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Isandlwana cannon
smithart101


Joined: 06 Feb 2008
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Location: Dorset UK
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Just a thought, but could this be one of the guns from Isandlwana?
It appears to be identical if you compare it to the photograph of the 7pdrs John Young posted.
It belongs to the RCMP and is at their college in Canada.
They fire it at their sunset ceremony and as far as I can gather it appeared in Canada in the 1880's.






Simon

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Sawubona


Joined: 09 Nov 2005
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I believe that this cannon is one of the six seven pounder "mountain" guns sent to Canada in 1870 for the Red River Expedition, although only four were actually taken along. They were subsequently acquired by the North West Mounted Police (now The Royal Canadian Mounted Police) in 1876 with the hope that their presence would awe the Native Americans who had fled North to Canada after their defeat of Custer and his command. Three eventually ended up at Regina, one exploded, and one was sent to Dawson in the Yukon and and one to Ottawa. Or that's where they were in 1973 anyway when "Arms and Accoutrements of the Mounted Police " (my source) was published.

When one collects British Victorian militaria here in The States, one does well to have a goodly number of reference books on Canadian weapons and accoutrements. Nice photos!
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smithart101


Joined: 06 Feb 2008
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Location: Dorset UK
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Sawubona,
thanks for the info and very interesting too. Oh well, it was a just a hope!

Simon

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Sawubona


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Simon, is the RCMP "College" at Regina? I may be blithely dispensing wrong information, as two steel seven pounders were further acquired by the NWMP in 1886 and, although I believe they came from Canadian stores, I'm not absolutely certain of that. The cannon you picture appears to be steel barreled , and not simply painted brass as I originally thought.

I don't want to ramble on too much, but it's interesting to me that the first six cannon of the NWMP spent much of their early service mounted on the narrow, small wheeled "mountain carriages" which gave them an almost toylike appearance. The gunners virtually had to kneel to sponge and load. This set up however was terribly impractical on the open prairies and they were eventually mounted on theater built field carriages, the configuration on which they're now displayed. These seven pounders were complimented by the use of nine pounders, which being much heavier (in the order of over a ton each) proved barely transportable through the snow and mountains.

Does anyone know if the guns at Isandlwana were brass or steel? The vintage would suggest brass, but steel isn't impossible. If brass, were they bored out three pounders or purpose built as seven pounders? I am correct in recalling that they were on the large wheeled field carriages, am I not?
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smithart101


Joined: 06 Feb 2008
Posts: 65
Location: Dorset UK
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Sawubona,

Yes, the Academy is in Regina which I believe is where the RCMP train.
Very interesting to hear they aquired 2 guns! Below is the photo of one of the 7 Pdrs recovered from the Battlefield, courtsey of John Young. Compare to the modern photo at the top of this post. Looks to be iron barrels on both. You will notice the '7 Pdr' stencilled in white on the trail and also the left side seat foot rest appears to be twisted


Simon

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Sawubona


Joined: 09 Nov 2005
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Now this is getting interesting!

Commissioner L.W. Herchmer noted in his annual report for 1886 that the NWMP was "now well supplied with seven and nine pounder guns" During the year two of the former had been added to the Force's artillery complement. They were of the latest pattern-- steel, 200 pounds, with wrought iron carriages and limbers of field gun pattern and were equipped with the usual side arms (Saw says: "I have no idea what that side arm phrase means"). They had been ordered from England in April 1886 (35) and were drawn from Imperial Stores...


This quote is from the same book I mentioned above. The "(35)" is a footnote and references "PAC, RG 18, Vol. 900, No.26". PAC is the abbreviation for "Public Archives of Canada". In 1973 one of these guns (number 457) was in Ottawa and the other (number 1372) was on display at Dawson in the Yukon. At that time (1973) Regina had no steel guns, but the barrel in your recent photo, taken at Regina, is visibly of steel and I get the distinct sense from this book that the Brass (AKA Bronze) cannon are/were thought unreliable and consequently haven't been fired for decades-- keep in mind that it was a brass gun that blew up, presumably from cold induced stresses. Therefore, it appears that one or both of these 1886 arrivals was/were sent to Regina sometime after 1973, they both came from England in September or October of 1886 and they came from Imperial Stores! It's obvious that only the records of the RA can tell us if either or both of the Isandlwana cannon were numbered 457 and/or 1372. I assume that those numbers are some sort of serial number actually engraved on the barrels. So it seems your initial hypothesis hasn't yet been proven wrong after all, Simon. Don't tell me that this cannon is one ...


Last edited by Sawubona on Tue Oct 27, 2009 12:34 pm; edited 1 time in total
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smithart101


Joined: 06 Feb 2008
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Sawubona,
thanks! thats excellent research and I'm pleased the dream is still alive!
There are probably others on this forum who might be able to help with finding the serial numbers but if not I will try the RA at Woolwich.
regards
Simon

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smithart101


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Below is the reply I had from the Woolwich Artillery museum. Can anyone make sense of this, and does anyone closer to London feel inclined to visit Kew to ask about the issue books?

Dear Sir,
Thank you for your recent communication.

Iím afraid we do not hold the Gun Issue books you are searching for. Should they exist I would hope they have been deposited as part of the Records of Ordnance establishments at the National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 4DU.

TNA Class SUPP refers to archives created or inherited by the Ministry of Supply and its successors, the Ordnance Board and related bodies. In sub-class SUPP2 there are details of ordnance factory accounts. Sub-class SUPP5, which consists of 1,326 files and volumes devoted to entry books and miscellaneous records of ordnance offices and individual ordnance and munitions factories, includes those at Woolwich, Waltham Abbey and elsewhere.
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Sawubona


Joined: 09 Nov 2005
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I did a bit of Googling and came up with a few things that might help make that correspondence (which is remarkably full of "bureaucrateze") a bit clearer.


"TNA" is their working abbrerviation for "The National Archives".

"The lettercode SUPP refers to records created or inherited by the Ministry of Supply and its successors, the Ordnance Board and related bodies. SUPP 5 is entitled Ordnance Establishments: Headquarters and Factory Records."

I got the above quote from nationalarchives.gov.uk by way of a google search for "ordinance board tna class supp".

My initial sense of what they're saying is that:
"We've got tons of old paperwork, much of it inherited from older, now defunct departments and we really don't have much of a clue what's even there without concerning ourselves with finding something in particular. Ask for information that's current and germane and we can probably find it, but this?" A lot of the Thames had flowed under Tower Bridge since the 19th Century. "

There is an interesting dissertation regarding the NWMP brass seven pounders at: http://74.125.113.132/search?q=cache:YnYQ9SawZRkJ:www.victorianwars.com/viewtopic.php%3Ff%3D21%26t%3D1160+NWMP+seven+pounder+cannon+1886&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=firefox-a
I doubt any of the information is much use to us, however.

And this from "The Curling Letters of the Zulu War", edited by Greaves and Best: "The two guns taken from Isandlwana were found abandoned just six miles from Ulundi... upon inspection, they were declared undamaged. ... Harness was asked what he wanted done with the guns..., so he said "Send them home"--so they are going home. "


I'm intrigued by this, Simon, so I'm going to continue playing as well.
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Isandlwana cannon
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