Sunday, October 6, 2013

New Artillery Wing Opens

A much anticipated Civil War artillery wing has opened at the Texas Civil War Museum.  The new wing features four artillery pieces, an artillery limber, and a Coehorn mortar.  A diverse collection of artillery shells and uniforms are also included.  The four artillery pieces represent a cross section of the Civil War's big guns.

Confederate 6 Pounder
Used widely during the early years of the Civil War, the Confederate 6 pounder was considered obsolete due to its limited range and shell size.   Both the Army of Tennessee and the Army of Northern Virginia had their 6 pounders recast as 12 pounders, a  superior gun with greater mobility, range and firepower. The recast 12 pound Napoleon model became the Civil War's most commonly used artillery piece.   Cast in Rome, Georgia at Noble Brothers and Co., this cannon was used in the defense of Atlanta against Sherman's forces. 

U.S. Artillery Ordnance Rifle
Made of high grade wrought iron, the Union Ordnance Rifle was extremely accurate at distances less than a mile.  Through a technique called rifling, grooves were cut into the inside of the barrel.  This put a  spin on the artillery shell after it was fired, giving it greater accuracy.  These guns were manufactured by the Phoenix Iron Works of Phoenixville, Pennsylvania.

Parrott Rifle
A second rifled piece is the Union Parrott Rifle.  Invented by  the Superintendant of the West Point Foundry, Robert Parker Parrott,  the Parrott featured a heavily reinforced breech.  This allowed for an increased gunpowder charge to fire 10 pound shells accurately at great distances.

Mountain Howitzer
The smaller, bronze  Mountain Howitzer was ideal for warfare in rugged, mountainous terrain where there were few roads.  Unlike the Napoleon, they could be disassembled and carried by pack mules. This Union howitzer was cast by Alger and Company of Boston, Massachusetts.  Texas troops used the Mountain Howitzer during the New Mexico Campaign.

Coehorn Mortar
The Coehorn Mortar, like its modern counterpart, rained shells on  opposing troop lines. This weapon was ideal for the trench warfare fought during the wars final months.  At the Battle of the Crater near Petersburg, Confederate defenders decimated Union troops with this weapon.  Four handles, one at each corner of the base, were used to carry and deploy the Coehorn.