Admittedly not as knowledgeable about Artillery matters, this article in the June 24, 1862, Philadelphia Inquirer kinda threw me:
Major Thomas S. Richards of the First Pennsylvania Cavalry, paid a flying visit to his family, in Reading, on Wednesday last, after an absence of nearly six months, and left again next morning. As connected with his experience of military life, the Major relates the following incident:
One of General Fremont's batteries of eight Parrott guns, supported by a squadron of horse, commanded by the Major, was in a sharp conflict with a battery of the enemy near at hand, and shells and shot were flying thick and fast, when the commander of the battery, a German, one of Fremont's staff, rode suddenly up to the cavalry, exclaiming in loud and exited tones,
"Prong up de shackasses, prong up de shackasses, for Cot sake, hurry up de shackasses, im--me--di--ate--ly."
The necessity of this order, though not quite apparent to our readers, will be more obvious when we mention that the " shackasses " are mules carrrying mountain howitzers, which are fired from the backs of that much-abused but valuable animal, and the immediate occassion for the "shackasses' was that two regiments of rebel infantry were at that moment discovered in descending a hill immmediately behind our batteries. The "shackasses'with the howitzers loaded with grape and cannister, were soon on the ground. The mules squared themselves , as they well knew how, for the shock. A terrific volley was poured into the advancing column, which immediately broke and retreated. Two hundred and seventy-eight bodies were found in the ravine next day, piled closely together as they fell, the effects of that volley from the backs of the "shackasses."
Now this is a period account, purportedly a description by an eyewitness, albeit in a NEWSPAPER. ( I generally take "Press" accounts with a grain of salt.) But this has a ring of truth to it. Probably just my ignorance, but this is the first I've heard of the practice of firing howitzers from the backs of pack animals. And the article intimates that this was a common or accepted military practice of the day.
Anyone have any other instances of this, or maybe just care to enlighten me a bit?
Something in a manual perhaps?