Firing Shells from Long Guns in 1779

  • February 1, 2016 11:57 am

Following on from my article regarding the use of howitzer shells in long guns in the 1793-5 campaigns in Flanders, here is the full text from the experiments during the siege of Gibraltar;

“(Sept. 25) An experiment was recomd. by Capt. (now Major) Mercier, 39 regt., viz.: to fire out of guns 51/2″ shells with short fuses, which was tried on 25 Sept. and found to answer extremely well. These small shells, according to Mercier’s method, were despatched with such precision, and the fuses calculated to such exactness that the shell often burst over the enemy and wounded them before they could get under cover. This mode of annoyance was desirable on many accounts: less powder, and the enemy more seriously molested. The former was an advantage of no small consequence since it enabled the Governor to reserve, at this period, what might probably be expended to greater benefit on some future occasion; it will also account for the extraordinary no. of shells which were discharged from the Garrison. The enemy attempted this practice, but never could bring it to perfection.”

(Source: Minutes of the Proceedings of the Royal Artillery Institution, vol.29, 1902-3, p.93)

The Great Siege
Stewart and Shells for long guns in Flanders

Long gun at Gibraltar - (c) Scott Wylie