Thus far in the discussion of the Model 1841 6-pdr, I’ve offered some photos of the guns. But assuming most Civil War students are at least familiar with the guns, I’ve saved a “walk-around” for now. Because of the model’s prevalence on the battlefield (both in 1861-65 and today), I think it worthwhile to look at the gun with an eye for the details.
Keeping with the “guns of Manassas” thread I’ve sort of been working, let me turn to this gun produced by Cyrus Alger & Company in 1854, now located in the Confederate line opposite the Henry House, on the Manassas Battlefield.
Working from the breech end forward, the Model 1841 had a cascabel with standard profile knob, connected through the neck to the breech. The fillet for the cascabel measured only a tenth of an inch, but was 3.67 inches in diameter – the diameter of the bore.
The breech face was a flattened cone, not rounded as on later gun designs. The base ring was one-and-half inches in width, and as mentioned in earlier posts was 10.3 inches in diameter. There is a cavetto, or concave molding, between the front of the breech ring and the barrel. Hard to see but that joined the barrel with a very fine fillet.
Just in front of the ring is the vent. The vent itself is a small hole surrounded by a wide “bushing” to combat erosion during firing.
On the breech face of this particular gun are three holes for screws to mount the hause seat. In the middle of those holes is the gun’s weight stamp – 875. Although the Ordnance Instructions of 1850 required this number to appear on the base of the breech (below the knob), many guns have this under the seat. Presumably the stamp suffered less “wear” when protected under the seat.
From the breech, the exterior of the Model 1841 gradually tapered from about 10 inches diameter at the vent to 8.5 inches at the end of the reinforce.
Looking at that “shoulder” formed by the end of the reinforce, notice the trunnions attached to the barrel with squared rimbases, not blended as on later gun designs. The trunnions were 2.8 inches long and 3.67 inches in diameter. The distance between rimbase faces was 9.5 inches, to conform to the standard light field carriage of the day.
Notice the “U.S.” stamp at the end of the reinforce, indicating acceptance for use. The end of the reinforce, like the base ring, blends to the barrel with a small cavetto and a very fine fillet.
As per the instructions of 1850, the year of fabrication appears on the left trunnion – 1854. And on the right is the vendor’s name and location – “C.A. & Co. // Boston.”
By regulation, a foundry number appeared on the rimbase of the gun, which was in a separate series from the official registry number. The foundry number tracked the number of castings of a particular type of gun by the foundry, and was not supposed to match the registry number, reserved for proofed and accepted guns only. So the foundry number was more an audit mechanism. Unfortunately, few of those numbers have survived wear and tear and weathering of 150 plus years.
Moving forward, the barrel tapers from 8 inches just past the reinforce down to 6.5 inches at a muzzle ring.
A chase ring marked the end of the chase and the beginning of the muzzle on the Model 1841. The chase ring consisted of an astragal, or convex half-circle molding, supported by a broad fillet extending on both sides. The muzzle swelled out to a maximum of 8.5 inches of diameter, then sloped rapidly to the muzzle face. The face consisted of a cavetto with a fillet joining to the gun. Notice the socket for the front sight cut into the muzzle swell.
On the muzzle face, conforming to the instructions for marking, appear the registry number “111” at the top and the inspector’s initials “B.H.” at the bottom. B.H. of course stood for Benjamin Huger, an ordnance officer in the “old Army” and later Confederate general.
The bore of this particular gun shows some sign of use and wear. The bore diameter was 3.67 inches and ran 57.5 inches to a flat bottomed full bore sized chamber.
With that, I’ve taken you around the Model 1841 6-pdr Field Gun. So I’ll conclude with the gunner’s view down the barrel looking across to the Federal batteries near the Henry House.
Of course, with a lot less smoke than on July 21, 1861.