J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A Heavy Three-Pounder in Sturbridge

Among the cannon to be fired at this weekend’s “Redcoats and Rebels” encampment at Old Sturbridge Village, I expect, will be the iron three-pounder that the museum village put back into service for Independence Day.

That gun, called a “heavy 3-pounder” because it’s about the size and weight of a light six-pounder, was made in the 1970s by the LaPans Foundry in Hudson Falls, New York. Old Sturbridge Village bought it for a negligible price a few years ago but has invested lots of resources into refurbishing the barrel and building a carriage. That matches what I found for the Massachusetts Provincial Congress in 1774-75: it had to budget much more for new cannon carriages than for the used cannon themselves.

As the Worcester Telegram & Gazette reported, the museum craftsmen modeled their field carriage after those shown in John Muller’s A Treatise of Artillery (London, 1768). Blacksmith Derek Heidemann told the newspaper, “We were able to find an artillery manual that was printed in Massachusetts in 1817. It shows the same exact style of carriage and says the style of carriage that is devised by John Muller is still the one used by the Commonwealth. Now that’s 1817, but given that the U.S. government itself is having issues putting together carriages for the regular army, we think this is still the kind of carriage that is being used by the state militia in Massachusetts in the 1830s.”

The newspaper also prepared a video about the Old Sturbridge Village cannon project.

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