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
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
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.
FIGURE 51—THE 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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