The Alamo cannon

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

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  1. Jul 10, 2019 #101

    DaveC

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    For what it may be worth, the Spaniards had regulations to paint ordnance a particular blue-gray, that contained a cobalt oxide from Andalusia for a distinctive color. Again, the Spaniards published their ordnance regulations just as the U.S. did with the olive drab of 1840s-era gun carriages or "cureñas" in Spanish. Determining what color was used by the post-Independence Mexican army is difficult. Some Napoleonic-era British carriages, for example, may have been left in the British gray. U.S. ordnance in the Revolutionary War was apparently painted any number of colors, but after the French intervention came to be a sort of light blue or Prussian blue or whatever.
     
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  2. Jul 10, 2019 #102

    DaveC

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    Bless you and Michael for undertaking this work! Awesome! Greatly looking forward to seeing it first hand!
     
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  3. Jul 10, 2019 #103

    GunnyGene

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    I read something recently about ordnance regs of the era regarding colors, so that likely had some influence on the Alamo's decision about the paint job. Thanks for pointing it out. :)
     
  4. Jul 10, 2019 #104

    Eterry

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    DaveC,
    This post has strayed from cannon a time or two... so i have a piercing question for you and others.

    I live near the Waggoner Ranch, and as a teen (in the 70s or early 80s) i recall reading an article in some Old West Magazine about Jim Bowie's knife being at the Waggoner Ranch.

    IIRC, the story went a Hispanic employee used the knife as collateral for a loan, in the late 19th or early 20th century. He told that his ancestor had found the knife at the Alamo after the battle, I don't recall how long after. He may have been a soldier there...i don't know.

    The knife as i recall was a large butcher knife looking thing with JB carved inside an acorn on one handle, and J. Bowie on the other.
    The handles had burn marks like it had been near/ in a fire.

    The employee never repaid the loan and the Waggoner family put the knife in a display case.

    Have you ever heard of this?
     
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  5. Jul 12, 2019 #105

    Arkansawer

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    What color was period correct ? I know they had some odd ones during the AWI.
     
  6. Jul 12, 2019 #106

    GunnyGene

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    From what I understand the barrel is a 1700's Spanish ships cannon, that was taken off and sent to the Alamo, along with at least one other gun which was lost along the way. I think trying to figure out what was a "period correct" color for this carriage is somewhat futile. The carriage itself is only a educated guess of what the barrel was mounted on at the Alamo, since the original mount is long gone and no detailed records exist about it.

    Michael doubts very much that it was on a field carriage, but that's what the Museum wanted, and what they are paying him to build.

    In fact, most museums don't care much about "historical correctness" in their displays. The objective is to capture visitor eyeballs with a nice looking display. In this case, the avg tourist will expect a cannon barrel to be mounted on a field carriage, since that's what they are used to seeing in the movies. ;)

    For all we know, the barrel could have been mounted on a ships carriage (since that's where it came from) or strapped to a pile of logs hacked out by the defenders. :rolleyes:
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2019
  7. Jul 12, 2019 #107

    GunnyGene

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    PS: I tend to agree with Michael about this, especially since the defenders didn't have a lot of time to fool around building a complicated field carriage which they would never have a use for, even if they had the materials and tools. "You go to war with the weapons you have, not the ones you wish you had." :)
     
  8. Jul 12, 2019 #108

    Eutycus

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    You got that part right about capturing a tourists eyeball. A Big Blue Cannon ought to do the trick.
     
  9. Jul 13, 2019 #109

    Eutycus

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    This has been a most interesting thread. It's a great looking piece. It should "thrill" tourist for years to come. But I'm still a little confused about just where this cannon came from. We know it came from a ship that ran aground in Matagorda Bay in 1817. So far there have been several different "clues" as to it's origin. A Spanish shipwreck is mentioned. The Saint Gervais foundry, as in French design. Merchants from New York is also mentioned. I can't find the post but I think it was mentioned somewhere that the cannon could possibly be Swedish. There could be one or two countries of origin that I failed to mention. Did I miss something?
     
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  10. Jul 13, 2019 #110

    GunnyGene

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    Michael mentioned that the Alamo historians told him the barrel was made in Spain. I have no reason to doubt that. But I will note that historians often have different opinions about the origin of many artifacts. Kinda like psychiatrists. Ask 3 of them for a opinion and you'll get 4 different answers. ;)

    Quoted:

    " The barrel I am building the carriage for is 8' 9" long and weighs 2240 lbs.
    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.

    It is my opinion only, that the barrel was never mounted on a field carriage. I suspect it was mounted on a naval carriage.
    That is my speculation only.
    2240 lb. barrels just weren't meant for transport.

    Ship guns, however, were that heavy and more.

    I am building what the folks at the Alamo want me to build. I'm staying out of the argument.
    Zulu"

    He also posted some info from the Conservator of the Alamo as follows:

    "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: Jul 13, 2019
  11. Jul 13, 2019 #111

    Eutycus

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    No argument here, I just like to ask questions. That's one of the ways you learn things.
     
  12. Jul 13, 2019 #112

    Eutycus

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    Now let me stray alittle with Eterry. Where is the Waggoner Ranch located? It seems I've heard that story about the Bowie knife somewhere before.
     
  13. Jul 13, 2019 #113

    GunnyGene

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    As do I, but sometimes you just have to accept the fact that there aren't any definitive answers. I'm sending you a pm of a personal example of an antique I have that has nothing to do with cannons or firearms, since I don't want to insert it into this thread.
     
  14. Jul 13, 2019 #114

    Eterry

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    The Waggoner ranch is west of Wichita Falls, and encompasses several Texas counties. It is claimed to be the largest single holding of land "under one fence".
    It was sold by the family about 3 or 4 years ago to an individual. So i guess the claim still holds.
    Lake Diversion, in Archer county, was on land owned by the Waggoner and lake lots were leased to tenants, supposedly with a long lease. The state owned the water, the land was private owned.
    When the new owner took possession he gave the tennant's 1 year to vacate, and locked the gate.
     
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  15. Jul 13, 2019 #115

    DaveC

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    People appear to be conflating several of the guns. Recall that seven went from the Alamo to Texas A&M and now back again. One of the 3-pounders was found to have been a Swedish commercial iron gun, marketed to merchant ships, that made its way to the Alamo.

    Spain had very detailed and consistent regulations, like other European armies--at least by the late 18th-century after a long period of comparative lassitude compared to the "great powers." When Mexico gained independence from Spain, the so-called "Ejército trigarante" basically used all Spanish everything: colors of uniforms, ranks, drill, etc. etc. Basically the flag changed, the national emblems changed, and not much else.

    The vast majority of the guns in the Alamo were used by the Mexicans before. The Texians sure didn't name the gun platform on the east side of the chapel the "Fortín de Cos" after Centralist/Santanista General Martín Perfecto de Cos...The Mexican Santanistas did. Hopefully the research of Mr. R. Cruillas of Bracketville, who has determined what modifications to fortify the old Mission were made prior to the storming of Bexar in December 1835 after a desultory siege, and the modifications and additions made by the Texian defenders for the February-March 1836 siege and battle will become published and more widely known.

    The famous, but now lost 18-pounder, for example, which fired Travis' riposte to López de Santa Anna' s demands for unconditional surrender, entered Texas with the New Orleans Grays. It sure had a field carriage. It was dragged by oxen and human labor over an incredible distance, and arrived in San Antonio de Bexar too late to see service in the storming of Bexar 5-9 Dec. 1835, but was installed later at the southwest bastion facing the town. Similarly, if James V. Woodrick's research is correct, one of the bronze 6-pounders on the south gate tambour/lunette was none other than the real "Come and Take It!" piece loaned by the Mexican officials as a defensive weapon to the citizens of González, and later earmarked for seizure when violence ensued between Federalists and Santanistas in Mexico... The tiny signal gun/ swivel gun abandoned while on the march as more trouble than it was worth did indeed have a rough-hewn extemporized field carriage made for it with rounds of sawn logs for wheels and so on. Betcha that 6-pounder had a Spanish-painted, possibly Mexican re-painted field carriage. The 12-pounder caronnade or gunade is obviously a former ship's weapon, and may well have been brought in by the Texian Army of the People during the winter of 1835 before being installed at the Alamo. Perfecto de Cos' forces were given generous terms, allowed to keep ten cartridges per man and even a cannon for their departure... That gun is thought to have been the cannon used by Urrea's column later in the Texas Revolution.

    The ancient 9-pounder bored out over time in periodic "refreshening" of its pitted barrel until it became a 5.2-inch 16-pounder did indeed emanate from an 1817 ship-wreck, possibly from one or another of the ships lost by French corsair/pirate Aury when he abandoned Matagorda and sailed through Pass cavallo. His base at Galveston Island had been occupied in his absence at Soto la Marina by one newly-pardoned-for-artillery-support-to-Andrew-Jackson's-forces at the Battle of New Orleans, Jean Laffite. Still other artillery pieces used at the Alamo apparently came from the wreck of the San Felipe that wrecked in August 1835 when it sighted a hostile Mexican Veracruzano and gave chase...

    Clearly, there is some question on how to go about showing this, the largest surviving Alamo gun. Putting it on a field carriage is a bit more "showy" and visually appealing than a garrison carriage... The average Alamo visitor will doubtless also confuse it with the 18 pounder. According to the former curator and historian for the past 23 years, Dr. R. Bruce Winders, the gun simply was too big to temporarily display with the smaller guns in the arcade south of the Shrine of Texas Liberty, and so the idea was to get a carriage made and put it on the north side of the Shrine. With his departure, who knows where it may actually be put?
     
  16. Jul 13, 2019 #116

    DaveC

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    A 2018 post on another forum--one dedicated to the 1836 Alamo and so on--has this addition from "Jim J" as in Jim Jobling from Texas A&M:

    http://www.johnwayne-thealamo.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=845&start=440

    From the post:
    "4 PDR (pounder), an Armstrong pattern from the mid- 18th Century, a light-weight commercial cannon with no markings visible, made for the merchant shipping market as an insurance gun. Missing the trunnions and cascabel, with the muzzle blocked with oversize stones wedged-in. On cleaning the barrel, we discovered the bore filled with dirt, and a 3 lb. cannon ball at the breech end – Mmm, wonder who handled that one last! This cannon was part of the Maverick 1852 Cache, and rediscovered on 1908 at the location of the Gibbs building (cnr. Alamo & E. Houston St.)
    6 PDR, this cannon was not at the Battle of the Alamo, and was a later donation from the Spohn family. Commonly called the 1842 Rio Grande cannon, the name is an enigma to me as the date is not significant in any way! The cannon was brought to Texas in the mid 1830’s, by Henry Redmond from England, and was located at a stockade near Carizo / Zapata in 1839, now under the Falcon Reservoir. The gun is in good condition, with all trunnions and cascabel being present, with a maker’s mark. The cannon is a short Armstrong pattern 6 pdr, made for the commercial market, before 1790. The “B” on the trunnion indicates that it was made at the Bersham Foundry, near Wrexham in North Wales, UK. The gun-founder was John Wilkinson, who ceased production in 1790. The cannon was cast solid, and then bored out - therefore made after 1773.
    ¾ pdr swivel gun, this gun is in very poor condition, missing the trunnions and cascabel. There are no markings. She is most likely English made, from the 2nd half of 18th Century. Swivel guns were very common in the Navy and Merchant Service, and were used as an anti-personnel weapon until the advent of the carronade. They fired solid shot and / or small grape. It was found buried in Elizabeth Fry’s yard, circa 1890, about 500’ east from the 1852 Maverick cache and just north of the Alamo. There was a second one found at the same time, but that one was unfortunately blown up during a July 4th firing celebration years ago! The Spanish refer to them as Esmerils.
    3 PDR, this cannon is in very poor condition, missing the trunnions and cascabel. There are no markings. Stylistically, this gun is Swedish and made in the 2nd quarter of the 18th Century. She is a light-weight commercial cannon made for the export market and generally used on small merchant sailing vessels. A number of cannon from the French Fort in Natchitoches (LA), were brought to San Antonio in 1793. This is one of the cannon from the 1852 Maverick cache.
    3 PDR, another cannon in very poor condition, missing the trunnions and cascabel - no markings. The keyhole vent and muzzle swell is a French design, from the mid 18th Century. These design elements were also used by the Swedish Foundries, in the 3rd quarter 18th Century. This could be another one of the French cannon from Natchitoches (1763), and brought to the Alamo in 1793. This cannon was also from the 1852 Maverick cache.
    12 PDR, the gunnade is missing one trunnion and the cascabel, and has no markings. She was brought to Texas in October 1835, by the New Orleans Grays. The gun was at Bexar, and arrived at the Alamo in November 1835. This cannon is one of the guns found at the Gibbs building in 1908, and donated to the Alamo by the Maverick family.
    4 PDR, this gun was not at the Battle in 1836. She is most likely a Confederate cannon, made at a foundry unfamiliar with making large castings, and poorly finished. She was found to the south of the Alamo, buried 7’ underground, where there had been a Confederate fortification / encampment.
    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 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. On the other hand, it could be 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. I know that the Mexicans were firing explosive shells, but did the Texans have any at the Alamo . . .
    There is also a small bronze 4 pdr cannon, which I will write about at a later date. I will use the excuse, that I do not have my notes with me . . .
    And now for the rest of the story. The two cannon at La Villita, in San Antonio, used to belong to the City. They were at the Battle in 1836, and ended up being owned by the City – I do not know the details but do know that the provenience is good. When asked about the cannon recently, the City generously agreed to donate them to the Alamo Museum for display. They are now at the Lab being cleaned, and will shortly be returned to the Alamo. Another cannon is privately owned, and is on display at the Briscoe Western Art Museum, in San Antonio. The owner has recently also agreed to have the cannon cleaned and conserved at the Lab, and sent to the Alamo for display. All three of these cannon are 9 PDR’s, about 91” long and weighing over a ton. They are all in poor condition, missing the trunnions and the cascabel. These three cannon are also from the wreck in Matagorda Bay. These guns are only ~3” shorter than the 16 pdr at the Alamo, but with a bore of 4.2”.
    The cannon are currently displayed vertically (muzzle down), so as to not collect water / debris in the bore. The plan is that the cannon will be eventually displayed on replica (authentic!) carriages, the details of which are currently being worked out. We have cannon that were originally at the French forts in Louisiana – French field carriages (?), we have British cannon that could be on British / American field carriages, we have cannon that were used by the Mexicans with potentially Spanish influenced field carriages . . . and then we have an Alamo defender / carpenter who gets told to remount the extra artillery – and makes do with what he has on hand! All the same, we would like to have a replica carriage that looks good, and is definitely not out of place.
    We are also actively researching what happened to the other cannon. We know that one / two bronze gun(s) was / were melted down, and made into a church bell and some smaller replica guns. The Mexicans took another three bronze cannon with them, when they left Texas. Some were lost in the cast iron drives of the two World Wars, and others . . . we will see. The two guns at the Stockyards in Fort Worth, a 4 & 6 pdr, have to have their provenience checked out again. There are gaps in the story, and too much does not necessarily add up. There were a lot of cannon in Texas in the mid 1800’s, some of which were made in the mid 1700’s, but they were not all at the Alamo!"

    So there you have it!
     
  17. Jul 13, 2019 #117

    Eutycus

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    Got a question. I had originally intended to ask Gunny about this but It looks like the original material and info came from an earlier post and was not his own. The info on the 16 pounder states it came from ship that ran aground in Matagorda Bay in 1817. It mentions Ellen Tooker. Who was Ellen Tooker? And what have the merchants in New York to do with it?
     
  18. Jul 14, 2019 at 2:55 AM #118

    DaveC

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    Last edited: Jul 14, 2019 at 3:09 AM
  19. Jul 14, 2019 at 3:05 AM #119

    Eutycus

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    There was a Ellen Tucker from that era but she would have only been a 6 year old girl in 1817. Who names ships after little girls? And wasn't this supposed to be a "Spanish" shipwreck?
     
  20. Jul 14, 2019 at 3:12 AM #120

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