What can a picture tell us? : Mortars at Yorktown

No doubt you’ve seen this wartime photo a time or two. Yes, Federal officers and crews proudly posing with those massive 13-inch seacoast mortars. Usually, this photo carries a caption mentioning McClellan’s slowness and maybe something about poor intelligence. Yadda, yadda, yadda. The scene is Battery No. 4, near the Moore House, facing the ConfederateContinue reading “What can a picture tell us? : Mortars at Yorktown”

Mortars for the Army and Navy

One-hundred and fifty years ago this month, operations on several fronts in the Civil War featured the use of a new pattern weapon.  Both the Army and Navy brought 13-inch mortars to battlefields such as Island No. 10 and Fort Pulaski.  Later, in April, the heavy mortars appeared on the Virginia Peninsula aimed at theContinue reading “Mortars for the Army and Navy”

Short and Stubby – Old American 24-pdr Howitzers

Some time back I traced the origins of the 24-pdr field howitzer, which saw limited field service during the Civil War.   The type evolved from short, stumpy weapons used during the Revolution to, by 1841, heavy cannons requiring eight-horse teams to maneuver.  However, the role of these howitzers remained essentially unchanged – to place explosiveContinue reading “Short and Stubby – Old American 24-pdr Howitzers”