August 23, 2013

Civil War cannon mortar.

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Closer look:

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(Click to enlarge.)

Right in front of the Iowa State Capitol. Come on, Iowa!

13 comments:

Michael K said...

That's a trench mortar.

surfed said...

Related to "The Dictator" Union siege "mortar" (not canon) at Petersburg?

http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=the+dictator+mortar&qpvt=the+dictator+mortar&FORM=IGRE#view=detail&id=D8CE8C55C3271FF5F920DD035FDEA44A6156299D&selectedIndex=37

Ann Althouse said...

"Granted to Iowa by an act of Congress, this 13-inch seacoast mortar was shipped from a naval yard in Washington, D.C., in 1895. The 22,000-pound mortar was cast in 1861 at Fort Pitt, Pennsylvania. It was mounted on the North Atlantic Squadron gunboat "Matthew Vassar" and used in the bombardment of Forts St. Phillip and Jackson (1862) and of Vicksburg (1863) during the Civil War. The mortar was given to the state as a reminder of that war."

Broomhandle said...

If they could have seen the results of their sacrifice they'd probably have stayed on the farm.

Bob said...

Helps you visualize this:

"He piled upon the whale’s white hump the sum of all the general rage and hate felt by his whole race from Adam down; and then, as if his chest had been a mortar, he burst his hot heart’s shell upon it."

surfed said...

The "Dictator" was bigger. It was a robust 15" incher. Of course it wasn't used in a marine environment. Still....

William said...

Turning mortars into trash cans doesn't have the same poetic ring as turning swords into plowshares, but it's the same general principle.

Ann Althouse said...

Thanks for the correction on the terminology. I had never given any thought to the meaning of "mortar." I'm still not sure whether a mortar is a type of cannon.

Ann Althouse said...

I looked up the word "mortar" in the OED, because I was interested in whether the "mort" part was based on the word for death, but it is not:

" In Old English < classical Latin mortārium receptacle for pounding, product of grinding or pounding (applied by Juvenal to drugs, and by Vitruvius to builder's mortar); in later use probably largely reborrowed < Anglo-Norman mortier , morter , mortir , mortor and Middle French mortier receptacle for pounding (late 12th cent. in Old French; also in sense ‘builder's mortar’: see mortar n.2), small lamp (13th cent.), piece of artillery (c1450), mortier (1461; compare mortier n.), and their etymon classical Latin mortārium , in post-classical Latin also small lamp (frequently from 12th cent. in British sources), wooden mortar carried as instrument of punishment (1423 in Court Rolls of Maldon, Essex; also in Kent), piece of artillery (1480; 1550 in a British source), builder's mortar (from 13th cent. in British sources). See also mortar n.2
Classical Latin mortārium is of uncertain etymology. Subsequent sense developments probably arise from similarity in shape to the ‘mortar’ of pharmacy."

The oldest use of the word "mortar" is that item that is part of a mortar and pestle.

Later, "In extended use: any of various devices for firing a projectile with a high trajectory (as a firework, lifeline, etc.)."

That goes back to 1669:

1669 S. Sturmy Mariners Mag. v. xiii. 83 Of Artificial Fire-Works. To make the Mortar-Piece of Wood and Past-Board. Provide a Wooden-Ruler of such bigness as you desire to make the Diameter of the Morter.

Michael K said...

The fact that it is a navy mortar brings up the existence of special ships for their use. They were called "bomb ketches" and the mortar could be used to attack land installations. The mortar was mounted in the deck and the ship was anchored and was swung side to side to aim the mortar. All mortars are very accurate, the bomb ketch was more accurate than a long barrel cannon. Some fired a shell 12 inches or more in diameter and they were exploding shells even in the days of solid round shot for most cannons.

Joe said...

It's an Iowa tradition. Every Earth Day the Governor lights the cannon and fires the accumulated trash in the general direction of the commercial district, where the cannon is always pointed, to expiate the year's recycling failures.

El Pollo Raylan said...

I don't get the "underpants" tag. Should I look harder inside the bore?

Ann Althouse said...

"I don't get the "underpants" tag. Should I look harder inside the bore?"

LOL. I meant to put that on the Speedo post... before I decided to make a Speedo tag.

Sorry...