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I.    Tools of the Trade B. Cannon

Field artillery - Army cannon drawn by horses - was not the dominating arm it would become under Napoleon. It was had limited offensive ability, notably in siege warfare, and some defensive utility. During the Penobscot Expedition, both armies' field artillery played a limited role in the land campaign.

On the other hand, naval artillery, the cannon carried by the ships of both sides, played a profound role throughout the campaign. Not only were ships' guns larger (often, much) but more numerous and far more mobile. These could be employed in great batteries (broadsides), provided concentrated firepower on selected targets. The concentration of American naval gunfire support on 28 July (some 35 large bore cannon from four ships) demoralized the inexperienced Scottish soldiers of the 82nd holding the heights and probably convinced General McLEAN not to contest the landing. The combined rifles of his two Scottish regiments couldn't contest the deadliness of those 35 ship-borne cannon.

Once the siege began, both sides deployed the larger naval cannon ashore as shore batteries and for the siege of Fort George. Although lacking the relative mobility of Army field artillery, once in place (laboriously dragged into place my crewmen), they were effective as siege weapons and against ships. These guns were manned either by sailors or marines.

Most cannon used were muzzle-loading weapons. The majority of tubes were smooth-bore. As such, they lacked range and accuracy. However, they could employ special anti-personnel rounds (grapeshot, canister and the like) at shorter ranges making them very effective in the defense.

Copyright © 2015 by Craig Chapin Reed