CMH Forum

[Weapons] Rare early 3-pounder militia cannon

During our "vault" tour of the New York State Military Museum during the recent Annual Meeting, I was happy to find only the second 18th C. bronze 3-pounder American militia cannon I'd ever seen. You can see many of the interesting details in the brief slideshow linked below. In the cover photo below, the upper cannon is the one under discussion. The lower one, and iron 6-pounder cast by Bellona Foundry in Richmond, VA, is interesting also but is beyond the scope of this discussion.

I took some measurements and later compared them to the other known example, now in a private collection. The measurements of the two guns match very closely. The New York example had many markings, but lacked a marked date and manufacturer. However, I am fully convinced it was cast by James Byers in Springfield, MA. Richard Coulton (NPS, Springfield Armory) has found invoices of Byers three and six-pounder guns purchased by the State of New York 1794-1796. The weight of the privately-owned example (344 lbs.) fits into the range of weights found on the old invoices.

The New York 3-pounder was apparently in use for quite a long time. If it was one of those cast ca. 1796, it was still in use ca. 1840. We know this because it had a Hidden-type percussion firing lock installed, as evidenced by the three holes that were drilled to the side of the vent, in the familiar pattern that can only mean a Hidden lock was mounted there.

The engraved inscription on the cannon is probably an interesting story in itself, and I don't quite understand it. New York Governor D.D. Tompkins presented this cannon to the State of New York in 1814, per the inscription. However, we're fairly certain the cannon was originally purchased by the State in the 1790's, to arm the militia, so I don't understand the circumstances behind this presentation, so perhaps the presentation was only ceremonial. Does anyone know the story here?

I would be very grateful if anyone who knows of another cannon with the same size and profile as the one shown, would let me know so I can add it to the list.

Measurements, mean of the two known examples:

Bore Dia: 3.09 in.

Nominal Length: 44 in.

Trunnion Dia: 2.78 in.

Length over trunnions: 12.65 in.

Muzzle O.D. 6.35 in.

Basering O.D. 7.84 in.

Link to photo of privately-owned example:

Messages In This Thread

[Weapons] Rare early 3-pounder militia cannon
corr: Richard Coulton=Richard Colton **NTXT**
Native Americans fired this cannon
Re: Native Americans fired this cannon *PIC*
[Weapons] Rare early 3-pounder militia cannon
CMH Minuteman

To Join the Company of Military Historians click here

CMH Minuteman