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Coehorn Mortars were present at Prestonpans in 1745 - but were they fired?

Coehorn Mortars are not frequently seen ... so we are indebted to War Games Illustrated, August 2009 issue, p.45 for this description

click to enlarge the image

Cope had several coehorns, variously estimated at 4 - 6, which seemingly did fire under the command of Whitefoord and Griffith just the once as the Cameron Clan charged led by Lochiel on September 21st 1745. It was the same Camerons who had been the unfortunate targets of fire the previous day from a single cannon, not a coehorn, when they unwisely gave away their advanced position in Tranent churchyard.

The redcoats certainly did fire their coehorns on September 20th at Tranent village at large in the hope of stopping the Jacobites sleeping - but the fuses had been 'damnified' from too long in storage in Edinburgh Castle so the shells didn't explode, and Cope gave up. Commentators have suggested that this may have contributed to the reduction in the Highlanders' fear of cannons in general thereby offseting the advantage achieved against the Camerons in the churchyard.

It is to be hoped that a re-enactment in the near future can make use of the coehorn mortar.

Published Date: August 10th 2009

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