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[ Weapons of Antietam ]

Model 1844 32-pounder Howitzer


24 and 32 pounder howitzer tubes (C. Swain)
24 and 32 pounder howitzer tubes (C. Swain)

Common name:   32-pdr. Howitzer

Description:   The 32-pounder howitzer was designed for field use, with an eye to counter battery fire and breaking up concealed troop formations. The Army had larger siege howitzers, generally considering 24-pdr and 32-pdr howitzers too light for siege operations. When relegated to the forts and trenches, these big howitzers were placed to cover approaches and ditches, to use canister. The 32-pdr. was massively heavy and difficult to transport and deploy. Teams of at least 8 horses each were required to pull these guns.

Employment at Sharpsburg:   There were 6 32-pdr. howitzers in one Federal battery: the First NY Light Battalion, Battery D at Antietam. No Confederate batteries were known to have this weapon. Find units equipped with these.

Ammunition Used:   The Ordnance Manual of 1862 specified a ammo chest with 8 shells, 6 case, and 1 canister for field issue. The 32-pdrs were not issued solid shot. The howitzers were not built with sufficient reinforce to fire them on a regular basis. The "proof" of a 32-pdr did require three firings of a solid shot with a 3 1/2 pound charge, which was considered the extreme stress for the piece.

Manufacturer:   Cyrus Alger & Co.; Ames Co.    Where made:   Boston, MA; Springfield, MA    Model:   1844    Year(s) made:   1848-1857

Maximum Range:   1504 yards     Length Overall:   82 inches     Barrel/Tube Length:   71 inches     Bore:   6.4 inches     Weight:   3095 pounds

Other notes:   Weight figure is for standard gun carriage (1,175 lb) + tube (1,920 lb).
Max range is for 2.5 lb black powder charge behind an 25.6 lb. shell at 5 degrees elevation.

More on the Web:   See more about this and other Civil War artillery at the comprehensive Civil War Artillery Page, by Chuck Ten Brink or the very nice Basic Facts page from Jack W. Melton, Jr. The NPS has a fine general introduction to Civil War artillery in a 3-page presentation. The photograph is of 24 and 32 pounder (right) howitzer tubes at the Petersburg National Battlefield - and is courtesy of Craig Swain, who also helped greatly improve our descriptive text above.

Source Information:   Johnson, Curt & Anderson, Richard C., Artillery Hell: Employment of Artillery at Antietam, College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press, 1995. Technical details on this gun also from James C. Hazlett, Edwin Olmstead, and M. Hume Parks, Field Artillery Weapons of the Civil War (revised edition), Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2004.

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