By Jeannette Holland Austin
American 6 Pounder Fieldpiece. At the outbreak of the War of Independence, American artillery was an accumulation of guns, mortars and howitzers of every sort and some thirteen different calibers. Since the source of importation was cut off, the undeveloped casting industries of the Colonies undertook cannon founding, and by 1775 the foundries of Philadelphia were casting both bronze and iron guns. A number of bronze French guns were brought in later. The mobile guns employed by the army of General Washington ranged from 3 to 24 pounders, with 5-1/2 and 8-inch howitzers. A few iron siege guns of 18, 24, and 32-pounder caliber were on hand, however most guns were made of bronze. The guns used round shot, grape and case shot; mortars and howitzers fired bombs and carcasses. "Side boxes" on each side of the carriage held 21 rounds of ammunition and were taken off when the piece was brought into battery. Horses or oxen, with hired civilian drivers, formed the transport. On the battlefield the cannoneers manned drag ropes to maneuver the guns into position. Sometimes, as at Guilford Courthouse, the dense forest diminished the effectiveness of artillery, but nevertheless the arm was often put to good use.
Find your Ancestors Records on North Carolina Pioneers