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DKSmith

An interesting front sight on a cannon

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During a recent visit to Shiloh, I saw this cannon with a hooded front sight. It is on the main entrance road, right across from the Iowa monument. Does anyone know the history of this cannon? Thanks!

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This cannon can be from one of two possible batchs. The first is a group of four bronze six pounder field guns made in 1844 by the Alger manufacturing co. that were later rifled with 10 grooves of a right hand twist. They have a 3.67" bore diameter. The second group of guns also has four guns in the group made by three foundries, Ames, Marshal and Greenwood. They were all made in 1861 of bronze material in the profile of a M1841 six pounder field gun but were rifled at time of manufacturing. There are three different rifling types in this group of four all with a 3.67" bore. The first picture is a rifled gun in the profile of a M1841 six pounder rifled field gun. It has 10 grooves, I counted them, which identifies it as the Ames produced model from the batch of four. It has a registry number of #6. These guns were from a very small production batch probably used for experimentation. They may have been little used in the war which is evident from the good condition of the gun in first Picture. Don't know about the unusual front gun sight except, I believe it must be because of the gun being rifled. A front sight not repeated in later guns. A better picture of the complete gun will clear up the lingering doubt I have since all features are not shown.

Ron

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I looked again at the gun in the first picture and I'm am more certain that it is the Ames rifled gun from the test batch of four. You asked about the history of this gun but records of the actual assignments of guns during the civil war do not exist today except in a few cases. I can say that if I am correct this gun was built as a test gun, then it was probably stored after the tests were over. Test guns remained in storage for many years during and after the war and when brought out of storage, they were in good condition as the picture shows.

Ron

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"It has 10 grooves, I counted them, which identifies it as the Ames produced model from the batch of four." Alright, I can only see 1/2 of the barrel and I can count at least 7, which would make for at least 14????????

Jim

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Hello Jim,

Sorry, try again. The rifling in this barrel has lands and groves which means it has 10 lands and 10 grooves. It is hard to count them properly from a picture but this photo is not too hard, the shading is what adds to the difficulty. Lands are the high point of the rifling and grooves are the lower portion. Lands have a flat surface while grooves have a flat bottom. I would love to go to Shiloh to verify the count but.......

Ron

Forgot to mention in previous post that the front peep sight is probably a add-on. The different metal is a hint the sight was added after the gun was forged. notice the blade is a iron material, the rust is a give-away.

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Many thanks Ron, for that excellent information! I was just curious why one gun had a hooded front sight and none of the others did. If they were all from an experimental batch, the hooded sight was probably experimental, as well.

How did you learn so much about all the cannon at Shiloh? I would like to study up on them, myself.

Here's some of the others in the batch, showing the differences among them. I don't know what the limit is on number of pictures, hope I don't over do it!

Different front sights:

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A place for a rear sight

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This one has a "notch" rear sight

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Welcome to the board, DK. Great topic you've started. As for a limit on the number of pictures, we do have a rule about that. The rule is......post more pictures. :lol:

So don't worry about overdoing it. Not really possible. If there's one thing we love to see, it's pictures from the park. And if you post cannon pictures, Ron will be your best friend for life!

Perry

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The first picture shows a James Rifle, Type 2 of a 3.8" bore. What is unique about this gun is the front sight blade used only on these Type 2 James Rifles. These sight blades were made by the Ames Manufacturing co and used oly on Type 2 James Rifles. They were added to the muzzle after manufacturing with care and precession and appear like they were original to the gun. Fine workmanship.

The second picture shows a crude iron metal home made front sight probably mounted in the holes for the Ames front sight blade in picture 1.

The third picture shows the mounting holes for the rear sights.

The fourth picture shows an emblem called "Eagle over Globe" and was used on variuos field guns many times to make the gun more unique. It is known to have been used on guns of a cadet battery and others.

Ron

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Perry and Ron, thanks for the welcome and thanks for answering my (millions of) questions.

One of my prized possessions is a copy of "This Great Battlefield of Shiloh" by Tim Smith, that I bought in the book store one year. It has lots of photos of the park during its early years. Reading through some of this forum's old threads, I'm sure you guys would love that book!

I'm guessing that when these pictures were taken, bronze muzzle loaders were becoming obsolete and were being sent to Civil War Battlefield Parks. These are at Pittsburgh Landing and had not yet been placed on the park:

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The cannon balls were constantly carried off for souvenirs and the park service had to come up with an alternate to real ones.

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Sorry, Ron, but due to the fact that the 16th WI didn't have any cannon, I don't know the difference between a land and a grove (wouldn't it be easier to call em hills and valleys???).

Jim

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DK, asking and answering questions is a big reason why we're all here, so you're more than welcome.

Agreed about Tim Smith's book. It's very good, and I love the old pictures of the park. What's cool is to take a book with some of those old photos with you to the park, and track down the sites to see what it looks like now.

In the first picture above, the old hotel was located about where the modern-day visitors center now sits, as CD told me last month at the park. I took a modern-day replica of a similar picture that I'll try to post later. Looking into the sun, unfortunately, so I don't know how good it is, but we'll see.

A couple of new books are out with more early-day pictures. I'll have to get the titles to you this evening. But you'd like them I think.

Ron is our resident artillery expert, so he's the guy for most cannon questions. As I'm sure he can tell you, Shiloh is probably the best outdoor museum in the world for James Rifles.

Perry

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DK, hope you don't mind but I took the liberty of applying my computer crayons to your first photo above, in response to the exchange between Jim and Ron about the lands and grooves. If you'd rather I not do this just let me know and I'll remove the altered photo.

In this version of the photo, the grooves are red and the lands are yellow. Or maybe it was the lands that were red and the grooves that were yellow. Anyway, they're different colors so maybe it makes them a bit easier to distinguish.....

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Speaking of which....Ron, I get why the grooves are called grooves, but why are the lands called lands?

Perry

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DK, almost forgot....those two new book about the park that I mentioned yesterday. Here's a link to each of them on Amazon. (They're not affiliate links)....

Shiloh National Military Park, from the Images of America series....

http://www.amazon.com/Shiloh-National-Military-Images-America/dp/0738591351/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1336229369&sr=1-1

This one is by Tim Smith and Brian McCutchen, with a forward by recently retired park superintendent Woody Harrell. There is some overlap with his other book on the park, but this one mainly focuses on the accompanying photographs.

Next is a book titled, A History & Guide to the Monuments of Shiloh National Park, by the daughter-in-law (I think) of former park historian George V. Reaves -

http://www.amazon.com/History-Guide-Monuments-Shiloh-National/dp/1609494121/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1336229551&sr=1-2

Both books make for a pretty quick read, and have some great early-day pictures of the park. I'd like it if they had more still, but that's how I am. :)

Perry

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Thanks Perry! I should have known that you guys are already familiar with Tim Smith's book. Reading through the forum archives, I've been keeping a list of books that forum members mention, and I've seen that he has a number of books out. Many thanks for the recommendations!

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After drooling over the first book for a few minutes, I thought something was familiar about it. I checked the book bag from Shiloh Bookstore that I had opened yet from my visit south, and there it was. Damn oldtimersdisease!

Jim

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A question about using photos from books...is it o.k. to use photos from books for discussions on an internet forum? My (poor) understanding is that copyrighted material means that no one can use that material to sell a product or make money from. So, is it o.k. to post pictures here for discussion by the group? (I started wondering about this after I posted pictures from Dr. Smith's book...)

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DK, here's my take on that. As long as we give credit on where we get the pictures, it should be okay. That's the approach that I take myself. Plus, I try not to post every picture from the book, if you know what I mean. Some of the old photos you'll see here on the board come from books that are out of copyright, others come from online sources such as the Library of Congress. But, if you have something from a book that is still under copyright and you wish to post it here, all I really ask is that you credit the original source. We've never had a problem about that, and if we ever do it will come back on me, since I'm giving permission. But, I honestly don't think it will happen, as long as we try to play fair, so to speak.

Perry

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Hello Everyone,

Lands and grooves? The James Rifles are of a 3.8" Bore diameter. This is measured from the surface of a land across the tube to the exact opposite land. If measured this way, then any measurement will be the same 3.8" diameter. This is the diameter before the tube is reamed for the rifling. When the tube is bored, cuts are made in the tube and these cuts, which extend the length of the tube, are called grooves which is what they are. If the tube is measured across two opposite grooves, it would be larger then 3.8". The portion of the tube not effected by the reaming is called the "Lands". During the reaming, the tube is rotated and this gives the tube a twist to the rifling. This twist is what gives the rifled cannon its much better accuracy by creating a spin to the projectile during the flight of a shell.

The projectile is smooth sided before it is loaded, rammed down the tube. When the explosion of the powder charge occurs, the resultant force causes the soft metal in the base of the projectile to expand and forces the metal to fill the grooves of the tube rifling and this guides the projectile out of the tube and gives a spin to the shot. It is this spin which causes the projectile to fly straiter since it is spinning in a circle. This spin prevents a projectile from moving to the side. Don't know why lands are called lands except they are the orginial surface before reaming.

Hope this helps

Ron

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Many thanks for everyone's help!

Looking through Amazon's preview of A History & Guide to the Monuments of Shiloh National Park by Stacy W. Reaves, I saw this picture of all the artillery tubes that had been off loaded at Pittsburg Landing:

PittsburgL2.jpg

I'm not sure how much each one of them weighed, but I know it was a lot! Made me realize just how much work was involved getting them out of the mud, up the river bank and stacked neatly. I bet the cannon balls were all rolled off the deck of the barge, too!

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Awesome discussion/pictures. I have never seen a cannon with the eagle over globe emblem - something to look for in the future.

Ron: was the mount for the rear light where the gunner put his pendulum hasse? At least that is the case with the Napoleon we fire for demonstrations.

I think most M1857 Light 12 pounder tubes weigh a little in excess of 1200 lbs and ordinance rifles and 10 Pound Parrotts might be around 800 lbs or so. One just has to look at the muzzle of the guns - at least in the case of federal pieces to find the weight of the tube.

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Sharon,

Yes, the pendulium hasse was mounted on these screw holes. Also, the wieghts you give are for the tube only, add the weight of the gun carriage and any equipments to get a true weight of a field piece. Further, if pulled by horses, add the wieght of the limber for the gun and also the limber for/and the weight of the caisson. All together, a team of horses would be pulling about 3,500 pounds. And beyond that, don't forget the weight of the gunners riding the limbers and caisson and their equipment. Oh, for the life of a horse. The life span of a horse during the civil war after they were put into harness as part of a team was about 7 months.

Ron

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Do you remember the story that I related a couple of months ago about the commercial fisherman who claimed to have found a cannon barrel sticking out of the riverbank near Pittsburg Landing? Think about that as you look at the picture that DK posted above. Some of those cannons are right at the waters edge. It might be easy for one or two to slide into the water and disappear. And since they had so many, they might not even be too concerned if they lost a couple. There might still be one in the water off Pittsburg Landing.

Grandpa

P.S. CLee: Please send me a personal message about your Mississippi Confederate ancestor.

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