In the Field How They Transported Mortars

ucvrelics

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We've all seen photos of the smaller 8 & 10 inch mortars setup ready to fire. I found a great photo of a yankee mortar battery in camp with the mortars on their transports. This photo is from Post Hudson and shows just how they were transported to be installed in the breastworks.
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Waterloo50

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We've all seen photos of the smaller 8 & 10 inch mortars setup ready to fire. I found a great photo of a yankee mortar battery in camp with the mortars on their transports. This photo is from Post Hudson and shows just how they were transported to be installed in the breastworks.
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I have to admit that when thinking about artillery, I very rarely consider the use of mortars or the role that they played. Ive always assumed that mortars were primarily used to destroy fortified positions, more of a siege weapon than anything else. I can’t imagine that mortars would have been much use in a battle especially one where the lines were constantly shifting. From looking at the photos that you posted, I’m thinking that it must have been hard work and very time consuming having to move, unload and then of course dig them into position, I can also imagine that those transports which the mortars are mounted on must have taken some real punishment especially on rough terrain, how much did those mortars weigh?
 

A. Roy

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I found a great photo of a yankee mortar battery in camp with the mortars on their transports. This photo is from Post Hudson and shows just how they were transported to be installed in the breastworks.

Interesting photo. I have the same question about the weight. Do these transports look like something specialized, or would they have been used for other kinds of pieces as well?

Roy B.
 

ucvrelics

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Interesting photo. I have the same question about the weight. Do these transports look like something specialized, or would they have been used for other kinds of pieces as well?

Roy B.
Here are the weights. The transport wagons were specialty built for hauling these mortars.
8-inch siege mortar M.184144 lb.930 lb. tube920 lb. carriage
10-inch siege mortar M. 184188 lb.1,852 lb. 1,830 lb.
 

redbob

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I'm unfortunately a fan of "Go big or go home" and to me the most interesting pictures of mortars in the Civil War is the ultimate "Big Boy" the 13 inch Seacoast Mortar weighing in at a hefty 22,000 pounds (tube and carriage) and firing a 220 pound shell 4235 yards at a 45 degree tube angle. The most famous of these mortars was the "Dictator" or "Petersburg Express" which was used during the siege of Petersburg and it was moved (and fired) from it's own railroad car (which broke from the recoil after 5 rounds and had to be reinforced) and railroad spur line. When fired, the recoil propelled the car backwards 10-12 feet no doubt giving the crew quite the ride.
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Waterloo50

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I bet some of the crew had blood comming out of their ears, especially the poor guys on the enclosed rafts.
I read that hollowed out logs strapped with iron bands were used to fire 12 pound field gun shells, I don’t know if they were effective but the chances are, the men firing them risked more than just having burst eardrums.🤔
 

Lampasas Bill

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The are two wooden mortars at the Missouri State Museum in Jefferson City, where I worked before I retired. https://mostateparks.com/sites/mostateparks/files/Winter 2014_1.pdf The accession folder includes an account given by a veteran who actually served them at the siege of Ft. Blakely, Alabama, in 1865. After the Confederate surrender, his regiment marched to Montgomery to board a train home. While waiting in the train yard he noticed a number of the wooden mortars along with other pieces of ordnance waiting to be sent North. He and his companions selected two mortars, including the one he had served, and spirited them away to the car they were boarding and eventually brought them back to Missouri. The link above has a good picture of one and a history of wooden Civil War mortars in general.
 

Waterloo50

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