Improved 32-pdr Guns – Models of 1840 and 1845

After the long production run of the 32-pdr Model 1829, the Army turned to simplified and improved designs.  In parallel to 42-pdr seacoast gun developments, two experimental “new model” guns appeared in 1839.  Columbia and West Point foundries cast one Model 1839 each.  As noted on the chart below, the design shortened the reinforce and decreased weight.  The ringknob disappeared.

A production model followed the following year, and matching improvements to the larger 42-pdrs, featured a cylindrical first reinforce.  From the breech, again without ringknob, a 22-inch diameter base ring formed into a 22.4-inch long, 21-inch diameter first reinforce.  The second reinforce narrowed from 21 inches to 18.5 inches over a 31.5 inch length.  The trunnions, with a large 9.4-inch diameter rimbase, formed off the second reinforce.  The chase tapered through a chase ring, then expanded with a muzzle swell.  The muzzle featured a echinus, instead of the earlier model’s caveto.

The Army placed orders for the 32-pdr Model 1840 with three foundries on January 7, 1841.  Columbia Foundry in Washington, D.C. produced twenty.  West Point Foundry provided nineteen.  Bellona Foundry outside Richmond, Virginia received an order for twenty.  However two months later the Army reduced the order to sixteen.  The Army rejected all sixteen produced.  Finally in March 1843, eleven of Bellona’s guns passed proofing thus completing the contract and production of the Model 1840 guns.  As noted, none of these guns survive today.

Presumably, the Model 1840 failed to live up to expectations and the Army revised the pattern.  In late 1844, Tredegar Foundry received orders for sixty Model 1845.  The new model increased the base ring to a 23.5 inch diameter.  The reinforces measured the same lengths as on the Model 1840, but the first reinforce was 22-inches in diameter.  Other dimensions remained the same.  Weight increased to 7,251 pounds average.  Surviving Model 1845s show machine marks all around, indicating an effort to smooth the overall surface of the guns prior to leaving the foundry.

Fort Donelson 367
32-pdr Model 1845 at Fort Donelson - Tredegar #21

Tredegar fulfilled the order for sixty by 1846.  In 1850 the Richmond foundry delivered another thirty.  Other sources included Cyrus Alger with 30, Fort Pitt Foundry with 32, and West Point with 30.   All told 182 guns in the production run.

Three of the Tredegar guns stand on display today at Fort Donelson, offering good “walk arounds.”  Starting at the breech, the breech forms a “dish” behind the base ring.  From the base ring the lines taper sharply down to the first reinforce.  Note the slight vertical line at the end of the first reinforce, just left of center in this photo.

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Breech Profile of Tredegar #21

Another view of the breech of another 32-pdr shows the lockpiece above the vent, connecting to the base ring.

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Breech of Model 1845 - Tredegar #52

The second reinforce gradually tapers down to the shoulder, just past the trunnions.  The rimbases provided a one inch surface area all around the trunnions.  Note also the “U.S.” acceptance mark between the trunnions.

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Shoulder of Model 1845 - Tredegar #52

The left trunnions display the year of manufacture.  The right trunnions bear the initials of the foundry owner and foundry – in this case “J.R.A.” for Joseph R. Anderson and “T.F.” for Tredegar Foundry.  Notice the machine marks on the rimbases, seen to advantage in this view.

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Right Trunnion of Model 1845 - Tredegar #52

Proceeding to the muzzle, the chase tapers to the chase ring.

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Muzzle Profile of Model 1845 - Tredegar #21

Finally, the muzzle face bears the stamps of the registry and inspector.  In this case Alfred Mordecai (the senior).  Notice the echinus with no fillets.

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Muzzle Face of Model 1845 - Tredegar #26

Like the 32-pdr Model 1829, the Model 1845 was considered second rate for seacoast defense at the start of the war.  Yet without sufficient replacements on hand, both sides used the Model 1845 where needed.  Some were rifled to improve performance (and I will take that discussion up in a later post).  But after the first half of the war, like all the 32s, the Model 1845s were relegated to supporting roles.

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32-pdr Model 1845 at Fort Donelson - Tredegar #26


Aside from on site notes and links provided above, sources consulted for this post were:

Birkhimer, William. Historical Sketch of the Organization, Administration, Material and Tactics of the Artillery, United States Army.  Washington:  James J. Chapman, 1884.  Particularly pages 274-8 discussing the evolution of the American systems of artillery.

Olmstead, Edwin, Wayne E. Stark, and Spencer C. Tucker. The Big Guns: Civil War Siege, Seacoast and Naval Cannon. Alexandria Bay, NY: Museum Restoration Service, 1997.

Ripley, Warren. Artillery and Ammunition of the Civil War, 4th Edition. Charleston, S.C.: The Battery Press, 1984.


3 thoughts on “Improved 32-pdr Guns – Models of 1840 and 1845

  1. I want to identify a found buried 32-pounder. Can you cite the source of the chart at the start of this blog. I hope to learn where the “Cataloged Survivors” are located. I you are interested in an image, email me.

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