shaped and the wheels have a number of protruding wedges and bolts. The unconventional design allowed for rapid repair. Wiard bragged how with just a single wrench, “I can repair the wheels of artillery carriages faster than a man with an axe can destroy them.”

There are several of each type at Shiloh and there were two Ohio light artillery batteries which employed them during the battle.

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TomP

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I'm sure @TomP is familiar with this. It was posted on FB last night and I thought it was interesting and other people might like to see it. Certainly I don't have the knowledge and this is something I can study. What is a "WIARD" though? Never heard of one of those.
This graphic was used for years (and years) as part of the Boys Scouts Shiloh Military Trails hikes. Apparently the online site is down and I hope this is just a temporary thing. The hike had a number of stops where the boys would look at a specific cannon and answer questions about it. Once completed, they would receive a special patch.

The Artillery Hike was in desperate need of an update as the park has moved cannons on the field from time to time but the guide for the hike was never altered to reflect the changes.
 

John Winn

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Actually Wiards were field artillery. There just were not that many of them.

Norman Wiard (pronounced weird) was a native Canadian, and a brilliant inventor of artillery and ordnance. His cannons had several innovative features and the uniquely designed carriage was years ahead of the competition.

Unfortunately, none of his guns were purchased by the War Department.

Wiard served as the army’s Superintendent of Ordnance Stores, which should have guaranteed him some lucrative contracts. The problem was Wiard’s abrasive personality and unbridled tongue. He alienated his boss, the very conservative Chief of Ordnance James W. Ripley, who was the man responsible for purchasing all weapons for the U.S. Army.

As a result, the only Wiard cannons to see service in the field were those bought by individual states.

His field guns primarily came in two sizes; a 2.6-inch (6-pounder) rifle, and 3.7-inch (12-pounder). They were made using a new technique mixing wrought iron and scrap steel, resulting in an exceptionally strong barrel.

One of the unique features of the design allowed for the barrel to be elevated to an incredible 39° degrees, significantly higher than the 5° degrees on nearly every other field cannon of the era.

Jokes abound how at full elevation it could provide adequate anti-aircraft fire.

Puns aside, when it was elevated to the full 39° degrees the rifles could hit targets over five and a half miles away.

There is no mistaking a Wiard in the field. The carriage cheeks (the two wooden side pieces which support the barrel) are teardrop shaped and the wheels have a number of protruding wedges and bolts. The unconventional design allowed for rapid repair. Wiard bragged how with just a single wrench, “I can repair the wheels of artillery carriages faster than a man with an axe can destroy them.”

There are several of each type at Shiloh and there were two Ohio light artillery batteries which employed them during the battle.

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Thanks; learned something today.

I'd just never seen Wiards mentioned as field artillery (i.e. only as boat howitzers). In the future I'll just say they were 'rare' field pieces in addition to being used as boat howitzers.

Do you know what batteries had any Wiards ? Where might they have been employed as field pieces ?
 

James N.

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Thanks; learned something today.

I'd just never seen Wiards mentioned as field artillery (i.e. only as boat howitzers). In the future I'll just say they were 'rare' field pieces in addition to being used as boat howitzers.

Do you know what batteries had any Wiards ? Where might they have been employed as field pieces ?
They were mainly used in the West, particularly Shiloh and Stones River, which both have them on display in the NPS parks. The one below is at Stones River:
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CivilWarTalk

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The Wiard was one of the most interesting artillery profiles I've had to build so far, there is a lot to unpack!

 

CivilWarTalk

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Actually appears to be a much more adaptable field piece for many more uses. I guess it was like trying to convince the government that a repeater was a better idea then a single shot

It probably was a superior design, but the problem was, Wiard was a salesman, and loud about it. Sickles listened because he was a New Yorker, we are used to loud and obnoxious.

I think Wiard's personality caused a lot of government doors to be slammed in his face, and all he was trying to do was help, AND make a buck!

They only saw him trying to make a profit....

When he tried to make an end run around all the red tape, they just shut him down.

So he moved on to bigger things, bigger guns, bigger contracts that could bring in bigger profits...

He created lots of experimental siege guns for the government, until the 1870's. Not sure if he came up with anything the Army ever put into practice.
 

NH Civil War Gal

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Well, when you have an "unbridled tongue" as @TomP puts it AND an obnoxious personality besides, it's going to be VERY hard to get anyone to see how superior the product is, even if it is. He needed a personal assistant to catch the flies with honey.

I'm very thankful that @TomP also told us how to pronounce WIARD (as Weirds) because it's just one of those names you don't use in every day speech!

I'm glad I posted that diagram as most of us learned something new about the war.
 

Belfoured

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It probably was a superior design, but the problem was, Wiard was a salesman, and loud about it. Sickles listened because he was a New Yorker, we are used to loud and obnoxious.

I think Wiard's personality caused a lot of government doors to be slammed in his face, and all he was trying to do was help, AND make a buck!

They only saw him trying to make a profit....

When he tried to make an end run around all the red tape, they just shut him down.

So he moved on to bigger things, bigger guns, bigger contracts that could bring in bigger profits...

He created lots of experimental siege guns for the government, until the 1870's. Not sure if he came up with anything the Army ever put into practice.
To be fair to Norman, he did get "dead-beated" by the Government and it took forever to get paid for the few guns he delivered. His biggest opponent was that fossilized Chief of Ordnance Ripley, who didn't much care for anything that was new-fangled. Interestingly, Wiard was less strident about his tubes than he was about his carriages. He believed that the standard carriage was too subject to damage by the rifles and that his design eliminated that problem. In his spare time he also invited an "ice boat" for crossing frozen lakes/rivers.
 

NH Civil War Gal

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To be fair to Norman, he did get "dead-beated" by the Government and it took forever to get paid for the few guns he delivered. His biggest opponent was that fossilized Chief of Ordnance Ripley, who didn't much care for anything that was new-fangled. Interestingly, Wiard was less strident about his tubes than he was about his carriages. He believed that the standard carriage was too subject to damage by the rifles and that his design eliminated that problem. In his spare time he also invited an "ice boat" for crossing frozen lakes/rivers.

Did the new carriages work? Did he demonstrate them? Why didn't they get picked up by the Government?
 

CivilWarTalk

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This is Battery F, 3rd NY Artillery Sergeant P. Birchmeyer, 2nd parallel (Battery Wagner), with 12-pdr. Wiard Rifles.
2nd Battle of Fort Wagner, Morris Island, SC. Photo: Hagley Museum and Library, Haas & Peale, 1863.

Although it might be hard to see, these are the new carriages in use, and my understanding is that every commanding officer that had these guns under their command liked both the guns for their accuracy, and the carriages for their build quality and easy repairability.

However, I would take the reports I'm giving you with a grain of salt, because Wiard cherry picked the reports, then shoved them under congresses nose, so we have a great record of the messages he wanted everyone to see.

I sometimes wonder if there isn't something fishy about the whole affair, but it's hard to know for sure, it's been so many years, and so much information is lost now....
 

NH Civil War Gal

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However, I would take the reports I'm giving you with a grain of salt, because Wiard cherry picked the reports, then shoved them under congresses nose, so we have a great record of the messages he wanted everyone to see.

Definitely not doubting you - but how do you know that he was cherry picking the reports? I never heard of the guy (or his guns) till yesterday. Is this something you've read about?
 

Belfoured

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Did the new carriages work? Did he demonstrate them? Why didn't they get picked up by the Government?
I don't think that the Government put enough into actual service to get a truly reliable assessment. Wiard claimed to have compiled a record of axle failures in the standard Ord Dep't carriage and if you read his "System of Field Artillery", his explanation of the improvement in his design makes sense. His wheels also were made of bolted sections so damage to one ir two sections would require replacing only those and not the entire wheel. Keep in mind that Ripley was the 67-year-old Chief of Ordnance. While he did get the field artillery to adopt rifled guns, he was also resistant to a lot of cutting-edge advances, such as breech-loading rifles (he thought they would encourage useless ammunition expenditure). When you look at the dispute between him and Wiard, "red tape" comes to mind. The few gunners who had access to Wiards appear to have liked them.
 

mofederal

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Besides the patch for completing the Artillery Hike, they also had a medal. Shown below are both the patch and medal. They are really nice hikes, but the two longest were the Albert Sidney Johnston and the Lew Wallace Approach were the toughest hikes. ASJ Hike is now called the Confederate Military Advance Trail. It is 20 miles, Corinth to Shiloh. The Lew Wallace Hike is only 16 miles. The toughest hike of all is the Pea Ridge. It was 20 miles or so, around the whole battlefield. The hikes were tough, as well as answering question about the subject.







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CivilWarTalk

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Definitely not doubting you - but how do you know that he was cherry picking the reports? I never heard of the guy (or his guns) till yesterday. Is this something you've read about?
I did extensive research over 2 months or so, read everything I could get my hands on to learn about him and his guns.

Wiard would do stuff like put ads in the New York Times for the public to read, with reviews of his guns that he solicited from the Artillery Officers, he would make it sound like he was making a big contribution to the war effort. Would make lots of claims before the guns actually did what he said they were going to do. When he would be permitted to speak in front of congress, he would also bring testimony, and it's congressional testimony, so you can find in in Google Books and read it word for word, but it doesn't come across like a scientifically sound test, it's like a sales pitch. He couldn't help himself it seems, he just was always selling his product, and it makes his credibility look bad....

He wrote this pamphlet to turn public opinion in his favor:


Here is one of his days testifying in front of congress, although I originally picked this one because he was trying to get paid for the guns he delivered, and was angry about how the guns had been proofed, not using a standard test....


So, since he aimed his efforts at selling, I have some reservations about the claims that he promotes about his guns. I don't know if he's edited or embellished the claims, the claims are all submitted by Wiard, so it's practically second hand....
 
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