1.65 Inch Hotchkiss Mountain Gun
By Doug Howser
(Image courtesy of the Doug Howser Collection)
The 1.65 inch Hotchkiss gun a light gun intended to be packed
on mules to accompany either a fast moving cavalry troop or an army maneuvering
in rough country. During the Spanish American War they were also seeing
use as an infantry close support gun. The gun and accessories could be
packed on two mules, with 72 rounds on each ammunition mule. Packed with
the gun was a draught pole and harness so the gun could be pulled in smooth
The 1.65” gun was introduced into federal service as a modern replacement
for the aging 12 Pounder ML Mountain Howitzer. The U.S purchased its first
gun in 1876 from the French arms firm of Hotchkiss Ordnance Co. This gun
was to see combat against the Nez Perce Indians in 1877. Over the next
twenty years the U.S would purchase about fifty-six of these little guns.
In Cuba these guns were fired against Spanish positions at Las Guasimas
by the gun detachment of the 10th U.S. Cavalry where the unit expended
21 shells. For the attack on San Juan Hill, Lt. Hughes placed the detachment
of four guns 75 yards beyond the San Juan River to shell the Spanish fortifications.
These guns raked the heights as the infantry attacked. Emplaced on San
Juan Hill the 10th U.S. Cavalry's guns helped repulse the Spanish counterattack
on July 2nd. The guns were also employed during the general bombardment
of Santiago on July 10th, 1898.
Later the 1.65” Hotchkiss guns would see combat again in the Philippine
The 1.65 Inch Hotchkiss gun was well liked by the troops who used the
gun. Their light weight made them extremely portable. The gun was well
built and simple to operate. It was also a very accurate gun. By the time
of the Philippine American War, the guns were being converted to center
fire cartridge ignition with smokeless powder used as propellant.
The gun did have one glaring deficiency. The projectile was just
too small to employ a time fused shrapnel shell, so there was no way to
air-burst a shell over the enemy. This fault did reduce the gun's effectiveness.
||3500 yards (2miles)
|Total length of tube:
|Length of bore:
|Travel of projectile:
|Twist of Rifling, uniform:
||1 in 29.83 cals.
||1298 feet per second
|Height of trunnion axis above ground:
|Diameter of wheels:
|Track of carriage:
The 1.65” Hotchkiss Mountain Gun fired two types of projectiles. A common
shell, either base fused or nose fused or a canister. The common shell
would explode on contact showering the enemy with jagged shell fragments.
The canister would rip open at the muzzle spraying the enemy with a fan
shaped pattern of hardened lead ½ inch balls. This projectile was
used at close range. The early cartridge case did not have a primer. Instead
there was a hole in the center covered internally with a diaphragm. The
gun was fired by a friction primer inserted into the back of the breech
The flame would enter the case head (d) at the center vent (v)
penetrating the case body (a) lifting a diaphragm
(not shown) firing the charge.
Ammuntion types (l.-r.): Nose fused common shell with early wrapped
case used with friction primer; tin body canister with two piece case used
with friction primer; cut-a-way base fused common with one
piece center fire primered case; brass body canister with center fire case;
late nose fused common shell with center fire case.
Dyer, Capt. A.B., Handbook for Light Artillery, (New York:, 1896)
|Weight of round (common shell):
|Weight of shell, filled:
|Weight of round (canister) complete):
|Weight of canister:
|Number of balls in canister
||5.5 ounces mortar
|Bursting charge of shell:
|Weight of cartridge case, empty:
|Weight of fuze:
The Hotchkiss Ordnance Company, LTD, Descriptive Catalogue of
War Material, (Factory Catalog, circa 1895)
Cashen, Herschel V. and others, Under Fire with the
Tenth U.S. Cavalry, (Salem, NH, 1969)
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