Old Iron Field Gun at Fort Pulaski: 6-pdr Model 1834

While summarizing the design history of iron 6-pdr field guns from the early American period, I briefly mentioned the 6-pdr Model 1834.   A recent visit to Fort Pulaski allowed me to improve upon my photo collection with regard to that particular weapon.

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Sling Cart, 6-pdr, and 30-pdr Parrott

Located in the northwest casemate at Fort Pulaski, this 6-pdr is one of 40 cast by Columbia Foundry under a contract for “6-pdr cannon for Militia.”  Exterior form of the gun followed conventions established decades earlier.  The battered muzzle face has a cavetto and fillet, but is otherwise a rather plain molding.

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6-pdr Field Gun Model 1834

The muzzle has a flared swell and a chase ring composed of an astragal and fillet.

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Muzzle and Chase Ring

Just in front of the trunnions, where the reinforce ends, a set of steps neck down to the chase.  Rimbases support the trunnions.  The right trunnion bears the stamp “J.M. // C.F.”  – initials of John Mason, the owner of the Columbia Foundry in Washington, D.C.

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Right Trunnion

Under layers of paint, the left trunnion shows the date of manufacture as 1836.  These guns were among the last field pieces produced by Columbia.

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Left Trunnion

At the breech end, those more familiar with Civil War guns note an extra ring in front of a lock piece.  These moldings were seldom seen on weapons cast after the mid-1830s.  The ring is called the reinforce ogee in some texts.  The raised lock piece has a “keyhole” or double pan on top that allowed the crew to pour loose powder into the vent.

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Breech and Vent

Behind the lockpiece is a wide, 11-1/2 inch diameter base ring.  The breech moldings close to a wide fillet supporting the neck, and a long one at that, to the cascabel.

Columbia produced forty-three 6-pdrs of this type.  Three were delivered in 1834 as part of an experimental battery.  The next forty were designated for issue to militia batteries.  The gun at Fort Pulaski is among that later batch.  Records show it was inspected by James W. Ripley and weighed 842 pounds.  The length of the bore is 47-1/2 inches (measured from vent to muzzle) or roughly 13 calibers.  Overall length is 57 inches from knob to muzzle.

Of those produced by Columbia, two are confirmed as survivors.  Ten similar 6-pdrs from a series produced by Fort Pitt Foundry (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) survive also.  Two additional guns lack sufficient markings for identification.  The Fort Pulaski piece is one of only a handful of those survivors on public display.

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