CARRONADE, a piece of ordnance invented, by the application of an old principle of gun construction, to serve as a ship's gun. The inventor was the antiquary General Robert Melville (1728-1809). He designed the piece in 1759, and called it the "smasher," but it was not adopted in the British navy till 1779, and was then known as the "carronade," from the Carron works on the Carron river in Stirlingshire, Scotland, where it was first cast by Mr Gascoigne. The carronade had a powder chamber like many of the earliest guns known, and was similar to a mortar. It was short, light, had a limited range, but was destructive at close quarters. Carronades were added to the existing armaments of guns proper or long guns. A 38-gun frigate carried ten carronades, and was therefore armed with 48 pieces of ordnance. As the official classifications were not changed, they were misleading guides to the real strength of British ships, which always carried more pieces than they were described as carrying. The same remark applies to French and American ships when the use of the carronade extended from the British to other navies.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)