Cannon I have barely seen

Photo of a baby cannon fired during a 2007 Revolutionary war reenactment at the Nathan Hale Homestead.

The cannon was tiny (you can almost make out the kid in the smoke, with fingers in his ears). I assume it wasn’t intended to be a replica of a real cannon, or was it?

Also, anyone know if this is an accurate representation of how much smoke an early modern cannon would give off? I’m not a reenactor and haven’t attended many events, so I don’t know if original gunpowder recipes are actually used, or if reenactors like to add lots of smoke, à la Hollywood explosions…

[EDIT: Since I raised the question, I might as well give you all a better view of the cannon in question:

A one-pounder perhaps?]



6 responses to “Cannon I have barely seen”

  1. Gene Hughson says :

    Most likely it’s a light regimental gun. There’s an example of 3 pounder on this page that looks to be similar in scale.

    The smoke cloud looks pretty consistent with what I’ve read about black powder pieces. Between the composition of the propellant and the loose tolerances of the times, combustion wasn’t that efficient and they produced great volumes of smoke. I seem to recall something from Waterloo where Mercer complained about how little reaction time they had during cavalry attacks due to the volume of smoke.

    • jostwald says :

      It probably was the two links. That might explain the occassional comment snafu on my end.
      I thought about a 3 pdr, but I’m not sure. You can’t tell since only the wheels are visible, but in the other photos of 3-pdrs the wheels seem to go up waist-high, whereas these wheels only go knee-high. But then I suppose they don’t necessarily have standardized wheels/carriages for reenanctors.
      I edited the post to include a pre-smoke version with two different cannon side-by-side.

      • Gene Hughson says :

        I’ll break this up into two replies then:

        Going by this, it could be a falconet (+/- 1 pounder with a 2 inch bore). The article states that it was commonly used during the Revolution, but that’s unsourced. Given the nature of American terrain at the time, however, it’s not far-fetched that very light guns would be popular with the militia. It would be a lot easier to drag through the woods and man-handle on the field. Not to mention that the ammunition and powder would be lighter per shot than the larger guns.

  2. Gene Hughson says :

    Also found this. The wheels come up to knee-height, but judging by the carriage, it’s more likely a 17th century example.

  3. Gene Hughson says :

    One more falconet, this one from the English Civil War period.

  4. Gene Hughson says :

    There’s been an interesting set of posts (7/5 to present) over at J. L. Bell’s site dealing with artillery action at Breed’s Hill. It seems both the American and British forces had logistical issues with their artillery: wrong-sized shot for the British and wrong-sized cartridges for the Americans.

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