For much of its history, artillery has been a weapon of mass destruction and attrition, a force designed to cause casualties, destroy fortifications, and wear an enemy down with its noise, explosions, and shrapnel. In fact, since the advent of gunpowder-based fighting forces, heavy guns have been the largest cause of wartime casualties other than disease and starvation.
Often, the fire from these guns was anything but precise or aimed. The modern science of ballistics only came into being with the arrival of minds like those of Galileo and Newton, and still is as much an art as a science. But in the history of artillery, there has been one class of gun designed for the express purpose of putting fire onto a target with a high level of precision: the mortar.