View single post by jbeatty
 Posted: Fri Nov 23rd, 2007 07:45 pm
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Joined: Tue Jul 25th, 2006
Location: Lockport, New York USA
Posts: 20

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As a Union Artillery Reenactor, please allow me to jump in.  The "Napoleon" you first mentioned was offically named the "light 12 pound gun," but is more commonly known as 'the Napoleon."  The name resulted in the gun being named after Emperor Napoleon III of France.  The French were the ones who developed this gun.  The Civil War gun you see at reenactments is the 1857 model, patented in 1857, and made in this country by the Ames Manufacturing Company.  These were smoothbore pieces and were not "howitzers."  Remember that "howitzers" had chambers at the breech for the powder charge.  There were many variations to these pieces, including handles on top of the barrel near the trunnions or even rifling.  As you probably already know, bronze guns cannot be rifled, as the bronze will not hold the rifling for long.  Despite the barrel outweighing the more widely used 3" Ordnance Rifle by about 400 pounds, this piece was amazingly manueverable in the field.  It is because of its relative manueverability, its fairly effective long range, and most importantly, its effectiveness as defense against infantry within 500 yards, that it has been called the "workhorse of Civil War Artillery."  There were approximately 1,127 smoothbore Napoleons made during the Civil War, and about 10 rifled models.  There were several foundries making these guns, mostly in Massachusetts, for the North.  Incidentally, both the North and the South produced these guns, with the only telling difference, was the Northern guns usually had a muzzle swell, while the Southern- made ones usually had a straight tube.  The effective range of these guns was approximately 2,000 yards, only slightly less than a 3" Ordnance Rifle.  The difference was that the 3" Ordnance Rifle had superior accuracy at that distance due to its rifling, whereas the Napoleon was much better, especially with cannister, at shorter ranges.  As the name implies the Napoleon shot a 12 pound cannonn ball.  Technically it shot a spherical shot, or shell.  The 12 pounder could fuze their ammunition the same as a rifled barrel, except they could not use a percussion fuze.  With the advent of breechloaders, and more specifically, further advancements in rifled pieces, the Model 1857 12 pound Napoleon was destined not to continue in active service after the Civil War.

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