Artillerie

One of the major assets of Coll John Hampden's Regiment of Foote is an active gun crew and we can field two pieces. Boston, our larger artillery piece, was purchased by the regiment in 1996 at a cost of around 3,000. The gun is an almost exact replica of a piece currently held in the Boston Guildhall Museum - hence the name. The one difference is the Commonwealth Crest that can be seen on Boston, whereas the original bears a Royalist Rose and CR (Charles R)

Most people refer to guns like Boston as cannons. In fact, the word 'Cannon' only applies to two specific types of gun, the 'Cannon' which fires a 32lb (14.5kg) ball, or the 'Cannon Royale', an even bigger gun firing a 64lb (29kg) ball. All other wheeled guns have specific names depending upon their size. For example, a 'Falcon' is a small gun, quite easily moved by one person on the field, and manned by three people. An even smaller example is the 'Robinette', one of which is Hampden's Regiment's other gun, named Wren. In Boston's case, the correct name for the type of gun is a 'Minion Drake', and would be manned by a crew of five. The piece is cast in bronze and was proofed at the Birmingham Proof House. Perhaps surprisingly, the single most expensive part of the gun and trail were the wheels, which were made by the Queen's own wheelwrights, Crawfords, at a cost of around 1,600.

Boston at dusk
Boston by day

In the field of battle, Boston would be most effectively used as an anti-personnel gun. The barrel would be loaded with 'Case Shot', a cloth canister containing 234 x .45 pistol balls. The cloth was soaked in saltpetre to make it burn quickly as soon as the gun was fired, causing the pistol balls to spray out, much like a modern-day gun cartridge. The effective range for such a charge would be around 250 yards (228m), although a single 3lb (1.4kg) ball could easily travel a distance of 3/4 mile (1.2km) if fired from Boston.

In a modern re-enactment, Boston fires a blank 6oz (170g) black powder charge. All of John Hampden's gun crew are fully trained in the use of guns and black powder, and training assessments are regularly carried out to ensure continued competence and safety. Hampden's gun crew are regarded as among the very best within the English Civil War Society, often being given pride of place nearest to the crowd on the battlefield.