A very impressive ( weighing 45 pounds) and handsome working model of a US Civil War period British 'ARTMSTRONG' muzzle loading cannon of the type imported by the Confederacy for the defense major seaports on the southeast coast of North America.
This antique model was built circa 1860 and is likely an 'Armorer's' model intended for display, demonstration, and/or presentation to military officers and heads of state who might purchase full size guns of this model for defense of their important seaports.
The Armstrong cannon barrel design represented the state-of-the-art in heavy artillery in its period in terms of range, weight of projectile fired, and accuracy. Click here to see a construction diagram.
It was thought that batteries of these guns properly mounted could safeguard a harbor from attack by the most powerful ships of an enemy. The Southern Confederacy, having at best, limited industrial capability, knew that it must defend its major seaports so that it might land military equipment for its armies and export cotton, etc. to raise the funds to carry on war against the Union (Northern United States). Knowing the Union would attack and seek to capture its major seaports, the Confederates purchased heavy artillery, including Armstrong guns from the British and managed to run them through the US Navy blockade to safeguard these ports. Some of the most hard fought battles of the Civil War were fought to capture Southern ports, and an 'ARTMSTRONG' gun still exists which was captured by the Union at Fort Fisher, NC. Click here to see a period photograph of the full size gun.
This armorer's model has a massive steel barrel, heavy cast iron carriage and slide mounting, and working brass details such as elevation adjustment, and cam mounted rear carriage rollers. The design of a sliding big-gun mount is such that the carriage rests flat on its sliding bed when ready to fire so that during recoil, the cannon's own weight and friction of its carriage on the inclined plane of its slide mount retards, and safely limits recoil distance. When the gun is reloaded, in recoiled position, it would be most difficult to get it back into firing position if it were not for cam mounted rear rollers on the carriage which enable the carriage to be raised just enough through leverage that friction is reduced and the cannon can roll back down the inclined plane of it mount under the influence of its own great weight into firing position. This model is constructed to demonstrate this feature. The heavy oak display stand is fitted with brass tracks which simulate fortress construction and interact with bogie wheels beneath the sliding gun mount so the gun can be traversed. The rear of the oak stand has a brass escutcheon plate but it seems there was no presentation engraved on it.
This fine model exhibits excellent craftsmanship and is in excellent condition. The steel barrel retains 95% of its blued finish with some aging and light corrosion around the 'Touch Hole' atop the barrel indicating this cannon has been fired numbers of times. This would have been a very powerful saluting cannon and may have been used to fire in scale projectiles. The cast iron carriage and slide mounting retain their dark natural iron finish with some traces of what may be 'Japan' laquer, The brass parts have a fine age patina, and the oak base plate has excellent original finish.
A truly exceptional and historical antique cannon for the collector.
Dimensions: base dimensions 24" x 11"; cannon dimensions: barrel length 16 1/2", breech diameter 3 3/8", .72 caliber; overall length 17", width 5", height 8"