Cannons were the first muzzleloaders to burn black powder as a projectile propellant, hurling such objects as stone cannon balls. Up to the eighteenth century many cannon, styles, types, lengths, bore diameters were available with each country having their own thoughts as to what they should do each, though, with a military purpose. Long distance guns at this time had a range of about 1 mile and were smooth bore. In the Civil War, the rifled cannon came into its own with a corresponding increase in range and accuracy. Still later, advances in breech loading, gas canister sealing, and recoil mechanisms greatly increased rates of fire.
As early as the eighteenth century, artillery gunners had various types of black powder cannon rounds at their disposal. Heavy rounds that exploded on contact were used primarily by howitzers while artillery guns, those with a flatter trajectory, commonly used canister, chain, and grapeshot against cavalry and infantry formations. Later, these rounds were coupled with exploding charges ignited by timed wicks that made it possible to burst artillery rounds over the heads of the enemy, greatly increasing lethality and casualties.
Cannon Types & Range:
Long Range - Guns were the most powerful and could be used to batter heavy construction with solid shot or shoot grape, canister, or bombs against massed personnel.
Medium Range - Howitzers were moved more easily in the field than mortars and long range guns; and they could reach targets behind obstructions by high angle fire like the mortar.
Short Range - Mortars were used to reach targets behind obstructions; using high angle fire to shoot bombs, destroying construction and personnel.
Garrison & Ship Cannons - were of various sizes and calibers, depending upon the terrain that had to be defended or attacked.
Seige Cannons - were the mobile field counterpart of the garrison cannon, whereas the purpose of the garrison cannon was to destroy the attacker and his material, the siege cannon was intended to destroy the fort.
Field Cannons - were the mobile pieces that could travel with the army and be brought quickly into firing position for a variety of uses. They were lighter in weight than any other type of flat trajectory weapon. The elevating-screw mechanism was originally developed for trajectory compensation of field guns replacing quoins.
Cannons - United States of America Ownership:
According to Federal Regulations, a cannon that is not capable of firing fixed ammunition (fixed ammunition refers to a projectile and powder charge than can be loaded as a single unit) and manufactured on or before 1898, and replicas thereof, are antiques and not subject to the provisions of either the Gun Control Act of 1968 or the National Firearms Act of 1934.
Cannons - United States of America Owners:
The unique thing about owning a black powder muzzleloading cannon, if it's large enough, they make a lot of noise on the fourth of July, make wonderful lawn decorations clearly making a patriotic statement and if you own one that is an exact working replica sends a clear statement as to the power of freedom in a true free society here in the United States of America as it was the cannon artillery pieces that roared throughout this country in establishing once and for all freedom for all people here and around the world.