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Old 10th August 2019, 11:53 AM   #1
kronckew
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Default Grapeshot

Stumbled across this Photo of a bunch of Union Officers in the American War between the States. Remarkably clear and focused. It shows embrasures of cannon in a Union earthen-works, and more important, a sabotted stack of large diameter grape ready for loading. I note one of the two senior officers (Gold braid flourishes on the flat kepi tops) has a rather atypical sword, straight, crossguard but no knuckle guard...Medical Officer? He's got something shoved in his belt too.
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Old 10th August 2019, 10:58 PM   #2
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Thanks for sharing. I don't know anything about the sword you are inquiring about but can't help but admire the quality of the photographic image. Considering that this artistic medium was still in toddler stage in the 1860s and that the equipment was incredibly cumbersome by our standards.
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Old 11th August 2019, 02:45 AM   #3
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Question

Wondering how they managed the recoil on these great guns...

A CW era hollow shell I was given by a friend recently.
The straight sword is either a Medical or Staff Officer's sword I think.
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Old 11th August 2019, 04:31 AM   #4
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Pretty sure that guy is wearing a M1840 Medical officers sword, these were by Ames (Chicopee, Mass.) and I take it pretty rare.
Curious about the guy second to the last, right. Think he was pulling the 'Napoleon' thing with his hand in his coat.
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Old 11th August 2019, 07:30 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
Pretty sure that guy is wearing a M1840 Medical officers sword, these were by Ames (Chicopee, Mass.) and I take it pretty rare.
Curious about the guy second to the last, right. Think he was pulling the 'Napoleon' thing with his hand in his coat.

.....just dealing with an itch
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Old 11th August 2019, 01:17 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
... Curious about the guy second to the last, right. Think he was pulling the 'Napoleon' thing with his hand in his coat.

A prestigious "Napolifashion" in the period, Jim

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Old 11th August 2019, 01:29 PM   #7
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Default Bursting ... why ?

Was it 'over' heating due to intense discharges or 'over' loading of gunpowder ?


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Old 11th August 2019, 04:32 AM   #8
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Pretty sure it's medical officer's sword. These weapons fetch a pretty penny these days...

Ha! Jim, you and I nearly collided on that one!
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Old 11th August 2019, 07:52 AM   #9
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Thanks, all. Found the Medical staff officer's sword with your help, purely ceremonial, also found record of one Medical Officer that also carried a Colt revolver. No conscientious objector there. The swords were also made by Horstman,

I note the Officer far left is wearing a broad sash, as is the chubby guy far right. The 'Naploeon' guy appears to have his arm in a sling, possibly recovering from a wound or a break.

The cannon mounts of the period had no fancy recoil absorption mechanisms, depending entirely on brute strength and friction. The piece would recoil rearwards and had to be moved back into position after each shot, re-aiming was a big chunk of the reloading time. Fortress mounts for the big boys were on sloped rails with a central or front pivot, and gravity helped slow down the gun, it was reloaded in the recoiled position then laboriously hauled back into firing position. usually with the aid of capstan bars in mating holes in the wheels of the carriage. You can see the holey wheels on the Rodman 20" cannon mounting in the video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55ImdMV5qWw

Interestingly, long range coastal and naval guns of the period and into the 20c could not use high angle plunging fire, but 'skipped' the shot like a flat rock across the water into the sides of the target ship, not from above thru the decks (coastal guns, breach loaders with recoil mechanisms were deployed in coastal defence in the latter stages tho, but not in naval vessels). This influenced battleship design well into the 20th c. where side armour was many times the thickness of deck armour, making them highly vulnerable to aerial attacks that spelled the doom of the first line BB in modern navies, relegating them to shore bombardment rather than Fleet battles. The last BB was used in the Gulf war for a diversionary shore bombardment against Iraqi forces in Kuwait to concentrate their forces near the beaches while the main attack came well inland. The BB also was modified to fire cruise missiles at targets in Iraq itself. We had complete Air superiority, so an air attack on the Battleships were not a factor. In post WW1 the deck armour on first line ships were generally beefed up, they found that long range shots could plunge into the decks, Jutland saw a number of ships sunk that way at Jutland. The pride of the RN, HMS Hood, a Battle Cruiser, was scheduled to have it's deck armour strengthened but it wasn't done before the fateful day the Bismark dropped a shell thru the thin deck armour into the magazine on it's first salvo in early ww2.

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Old 11th August 2019, 12:54 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick
Wondering how they managed the recoil on these great guns... ...

At least Rick, these howitzers, not shooting tense straight but in angle, didn't kick back but risked entering the ground below .

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick
... A CW era hollow shell I was given by a friend recently...

You can see them waiting for the missing one ... .


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Old 11th August 2019, 03:18 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
At least Rick, these howitzers, not shooting tense straight but in angle, didn't kick back but risked entering the ground below .


You can see them waiting for the missing one ... .


.


More properly called 'Mortars' for their appearance, looking like the mortar of a mortar and pestle, they indeed were mounted so that they recoiled downward, they were also quite accurate, could clear fortress walls and their 'Bombs bursting in air' were devastating inside the Fort. There were ketch mounted versions with specially designed reinforced keels and rigging so that the shells (Bombs) could be fired up and out without. the Brits had some with them during the failed attempt on Baltimore, foiled by Fort McHenry, after they Brits shot down the Fort's flagpole, the men raised it up again with a huge Flag to prove they were still there. The Brits left soon after. The American national anthem is a poetic history of the battle. With few exceptions, the arrival of the siege mortars, the fate of a fortress was normally sealed, resulting in surrender, with few exceptions - like Ft. McHenry.

A howitzer is an intermediate form, like a short cannon, but mounted to fire at a steeper angle for indirect fire. More easily transported than a civil war mortar, it usually had a horse towable wheeled carriage. The 1841 Howitzer could be disassembled and carried by pack animals into terrain you could not take a normal cannon.
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Old 11th August 2019, 04:50 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kronckew
More properly called 'Mortars' for their appearance, looking like the mortar of a mortar and pestle, they indeed were mounted so that they recoiled downward.

Right Wayne; 'Morteiro' and not 'Obus'. Still you caught my drift in that they fired a (here technically called) 'vertical' shot and did not kick backwards... which was the subject.
Also in local military terminology cannons (or pieces) fire 'tense' shot, and howitzers a 'curved shot'.
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Old 11th August 2019, 12:45 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip
... Considering that this artistic medium was still in toddler stage in the 1860s and that the equipment was incredibly cumbersome by our standards.

Impressive indeed. Here a couple more from the same period...


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