Colonel John Stewart & Firing Shells from Long Guns

  • October 23, 2012 9:52 am

My first article in a series on the British Artillery with the Duke of York in the Austrian Netherlands and United Provinces in 1794, has just been published in Issue 4 of the Smoothbore Ordnance Journal.   This article focuses on the correspondence of Colonel John Stewart, Royal Artillery.

Stewart was the artillery commander of Lord Moira’s force which joined the Duke of York’s army in the Austrian Netherlands in June 1794.   Stewart stayed with the Duke of York after Moira’s return to the UK.   Stewart is an interesting individual who was promoted from the ranks, having joined the Royal Artillery, as a Mattross, in 1747.

While doing the research for Wellington’s First Battle in the National Archives, I discovered a letter from Stewart detailing a request for ammunition for the army’s artillery (National Archives, Kew, WO 1/170 p.869).   This document gives the numbers of guns with the army in October 1794 and the required ammunition.  Curiously,  the list of guns excludes two “curricle 3 pounder” cannon that Stewart brought with him and that were still with the army in January 1795.  The ammunition requirement has created some discussion, as it includes 4⅖ inch shells for firing from the 12 pounder long guns, to the extent of 14% of the total ammunition (which implies that it was used as often as half the frequency of caseshot).  This use of shells in long guns, thereby anticipates the first use of Shrapnel’s Spherical Caseshot by approximately 10 years, but it fits in nicely with Stephen Summerfield’s timeline for the firing of shells from long guns which stretches back to 1744;

Napoleon Series

My complete article can be found at;

Smoothbore Ordnance Journal Issue 4