Old Howitzers – Mexican War Veterans

Some time back when discussing the 8-inch Siege Howitzer Model 1840/1841, I mentioned three surviving examples at the Castillo de San Marcos with notable service histories. Since yesterday I discussed the seacoast howitzers sitting next to these three, makes sense to revisit those three howitzers and offer up better digital photos.

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Eight Howitzers at the Castillo's Water Battery

The three siege howitzers belong to a batch of 24 produced by West Point Foundry in 1846.  Some sources, particularly cited on delivery receipts, refer to these as Model 1840, while regulations and instructions indicate Model 1841 as the designation.  I prefer the latter, in compliance with Civil War era ordnance instructions.

Regardless of the correct model year, the howitzers conformed to contemporary external forms.

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8-inch Siege Howitzer, West Point #14

And conforming to the marking standards of the time of manufacture, the foundry stamp is on the right trunnion.  All three show “W.P.F.” for West Point Foundry.

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Right Trunnion of #14

The year of manufacture is on the left trunnion.  Again, all three show 1846.

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Left Trunnion of #14

The weight stamp appears below the knob.

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Weight Stamp Under Knob

All have the stamp “U.S.” over the trunnions.

All three bear inspectors initials R.L.B. for Rufus Lathrop Baker.  The registry numbers are:

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Muzzle of #5

Number 5, weighing 2596 pounds.

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Muzzle of #13

Number 13, weighing 2628 pounds.

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Muzzle of #14

And number 14, weighing 2598 pounds.

All three have Roman numerals behind the vent on the base ring.  These appear to be post-manufacture.

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Upper Breech and Base Ring

The numbers may be trophy or other administrative numbers.

While the actual service history of these weapons is likely somewhat dry, what makes them interesting from a historical perspective is the documentation behind them.  A short time ago, my friend John Morris located several documents in the National Archives which provided particulars of cannons used in the Mexican War.  The documents list cannons sent to Captain Benjamin Huger, acting chief of artillery for General Winfield Scott.  What makes the document particularly useful is the inclusion of particulars such as registry numbers and weights.  Based on those details, he concluded the three 8-inch howitzers at the Castillo today were among those supporting Scott’s army in Mexico.

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8-inch Siege Howitzer, West Point #5

While the subsequent service history of these three howitzers is not known for certain, their presence in the set at “Fort Marion” suggests at least some Civil War service.  Perhaps more documentation will emerge at some point to confirm these howitzers as “two war” veterans.