Military History Books
by Harold A. Skaarup   www.SilverHawkAuthor.com   
 
Artillery and Armoured Fighting Vehicles preserved in the USA: Virginia, Yorktown

Artillery preserved at Yorktown Battlefield, Colonial National Historic Park, Virginia

Data current to 14 April 2019.

One of the aims of this website is to locate, identify and document every historical piece of artillery and all armoured fighting vehicles preserved in Virginia.  Many contributors have assisted in the hunt for these tangible pieces of our military history and the list you see here is constantly being revised as new finds are discovered and the data is updated.  The photos have come from various contributors, but the author likes to "ground truth" the reports, so a good number of the photos are by the author unless otherwise credited.  Any errors found here are by the author.   It often happens that military monuments that are relatively mobile, have been moved for restoration or scrapped, sometimes they are repainted with different markings and serial numbers, or they are replaced with a different piece of kit.  For those reasons, any additions, deletions, corrections or amendments that you may be able to add to this list of Artillery and AFVs in Virginia would be most welcome and may be e-mailed to the author at hskaarup@rogers.com.  The primary aim is preserve our military history and to keep the record accurate.

 (National Park Service Digital Image Archives Photo)

Yorktown Battlefield (Part of Colonial National Historical Park), re-enactor with British bronze 24-pounder smoothbore muzzleloading (SBML) guns on field carriages.

Yorktown Battlefield, Colonial National Historic Park, Virginia

Supported by the French army and navy, Washington's forces defeated Lord Charles Cornwallis' veteran army dug in at Yorktown, Virginia. Victory at Yorktown in October 1981, led directly to the peace negotiations that ended the war in 1783 and gave America its independence.

  (Author Photo)

British bronze 12-pounder smoothbore muzzleloading (SBML) gun, cast by William Bowen, circa 1759.  This gun was among the captured British equipment in Redoubt 10.  It had been previously disabled.  Ripped from its carriage, it bore a large indentation on its right side where it had been hit by French enfilading fire.  Taking possession of the damaged gun, Lafayette had it inscribed "Surrendered at the Capitulation of Yorktown October 19, 1781" and turned the weapon over to the American Chief of Artillery General Henry Knox for use against its previous owners.  The gun may have been used once again, in the War of 1812.

 (Author Photo)

The Siege of Yorktown, Battle of Yorktown or Surrender at Yorktown, the latter taking place on 19 October 1781 at Yorktown, Virginia, was a decisive victory by a combined force of American Continental Army troops led by General George Washington and French Army troops led by the Comte de Rochambeau over a British Army commanded by British lord and Lieutenant General Lord Cornwallis.  The siege proved to be the last major land battle of the American Revolutionary War, and the culmination of the Yorktown campaign, as the surrender by Cornwallis, and the capture of both him and his army, prompted the British government to negotiate an end to the conflict.  The battle boosted faltering American morale and revived French enthusiasm for the war, as well as undermining popular support for the conflict in Britain.  After initial preparations, the Americans and French built their first set of parallel assault trenches and began the bombardment of the British positions.  With the British defense weakened, Washington on 14 October 1781 sent two columns to attack the last major remaining British outer defences.  A French column took redoubt No. 9 and an American column captured redoubt No. 10.  With these defenses taken, the American and French allies were able to finish their second parallel trench works.  As the American artillery moved in closer and its fire became more intense, the British situation began to deteriorate rapidly and Cornwallis asked for capitulation terms on 17 October.  After two days of negotiation, the surrender ceremony took place on 19 October.  Lord Cornwallis, claiming to be ill, was absent from the ceremony.  With the capture of over 7,000 British soldiers, negotiations between the United States and Great Britain began, resulting in the Treaty of Paris in 1783.

 (Author Photo)

Three types of artillery were in use during the Revolutionary War at the Battle of Yorktown, Guns (Cannon), Howitzers and Mortars.  Field Guns included lightweight, mobile pieces and heavy siege guns which had limited mobility.  Field guns, firing solid shot, grapeshot and canister in a fairly flat trajectory, could tear large holes in the enemy’s infantry ranks.  Siege guns fired solid shot, destroying fortifications and buildings.  Heated rounds of hot shot were used against ships.  These included a superheated cannon ball that could set a ship on fire; and bar shot and chain shot, (two halves of a cannon ball attached by either a bar or chain) that could pull down a ship’s mast and rigging.

 (Cliff Photo)

British bronze 6-pounder SBML gun mounted on a field carriage at Yorktown.

 (Author Photo)

 (Author Photo)

French bronze 4-pounder SBML mortar, “La Perileuse”, cast by Jean Bérenger at Strasbourg, circa 1758

Mortars differed from cannon in both appearance and firing principles.  A mortar was mounted on a flat bed, resembling a large block of wood.  An elevating wedge raised the barrel, enabling the mortar to fire an exploding shell, called a "bomb," in a high trajectory.  Fired properly, the bomb would fly over earthworks and explode while still airborne, raining shrapnel over the enemy.

 (DrStew82 Photo)

 (DrStew82 Photo)

British bronze mortar with cypher.

 (DrStew82 Photo)

 (DrStew82 Photo)

 (DrStew82 Photo)

British bronze mortar with cypher.

 (DrStew82 Photo)

 (John Athayde Photo)

Replica cast iron 24-pounder SBML guns on wood naval gun carriages.

 (DrStew82 Photo)

 (DrStew82 Photo)

Field gun with naval SBML guns in land use in background.  Revolutionary War artillery on display at Yorktown Battlefield.

 (DrStew82 Photo)

 (DrStew82 Photo)

  (Author Photo)

British bronze ight 3-pounder SBML gun, cast by Jan and Pieter Verbruggen, circa 1776, mounted on a field carriage. 

The howitzer combined the principles of both the cannon and the mortar. Mounted on a field carriage, the howitzer fired both bombs and cannon balls at a flat or high trajectory.  When the British surrendered at Yorktown, the American forces collected  244 artillery pieces of mainly lightweight field guns.  These had been ineffective against the the American earthworks.  While General Washington’s forces had considerably fewer guns, approximately 131, it was their superior number of siege guns and their skilled gun crews, such as Colonel Lamb’s Artillery, that made the difference.

American cast iron 6-pounder SBML gun, cast by Samuel and Daniel Hughes, circa 1775-1783, and a French bronze 4-pounder SBML gun, “La Bellone”, cast by D.E. Dupont at Rochefort, circa 1773, are also on display in the batlefield park.

 (MPSharwood Photo)

British bronze guns captured at Yorktown.

 (National Park Service Digital Image Archives Photo)

As the American artillery moved in closer and its fire became more intense, the British situation began to deteriorate rapidly and Cornwallis asked for capitulation terms on 17 October.  After two days of negotiation, the surrender ceremony took place on 19 October.  Lord Cornwallis, claiming to be ill, was absent from the ceremony.  With the capture of over 7,000 British soldiers, negotiations between the United States and Great Britain began, resulting in the Treaty of Paris in 1783.  Yorktown Battlefield (Part of Colonial National Historical Park), re-enactors recreating the surrender ceremony.

 (Author Photo)

Yorktown Victory Monument