THE Ml 841 12Pdr Howitzer

Gettysburg Battle Weapons Used
Muzzle of the first 3-inoh Ordnance Rifle over produced. This particular weapon was captured at Gettysburg. {George Lomas Collection)

I he smoothbore howitzer was designed as a lightweight gun suitable for use with canister or shell at short ranges, or at a higher trajectory than regular guns; ii was therefore able to hit targets in greater defilade than regular guns. The Model 184! 12-pdr. howitzer, with its bronze 65 in.-long tube thai weighed 788 lb., fired an 8.9 lb. shell 1.072 yards at five degrees elevation with a one-pound charge of powder. The weapon was not popular with artillerymen who were forced to engage in counter-battery fire against superior Napoleons, 3-in. rifles, and Patron guns.

hi March, 1864, Army of Northern Virginia chief William Pendleton inspected the artillery of the Army of Tennessee and reported that 12-pdr. howitzers were "scarcely more valuable* than 6-pdr. smoothbores, which he called "nearly useless, if not indeed worse." At that time about a quarter of the army's artillery park consisted of 12-pdr. howitzers. Pendleton felt that the howitzers were useful only in broken wooded country, and therefore called for the replacement of many of tlie weapons then in use. Lee agreed, suggesting that they be melted down to make new Napoleons. Nonetheless; many remained in the Confederate service until the war's end, and F.. Porter Alexander mentioned rigging up his howitzers on skids, aimed al high elevations, to use them successfully as mortars.

The howitzer was also useful i n close del eu.se. Writing about artilléis in

Another view of the 3-in. Ordnance rifle. (Gettysburg Battlefield National Park)

Another view of the 3-in. Ordnance rifle. (Gettysburg Battlefield National Park)

Napoleon Guns DrawingsConfederate Pdr Mountain Howitzer

A 12-pdr. Confederate-made howitzer. (Gettysburg National Battlefield Park}

The Ordnanoe Manual drawing of the 12-pdr. mountain howitzer on its carriage as welt as the pack saddle used to carry the tube shown on the first horse, and the two limber chests on the second horse.

ilit1 Petersburg campaign, Union artillery general Henry Abbot claimed that in being attacked: "no artillery can he more efficient than the 32-pdr. or 24-pdr. field howitzer." He went on to mention being attacked at a post held by a company of the 1st Connecticut Heavy Artillery, armed with two 32-pdr, and one 24-pdr. howitzers in which "so rapid a canister fire was maintained as to repulse the column with severe loss." The Confederates developed the Model 1862 12-pdr. field howitzer which had an iron 64.4 hi.-long tube with a bore of 4.62 inches and a weight of 850 pounds. They actually first cast these at the Tredegar Iron Works in November, 1861, and later began casting bronze 12-pouuders, too. fn all, the Tredegar lion Works cast some 30 iron versions, none after June, 1862, and 34 bronze versions, none after November, 1862,

Some private southern concerns also cast 12-pdr. howitzers, among them T. M. Breniian & Co., of Nashville, Tennessee, which cast 20 of them before the foundry was captured, fn Memphis, Tennessee, Quinby & Robinson turned out 43 12-pdr. howitzers, the last three of which were unfinished when the factory burned down, ending production. John Clark & Co., of New Orleans, east a number used in western armies before that city's fall. Another New Orleans firm, Leeds & Co., produced nine 12-pdr. howitzers in the same period. The Columbus (Georgia) Iron Works east at least a couple of brass howitzers, one made from household brass items donated by local ladies. Noble Brothers & Co., Rome, Georgia, turned out 14 12-pdr. howitzers in 1861-62. A. B, Reading & Brother, Vicksburg, Mississippi, delivered a pair of 12-pdr.

Brass Mountain Pdr HowitzerClark Brothers Foundry
A captured Confederate 12-pdr. howitzer complete with limber. [Library of Congress)

howitzers in 1861-62. Washington Foundry, Richmond, produced ten bronze rough-finished 12-pdr. howitzers in 1862 that were finished in the Richmond machine shop of Samson & Pac.

As indicated by Abbot, the howitzer was mainly a defensive weapon, and although many were used in the field in the early part of ilie war since any weapon that could fire was needed, they saw less and less field use as the war went on.

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