Field artillery


an HMS American Cultures collaborative production

There were two main types of artillery in the civil war, field artilleryand siege artillery. Siege artillery was used during long sieges and was much heavier, up to 18 tons, and used much heavier projectiles, up to 250 pounds. Now, within the siege artillery were two types of weapons. Mortars, which fired a high-arcing shell and guns, which fired a more horizontal shell. The picture below to the left are mortars and the picture to the right are guns.
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13 inch mortars
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10 inch parrot rifle















However, this is about field artillery, so now we'll focus on that. First, these giant guns weighed anywhere from 788 to 1800 pounds. Horses were the force that towed and moved these masses of metal. With each horse being able to pull 700 pounds, usually two teams of six horses each were assigned to each gun. In most batteries, the men walked beside their guns, but some rode on horses. These were used to support cavalry and were reffered to as "horse" or "flying" artillery. As for the ammunition, carriages were used for transportation. A limber was a carriage with two wheels that held one ammunition chest. It was towed by a team of horses (six) and attatched to the back of a limber was either a gun or a caisson. A cassion was another two wheeled carriage but it held two ammunition chests and a spare wheel.
There were many different types of ammunition used during the civil war. Shot (for smoothbores)/bolt (for rifles) was a solid piece of metal. Shells were filled with an explosive charge that blew the metal casing into a few large fragments. Case was used against soldiers and was a metal case filled with iron/lead balls and explosive. In midair it would explode and shower the soldiers with many deadly projectiles. Canister was the most deadly ammunition. It consisted of a very thin metal layer filled with lead/iron balls. Right after leaving the muzzle of the gun, the layer would disentigrate, fanning out the balls like a giant shotgun. This had a very short range, but could kill many men. Another type of ammunition, although rare, was chain shot. This consisted of two cannonballs attatched together by a chain. When shot at ships, they were very effective at taking out masts and sails. This would leave the ship without a way to move. A usual battery had 288 shot, 288 cases, 96 shells, 96 canisters.
As with siege artillery, there were two types of field artillery, smoothbores and rifles. Rifles were guns with a spiral grove inside the barrel. This increased the range and accuracy but it was more expensive. The 3 inch Ordnance rifle was the most common, but there was also the 10 and 20 pounder parrot rifles and the 12 pounder Whitworth rifle, which had very good accuracy and loaded from the breech (back) and not the muzzle (front). Smoothbores did not have the spiral groove, and there were two types, the howitzers and guns. The guns were 9 and 12 pounds. The most popular smoothbore was the 12 pounder Napoleon. Also, howitzers were short barreled guns that fired explosive projectiles over a short distance but in a high arc. Most of the guns were made of bronze, cast iron, or wrought iron.

Online Sources:
Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org

Offline Sources:

Image Sources