The Mountain Howitzer

The mountain howitzer was a small, lightweight weapon designed to be broken down and carried by pack animals for use in rugged terrain. While it was not of much use in the east, where it would be subject to coumerbattery fire, it was popular in the west especially against Indians who did not have access to artillery. These weapons saw only limited use by Union Ibices, although ihe Confederates, especially in the west, employed quite a few of them. They were rarely used in the main actions of the war, however, instead seeing action in places like Carnifix Ferry, West Virginia, in 1861; Glorieta, New Mexico; Giles Court House, West Virginia; and Wood Lake, Minnesota, in IWi2, In the latter fight the Federals said that they were used "with great effect" against the Sioux. Regular infantrymen on both sides tended to disregard the weapon. One of the South's leading generals, Patrick Cleburne, reported that during the battle of Richmond, Kentucky, the Union troops: "kept up a ridiculous fire from a little mountain howitzer which they had captured the day before ..."

Most mountain howitzers were used by infantry troops, rather than regular artillery, and acted more as close infantry support weapons than actual artillery. Still, they did appear in the

The M1641 12-pdr. mountain howitzer was designed to be carried in pieces on the backs of three mules. The bronze tube weighed a mere 220 lb., but only had a range of 900 yards at five degrees elevation. It fired a shell weighing almost 9 pounds. They were popular in the west where counterbattery fire was uncommon, but much less so in the east where they were rarely used. The Confederates also cast copies of this weapon, (U.S. Army Ordnance Museum, Aberdeen, Maryland)

Mountain HowitzerBoat Howitzer

A 12-pdr. Dalghren boat howitzer, foreground. The small iron carriage makes the weapon look rather top-heavy. (George Lomas Collection)

A 12-pdr. Dalghren boat howitzer, foreground. The small iron carriage makes the weapon look rather top-heavy. (George Lomas Collection)

^ ranks. Between August, 1863, and June, 1864, for example, the Atlanta Arsenal issued 14 12-pdr, mountain howitzers, all made by northern foundries and captured from Union forces by the Army of Tennessee.

According to U.S. Army Col. 1 lenry Scott, in his 1861 Military Dictionary, "The mountain howitzer, weight 220 lbs,, whole length 37.21 inches, diameter of bore 4,62 inches; length of chamber 2.75 inches, diameter of chamber, 3,34; natural angle of sight, 0.37*; Range 5,000 yards, at an elevation of 2.30*, with a charge of 0.5 lb. powder and shell; time of flight, 2 seconds; with the same charge and elevation, the range of spherical-case is 450 yards. At an elevation of from 4.5 to 5,5 the range with canister is 250 yards. According to elevation the range varies from 150 to 1,000 yards; at the same elevation the range with shell being greater than spherical-case, A battery of six mountain howitzers required 33 pack-saddles and harness, and 33 horses or mules. A mountain howitzer ammunition chest will carry about 700 musket ball-cartridges, besides eight rounds for the howitzer."

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  • graziella
    Where mountain howitzers used at gettysburg?
    8 years ago

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