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.