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British Artillery

The artillery establishment of the British Army in North America was based on the standard establishment of the field army used in Spain during the Peninsular campaign. Normal British Army issue to the artillery was based on the brass 6 pounder and brass 9 pounders and 12 pounders, as well as the brass 5.5” howitzer. The howitzer and 6 pounders used the same gun carriage, indicating a commonalty of interchangeable parts similar to the French system adapted by the American artillery.

Gun carriages for British artillery were primarily based on the single trail system that was later adopted by the United States and used from the 1830’s until the advent of modern artillery.. There was one major anomaly, however, in British artillery issue to North America. This was a gun referred to as the ‘short 24’. The Short 24 was originally developed for use in the Peninsular campaigns, and was intended to be usable as a generic heavy field piece that could be used both in the field and as a siege gun. It fell somewhat short of the Royal Artillery’s expectations, however. The Short 24 was apparently an iron gun, with the same barrel length of a standard 9 pounder. It used a modified double trail gun carriage system, the only one of its kind used by the Royal Artillery during the Napoleonic wars on a field gun (double trail gun carriages were standard on 18 pounder and 24 pounder siege guns). It’s shortcomings were quickly apparent, however, once it was put into use. As a field gun, it was less than useful, not only because its weight restricted its movement and speed of deployment, but because of its low rate of fire. As a mobile siege gun, it was badly outranged by the 18 pounders that the French used as garrison guns on the outer works of fortified towns and cities. While the 24 pound ball was certainly capable of more damage than the usual 18 pounder of the typical siege gun, the besieging battery was well within moderate range of the defending French guns while still at extreme range for itself. Such obvious shortcomings made the Short 24 non-competitive for use in Europe, which resulted in the disastrous mistake of issuing them to the Royal Artillery in North America. There, the British had to contend with roads that were in even poorer condition than in Spain and Portugal, thus limiting the movement and deployment of these guns even further., And, even worse, it was expected to compete against American artillery that already had a quantitative and qualitative superiority.

There were also attempts to utilize carronades as field guns, with even less success than that of the Short 24.

British gun carriages were painted a medium blue-gray, with black ironwork and black hubs.