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more info on the 3-inch field gun in the KC museum

August 31 2015 at 3:32 PM
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Nelson  (no login)
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Response to 3inch gun and SOT Spanish American War and Philippine Insurrection


As you likely know, the b&w photo you attached shows the volunteers armed with the .30-40 Krag-Jorgensen bolt-action rifle (from which the expression “Civilize ‘em with a Krag” arose). The stodgy old reactionaries in the U.S. Army Ordnance Dept. continued to believe the newly enlisted young lads would blaze away in an undisciplined manner and exhaust their ammo muy pronto. To offset that promiscuous tendency, they insisted the army needed single-shot shoulder weapons. On the other hand, the beloved trapdoor Springfield .45-70 was getting a bit long in the tooth, the rest of the world had moved on to bolt-action pieces firing .30cal rounds, etc.* Thus a compromise was reached wherein the bolt-action piece fired normally as a single-shot weapon, but had a five-round reserve magazine on the side if’n the need in combat does that need not predictably arise? From the photo, your granddad and his fellows were the lucky ones, perhaps because the unit shown is U.S. volunteer infantry, and not strictly state militia. In far too many cases, the latter units did land in Cuba carrying their trapdoor antiques, firing black powder cartridges that emitted great clouds of smoke, thereupon obscuring their field of fire, but nicely providing targets for the Spanish, armed with Mausers and Remingtons firing smokeless powder. Perhaps the state boys could only thank their lucky stars they had not been sent to a foreign war equipped with muzzleloaders.

*One must concede the superior take-down capability of the old .45-caliber bullet, handy when facing fanatical warriors fired by religious zeal, but the advantages of the new shoulder arm far outweighed that deficiency: ease of operation, smokeless powder, ability to carry more ammunition, etc. And anyway, the smaller caliber bullet was hardly the major objection by the hoary reactionaries to the adoption of a magazine-fed repeating rifle.

Four days ago I mentioned a colleague with whom I’m preparing the comprehensive list of early 20th century army field guns. Like you a Midwesterner, he has also been to the World Wark I museum in KC, and he provides these additional data for your files:

Model 1905 3-inch field gun serial No. 249
forged by American & British Mfr. Co.†, Bridgeport, CT
finished by Watervliet Arsenal, Watervliet, NY, 1914
Model 1902 3-inch field carriage serial No. 423
fabricated by Rock Island Arsenal, Rock Island, IL, 1912

†And where have we run across this firm before??


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