Original U.S. Civil War Confederate 12 Pdr 4.52” Case Shot Cutaway Cannonball

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. Very well done cutaway display made from a Confederate cannonball. This is a 4.52” Shell used with the twelve pound Napoleon Artillery Piece. The shell, originally fitted with a fuse which is not present, and still filled with the original shot!

This item was excavated, so the iron surface is pitted from being underground for well over a century.

This shell is a rare find and will be an excellent display piece or educational tool, as well as an excellent addition to any excavated Civil War artillery or general relic collection.

The twelve-pound cannon "Napoleon" was the most popular smoothbore cannon used during the war. It was named after Napoleon III of France and was widely admired because of its safety, reliability, and killing power, especially at close range. In Union Ordnance manuals it was referred to as the "light 12-pounder gun" to distinguish it from the heavier and longer 12 pounder gun (which was virtually unused in field service.) It did not reach America until 1857. It was the last cast bronze gun used by an American army. The Federal version of the Napoleon can be recognized by the flared front end of the barrel, called the muzzle-swell. It was, however, relatively heavy compared to other artillery pieces and difficult to move across rough terrain.

Confederate Napoleons were produced in at least six variations, most of which had straight muzzles, but at least eight catalogued survivors of 133 identified have muzzle swells. Additionally, four iron Confederate Napoleons produced by Tredegar Iron Works in Richmond have been identified, of an estimated 125 cast. In early 1863 Robert E. Lee sent nearly all of the Army of Northern Virginia's bronze 6-pounder guns to Tredegar to be melted down and recast as Napoleons. Copper for casting bronze pieces became increasingly scarce to the Confederacy throughout the war and became acute in November 1863 when the Ducktown copper mines near Chattanooga were lost to Union forces. Casting of bronze Napoleons by the Confederacy ceased and in January 1864 Tredegar began producing iron Napoleons.

A Confederate cannoneer remembered, "Our guns were 12 pound brass Napoleons, smooth bore, but accounted the best gun for all round field service then made. They fired solid shot, shell, grape and canister, and were accurate at a mile. We would not have exchanged them for Parrott Rifles, or any other style of guns. They were beautiful, perfectly plain, tapering gracefully from muzzle to "reinforce" or "butt," without rings, or ornaments of any kind. We are proud of them and felt towards them almost as if they were human..."

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