Introduced in the U.S. Navy at the beginning of the 19th century, the carronade saw extensive service in American warships during the War of 1812. The Carron Company in Scotland had produced a prototype of the weapon, designed for the protection of merchantmen, in 1776. The success of early carronades resulted in the Royal Navy placing large orders for the guns, and other naval powers soon copied the basic design. Henry Foxall, superintendent of the Eagle Foundry on the Schuylkill River at Philadelphia, cast the first American versions, but probably not until 1799. Certainly he cast the majority of the carronades ordered for the U.S. Navy.
Carronades were designed for close-in action, providing maximum firepower with minimal weight. Relatively light and short, they weighed about 50 to 70 pounds of metal for every 1 pound of shot, in contrast to as much as 150 to 200 pounds of metal per pound of shot for long guns. Their length was about seven calibers, or seven times the diameter of their bores. A 42-pounder carronade was thus shorter than a 3-pounder long gun and weighed less than a 12-pounder long gun.