Confederate Mountain Howitzer

I mentioned in an earlier post that the Confederates produced a small quantity of Model 1835 Mountain Howitzers during the Civil War.  Based on surviving examples, Tredegar Iron Works in Richmond and Columbus Arsenal in Georgia produced batches.  While the Columbus produced weapon is in private hands, two of the Tredegar pieces are on public display.  One of which is at the Richmond National Battlefield Welcome Center, appropriately on the site of the old Tredegar Iron Works.

Confederate 12-pdr Mountain Howitzer

The howitzer is on loan from the Ethel Corporation, sitting just inside the front door.   The weapon easily passes for a standard Federal mountain howitzer from a distance.

Profile of CS Mountain Howitzer

Compare to a standard US mountain howitzer at Fort Washington, Maryland:

US 12-pdr Mountain Howitzer Model 1835

The weight of the Confederate piece is 225 pounds, in line with the regulation weight of Federal designs.  On the left trunnion, as with Federal types, is the year of manufacture.  In the case of the Confederate howitzer, that is 1862.

Left Trunnion of CS Howitzer

Only on the right side does the different pedigree apparent.  Instead of Alger or Ames, the Confederate howitzer displays “J.R.A. & Co // T.F.”

Right Trunnion of CS Howitzer

These abbreviations indicate “Joseph Reid Anderson and Company”  and “Tredegar Foundry.”

On the muzzle, at the top, is Tredegar’s foundry number – 1393.

Muzzle of CS Howitzer

This view also shows the chamber at the bottom of the bore.

Tredegar produced no mountain howitzers before the war for Federal contracts.  There is a possibility that the company offered the type to non-government customers.  However there is not a single surviving example of such or documentation to support such a premise.

I would assume Tredegar’s involvement with mountain howitzers began in 1861.  Before the Civil War, ordnance diagrams were not considered sensitive military secrets.  The manuals of the day openly shared basic plans of the weapons.  These manuals were copied, almost to the last period, by Confederate ordnance officers, most of whom had resigned from Federal service in 1861.  And there are indications the Army provided detailed plans to all vendors, regardless of contracted production, in order to expedite production.  In short, as a frequent supplier of military ordnance, in 1861 Tredegar likely had plans for every standard Federal cannon type ranging from the 6-pdr field guns up to the latest Rodman guns.   So the Federal government “gave” the Confederacy a leg up by providing, either directly or indirectly, the plans for cannons like the 12-pdr Mountain Howitzer.

If this Confederate howitzer could speak, perhaps it would tell us of operations in West Virginia, or actions in the trenches of Petersburg, maybe even service on a Confederate ironclad where it was used to deter boarders.  But until metal comes to life, all we really know is the howitzer’s origin and year of manufacture.

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