The Alamo cannon

Discussion in 'Cannon' started by GunnyGene, Jun 24, 2019.

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  1. Jun 24, 2019 #1

    GunnyGene

    GunnyGene

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    Haven't been active here for quite a while, but thought y'all might be interested in what a friend has been working on for a few months. He landed a contract with the Alamo to build a carriage for a very large cannon that will be on display at the Alamo. He's almost done with it, and you can follow the build process here. It's very interesting, and full of pics and historical info. :)

    It's a 16 pounder and weighs 2240lbs.

    [​IMG]


    Link to build and many more pics of how the carriage is made :

    http://www.woodworking.org/InfoExchange/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=34272
     
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  2. Jun 24, 2019 #2

    Eutycus

    Eutycus

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    What became of the replica cannon? Is it still at the Alamo?
     
  3. Jun 24, 2019 #3

    GunnyGene

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    Don't have a clue.
     
  4. Jun 24, 2019 #4

    Waco Kid

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    Thanks for remembering the Alamo!
     
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  5. Jun 24, 2019 #5

    Artificer

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    GunnyGene,

    What an incredible project!!!!!

    Do they know if that gun was the one that was fired in answer to Santa Anna's demand for surrender?

    Though I am not a Texan, visiting the Alamo in the early 2,000's was almost like a religious experience to me.

    I'm sure this will add greatly to the display at the Alamo.

    Semper Fi,
    Gus
     
  6. Jun 24, 2019 #6

    GunnyGene

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    Yes, it was one of the cannons used. There were 20 or so cannons of various sizes used by the defenders.

    One of the odd things about this barrel is that it has "below centerline" trunnions, which makes it difficult to build a carriage for - and probably a real bear to fire, since the barrel sits too high. Michael is of the opinion that it was originally a ships cannon, since cannon's this big were rarely - if ever - mounted on field carriages due to the weight. But that's what the Alamo wanted, so that's what he's providing. Even museums take certain liberties with historical facts, it seems. As noted below, this and other artillery was disabled by Santa Ana to prevent it's use in subsequent battles. Typical of most battles throughout history. If you can't use it yourself you don't want your opponents to use it either.

    Quoting from Zulu's (Michael's) posts:

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    " The historians at the Alamo say the barrel was made in Spain in the early 1700's so it was well over 100 years old at the famous battle.

    It was used by the Texas side, not the Mexicans.

    This is some interesting information on the 16 pounder barrel that the Conservator of the Alamo sent me yesterday.
    Zulu


    16 PDR, another cannon in poor condition, with the trunnions and cascabel broken off, the vent spiked with a nail, and no visible markings. There are a few distinctive features, the wide breech band and a bell curve going down to the missing cascabel, and the muzzle with a prominent square / straight projection. These two features are a French design from the Saint Gervais Foundry, from the early 1700’s. The cannon is relatively short and very light for a 16 pdr (94” & 2,240 lbs.), the size actually reflects that of a 9 or a small 12 pdr cannon. It was most likely re-bored (to a larger diameter), and was originally a lightweight commercial cannon. This is what gunners referred to as a “lively” cannon, in that it was lightweight and recoiled violently from the firing – less iron to absorb the recoil shock. This cannon was one of five guns recovered from a wreck in Matagorda Bay (Ellen Tooker ?), in 1817, that originally came from (“merchants in” ?) New York. The vessel was aground in Bay, and the locals had managed to recover the cannon and get them onto the beach. The Spanish / Mexican authorities then arrived, and took the cannon to the Alamo. The cannon is one of the guns found by Sam Maverick in 1852, and was later recovered from the Gibbs building in 1908.
    A few facts here – an 18 pdr cannon has a bore diameter of about 5.29 – 5.3”. American and British 18 pdr’s are generally the same size, the Americans carried on the known establishment – in regards to the bore. The cannon currently at the Alamo is actually 5.19”, which would be an undersize 18 pdr or an over size 16pdr in respect to bore diameters. More likely, it is a worn out 16 pdr cannon. Now, when one looks at the actual size of a regular 18 pdr cannon, you are talking about 10’ in length and potentially 3,600 lbs. The 16 pdr at the Alamo is ~ 94” long, and weighs 2,240 lbs, which would be very small for an 18 pdr. Now, it is feasible that a smaller cannon (9 or 12 pdr) was bored out to a larger diameter, so that it could fire shells with a smaller propellant charge – but cause more damage. The Mexicans were known to fire explosive shells, but did the Texans have any at the Alamo . . ."
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2019
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  7. Jun 24, 2019 #7

    springfield art

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    I don't believe they had such a large gun at the Alamo...there was an article in a recent
    muzzleloading magazine about the cannons there at the time of the battle. Am I wrong on this? Thanks!
     
  8. Jun 24, 2019 #8

    GunnyGene

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    It would appear that the magazine was in error according to the Alamo historical experts.
     
  9. Jun 24, 2019 #9

    GunnyGene

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    PS: to directly answer your question, you're referring to the "Gonzalez" cannon which is much smaller than the 16 pounder he's building now. You can read about that here, along with pics of the replica that Michael built. https://www.jmelledge.com/ComeAndTakeItCannon.html
     
  10. Jun 25, 2019 #10

    Artificer

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    FWIW, some guns as large as 20 pounders were mounted on field carriages, even before that period. However, they were siege guns for use against fixed fortifications or cities and were not the ones used as artillery support for Armies in the field, unless they just happened to have them and had the right kind of topography to work on.

    Gus
     
  11. Jun 25, 2019 #11

    GunnyGene

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    Don't doubt that at all. :)
     
  12. Jun 25, 2019 #12

    Eutycus

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    I've always heard that it wasn't the lack of cannons at the Alamo, it was lack of ammo, cannonballs and such.
     
  13. Jun 25, 2019 #13

    GunnyGene

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    I believe that's likely. They had no supply chain to replenish anything, so they were doomed from the start. Travis and the others knew that but elected to stay and fight a delaying battle anyway to achieve the greater goal.

    Any student of warfare going back thousands of years knows that wars (as opposed to battles) are decided by logistics. Sun Tzu made a point of it in his Art of War. :)
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2019
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  14. Jun 25, 2019 #14

    Eutycus

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    I often felt that too. Instead of a fortress the old mission became a prison. But they did go down swinging didn't they?
     
  15. Jun 25, 2019 #15

    WRustyLane

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    Howdy Gunny,
    Thanks for posting the link for the 16 pounder. When I went to the Alamo back during the 70's (on my way to Vietnam) there weren't any guns even anywhere near the Alamo. Semper Fi, Marine!
     
  16. Jun 25, 2019 #16

    Eutycus

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    So far only 2 places have given me goosebumps. The Alamo is one of them.
     
  17. Jun 25, 2019 #17

    Artificer

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    Actually, no, I'm not referring to the Gonzales cannon unless it was also used at the Alamo and fired the shot mentioned in Col. Travis's letter "To the People of Texas and all Americans in the World?"

    "The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise, the garrison
    are to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken—
    I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, & our flag still waves proudly from the wall....."

    I may certainly be mistaken, but I thought the cannon mentioned above was a different and larger cannon?

    Gus
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2019
  18. Jun 25, 2019 #18

    Artificer

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    Going along with what GunnyGene posted, there is a very old adage that "Amateurs speak of strategy and tactics, while professionals speak of Logistics."

    Even if the Defenders of the Alamo had all the ammunition they could possibly shoot, there just weren't enough men and the Mission just could not be fortified enough to withstand Santa Anna's Siege.

    Yes, they did go down fighting and they knew they would ahead of time, which is the true measure of their courage and sacrifice.

    Gus
     
  19. Jun 25, 2019 #19

    GunnyGene

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    It all gets very confusing, and I'm no expert on TX history. I did find this short piece from the Texas State Historical Association, https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/qvg01 . If I'm reading this right the cannon referred to by Travis could have been the bronze 6 pdr. mentioned in the TSHA link, although that's not totally clear.

    Apparently there were 2 cannons at Gonzales; a bronze 6 pdr, and a smaller iron 1 pdr. According to this the 6 pdr did make it to the Alamo, and became one of the 21 cannons (along with the 16pdr that my buddy is working on) that defended the Alamo. The 1 pounder was also being taken to the Alamo, but was abandoned on the trip. The bronze cannon was recovered after the war and recast into a bell that is currently in a church in San Antonio.

    Anyway, my interest has been on the build of the 16pdr, not so much on the broader history of the Alamo and TX. Although that is an interesting and educational part of this thread also. :)
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2019
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  20. Jun 25, 2019 #20

    GunnyGene

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    You're welcome. Semper Fi back atcha. :)
     

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