12-pdr Field Howitzer – Up Close

I was out visiting Fredericksburg today with a new found battlefield stomping partner.   While at the National Cemetery, I took some time to examine a 12-pdr Field Howitzer Model 1841 with a sharp eye.  So call this a “Fredericksburg anniversary post” or perhaps just a follow on to yesterday’s post.

The howitzer in the in the spotlight stands on the southern edge of the National Cemetery, representing either portions of  the Washington Artillery and their position on December 13, 1862 during the First Battle of Fredericksburg; or Parker’s Battery position on May 3, 1863 during the Second Battle of Fredericksburg.

12-pdr FH Model 1841 on Marye's Heights

Ames Company produced this piece, as indicated on the right trunnion.

Right Trunnion

The Ames Foundry went by several different names over the years.  Before 1847, the trunnions used the name N.P. Ames with the location listed as Springfield, Massachusetts.  After that year, with the death of Nathan Peabody Ames, the name shortened to Ames Company, of Chicopee, Massachusetts.  Later stampings used the title “Ames Manufacturing Co.” and “A.M. Co.”  While the stated location of the company changed, this  was more an administrative office move rather than a relocation of the foundry itself.

The left trunnion displays the date of manufacture.  In this case, a very faint 1853.

Left Trunnion

This piece bears the registry number 118 and inspector initials JWR (for James Wolfe Ripley).

Muzzle of Howitzer

Under the knob is the weight – 786 pounds.

Weight Markings

Ames #118 complies with the standard dimensions and forms for the type.  A one inch wide ring wraps the piece just behind the muzzle lip.  And a chase ring is 2 3/4 inches behind.

Muzzle Profile

Just in front of the trunnions is a step where the reinforce ends.  Notice the “U.S.” at the edge of the reinforce indicating acceptance for a Federal contract.  What can’t be seen here, under the top strap on the trunnion, is a foundry number on the rimbase.  Records indicate this should read 200.

Looking at Reinforce Step

The breech features a base ring and a knob with very simple fillet. The base ring is 1.5 inches in width.

Breech and Knob Profile

A closer look at the top of the breach reveals a small “No. 3” inscription on the base ring, just left of center.

Close Up of Breech Ring and Vent

This is not a regulation mark, and likely is an administrative number.  The vent is on the right center, with three small holes offset to the left.   The explanations I’ve seen include metal sampling, de-militarizing (rendering the weapon unable to support a charge), and the unlikely attachment points for sights.

Ames #118 Profile

Today, regardless of what battery it represents for interpretation, the piece stands guard over the Federal graves in the National Cemetery.