A cannon from the Battle of the Row

By  Uffe Henriksen

The Mod­el

The mod­el depicts a 24-pound can­non, the moun­tain in 1953 from the wreck of the block ship INDFØDSRETTEN, which sank on April 3, 1801, the day after the bat­tle between the Dan­ish and British forces at Copen­hagen Red.

The can­non is shown at the Tøjhus­museet in Copenhagen.

The mod­el is cast in white met­al by John Hansen after a mod­el in the ratio of 1:32 made in brass and wood by Uffe Hen­rik­sen after mea­sur­ing the orig­i­nal. The mod­el includes the fol­low­ing large parts: gun bar­rels, front axle, rear axle, 2 side rails, 4 wheels and adjust­ing wedges, and the fol­low­ing small parts: 2 neck rods, 4 eye­bolts, 4 wheel lock pins and 2 bolts.

The gun can be paint­ed black as the orig­i­nal at the Tøjhus­museet, or in the col­ors that were used as it was new, i.e. gun bar­rel in raw black cast iron, sword red (iron oxide) for wood­work and yel­low coin for wrought iron parts

The His­to­ry

The guns are a car­ton, i.e. a medi­um can­non, of sys­tem 1692. This sys­tem was the most wide­spread fir­ing sys­tem in our fleet dur­ing the sail­ing peri­od and includ­ed guns from 4 to 36 pounds. The 24 pound can­non was the most wide­ly used and had over 500 guns of this size alone in this sys­tem. 24-pound can­nons were used on the lin­er ships, usu­al­ly on the low­er deck of 2‑deckers and on mid­dle tires in 3‑deckers. The gun bar­rel has a diam­e­ter of approx. 16 cm, and a run­ning length of 16–17 times the ball diam­e­ter. The total length of the gun is approx. 320 cm, the largest diam­e­ter is 55 cm. and the weight approx. 3000 kg. The rap­per is marked 1786 and is of the new­er type with open bottom.

The can­non race is prob­a­bly cast in Nor­way, where the heavy indus­try was placed at that time.

Oper­at­ing the Cannon

The gun, which, with races and rap­pers, had a total weight of up to 3.5 tons, required a con­trol man of 10–15 men.

The gun’s charge of approx. 5 kg. gun­pow­der was picked up in the mag­a­zine in the form of a fin­ished pack­age of card­board or can­vas. The load was pushed into place with a frame, either placed on a long bar, or on a piece of heavy rope. Pitch­er was intro­duced into the prison hole in the form of a met­al or paper prison tube, filled with fine­ly ground pow­der, and the ball was placed in the bar­rel and pushed into place with the frame.

The can­non was then pulled out so that it touched the ship’s side with the race out through the can­non gate. It was impor­tant that the gun was pulled all the way for­ward, so that the mouth source when fir­ing could not light fire in ship or equip­ment. For the help of mov­ing the gun, you had 2 sets of hoists that were attached respec­tive­ly to some eye­bolts on the rap­per and in some heavy hooks in the ship’s side next to the gun port. Mov­ing the heavy can­non on sim­ple wood­en wheels has been a very hard work requir­ing the help of the entire gun crew.

The can­non was fired by a cane stick, or lat­er with a flint lock as on hand­guns. When fir­ing, the gun was pushed back­wards with the same force as the ball was pushed for­ward, con­tain­ing an ener­gy can be described as ½ x M x V x V. From this for­mu­la, it can be cal­cu­lat­ed that if the gun and rap­per togeth­er weighed 200 times as much as the ball, and the ball flew at an ori­fice speed of 400 km / h, the gun would run back­wards at a speed of 28 km / h, so you should not be in the way of the fir­ing time. The gun’s run was stopped by a hard piece of rope, the brooch that was pulled through the rap­per and attached to the ship’s side in two heavy hooks next to the gun port. The length of the bridge was thus adjust­ed so that the gun was stopped in a loca­tion where there was approx. 1 m freely in front of the gun mouth, so you could get space to repeat the load.

The load­ing start­ed by clean­ing the bar­rel of glow with the oppo­site end of the frame tow­er, where­upon a kind of brush was placed and then recharged the charge etc.

Max­i­mum shot dis­tance was approx. 2,000 m, but even shoot­ing at 1,000 m had quite lit­tle effect. A dis­tance of 500 m ensured both a rea­son­able accu­ra­cy and a good effect of the ball.

The Bat­tle

Blok­ski­bet INDFØDSRETTEN was one of the hard­est Dan­ish ships dur­ing the bat­tle, and was there­fore placed in the north­ern end of the line of defense, from where the British attack was expected.

The ship had approx. 42 pcs. 24 pounds guns, of course only the half that was on the out­side could be used. When the attack, as you know, came from the south, the ship arrived quite late in the fight around noon. 13.00. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the Dan­ish ships were anchored with 4 fixed anchors, so it was impos­si­ble to change a ship’s direc­tion dur­ing the bat­tle if the ene­my attacked at an oblique angle rel­a­tive to the ship’s broad­side. This meant that, for a peri­od of time, the “indige­nous peo­ple” were sub­ject­ed to strong shelling of a lin­er from the front and anoth­er oblique­ly from behind and suf­fered great loss­es with­out being able to respond effec­tive­ly again, which was, of course, high­ly demor­al­iz­ing for the crew. Around 3 pm all the offi­cers of the ship were killed and almost all guns were use­less, so you stroked the flag. The ship sank the next day despite the Eng­lish­man’s attempt to keep it flow­ing. The fact that the ship sank unin­ten­tion­al­ly and thus was not dis­man­tled is the rea­son why one has been able to find a com­plete gun on the wreck.