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Resource Type > Image

Subject > Wars, Battles and Conflicts

Date > 1800 > 1850-1859

British iron guns mounted on iron carriages, circa 1815

Type: Image

Iron carriages were introduced in the British artillery in 1810. They were to be placed ‘in such parts of fortifications as are least exposed to the enemy’s fire’ as it was feared they would shatter if hit by enemy artillery. The examples seen in this photograph are found at the Fortifications of Quebec National Historic Site.

Site: National Defence

British iron mortar, circa 1810

Type: Image

Mortars were designed to shoot an exploding shell at a very high angle, 45 degrees or more. They were used in the siege and defence of fortifications. An explosive shell was fired up into the air and arced downwards to drop within the enemy defences. When the shell's fuse burned down, it exploded. These projectiles are the 'bombs bursting in air' mentioned in the American national anthem, where they were being fired from a British fleet attacking Baltimore.

Site: National Defence

Trooper, 1st Troop of Volunteer Militia Cavalry of the County of York, circa 1855

Type: Image

Unofficial known as 'Dennison's Troop' after the family that led them for three generations, Toronto's volunteer cavalry unit dates back to 1822. The uniform shown in the photograph was dark blue, with silver lace and pale buff facings. It was adopted after the 1838 rebellion (when the unit was known as the Queen's Light Dragoons) and worn until 1871 (by which time it was The Governor General's Body Guard). (Library of the Canadian Department of National Defence)

Site: National Defence

32 pounder guns mounted on traversing wooden garrison platforms

Type: Image

These early 19th century British artillery pieces are mounted on platforms that allow guns to swing in a wide arc and thus follow a moving target such as a ship. These reconstucted carriages are found at the Coteau-du-Lac National Historic Site near Montreal, Quebec. The fortifications were built to defend the canal lock - the first built in North America.

Site: National Defence

Interior of soldiers' barracks at St. Andrews by-the-Sea, New Brunswick, 1854

Type: Image

Painted by a British officer of the 76th Regiment of Foot, this watercolour of the 1850s confirms that open fireplaces still heated some barracks, despite wood stoves being introduced in the 1840s. The man at centre wears a grey military greatcoat, while others wear the red regimental coat. At right can be seen several soldier's beds, each with storage above for a knapsack, clothing and accoutrements. (Library and Archives Canada, C-008404)

Site: National Defence

Officer and gunner, Royal Regiment of Artillery, 1854

Type: Image

The Royal Regiment of Artillery had this blue full dress uniform with red facings and the ‘Albert’ shako from 1845 to 1856. This model of shako owed its nickname to Prince Albert, the Consort of Queen Victoria. This reconstruction of an officer (left) and gunner (right) in 1854 shows the grenade badge on the collar that became characteristic of later uniforms.

Site: National Defence

Aerial view of Fort Lennox

Type: Image

Fort Lennox was built on Isle-au-Noix just north of the American border between 1819 to 1826. Its purpose was to block the way towards Montreal to any hostile force coming up the Richelieu River from Lake Champlain. (Parks Canada)

Site: National Defence

British model 1842 percussion lock musket, 1842-1853

Type: Image

The 'percussion lock' was a technology adopted in the early 19th century to replace the earlier 'flint lock'. The lock was the mechanism that set off the gunpowder charge inside the weapon's barrel. Flint locks used a piece of flint scraping along a piece of steel to make sparks. They were strong and easy to make, but not especially reliable, and very vulnerable to damp. The percussion lock used a small copper cap containing fulminate of mercury, which exploded when hit by the lock's hammer. The result was a more reliable spark, but the new mechanism was quite expensive. After experimental trials, the percussion lock was adopted by the British army in 1839. At first, existing flintlock weapons were fitted with percussion locks. In 1842, the pattern of muzzle-loading smoothbore musket shown in this photograph was introduced. It remained the principle British infantry weapon until replaced by the 1853 pattern rifled musket. (Parks Canada)

Site: National Defence

Private, service dress, Colored Infantry Company, Upper Canada Incorporated Militia, 1843-1850

Type: Image

Raised in 1838, the Colored Infantry Company recruited from Blacks in Upper Canada was the only provincial unit on duty between 1843 the unit's disbanding in 1850. It served mainly along the American border in the Niagara area. Besides the service dress shown, these Black Canadian soldiers also had the shako and scarlet coat trimmed with white lace for full dress as in the British infantry. Reconstruction by Garth Dittrick. (Parks Canada)

Site: National Defence

La Gloire, ironclad, Marine française, 1859

Type: Image

The French navy’s La Gloire was the first truly ironclad steam powered warship when it was launched in 1859. Its thick 12 cm armour made it immune to the cannonballs of its time. This ship, and its sister ships, worried the British who immediately launched larger iron warships.

Site: National Defence