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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A neighbor friend recently unearthed four, 18 pounder siege guns which are believed to have been cast around 1776 at the Warwick Furnace, an iron producing furnace located in south east Pennsylvania. These cannons were discovered on a property adjacent to the furnace where they were buried to prevent their discovery by the advancing British army.

Many unanswered questions surround the discovery of these artifacts and we are seeking any information that may help us shed some light. Thank you.
Pictured are 3 of the 4 cannon recovered.
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Wow those are impressive, rather like squat brutes.
What was the weight marking system used by America? As compared to the British having cwts-qtrs-lbs marked into their breeches.
 

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Those are some aggressive looking barrels !
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Wow those are impressive, rather like squat brutes.
What was the weight marking system used by America? As compared to the British having cwts-qtrs-lbs marked into their breeches.
Adrian, these barrels have British hundred weight markings. W+F is Warwick Furnace. The P is proof and then the hundred weight designation. Hoping you have an idea as to the design origin. Is there a British counterpart to this cannon? Dom
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Hoping you have an idea as to the design origin. Is there a British counterpart to this cannon? Dom

I suspect these are not of English design but will see if I can find something close, what is the length - face of muzzle to base ring? - and one photo indicates a calibre of 5 inches, about 18pr, is that accurate?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Hoping you have an idea as to the design origin. Is there a British counterpart to this cannon? Dom

I suspect these are not of English design but will see if I can find something close, what is the length - face of muzzle to base ring? - and one photo indicates a calibre of 5 inches, about 18pr, is that accurate?
Yes, these are 18 pounders. They are 87” overall length and the breech measures 22-1/4” diameter, except for one of these which is 24-1/4” diameter.
 

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Well, make them an offer. At least the freight would not be prohibitive. : - )
 

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Yes, these are 18 pounders. They are 87” overall length and the breech measures 22-1/4” diameter, except for one of these which is 24-1/4” diameter.

The 1853 Boxer's 'Diagrams of Guns', which I think, given the girth of these guns, is about the right period, has five iron 18pr guns.
1). 9' long (muzzle to base ring, not o/all). Breech dia is 17.95", weight 42cwt.
2). 8' long " '' '' . Breech dia is 17.92", weight 38cwt.
3). 7' long " '' '' . Breech dia is 15.33", weight 22cwt.
4). 6' long " '' '' . Breech dia is 15.68", weight 20cwt.
5). 5' 4.8" long " '' '' . Breech dia is 13.93", weight 15cwt.

Compared to these OP cannon:
About 6'6" long (m to b/r) breech dia about 23", weight about 41cwt.
Their stats are remarkably different.
 

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I’ll take a wild guess that these predate 1776 due to the low trunnions If nothing else. Muller’s’ works were well-known in the US and artillery cast here during the Rev War would most likely have centerline trunnions. Are we sure there was no English founder who used those initials? Some other early American-cast cannon I’ve seen used the initial of the foundry then F, with nothing in between, for example Hope Foundry in RI, used “HF.” So there’s some chance “W + F” really stood for “Williams and Funston” or something like that. Just to muddy the waters a bit further (yeah I do that often with cannon stories) have you seen any photos of the cannons taken while they were still partly in the ground? I’m asking because probably 97% of the excavated cannon stories I’ve heard were fantasies made up to increase the importance of otherwise ordinary artifacts.

But having said that, these are very unusual in form, size, and markings and I’d still like to come get one or two, I’ll bring cash and a trailer.
 

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I’ll take a wild guess that these predate 1776 due to the low trunnions If nothing else.

British guns of that era were much more slender than their later designs, and as far as I am aware none of those later designs of cast iron muzzle loader guns attained such a 'girth to length ratio' as the OP guns, so if an early dating is applied that would, I believe, rule these out as being of British influence.

The large diameter of these guns, and excess metal that entailed, is, logically, in excess of what was typically needed for an 18pr cast iron gun, provided that good quality iron was used. Added to the extra expense would be the difficulty in transporting & added carriage strength required, several sensible reasons to not have guns heavier than they needed to be. Five reasons I can think of that might explain the use of excess metal are:
1). To compensate for lower quality iron.
2). To enable the use of a more highly explosive & violent propellant.
3). To reduce recoil.
4). Due to a low level of cannon design knowledge.
5). To fire a heavier projectile (elongated for example) with a heavy charge.

My thoughts are that these are unlikely to have been experimental, trials or similar and that to have the know-how to cast such large pieces they would have done their homework, so I tend to rule out reasons 2 to 5 & that leaves 'lower quality iron'. It makes sense that if you are worried about the iron you increase the metal thickness & at the same reduce the barrel length to try to keep the overall weight to something manageable.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I’ll take a wild guess that these predate 1776 due to the low trunnions If nothing else. Muller’s’ works were well-known in the US and artillery cast here during the Rev War would most likely have centerline trunnions. Are we sure there was no English founder who used those initials? Some other early American-cast cannon I’ve seen used the initial of the foundry then F, with nothing in between, for example Hope Foundry in RI, used “HF.” So there’s some chance “W + F” really stood for “Williams and Funston” or something like that. Just to muddy the waters a bit further (yeah I do that often with cannon stories) have you seen any photos of the cannons taken while they were still partly in the ground? I’m asking because probably 97% of the excavated cannon stories I’ve heard were fantasies made up to increase the importance of otherwise ordinary artifacts.

But having said that, these are very unusual in form, size, and markings and I’d still like to come get one or two, I’ll bring cash and a trailer.
John, what you wrote is interesting. I’ll pass it on. I know the guy who dug these up and saw the place where they were excavated. Not a made up story.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I’ll take a wild guess that these predate 1776 due to the low trunnions If nothing else.

British guns of that era were much more slender than their later designs, and as far as I am aware none of those later designs of cast iron muzzle loader guns attained such a 'girth to length ratio' as the OP guns, so if an early dating is applied that would, I believe, rule these out as being of British influence.

The large diameter of these guns, and excess metal that entailed, is, logically, in excess of what was typically needed for an 18pr cast iron gun, provided that good quality iron was used. Added to the extra expense would be the difficulty in transporting & added carriage strength required, several sensible reasons to not have guns heavier than they needed to be. Five reasons I can think of that might explain the use of excess metal are:
1). To compensate for lower quality iron.
2). To enable the use of a more highly explosive & violent propellant.
3). To reduce recoil.
4). Due to a low level of cannon design knowledge.
5). To fire a heavier projectile (elongated for example) with a heavy charge.

My thoughts are that these are unlikely to have been experimental, trials or similar and that to have the know-how to cast such large pieces they would have done their homework, so I tend to rule out reasons 2 to 5 & that leaves 'lower quality iron'. It makes sense that if you are worried about the iron you increase the metal thickness & at the same reduce the barrel length to try to keep the overall weight to something manageable.
Adrian, We think it’s possible that since the founder was new at casting cannon barrels, he made these larger than the standard calls for.
 
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