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longed wars of Europe in the early part of the century, and the short Italian campaign of France in 1859 served to illustrate how great a power the engines of destruction can exert. The improvement has been alike in small arms and in ordnance. In small arms the rifle has almost entirely superseded the old smooth-bore musket. This arm was one of the first forms of manufacture for fire-arms in the sixteenth century; but the musket was preferred, on account of its more speedy loading. The great skill of the American colonists in the use of the rifle during the Revolution brought the weapon again into notice, and when the percussion-cap was added, it gained much in public favor. Recently it has become so much improved, as to supplant not only the old musket, but to affect artillery also, thus changing the tactics of the battle-field. Since the“ Wars of the Roses" in England, nine-tenths of all the battles in the world have been decided by artillery and musketry, without crossing a bayonet or drawing a sword. The cavalry, as an arm, has gradually lost ground, except in a defeat, when it can follow up a flying enemy. It never could break an infantry square even when the latter was armed only with pikes, and recent events have shown it cannot reach infantry in line. Artillery, however, played a more important part, until the great improvements in rifles and rifle practice made it easy to silence guns by picking off the gunners. In the text-book of the St. Cyr military school it is directed, that the fire of artillery should cease when the enemy is distant twelve hundred yards. At Waterloo, the opposing armies were nearly that distance apart, and, as a consequence, were out of reach of all but solid shot from field-guns as they were then served. The improved small arms are now effective at a mile, and troops can shoot each other at two thousand yards. From this it is manifest that the small arms which could kill gunners out of reach of cannon-shot had acquired the superiority, until guns were, in their turn, so improved as to restore their importance.
The improvements in rifles are mostly in the ball, which is of conical shape, hollow at the base, and intended to expand so as to fill the grooves of the piece as it passes out. The Minié rifle, the invention of Colonel Minie, of the French army, was made on this principle, and it is said that it can be made effective at a mile distance. The arm mostly used by the United States infantry is the Springfield rifle. This piece is forty inches long in the barrel.* The bore is 0.58 inch in diameter, and the ball is a conical cylinder, hollow at the base, and weighs five hundred grains. The service charge of powder is sixty grains. The barrel has three grooves, which make one half, turn in the whole length. These guns, including bayonet, ramrod, &c., are composed of eighty-four pieces, of which twenty-six are of steel, and two of wood. All are made by machinery, each piece separately, and all 80 exactly alike that they may be used indiscriminately; a number of injured guns may be taken apart, and a perfect rifle constructed from them. The immense advantage of uniformity is thus attained. This mode of manipulation is purely American, and similar machines were made in New England, and sent to England for the manufacture of the weapon, which is there called the Enfield rifle, because made at the
Government armory at Enfield. The cost of the Springfield rifle is thirteen dollars and fifty cents for each gun, and fourteen dollars and ninety-three cents complete with the appendages. A great number of inventions of breech-loading and other weapons have been patented, but the American War Department has finally fixed upon the muzzle loading piece with percussion lock.
The inventions of repeating arms have been many, of which Colt's is the most famous. The principle is a revolving breech of six chambers, which are brought, in turn, in a line with the barrel by each successive movement of the lock. Sharpe's rifle is a breech-loading and self-priming piece, invented in 1852. The barrel is made of cast steel bored out. As a carbine it is used in the cavalry arm. These revolving rifles, both Colt's and Sharpe's, of superior construction, have been fitted with telescopic sights adapted for execution at long distances. The carbine is a weapon between the rifle and the pistol in weight and length; it is usually breech-loading, and is sometimes furnished with a bayonet in the form of a sword, which may also be used as a side-arm. There are three of these favorably reported upon by the board of officers-Burnside's, Sharpe's, and Maynard's. The first was invented by General Burnside, and was by him manufactured at one time in Providence. The chamber of this piece opens by turning on a hinge, and the cartridge is introduced in a case of brass, which, on the explosion, packs the joint and prevents the escape of gas. The objection is the difficulty in obtaining the cartridges. Sharpe's carbine is like the rifle. Maynard's has a fixed chamber with the joint closed by a metallic cartridge case. There are a great number of repeating pistols issued to the cavalry and light artillery. When the war took place the scarcity of arms called into action numbers of private armories. The imported and other breech-loading, self-priming, and other weapons were altered to conform to the Springfield pattern, which are alone furnished to the infantry, with cartridges prepared for service at the armories.
The improvements in small arms were soon followed by attempts to perfect cannon, which, from being effective a long way beyond musket range, had come to be ineffective at a less distance than a practicable rifle-shot. The military maxim that "he who would live long must enlist in the artillery," found itself reversed, and great efforts were made to restore the efficiency of the guns. The metal used for casting guns of large calibre is cast-iron, but the strength of iron varies greatly. The metal was formerly not so well made as it is at present. The difference in tenacity is very great in proportion to the uniformity with which the metal cools, and to effect this object great efforts have been made. The first guns made were of wrought bars cased in hoops of the same metal; one of these burst in 1460, and killed James II., of Scotland. In 1845, Commodore Stockton constructed a similar piece, which exploded, killing Mr. Upshur and Mr. Gilmer, members of the cabinet under Mr. Tyler, and wounding some others. The next step in making guns was to cast them hollow. The great difficulty in this was to cause them to cool uniformly, and it was abandoned in 1729, for the process of casting solid and boring out the piece. This was continued down to a recent date, when Captain T. J. Rodman, of the
United States Ordnance Corps, conceived the design of cooling tho piece cast hollow by the introduction of a current of water flowing through the core, thus securing a uniform texture and maximum strength throughout. In proof of the efficiency of this mode, a pair of 8-inch guns was made in the best manner, one by the old method bored out, which burst at the seventy-third discharge, and the other by the new method, which did not fail with fifteen hundred discharges. A number of experiments were made with similar results. The gun known as the Union or Rodman gun is a 15-inch columbiad, and was cast in the new manner, under the direction of Captain Rodman-bence its name. This gun is at Fortress Monroe. Its length is 190 inches; length of bore, 165 inches; thickness of metal at junction of bore with chamber, 25 inches; thickness at muzzle, 5 inches; diameter of shell, 14.9 inches; weight of shell, 320 pounds ; charge, 17 pounds; solid shot weighs 450 pounds.
COLUMBIADS were invented by Colonel Bomford, United States army. Their peculiarity is, that they uniformly decrease in size from the breech of the muzzle, as in the case of the Rodman gun. They are used for throwing solid shot or shells. They were originally chambered, but are now made with a uniform bore, ordinarily of eightinch and ten-inch. Larger guns have been made for trial, one of twelve-inch and one of fifteen-inch. The latter is the Rodman gun. A small difference in the size of the bore of a gun, or, in other words, the diameter of the shot, makes a very great difference in the weight of the shot. The rule is, that the weight increases in proportion to the cabe of the diameter. Thus, a shot eight inches in diameter, supposing it to be a perfect sphere, will weigh sixty-nine pounds; a teninch shot will weigh one hundred and thirty-six pounds; a twentyinch shot would weigh ten hundred and ninety pounds. Hence, & little increase in diameter causes an immense difference in the size of the gun.
PARROTT GUN. This is named after its maker, Mr. Parrott, of West Point, who is, however, not the inventor. The piece is cast, and then upon the breech is driven & wronght-iron ring of four-inch thickness. · This is put over hot, and shrinks upon the gun. By this device, the gun, which is rifled, will weigh less than a columbiad or Dablgren of the same calibre, in the proportion of eleven hundred to fifteen hundred pounds. This for a field. piece is of great advantage.
The DAHLGREN GUN was invented by Captain Dahlgren, of the Davy. Its peculiarity is, that the thickness of the gun diminishes very rapidly from the breech, by which means a larger calibre weighs much less than by the old plan.
WHITWORTA GUN. A number of batteries of these guns were received from England when the war broke out. They are loaded at the breech, but instead of being rifled the bore is hexagonal, with a twist of one turn to five feet, to give the effect of rifling. They are made of wrought iron melted and cast in moulds. The projectile is hexagonal, made to fit the bore. It is of cast iron, but sometimes of wrought iron. The range of the gun is four thousand yards.
STEEL CANNON were introduced in the United States in 1861. Their
chief advantage is their comparative lightness for field service, requir. ing a less power of draft, and being more manageable in heavy roads. They are forged under heavy steam hammers from puddled steel made especially for this purpose. The six-pounders are of 2.6 inches bore, and the twelve-pounders, 3.67 inches bore. The latter weigh twelve hundred pounds each. They are rifled, one turn in twelve feet.
MORTÁRS are used for siege and naval service. The heavy siege mortar weighs seventeen thousand five hundred pounds, is fifty-three inches long, and thirteen inches depth of chamber. The shell weighs two hundred pounds, and with twenty pounds of powder may be thrown four thousand three hundred and twenty-five yards.
HOWITZERS are short guns, or mortars chambered and mounted on gun-carriages. They are used for throwing shells. The difference between a mortar and a howitzer is, that the trunnions of the former are at the end, and of the latter in the middle for mounting on a carriage.
The United States “ Ordnance Manual" gives the following kinds and calibres of guns used in the United States armies :
Calibre Material. Weight Weight of shot. Weight of shells. Field guns.
13.45 5,790 24.30
16.80 Sea-coast guds .....32“
31.30 Mountain howitzer..12"
32.40 Siege .. 8 inch.
65.00 ..24 lbs.
24.30 Seacoast 8 inch. 5,740
49.75 ..10 €
101.67 Mortars, light ...... 8“
88.42 u heavy......10
The greatest change in weapons is in the projectiles. That for the Parrott gun is a cast-iron body, around the base of which is fitted loosely a brass ring, which, by the explosion, is forced into the grooves, causing the projectile to follow the curves of the piece. The Whitworth gun has a hexagonal projectile, which follows the turn of the bore into which it is fitted. The three-pounder, with eight ounces of powder, has been known to throw five and a half miles. This range is obtained by the great twist given to the grooves, equal to one turn in five feet, or one and a half turns in the length of the gun. The HOTCAKISS projectile is composed of three pieces, of which the conical head and base are made of cast iron, between which there is lead. The effect of the explosion is to cause the lead to bulge out, and thus effectually take the grooves of the gun. The SAWYER projectile is a
conical shell of cast-iron, with a brass cap screwed into the apex of the cone. By this the powder, fourteen ounces for a twelve-pound shell, is introduced. The percussion powder is under the brass cap. This shell has a coating of lead to take the grooves. The SCHENKL projectile is a cast-iron bullet, in length abont three times the diameter. Its posterior portion has a covering of papier-maché, which takes the grooves. The JAMES projectile is a cast-iron cylinder with a conical head. It may be used either solid or as a shell. The middle of the cylinder is about three-fourths of an inch in diameter less than the two ends. In this portion there are openings to a cavity extending to the rear. The cylinder being enclosed in tin, with a canvas covering, hot lead poured into the cavity fills in under the tin. On the discharge, the lead, being driven forward, bulges out the tin, and forces the canvas into the grooves. Owing to the disposition of the tin covering to peel off, these projectiles are not to be depended upon.
Ordinary shells are hollow shot of cast-iron, filled with bullets and sulphur, and are fired by a fuse formed by boring into the filling, and charging the cavity thus formed with mealed powder of peculiar composition, which is covered with a leaden or soft metal cap; when it is to be discharged a portion of this cap is removed, so as to form a greater or smaller aperture to the fuse, according to the distance it is to be thrown before exploding. These fuses are graduated for five, ten, fifteen, or twenty seconds. The spherical-case shot is a thin shell of cast-iron, containing powder and musket-balls embedded in melted sulphur. Its shape is round for mortars and smooth bores, but elongated for rifle guns. It is intended to burst fifty to one hundred and fifty yards in front of, and fifteen to twenty feet above the object fired at. The time-fuse is a hollow cylinder of paper, wood, or metal, enclosing a composition graduated to the required time. The fuse is fired by the explosion of the piece.
A field battery consists of six pieces, viz., four twelve-pounders and two twenty-four-pounders, or two twelve-pounder howitzers; or four six-pounders and two twenty-four-pounders.
The Situation-Army of the Potomac.-General McClellan.-The Retreat of the
Enemy from Mapassas.- The Peninsular Campaign.-Yorktown.-McDowell's Corps Withdrawn.-Siege of Yorktown.
The year 1861 had closed with gloomy prospects for the Federal arms. On all sides of the vast field of action, our armies had suffered reverses, and the enemy had triumphed in many a hard-fought field. If there was a shade of disappointment on the public mind, tbere was no sign of despondency, nor any diminution of determination. But scarcely bad the new year opened, when from every point of the compass came notes of success, and the advancing Union troops were vio