Page 27 - Moncrieff's Disappearing Guns
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Moncrieff’s Disappearing Guns                                                                            David Moore


           attacking ship could place itself near one of those  owed to him for bringing forward the subject of coast
           ‘beautiful’ batteries, a little beyond the line at which  defence. He suggested that there was room for both
           the guns could train. From such a position the Fort  systems but working in unison. He added that he had
           could be damaged whilst the ship could not be hit. He  also seen the guns fired in the trial mentioned
           advocated detached guns in place of such casemated  previously and that three guns in both tiers were fired
           batteries but warned that the cost of remuneration to  without any terrible effects on the gunners.
           landowners for the purchase of land for both the many
           scattered sites necessary and the access roads would  Admiral Codrington rebuffed this by stating that he
           need to be considered.                             spoke of Bovisand whilst that was Picklecombe.
                                                              Captain Horton believed that the North side of the Isle
           Lieutenant Bower R.N. pointed out some years earlier  Of Wight was particularly suitable for the
           the ‘Magicienne’ was sent out from Malta with      employment of the Moncrieff batteries. He believed
           instructions to steam in whilst the forts were ordered  that Hurst Castle would also suffer from the defects
           to see how many shots they could fire at her. She kept  outlined by Admiral Codrington and Captain Scott. A
           a speed of eight knots and Malta, ‘one of the most  ship would receive a heavy salvo from the eighty or
           impregnable fortresses in the world’, managed to fire  ninety guns at Hurst, providing the smoke allowed the
           less shots than this sixteen gun frigate.          whole of the guns to be fired at the same ship.
                                                              Moncrieff batteries scattered about on the north shore
           Colonel Strange F.R.S. pointed out that regarding the  of the Isle of Wight, he believed, would offer great
           Moncrieff system being more than the carriages for  advantage.
           mounting the guns and the fact that the batteries laid
           down at home and in the colonies did not fairly    Captain Selwyn asked if the armour of existing forts
           represent the ‘System’, Moncrieff had obviously not  could offer five minutes protection from the guns
           been consulted as the Committee had recommended.   which are now likely to be brought against them,
                                                              indeed would they ever fire another shot if the iron
           Captain R.E. Scott R.N. supported Moncrieff’s      plates outside the gun were struck? He recollected an
           opinion that a heavy concentration of guns was a   instance at Gibraltar where the attempt to fire at an
           mistake, even on board a ship, and that due to the use  extreme training led to the shifting of the whole shield
           of slow burning powders it would soon be impossible  after the construction of the fort, which was supposed
           to see the enemy from such concentrations.         to be casemated and armoured efficiently. He
                                                              supported the idea of the dispersal of guns as
           Captain Nesbit R.A. also argued in favour of       advocated by Moncrieff and made possible by his
           diffusion of artillery instead of concentration.   system. From the view of an attacking ship casemated
                                                              works could be singled out and fired at with great
           Captain Owen R.A. observed that whether            effect from a distance where the forts could do little
           Moncrieff’s system was the best or not, thanks were  damage to the ships. This he said was not the case

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