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Fields of Thunder Museum
Anthony Valentino, Director
Message phone (951) 277-2528
Fax (951)277-1927
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NOTE: If you have, or know of anyone that has artillery or artifacts that the Museum may be interested in, we would appreciate hearing from you. The museum is always searching for aritifacts to preserve and display for educational benefit.

© 2007 Fields of Thunder Museum.
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Museum/Artillery Collections/Cannons

Artillery through the ages has played a very important part of the History of Man. The evolution of Artillery has sculpted the way wars were fought and won. In the United States history from the Civil

War through the Spanish American War, it appears that very little changed. Upon close inspection the notable changes were tremendous and made a tremendous impact.  Some of those changes have lasted through modern day weaponry. When the Civil War started, bronze-barreled smoothbore cannon dominated the Union’s Artillery.

The introduction of rifled guns during the Civil War greatly improved the accuracy of our cannon warfare.

The next improvement for the U.S. cannon, which happened after the Civil War, was changing from muzzle (front) loading to breech (rear) loading cannons.



One of the breech-loading field cannons adopted for the United States services was the 3.2-inch field rifle.

Museum Examples

3.2 Field Cannon – U.S. model 1885

The newly designed 1885 3.2 Field Gun, unlike its predecessor the 3" Ordinance rifle (a front muzzle loading gun), was developed to load from the rear. This enabled the crew to load and fire at a more rapid rate. Its Indian War Era service record includes Wounded Knee in 1890. This gun was used in the Spanish American War battle at Santiago de Cuba and the Philippine Insurrection.


These breech loading unique weapons were the 1st to use dampening recoil brake systems throwing the gun forward and back, giving it the nickname "grasshopper". Barrel length is 88" long with a 3.2" bore giving it an accuracy range of 5000 yards.

3" Mountain Gun

Only 4 of these 3" breech loading mountain guns are on record as being purchased by the U.S. Army in the early 1890's. It was to see limited use in the Spanish-American War. The “Astor battery” used these guns in the Philippine Insurrection of 1899, making this a very rare U.S. Artillery specimen.

The projectiles used for this gun were: #1 a common shell (6.3 oz. fine-grain powder) percussion fuse, #2 a shrapnel shell loaded with 160 steel balls packed in sulfur with a timed fuse to explode directly above the target, and #3 a canister with 125 lead balls used for short range (like a shotgun). They weighed approximately 12 lbs. each. The 3" caliber gun has a maximum range of 4000 yards. It can be transported by pack mule, as described with the 1.65" mountain gun.

Hotchkiss 1.65 Mountain Gun

The U.S. military forces around 1881 adopted the Hotchkiss two-pounder mountain gun. Primarily used for western campaigns due to their lightweight and portability. They were generally broken down onto a mule pack by removing the barrel, wheels and carriage separately. The barrel length is 46" long weighing 121 lbs. the wheels each 66 lbs. and the carriage 220 lbs., plus the standard load of 56 rounds of ammunition. Best known use of these cannons was deployment in the Nez Pierce war of 1877 and at the Wounded Knee battle in 1890.

Two types of projectiles were issued, common shell with a percussion fuse and canister. The caliber was 1.65 in. Maximum range was about 4000 yds. The slow moving projectile had only a velocity of 591 ft per second at maximum range but an initial velocity of 1298 ft per second.