Heritage, 2011, Volume 3 Page: 37
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were fired by howitzers and mortars against fortifications in
order to burn the enemy out.
The caliber or size of the cannon was determined by the
weight of the solid shot it fired. An iron ball with a diam-
eter of 3.67 inches weighed six pounds and was fired from
a "six-pounder" cannon. A 12-pounder discharged an iron
ball that weighed 12 pounds and had a diameter of 4.62
inches. Cannon calibers ranged from the one-pounder at
2.02 inches to the 42-pounder with a diameter of 7.02
inches. The bore diameter of the cannon was slightly larger
than the projectile until the advent of rifled guns and
Artillery played a leading role in much of early United
States and Texas history. In the New World, artillery was the
sole domain of the European immigrant and provided an
advantage against Native Americans, who became familiar
with the firearm, but never mastered the art of the gunner.
Many times in 18th-century Texas, the difference between
life and death depended upon the presence of a cannon as
defense against Indian attacks. This type of artillery could
even the odds considerably, which is why, in 1835, when
General Cos demanded that the Texians in Gonzales sur-
render their small six-pounder gun, the town's answer was
"Come and Take It."
In March of 1836, the Alamo defenders mounted an
assorted battery of 18 cannons. Other smaller cannons were
not mounted for the battle but are shown on the Labastida
map of the compound, thus bringing the total number to
21 cannons (Editor's Note: Ygnacio de Labastida, the com-
mander of engineers for the Mexican Army, drew the battle
map for the military assault on the Alamo.) The legendary
18-pounder gun of the New Orleans Grays, which was fired
by Travis in response to Santa Anna's demand for surrender,
can be seen today outside the Long Barracks Museum at the
In April of 1836 at the Battle of San Jacinto, Sam Houston
made good use of his two bronze six-pounder guns against
Santa Anna. The artillery pieces known as "The Twin
Sisters" were a gift from the Ladies of Cincinnati to The
Republic of Texas in 1835 and later saw service under Major
Trevanion Teel on the Sibley Expedition to New Mexico in
1862. Unfortunately these big guns are lost to history, pos-
sibly victims of a scrap drive, a fate that befell many other
One piece of historic Texas artillery (pictured top of next
column) that has been preserved is a U.S. Model 1835
12-pounder Mountain Howitzer made by Cyrus Alger of
Boston in 1859.
The Mountain Howitzer is the smallest of the big guns
and was used primarily by cavalry and infantry units for
close-range operations. This howitzer, registry number 176,
was fielded during the Civil War by Texans when making a
strategic incursion into New Mexico, an expedition that
terminated at the Battle of Glorieta Pass on March 28,
1862. During a close- ',
range artillery duel ",
between a Union six-
pounder gun and a
the Texan cannon was
hit in the muzzle by a
load of six-pounder
grape shot, consisting of a multi-ball load of one-inch iron
balls. The howitzer was dismounted from its carriage, the
ammunition limber exploded, and two men were killed. The
big gun was abandoned on the field and captured by the
Colorado Volunteers. Although the battle at Glorieta was a
Texan victory, Union soldiers destroyed the rebel army's sup-
ply train and forced their retreat to San Antonio.
This important piece of Texas artillery history was
returned to Texas in 2008 through the efforts of H.D. Teel,
a descendant of Major Trevanion Teel, and Tom Power
[author of this article].
Tom Power, of Utopia, researches, collects, and sells antique and
historical firearms. All photographs are provided by the author.
Send questions regarding this article to PO. Box 50314, Austin,
Shown above: U.S. Model 1835, 12-pounder Mountain Howitzer
Registry #176 made by Cyrus Alger of Boston in 1859. This
howitzer was used by Texans in the New Mexico campaign of
1862. Below is a close-up view of this howitzer muzzle showing
the indentations made by grapeshot. The number "6" is almost
obliterated. Only a direct hit by cannon fire could make such
marks. This important piece of Texas military history came back to
the state in 2008.
Volume 3 2011 I TEXASHERITAGE 37
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, 2011, Volume 3, periodical, 2011; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth254222/m1/37/: accessed November 18, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.