“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Rowlesburg in Preston County, West Virginia — The American South (Appalachia)

The 1841 Mountain Howitzer

The 1841 Mountain Howitzer Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Swain, July 24, 2010
1. The 1841 Mountain Howitzer Marker
Inscription.  The 1841 Mountain Howitzer, thought to be the type used in Rowlesburg during the Civil War

A howitzer (as illustrated above by Peter W. Gaut) is a short-barreled, large-caliber cannon designed to throw shells at a higher trajectory than regular field guns. This makes them useful against enemy troops behind fortifications or concealed in rugged terrain. The mountain howitzer was a special gun, designed on such a small scale that the entire piece could be taken apart and carried on pack animals. Although its 4.62-inch bore could handle the same 12-pounder ammunition as regular 12-pounder gun, a complete mountain howitzer, including the carriage, wheels and barrel, weighed less than the barrel alone of a larger 12-pounder field gun.

Mountain howitzers generally fired spherical case shot, canister or grapeshot. All of these types of ammunition, which scattered small shot and shell fragments, were effective within the shortened range of the mountain howitzer. Case shot for mountain howitzers carried a load of 82 lead musket balls. The shell was exploded above enemy positions by a fuse. Case shot was usually fired at enemy positions
Mountain Howitzer Replica and Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Swain, July 24, 2010
2. Mountain Howitzer Replica and Marker
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several hundred yards away. Canister consisted of tin-plated iron cylinders loaded with round shot packed in sawdust. Most Civil War canister contained iron shot, but canister rounds for the mountain howitzer were crammed with a load of 148 .69-caliber lead musket balls. Fuses were not needed for canister. A round of canister burst when the cannon was fired, blasting its load of musket balls out of the muzzle as if fired from a tremendous sawed-off shotgun. Canister was used from distances of about 400 yards to point-blank range. The load of lead from a round of canister made a little mountain howitzer as deadly as any other cannon at close range.

Because mules were nearly always used to carry mountain howitzers by packsaddle, companies with these little guns were sometimes called "jackass batteries." If the terrain permitted, the mountain howitzer could be mounted on its carriage and drawn by means of a pair of shafts by one of the mules. A few units did away with the packsaddles altogether and used a pair of horses to draw the gun.

This article was excerpted from: Norris, David A. "Confederate Gunners Affectionately Called Their Hard Working Little Mountain Howitzers 'Bull Pups'." (America's Civil War, September 1995), 10, 12, 14, 16, 20, & 90
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: War, US Civil. A significant historical month for this entry is September 1995.
Replica Mountain Howitzer image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Swain, July 24, 2010
3. Replica Mountain Howitzer
Usually identified as Model 1835, the bronze mountain howitzer saw service in the Mexican-American War, Civil War, and Indian Wars.
39° 20.775′ N, 79° 40.18′ W. Marker is in Rowlesburg, West Virginia, in Preston County. Marker is at the intersection of Poplar Street and Buffalo Street (West Virginia Highway 72), on the right when traveling west on Poplar Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Rowlesburg WV 26425, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 8 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Battle of Rowlesburg (a few steps from this marker); Rowlesburg Veterans Memorial (a few steps from this marker); Cannon Hill (approx. 0.2 miles away); B&O Viaducts (approx. 1½ miles away); Battle of Rowlesburg: "The River Road" (approx. 1.9 miles away); Aurora (approx. 6.2 miles away); Gantz Sand (approx. 6.3 miles away); Camp Dawson (approx. 7.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Rowlesburg.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on August 4, 2010, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 2,258 times since then and 53 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on August 4, 2010, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.

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May. 21, 2022