Friday, August 17, 2012

Pluckemin Cantonment Project – Reconstructing History

Pluckemin Cantonment Project – Reconstructing History
By Daniel Ortiz

I am currently working on the Pluckemin Project for the Washington College GIS Lab.  The goal of the Pluckemin Project is to recreate the Pluckemin Cantonment of 1778-1779 into the 3D world since it no longer stands.  The Pluckemin Cantonment was the first American military academy to be constructed and was specifically built for the purpose of training artillery crews.

My objective for the Pluckemin project is to recreate the cannons of the Pluckemin Cantonment as they looked back then.  Since these cannons do not exist today and there is virtually no record of what these cannons looked like in great detail, I have tried to look for cannons that were in America during the time of the Revolution.  And since the only other country at the time in the 13 colonies were the British, I learned that they had a high influence on the construction of American cannons.  Henceforth, I drew my attention to any detailed websites and books that dealt with English cannons and possibly American cannons.  Many websites and books began to appear, but a primary resource that I now use to construct cannons is “A Course of Artillery” of the Royal Military Academy. 

This book contains a whole variety of cannons, howitzers, and mortars.  These include the 6 and 24 pounder cannons, 5in and 8in howitzers, and multiple types of sea mortars.      

Above is a picture of one of the three light 6 pounder cannons that were used at Pluckemin.  The original English cannon that was used for the base of this design had wheels with a circumference that was 4 – 6 inches smaller than these wheels.  This model is made this way for 2 reasons.  The first is because there were no exact measurements for cannons made during the 1700’s in the 13 colonies.  So 2 cannons of the same caliber could be made in the same factory yet with different dimensions.  The second reason for the enlargement of these wheels was that when British cannons were captured, the wheels here replaced with larger ones so that they could be better fitted for the rugged terrain of the Americas. 

This second image is a picture of the different types of projectiles that were used by 6 pounder cannons and the exact distribution of the projectile.  The large brass cylinders in the back of the image are the 8 canister shells the gun crew had at their disposal.  The cannon balls are next to the canister shells, of which there are also 8, and the final projectile type is grapeshot.  There are 2 groups of these; there are the 3oz projectiles and the 6oz projectiles.  The 11 lighter colored ones are the 6oz shot and the 14 darker ones are the 3oz shot. 

You can find my work on the Google Warehouse, and there will hopefully be more to come in the near future. 

Daniel is currently a student at St. Mary's School in Annapolis. He was born and raised in Chestertown, MD and is a Junior Research Associate of the GIS lab.

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