It’s about goddamn time. Last night’s episode of Top Shot finally featured an interesting firearm. Well, cannon . . .
3.2 Inch 1898 Bag Gun
The 1898 was an improvement over the Parrot Rifle, the primary cannon used by the Union forces of the American Civil War. The Parrot Rifle was one of the first big guns to use a rifled bore; shots were more accurate than their smoothbore counterparts.
The main issue with the Parrot Rifle: it was a muzzle loader. Each round had to be pushed down the barrel from the muzzle before firing. That was dangerous to the cannon crew and strategically awkward. The cannon needed to be rolled back away from things like barricades and walls before it could be reloaded. It was a tedious process and a lot of work
By the end of the Civil War there was a better option.
The breechloading cannon (such as this one) began to replace the older stocks before the beginning of the Spanish American war. Breechloaders allowed for a quicker and safer pace of fire, but the loading process was still much slower than the guns of today. The reason is that the cannon were still using bags of gunpowder (hence the name “bag gun”) and loose projectiles instead of the complete cartridges we use today.
Firing a cannon is no easy task, and I was happy to see something on the show that was (A) something these guys had never fired before, (B) required some skill to use, and (C) historical in nature. Why can’t they do this every episode?
And then they threw some sticks or something.