RE 118 — The 1st Screw-Gun Mountain Battery, 1
The 1st of a series of 6 photographs intended to demonstrate the loading of a complete ‘Screw-Gun’ on six mules, showing an Anglo-Indian soldier guiding the mule. This one is loaded with the axle (on top of the load) and different parts of the gun carriage for the 7 Pounder RML (Rifled Muzzle Loading) gun, fastened on a special pack-saddle and with additional saddle-straps. As the background behind the mule shows, this series of photographs was taken in the Sherpur cantonment. The mountain artillery unit was stationed just beside the 7th BS&M on the western bastion of Sherpur. This is maybe one of the reasons for the existence of this set of BS&M photographs. Other reasons may have been that the ‘Screw-Gun’ was a brand-new invention, and the 6/8 R.A. was the first unit to be equipped with it. Just a few days before these photographs were taken the battery was engaged for the very first time at Saiyidabad in the Logar Valley (RE 116).
[Album:] The 1st Screw gun Mountain battery. [S&M List:] 2-67 One Gun and Equipment 6/8 R.A. on Mules.
Maggs: Private collection of Bryan Maggs, Collection BS&M, Fol. 37, top;
RAM: Royal Artillery Museum: one of seven loose photographs, attached to a letter, addressed to Colonel H.A. Inglis, dated 26th Nov 1912, Acc. No. 1604
- Not in the albums of the RE Collections at Chatham.
- The Second Afghan War 1878-80: Abridged Official Account (1908), p. 714: Royal Artillery, 8th Brigade, No. 6 Mountain Battery (7-pr. jointed screw guns), Major T. Graham.
- Hensman, H. (1882): The Afghan War of 1879-80, the Mountain Battery is several times mentioned as being especially useful on the rough Afghan terrain.
- Adamec, L.W. (1985): Kabul and southeast Afghanistan, p. 727: Sherpur, "The cantonment built by Amir Sher Ali, 1 mile to the north of Kabul city, and in which the British army, under Sir Frederick Roberts, was beleaguered in December 1879. [...]"
- Trevelyan, Ch.: Indian Army Mountain Artillery (www.king-emperor.com): “Although light in calibre, the guns of Mountain Batteries were designed to be disassembled and transported by pack mule in up to eight loads for use in terrain that would otherwise be impossible to traverse with larger and more conventional artillery. The earliest guns were the tiny 3 Pounder SBML (Smooth Bore Muzzle Loading) and 4 2/5 Inch SBML howitzer of c.1850. These were replaced in 1865 by the 7 Pounder RML (Rifled Muzzle Loading) and this in turn was replaced in 1879 by the significantly improved and significantly heavier 2.5 inch RML, also known as Kipling's Screw Gun (all mountain gun types from this 2.5 inch RML on had barrels that split in two for transport).“
- Detailed description of the ‘Screw-Gun’: (www.kipling.org.uk/rg_screwguns1.htm)
Royal Engineers Museum, Library and Archive 1878-1880 1878-1880
RE 116-140, Bryan Maggs Collection
Maggs: Albumen paper with gold toning, 112/154 mm, mounted on loose sheets of strong undulated chamois paper; RAM: Copy made in 1912 of a BS&M photograph, 130/190 mm
Maggs: severely faded; RAM: centre: good, edges: almost completely faded
Kabul, early May 1880