How do mortar cannons work? What was their development like through history?
Mortars are large cannons that shoot explosive projectiles high into the air in order to increase the trajectory and speed and are used to destroy enemy fortifications or against enemy soldiers.
Their first documented use was at the siege of Constantinople in 1453 by Ottoman forces and were quickly adopted throughout Europe, particularly for siege warfare. Due to the casting techniques and tactics of the time, mortars were often difficult to transport and were rarely used in pitched battles. By the 17th century, however, a portable mortar had been invented and was then used in pitched battles to great effect. Both Confederate and Union forces used a form of these mortars in the American Civil War in sieges and pitched battles.
The mortar then gradually fell out of favor due to the rise of heavy artillery and powerful cannons which were far more effective in destroying enemy fortifications and inflicting large casualties on infantry. By the beginning of the 20th century, however, they became popular once more due to their portability and ability to destroy mined areas or barbed wire. Light and portable mortars were then developed for the first world war and were used to destroy enemy positions or fortifications. Mortars were then used as highly accurate although less powerful artillery guns to take out smaller enemy fortifications and positions.