Cannons
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Bronze Hand Cannon
The hand cannon was invented around 1300 and was used until at least the 1520s in Europe, and until modern times in the Far East. It is a simple weapon, but effective in sieges and ambushes. Despite its crude appearance, it could kill armored or unarmored opponents at short ranges - if the gunner could manage to hit them. This particular hand cannon is made of bronze and weighs 10 pounds. The interior of the barrel tapers from about 1.75" at the mouth to about .75" near the touch hole. It is fired by firmly holding the weapon (or binding it to a pole) and touching the primed touch hole with a match or burning ember. I'm not sure of its age.
 
Civil War Era Signal Cannon
This antique signal cannon was made about 1850. There is a faint mold line on both sides of the barrel from when it was cast. Cannons made after 1858 normally do not exhibit this characteristic. The 12-inch barrel weighs 16 pounds and has a one inch bore. The carriage is made of wood and metal. It shows remnants of grey paint with dark blue trim. The letters "U.S." are painted on both sides of the carriage. The 10 3/4 inch, six-spoke wheels are made of cast iron. There is evidence of red pin stripping on both wheels. A wood and metal ramrod is stored in a bracket below the carriage. During the 1800s, small cannons like this were used as noise makers at political rallies, patriotic events, and celebrations.
 
Black Powder Signal Cannon
This handsome signal cannon was probably made at the beginning of the 20th Century. It may have been fired to celebrate patriotic events, draw attention at political rallies, or start boat and horse races. The heavy cast iron barrel is 14 inches long and has a one inch bore. The carriage is also made of cast iron. The beautiful oak wheels have copper fittings and iron rims. Elevation is adjusted by tipping the barrel up and down within the carriage frame. It weighs 32 pounds.
 
Winchester Model 1898 Breach Loading 10 Ga. Cannon
Winchester Repeating Arms Company made these cannons from 1901 to 1958 at their facility in New Haven, CT. They were used to signal the start/stop of yacht races, at retreat ceremonies, and for celebrations like the 4th of July. This Winchester cannon fires a 10 gauge black power blank cartridge. The left side of the barrel is marked "Winchester Trademark." The right side is marked "Manufactured by the Winchester Repeating Arms Co. New Haven, Conn. USA Patented August 20, 1901 10 GA." The top of the barrel is stamped "Not For Ball." It is 16.5" long, 7.25" tall, and 6.5" wide. It weighs 15 lbs. My Winchester Salute Cannon is mounted on an ingenious cast-iron platform that incorporates a spring operated buffer to dampen the recoil and return the cannon to battery after each shot. Winchester hasn't made these cannons for over 50 years. I believe this one was made before WWII. (Flayderman reference number SK-171.)
 
Dahlgren Style Garrison Cannon (Circa 1880)

This small garrison cannon was made in the U.S. about 1880. It has a 26 inch bronze barrel with a 2 1/2 inch smooth bore. It is capable of firing a 2 pound iron cannon ball a half mile. The carriage is solid oak with hand-forged iron fittings. At the rear is a screw mechanism to adjust the barrel's elevation. The gun sits on four oak wheels mounted with iron rims. Snapshot

 
My Cannon Ball Collection
Click here for info on how to identify a cannon ball.
 
 
2 Pound Cannon Ball (Revolutionary War)
 
This ball came from the American schooner USS Revenge, which was part of Benedict Arnold's fleet that fought in the Battle Valcour Island on Oct 11, 1776, on Lake Champlain. The Philip Skene Foundry in Whitehall, NY, forged this ball for the USS Revenge, which was armed with four 2-pounders. The USS Revenge survived the Battle of Valcour Island but was scuttled by the Americans near Fort Ticonderoga in 1780. The hull was located and raised in 1909. A number of artifacts were recovered, including cannon balls, skeletons, and small arms. This ball was purchased about 1937 by Professor James Dunn and added to his collection of Revolutionary War artifacts. It came to me with a letter of authenticity signed by Dunn's grand-daughter.
Caliber Designation
Diameter
Weight
Max Range
2 Pounder
2.46"
2 lbs.
0.5 mile
 
 
4 Pound Cannon Ball (Revolutionary War)
 
I got this ball in central Pennsylvania about 30 years ago. It is the type of ordnance fired by the French-made, four-pound, horse-drawn, field cannon used by the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. When fired, these solid iron balls would often bounce across the ground before striking an enemy formation with deadly results. It was also used to destroy buildings and other structures, as well as for counter-battery fire.
Caliber Designation
Diameter
Weight
Max Range
4 Pounder
3.12"
4.07 lbs.
0.5 mile
 
 
6 Pound Cannon Ball (Revolutionary War)
 
This ball was made at the Skene Foundry in Skenesborough, NY (later renamed Whitehall). It is from the 1776 Battle of Valcour Island on Lake Champlain. During this battle, Benedict Arnold's fledgling American Navy slowed the British advance toward the Hudson Valley. This ball was found at Ferris Bay (now Arnold's Bay) many years ago. Professor James Dunn bought it in 1937 from a local historian. Dunn was a history professor at NYU in the 1930s. His grand-daughter, Maryanne Dunn, inherited his collection. I have a signed statement from her describing how her grandfather obtained it.
Caliber Designation
Diameter
Weight
Max Range
6 Pounder
3.58"
6.1 lbs.
0.7 mile
 
 
6 Pound Cannon Ball (French & Indian War)
 
A local historian found this ball during the 1950s near Fort William Henry at Lake George, NY. It is probably French because it is slightly smaller than similar cannon balls used by the British and Americans. Montcalm's force of 3,000 French and Indians probably fired it in August 1757 when they laid siege to the fort. The subsequent massacre of the fort's inhabitants was memorized in James Fennimore Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans.
Caliber Designation
Diameter
Weight
Max Range
6 Pounder
3.5"
6.0 lbs.
0.9 mile
 
 
8 Pound Cannon Ball (Revolutionary War)
 
This ball was found on Mount Defiance; a prominent hill overlooking Fort Ticonderoga, NY. In 1777, the British dragged artillery to the top of Mount Defiance and fired down on the Americans. Henry Knox had taken most of the fort's artillery to Boston. Using their few remaining cannons, which included an 8-pounder, the defenders returned fire while they evacuated the fort. This is probably one of the balls fired by the Americans. Professor James Dunn bought it in 1937 from a local historian. I have a signed statement from his grand-daughter describing how he acquired it.
Caliber Designation
Diameter
Weight
Max Range
8 Pounder
3.9"
8 lbs.
0.8 mile
 
 
9 Pound Cannon Ball (War of 1812)
 
This ball was discovered several years ago embedded in an embankment north of Baltimore. I suspect that it may have been fired during the Battle of Baltimore in 1814. During the War of 1812, the British launched a two-prong attack against Baltimore. While British naval forces bombarded Fort McHenry, several thousand British troops marched toward the city from North Point. The Americans used small arms and cannon fire to stop their advance.
Caliber Designation
Diameter
Weight
Max Range
9 Pounder
4.1"
9.14 lbs.
0.8 mile
 
 
18 Pound Cannon Ball (War of 1812)
 
This ball was found along the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia. This type of ball was fired from larger warships and field/seacoast fortifications. For example, the USS Constitution, which was called "Old Ironsides," carried sixteen 18-pounders. Fort McHenry also had 18-pounders that they fired at the British fleet when they tried to capture Baltimore in 1814. By the Civil War, most of the larger cannons fired exploding shells. Because this ball is solid iron, I suspect it dates to 1812, or perhaps earlier.
Caliber Designation
Diameter
Weight
Max Range
18 Pounder
5.17"
18.3 lbs.
0.9 mile
 
 
18 Pound Cannon Ball (Siege of the Alamo)
 
Construction workers reportedly found this ball in San Antonio in the 1970s. Circumstantial evidence suggests it may have been fired by the defenders of the Alamo in 1836. The Texans put their only 18-pounder in the southwest corner of the Alamo, facing San Antonio, to command the town where they expected the Mexican army would come. It could throw an 18 pound iron ball more than half a mile beyond the western outskirts of the town. It was fired several times during the siege. Most notably, the Alamo's commander, Col Travis, ordered it to fire at Mexican forces in San Antonio immediately after they demanded the Alamo's surrender. There is no record of any other 18-pounder being fired in or near San Antonio. Most 18-pounders had been phased out of service by the Civil War.
Caliber Designation
Diameter
Weight
Max Range
18 Pounder
5.17"
18.3 lbs.
0.9 mile
 
 
18 Pound Cannon Ball (Civil War)
 
Several years ago a man found this ball while working on Hawkins Point, which is about six miles southeast of Baltimore. Where he discovered the ball is less than a mile from Fort Carroll, an old military installation that sits on a small man-made island in the middle of the Patapsco River. Construction of Fort Carroll began in 1847. Although not completed before the Civil War, it was still used to deny the Confederate Navy access to Baltimore. There were 30 cannons of various sizes at the fort during the war. Some were older models that shot out-of-date ordnance like the 18 pound cannon ball found at Hawkins Point. It is likely that this ball was fired during gunnery practice or when the fort's guns were being calibrated.
Caliber Designation
Diameter
Weight
Max Range
18 Pounder
5.17"
18.3 lbs.
0.9 mile
 
 
24 Pound Cannon Ball (Revolutionary War)
 
This ball was unearthed in Crosswicks. NJ. This town sits next to the Delaware River, and just south of Trenton. During the Revolutionary War, Crosswicks was occupied by both British and American forces. The local meeting house was used as a HQ before the second Battle of Trenton. On one occasion, this building was hit by three British cannon balls. One is still lodged in the brickwork. I suspect that a British warship in the nearby Delaware River may have fired this 24-pounder at the town.
Caliber Designation
Diameter
Weight
Max Range
24 Pounder
5.82"
24.3 lbs.
1.08 miles
 
 
24 Pound Cannon Ball (War of 1812)
 
A homeowner in Ridgeway, Maryland, found this ball buried in his backyard. Ridgeway is near Severn, 13 miles south of Baltimore, and not far from the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay. I suspect that the British Navy may have fired it from the nearby Severn River during the War of 1812. During this conflict, British ships frequently fired upon American privateers operating in the Chesapeake Bay and adjacent waters.
Caliber Designation
Diameter
Weight
Max Range
24 Pounder
5.82"
24.3 lbs.
1.08 miles
 
 
32 Pound Cannon Ball (War of 1812)
 
This ball is from South Carolina. I suspect it is from the War of 1812 because later ordinance this size is often hallow and designed to fragment. This ball is solid iron. During the War of 1812, they were routinely found at field and seacoast fortifications, and fired by the largest warships. On ships, they were often associated with carronades, which are short smoothbore cannons with reduced weight and range. Carronades were typically found on the upper decks and were used for broadsides and other close battle.
Caliber Designation
Diameter
Weight
Max Range
32 Pounder
6.25"
32.4 lbs.
1.1 miles
 
 
42 Pound Cannon Ball (War of 1812)
 
This ball was buried along the shore of Lake Erie in western Pennsylvania. It is the type of projectile that was typically fired from 19th Century field and seacoast fortifications, and larger naval vessels. It has several small indentations that can be grasped by a lift mechanism to support the loading process.
Caliber Designation
Diameter
Weight
Max Range
42 Pounder
6.84"
42.5 lbs.
1.11 miles
 
 
8 Inch Cannon Ball (Civil War)
 
This large ball was buried in a farm field along the Chesapeake Bay north of Baltimore. It was probably fired by one of the 8" Columbiad Coastal Defense Guns placed along the Chesapeake Bay. These large muzzle-loading cannons were used to defend seaports and inland waterways. The ball has several small indentations that can be grasped by a lift mechanism to support the loading process. There were several 8" Columbiads at Fort McHenry during the Civil War.
Caliber Designation
Diameter
Weight
Max Range
8-Inch
7.88"
65 lbs.
1.83 miles
 
 
10 Inch Round Shell (Civil War)
 
This large shell came from Point Lookout in southern Maryland. This strategically important peninsula lies between the Chesapeake Bay and Potomac River. During the Civil War, three Union forts and a large prisoner of war camp were located here. I believe this shell came from one of the nearby coastal defense batteries. It is not solid; rather it has an empty chamber for an explosive charge, and a hole for the insertion of a timer/fuse.
Caliber Designation
Diameter
Weight
Max Range
10-Inch
9.87"
102 lbs.
2.74 miles

 

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