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Six Pound Artillery

The six pounder artillery piece shown at left is typical of the Grimbeaval designs of the late eighteenth century. Reducing the gap between the cannonball and barrel (called windage) allowed a reduction in barrel mass over previous models. This, coupled with the use of bronze for the barrel itself allowed for a far lighter carriage assembly for the gun. Half the weight of their predecessors, these field pieces enabled turn of the century gunners to maneuver their companies in ways scarcely conceivable thirty years before. Unlimbering time was usually less than one minute, and most guns carried a ready supply of ammunition in small "trail chests" carried just behind the barrel.

At right is shown the same six pounder artillery piece in its "traveling" position; The bronze barrel slid into the lower set of trunnion cut-outs, moving the piece's center of gravity toward the middle of the limbered assembly. This allowed the gun teams to move over uneven ground with less chance of overturned guns and other accidents. In rough terrain, there was always the possibility that the slower artillerists would be left behind with their pieces if they could not keep up with the rest of an army. In Spain, one column of French troops left their artillery park behind when the guns could not fit through a canyon. As the army moved ahead, the gunners used picks and tools to manually widen the rock walls. Once under way again, gunners took turns walking ahead of the column with a limber axle as a "gauge" to assure passage of the guns behind! The column ended up far behind the main force and barely survived an attack by partisans.