If the Reaves Military Weapons Collection is the crown of the museum’s holdings, then the crown jewel is the Mosby Cannon, a rare and well-documented Confederate mountain rifle. According to artillery historian Wayne E. Stark, 20 of the bronze mountain rifles were cast at the Tredegar Foundry in Richmond, Va., from Dec. 20, 1861, to June 20, 1862. (One other Tredegar mountain rifle was made of wrought iron wrapped with wire.)
Stark says that the 20 rifles were made in fulfillment of an order dated Nov. 11, 1861, for 20 bronze 2.25-inch mountain rifle guns at $0.90 per pound.
He cites a letter Confederate Chief of Ordnance Josiah Gorgas wrote on Jan. 3, 1862, that “The Mountain Rifle is to have three grooves (Saw Tooth) Twist One Turn in 10ft. depth of Groove 5/100ths of an inch, Width of Grooves 1/10ths of an inch.”
The tube was 42 inches long, with a two-and-a-quarter-inch bore, and rifled after the Brooke sawtooth system. The right trunnion is stamped “TF” for Tredegar Foundry and on the left trunnion is 1862. Behind the vent “200” (pounds) is stamped.
Stark’s database of surviving Civil War cannon shows that in addition to the Mosby Cannon three others survive, two of them at the West Point Museum and one in private hands.
A museum brochure about the Mosby Cannon claims the mountain rifle was designed to compete with the U.S. 12-pdr. mountain howitzer, but with greater range and more accurate fire. The bore was kept small to conserve weight; perhaps too small, as the two-and-one-eighth inch shell was inadequate for major combat. Less is known about the carriage, but it is guessed that it was a modified version of the U.S. mountain howitzer’s prairie carriage, and hitched to a small limber pulled by a pair of horses.
Tredegar ‘Mosby Cannon’ On View At Oklahoma 45th Infantry Museum
By James M. Schmidt
Fall 2001 -Vol 22, No. 2