|Hutton, Charles Mathematical and Philosophical Dictionary 1795|
in practice at the siege of Stralsund in 1675 by the elector of Brandenburgh: though some say in 1653 at the siege of Bremen.
Another species of ordnance has been long in use, by the name of Howitzer, which is a kind of medium as to its length, between the cannon and the mortar, and is a very useful piece, for discharging either shells or large balls, which is done either at point-blanc, or at a small elevation.
A new species of ordnance has lately been introduced by the Carron company, and thence called a Carronade, which is only a very short howitzer, and which possesses the advantage of being very light and easy to work.
The species of Guns before mentioned, are now made chiefly of cast iron; except the howitzer, which is of brass, as well as some cannon and mortars.
Muskets were first used at the siege of Rhege in the year 1521. The Spaniards were the first who armed part of their foot with these weapons. At first they were very heavy, and could not be used without a rest. They had match-locks, and did execution at a great distance. On their march the soldiers carried only the rests and ammunition, having boys to bear their muskets after them. They were very slow in loading, not only by reason of the unwieldiness of their pieces, and because they carried the powder and ball separate, but from the time it took to prepare and adjust the match; so that their fire was not near so brisk as ours is now. Afterwards a lighter match-lock musket came in use: and they carried their ammunition in bandeliers, to which were hung several little cases of wood covered with leather, each containing a charge of powder. The muskets with rests were used as late as the beginning of the civil wars in the time of Charles the 1st. The lighter kind succeeded them, and continued till the beginning of the present century, when they also were disused, and the troops throughout Europe armed with firelocks. These are usually made of hammered iron. For the dimensions, construction, and practice of every species of Gun, &c, see the several articles Cannon, Mortar, &c. See also Gunnery.
, the art of charging, directing, and exploding fire-arms, as cannon, mortars, muskets, &c, to the best advantage.
Gunnery is sometimes considered as a part of the military art, and sometimes as a part of pyrotechny. To the art of Gunnery too belongs the knowledge of the force and effect of gunpowder, the dimensions of the pieces, and the proportions of the powder and ball they carry, with the methods of managing, charging, pointing, spunging, &c. Also some parts of Gunnery are brought under mathematical consideration, which among mathematicians are called absolutely by the name Gunnery, viz, the rules and method of computing the range, elevation, quantity of powder, &c, so as to hit a mark or object proposed, and is more particularly called Projectiles; which see.
History of Gunnery.
Long before the invention of gunpowder, and of Gunnery, properly so called, the art of artillery, or projectiles, was actually in practice. For, not to mention the use of spears, javelins, or stones thrown with the hand, or of bows and arrows, all which are found among the most barbarous and ignorant people, ac- counts of the larger machines for throwing stones, darts, &c, are recorded by the most ancient writers. Thus, one of the kings of Judah, 800 years before the christian æra, erected engines of war on the towers and bulwarks of Jerusalem, for shooting arrows and great stones for the defence of that city. 2 Chron. xxvi. 15. Such machines were afterwards known among the Greeks and Romans by the names of Ballista, Catapulta, &c, which produced effects by the action of a spring of a strongly twisted cordage, formed of tough and elastic animal substances, no less terrible than the artillery of the moderns. Such warlike instruments continued in use down to the 12th and 13th centuries, and the use of bows still longer; nor is it probable that they were totally laid aside till they were superseded by gunpowder and the modern ordnance.
The first application of gunpowder to military affairs, it seems, was made soon after the year 1300, for which the proposal of friar Bacon, about the year 1280, for applying its enormous explosion to the destruction of armies, might give the first hint; and Schwartz, to whom the invention of gunpowder has been erroneously ascribed, on account of the accident abovementioned under the article Gun, might have been the first who actually applied it in this way, that is in Europe; for as to Asia, it is probable that the Chinese and Indians had something of the kind many ages before. Thus, only to mention the prohibition of fire-arms in the co<*>e of Gentoo laws, printed by the East India Company in 1776, which seems to confirm the suspicion suggested by a passage in Quintus Curtius, that Alexander the Great found some weapons of that kind in India: Cannon in the Shansorit idiom is called shet-aghnee, or the weapon that kills a hundred men at once.
However, the first pieces of artillery, which were charged with gunpowder and stone bullets of a prodigious size, were of very clumsy and inconvenient structure and weight. Thus, when Mahomet the 2d besieged Constantinople in 1453, he battered the walls with stones of this kind, and with pieces of the calibre of 1200 pounds; which could not be fired more than four times a day. It was however soon discovered that iron bullets, of much less weight than stone ones, would be more efficacious if impelled by greater quantities of stronger powder. This occasioned an alteration in the matter and form of the cannon, which were now cast of brass. These were lighter and more manageable than the former, at the same time that they were stronger in proportion to their bore. This change took place about the close of the 15th century.
By this means came first into use such powder as is now employed over all Europe, by varying the proportion of the materials. But this change of the proportion was not the only improvement it received. The practice of graining it is doubtless of considerable advantage. At first the powder had been always used in the form of fine meal, such as it was reduced to by grinding the materials together. And it is doubtful whether the first graining of powder was intended to increase its strength, or only to render it more convenient for filling into small charges and the charging of small arms, to which alone it was applied for many years, whilst meal-powder was still used for cannon.