MANUFACTURER(S): State Arsenals - USA / Confederate States - USA
OPERATORS: Confederate States; United States
LENGTH: 4.92 feet (1.5 meters)
WEIGHT: 0 Tons (400 kilograms; 882 pounds)
ENGINE: None. This is a towed artillery piece.
RANGE: 1 miles (1 kilometers)
Detailing the development and operational history of the Model 1841 6-Pounder Towed Field Gun.
Entry last updated on 5/23/2016.
Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
The United States Army adopted a new standardized 6-pounder field gun in 1841 as the aptly-designated Model 1841. The weapon's design was centered around an all-brass, 3.6-inch diameter smoothbore barrel (an upgrade from previous iron offerings) measuring approximately 60-inches long (swelled at the muzzle). While listing an overall range of 1,500 yards, the weapon's true lethality was felt at 1,000 yards and under depending on shot selected. The remainder of the design was conventional for the period, involving a mounting assembly atop a two-wheeled carriage with tow arm. A two-wheeled limber (creating the "carriage and limber" arrangement common to the period) was used to haul the ready-to-fire cannon shot. The limber typically provided 105 x 3.58-inch basic shot (6.1lbs, hence the "6-pounder" designation), 30 canister shots and 15 spherical case shots (fitting 48 cast iron balls) across three chests. The American Model 1841 ended up proving comparable in its battlefield effectiveness to its European rivals of the time. It was on full display during the Mexican-American War (1846-1848) which saw a United States Army victory.
By the time of the American Civil War (1861-1865), the Model 1841 had seen its best days though it was still in circulation and thusly pressed into action. It was in the process of seeing replacement for the US Army had begun adoption of the more capable Model 1857 "Napoleon" 12-pounder gun series - soon to become the most common of the Civil War. Regardless, the Model 1841 remained in useful numbers and proved the standard field gun for both sides through at least the first year of the conflict. In practice, they provided some measure of success though their limitations were keenly felt, particularly in siege warfare where its shot proved less than effective against fortified structures. Each unit weighed some 880lbs making them a bear to relocate and requiring multiple crew and pack animals. The comparable British 6-pounder was 672lbs. A ramrod was affixed to the carriage to provide a wet swapping action for the hot barrel and to push shot down all the way to the chamber base.
When the Model 1857s became available in greater numbers, Union forces relegated their existing Model 1841 stocks to reserves or for use on naval vessels where their firepower might still be usable. For the South, the Model 1841 remained in service a time longer until better alternatives were adopted. Lacking the industrial resources of their counterparts in the North, many Model 1841s were often melted down to be reconstituted into newer, more modern cannon designs.
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