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May 24, 2006

Whatziss, answered!

Old Fat Sailor - I name you Brainiac of Argghhh! You got it right.

If our Ozzie OFS hadn't gotten it, I would have offered up this as a clue today, followed quickly with this.

If that was insufficient (I'm thinking it would have been enough) - I'd have offered up this.

But I don't have to do that. Because OFS identified it - it's a stand of quilted grape.

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In this case, a replica of Revolutionary War-era stand of quilted grape, in the six-pounder version. An early form of "Improved Conventional Munitions," grape was used against attacking infantry at greater ranges. Comprised of a wooden base, or sabot, with a wood rod protruding from it, they were stacked round with iron balls, held in place by the cloth and twine wrapping, which was then doped. The wrapping and sabot kept it all together for easy loading, and the paint helped waterproof it, prevent rot of the cloth, and provided some more rigidity.

The ones you find in museums have usually been painted black or red. This one is au naturel, to show the basic construction better. Made this way to speed loading (that infantry is looking pretty determined), the twine and cloth gave way upon firing, turning the gun into a giant shotgun. Grape, with it's larger balls, had a greater range at the expense of fewer projectiles. Canister is grape's short-range cousin, being smaller balls, usually lead musket balls, loosely loaded into a container (canister) and fired when the infantry had gotten annoyingly close and looked like they were still interested in killing artillerymen. Of course, once you started shooting this at infantry, the infantry became notoriously uninterested in taking prisoners, either... infantry sucks that way.

Why is is called a Stand of Grape? In fortress use especially, but also in the field, you stood them up on the wooden sabot, so they wouldn't roll around. Larger guns oft times fired grape made of larger iron balls held together by iron plates and rings, like this stand of 12-pounder grapeshot.