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Old 28th February 2009, 07:29 AM   #11
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: NC, U.S.A.
Posts: 1,440

'Pirate manual', aye? I always knew you were a true scalawag, Jim!

I was wondering if anyone with knowlegde of munitions has any concrete stories or historical references to portable coehorn cannons being taken to sea. In Gilkerson's 'Borders Away II', he seems to discourage the idea that a short-range portable mortar that fired an anti-personnel shell that dispersed grapeshot had much use in naval battles. Yet, many books mention coehorns and mention their use. True, it might have been a limited bombardment with two ships near each other and one basically lobbing shells onto the others' deck. Let's face it, the whole purpose of the 'fighting tops' was to kill as many of the enemy sailors on their decks as bullets would allow. Likewise, thrown grenadoes had the same effect. So why not a coehorn shell? Gilkerson says (I'm quoting from memory, so I might be wrong) that the fire produced from the blast could have set fire to the rigging, but this explanation seems weak, considering the use of swival guns, which also produced flame. Perhaps it was the unpredictability of the scattering of grape? With the swivals and cannon, the shot would have been directed directly at the enemy ship, whereas the lobbed coehorn shell came down and exploded, sending projectiles in every direction. Thoughts, anyone?
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