Imported for the Confederacy: Austrian 6-pdr Field Guns – Part 2

In part one, I introduced an old Austrian 6-pdr at Fort Monroe:

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Austrian 6-pdr Cast in 1812

The old gun resembles the Liechtenstein-system guns developed in the mid-1700s  that formed the basis of Austrian cannons through the Napoleonic Wars.  Beside this gun is an Austrian 6-pdr with a different, cleaner exterior form.

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Austrian 6-pdr cast in 1857

The “new” model 6-pdr retained the semi-circular handles, with round cross-section, along with the low set trunnions.

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Handles and Trunnions

But the Austrians dispensed with all but the reinforce step and muzzle swell ring, offering a very streamlined form.

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Vent Field of Austrian Gun

The vent has a rather generous grain.  Next to the vent is the stamp “No. 1CC” similar to that on the older gun.  Also present is the letter “A” in front of the vent.

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Left Side of Base Ring

Like that on the older gun, the base ring inscription has the administrative data for the cannon.  On the left side is “Nr. 280 729”.

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Right Side of Base Ring

To the right is “Wien 1857.”  An “S” appears below the sight pad.  And note the sight pad is similar to that seen on American weapons of the time.  The Austrian guns probably used a pendulum hausse type sight, not unlike contemporary American weapons.   The plaque at the base suggests the gun was originally a rifle, but bored out to smoothbore.  The lack of sight mounts to the side (seen on the rifled Austrian guns at the Washington Navy Yard) argue against this.   The bore diameter also rebuts the presumption about rifling.

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Bore Measure of the Austrian Gun

The bore diameter is not far off that of the older gun steps away.  Roughly 3-3/4ths inches (or 3.75 inches).  Such is close to the cited bore diameter in the Confederate ordnance instructions.  The line forming a circle around the bore appears to be a machining mark left behind by a turning lathe. But I wouldn’t count out the possibility the Austrians used a bore liner insert, particularly with the four spaced “dimples” along the line.

Mention of these Austrian guns in the Confederate instructions indicates the new owners considered the weapons “battle worthy”.  However, little mention is made of the type outside the ordnance manuals.  Like the 24-pdr field howitzers from Vienna, these 6-pdrs probably saw limited service in the backwater garrisons.

For comparison, consider two of the rifled Austrian field guns at the Washington Navy Yard.  Here’s a “new” pattern gun cast in 1854.

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"New" Austrian Rifled 6-pdr at Leutze Park

On the other side of Luetze Park is a rifle using the older form, cast in 1843.

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"Old" Austrian Rifled 6-pdr at Leutze Park

The artifacts on display at Fort Monroe and the Washington Navy Yard do tell a story about weapons development.  As the Americans did on this side of the Atlantic, as the Austrians first deployed rifled artillery they opted to reuse existing bronze gun patterns.  The Austrian guns are analogous to the bronze James Type I and II rifles produced here in the U.S.

In addition to about a hundred thousand Lorenz muskets, the Confederacy imported several dozen bronze field pieces from Austria.  A handful of surviving weapons tell the story of those imports today.

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