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U.S. Model 1838 24-Pounder Coehorn Mortar

From the beginning of time, improved defenses have encouraged development of new offenses. When fortifications became too strong to breach by direct fire, high angle plunging “vertical” fire was adopted. At Namur in 1692 the Dutch under Manno, Baron van Coehoorn, faced the French under his rival, Marshall Vanban. During the siege Coehoorn introduced lightweight, short-range bomb-throwing mortars. This mortar was reintroduced in 1838 as the 24-pounder Coehorn Mortar.

A 24-pounder bronze Coehorn mortar weighing 164 pounds by itself, or just under 300 pounds with its four handle bed, could be lugged into action by 2 men, but four men could rush it into many unprepared locations where it could lob explosive shell into masked targets at ranges of 20 to 1,200 yards. The piece fired a standard 24-pounder shell (weight 16.8 lbs.) and a half-pound of powder. General Grant wrote of the improvisation of 6-prd. and 12 pdr. wooden coehorns to throw common shell into the trenches of the defenders.

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