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Pivot Gun

Like many of the converted merchant schooners in the United States Navy Lake Ontario fleet, Hamilton was eventually armed with a centrally mounted pivot gun. The gun was mounted on a wooden carriage that was attached to a circular track so that the gun could be pointed to starboard or port with equal ease. When not in action the gun was secured with the muzzle pointing towards the bow (front), equalizing the weight and making it easier to keep the vessel on an even keel while under way. According to the American Roster of Vessels and Yards on Lake Ontario in June of 1813, the gun is a 12 pounder which means that it fired round shot (cannon balls) weighing 12 pounds. It had a range of about 1,580 yards which is considerably farther than the 18 pounder carronades Hamilton mounted in broadside. The pivot gun barrel is tilted downwards on its muzzle and the remains of its breaching cable – a stout rope used to secure the gun – can still be seen in the image. The vent-hole at the breach end of the gun has what appears to be a lead covering to keep out water. When Hamilton’s pivot gun was loaded, a powder charge, wadding and a projectile such as round shot were rammed down the barrel at the muzzle end. The gun was then primed before firing by inserting a powder fuse down the vent. The gun was fired by touching a slow burning match to the vent, which in turn set off the main charge sending the loaded shot towards the target.