Glossary of Cannon

Most technical phrases are explained in the text and illustrations (see fig. 51). For convenient reference, however, some important words are defined below:

Ballistics—the science dealing with the motion of projectiles.

Barbette carriage—as used here, a traverse carriage on which a gun is mounted to fire over a parapet.

Bomb, bombshell—see projectiles.

Breechblock—a movable piece which closes the breech of a cannon.

Caliber—diameter of the bore; also used to express bore length. A 30-caliber gun has a bore length 30 times the diameter of the bore.

Cartridge—a bag or case holding a complete powder charge for the cannon, and in some instances also containing the projectile.

Casemate carriage—as used here, a traverse carriage in a fort gunroom (casemate). The gun fired through an embrasure or loophole in the scarp of the room.

Chamber—the part of the bore which holds the propelling charge, especially when of different diameter than the rest of the bore; in chambered muzzle-loaders, the chamber diameter was smaller than that of the bore.

Elevation—the angle between the axis of a piece and the horizontal plane.

Fuze—a device to ignite the charge of a shell or other projectile.

Grommet—a rope ring used as a wad to hold a cannonball in place in the bore.

Gun—any firearm; in the limited sense, a long cannon with high muzzle velocity and flat trajectory.

Howitzer—a short cannon, intermediate between the gun and mortar.

Lay—to aim a gun.

Limber—a two-wheeled vehicle to which the gun trail is attached for transport.

Mandrel—a metal bar, used as a core around which metal may be forged or otherwise shaped.

Mortar—a very short cannon used for high or curved trajectory firing.

Point-blank—as used here, the point where the projectile, when fired from a level bore, first strikes the horizontal ground in front of the cannon.

Projectiles—canister or case shot: a can filled with small missiles that scatter after firing from the gun. Grape shot: a cluster of small iron balls, which scatter upon firing. Shell: explosive missile; a hollow cast-iron ball, filled with gunpowder, with a fuze to produce detonation; a long, hollow projectile, filled with explosive and fitted with a fuze. Shot: a solid projectile, non-explosive.

Quoin—a wedge placed under the breech of a gun to fix its elevation.

Range—The horizontal distance from a gun to its target or to the point where the projectile first strikes the ground. Effective range is the distance at which effective results may be expected, and is usually not the same as maximum range, which means the extreme limit of range.

Rotating band—a band of soft metal, such as copper, which encircles the projectile near its base. By engaging the lands of the spiral rifling in the bore, the band causes rotation of the projectile. Rotating bands for muzzle-loading cannon were expansion rings, and the powder blast expanded the ring into the rifling grooves.

Train—to aim a gun.

Trajectory—curved path taken by a projectile in its flight through the air.

Transom—horizontal beam between the cheeks of a gun carriage.

Traverse carriage—as used here, a stationary gun mount, consisting of a gun carriage on a wheeled platform which can be moved about a pivot for aiming the gun to right or left.

Windage—as used here, the difference between the diameter of the shot and the diameter of the bore.

parts of a cannon

Selected Bibliography for Cannon Information:

The following is a listing of the more important sources dealing with the development of artillery which have been consulted in the production of this booklet. None of the German or Italian sources have been included, since practically no German or Italian guns were used in this country.

SPANISH ORDNANCE. Luis Collado, "Platica Manual de la Altillería" ms., Milan 1592, and Diego Ufano, Artillerie, n. p., 1621, have detailed information on sixteenth century guns, and Tomás de Morla, Láminas pertenecientes al Tratado de Artillería, Madrid, 1803, illustrates eighteenth century material. Thor Borresen, "Spanish Guns and Carriages, 1686-1800" ms., Yorktown, 1938, summarizes eighteenth century changes in Spanish and French artillery. Information on colonial use of cannon can be found in mss. of the Archivo General de Indias as follows: Inventories of Castillo de San Marcos armament in 1683 (58-2-2,32/2), 1706 (58-1-27,89/2), 1740 (58-1-32), 1763 (86-7-11,19), Zuñiga's report on the 1702 siege of St. Augustine (58-2-8,B3) and Arredondo's "Plan de la Ciudad de Sn. Agustín de la Florida" (87-1-1/2, ms. map); and other works, including [Andres Gonzales de Barcía,] Ensayo Cronológico para la Historia General de la Florida, Madrid, 1723; J. T. Connor, editor, Colonial Records of Spanish Florida, Deland, 1930, Vol. II., Manuel de Montiano, Letters of Montiano (Collections of the Georgia Historical Society, v. VII, Pt. I), Savannah 1909; Albert Manucy, "Ordnance used at Castillo de San Marcos, 1672-1834," St. Augustine, 1939.

BRITISH ORDNANCE. For detailed information John Müller, Treatise of Artillery, London, 1756, has been the basic source for eighteenth century material. William Bourne, The Arte of Shooting in Great Ordnance, London, 1587, discusses sixteenth century artillery; and the anonymous New Method of Fortification, London, 1748, contains much seventeenth century information. For colonial artillery data there is John Smith, The Generall Historie of Virginia, New-Englande, and the Summer Isles, Richmond, 1819; [Edward Kimber] Late Expedition to the Gates of St. Augustine, Boston, 1935; and C. L. Mowat, East Florida as a British Province, 1763-1784, Los Angeles, 1939. Charles J. Ffoulkes, The Gun-Founders of England, Cambridge, 1937, discusses the construction of early cannon in England.

FRENCH ORDNANCE. M. Surirey de Saint-Remy, Memories d'Artillerie, 3rd edition Paris, 1745, is the standard source for French artillery material in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Col. Favé, Ètudes sur le Passé et l'Avenir de L'Artillerie, Paris, 1863, is a good general history. Louis Figurier, Armes de Guerre, Paris, 1870, is also useful.

UNITED STATES ORDNANCE. Of first importance is Louis de Tousard, American Artillerist's Companion, 2 vols., Philadelphia, 1809-13. For performance and use of artillery during the 1860's the following sources are useful: John Gibbon, The Artillerist's Manual, New York, 1863; Q. A. Gillmore, Engineer and Artillery Operations against the Defences of Charleston Harbor in 1863, New York, 1865; his Official Report . . . of the Siege and Reduction of Fort Pulaski, Georgia, New York, 1862; and the Official Records of Union and Confederate Armies and Navies. Ordnance manuals of the period include: Instruction for Heavy Artillery, U. S., Charleston, 1861; Ordnance Instructions for the United States Navy, Washington, 1866; J. Gorgas, The Ordnance Manual for the Use of the Officers of the Confederate States Army, Richmond, 1863. For United States developments after 1860: L. L. Bruff, A Text-book of Ordnance and Gunnery, New York, 1903; F. T. Hines and F. W. Ward, The Service of Coast Artillery, New York, 1910; the U. S. Field Artillery School's Construction of Field Artillery Materiel and General Characteristics of Field Artillery Ammunition, Fort Sill, 1941.

GENERAL. For the history of artillery, as well as additional biographical and technical details, there is the Field Artillery School's excellent booklet, History of the Development of Field Artillery Materiel, Fort Sill, 1941. Henry W. L. Hime, The Origin of Artillery, New York, 1915, is most useful, as is that standard work, the Encyclopedia Britannica, 1894 edition: Arms and Armour, Artillery, Gunmaking, Gunnery, Gunpowder; 1938 edition: Artillery, Coehoorn, Engines of War, Fireworks, Gribeauval, Gun, Gunnery, Gunpowder, Musket, Ordnance, Rocket, Smallarms, and Tartagila.

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