There are hundreds of cannons at Gettysburg, many of them flanking monuments and markers. Such is the case with this artillery piece. The carriage, wheels and other tube carrying mechanisms all look well tended to and in good shape, sporting what appears to be fresh paint. The firing tube has a green patina from constant exposure to the elements. I peered into the bore and was SHOCKED! I saw rifling grooves. Every Napoleon I have ever seen was a smooth bore EXCEPT for this one. Craig Swan wrote about this unusual occurrence in one of his HMDB submissions. He wrote: The two Napoleons flanking the 15th New York Monument are in a set of six rifled Napoleons. The batch was delivered in 1862, presumably for testing and trials. The rifling pattern conforms with the James system. And the sights are similar to those used on James rifled cannon. All six of the guns are on exhibit at Gettysburg today, suggesting the weapons were never issued to line units, but held in storage after the trials. SOURCE. I learned from my usual site I use to identify cannons (cited below) all six of these cannons were manufactured at the Alger Armory.
Most of the Union armaments are 3-inch ordnance rifles, these two an exception. The muzzle contains a worn registry stamp which contains manufacturing information. I was able to read the information upon close inspection and discern the original identity of this weapon. I then discovered another unusual occurrence. There was no inspector who gave this cannon a once over before it was shipped out to the army. Usually, there are initials on the muzzle to indicate who reviewed the weapon. This is also a first or me.
I learned the man who made the tablets which accompany the cannons also had a hand in restoring these cannons as well. Gettysburg National Military Park has hundreds of these historic artillery pieces on its field of battle. Their carriages, sights, and caissons, however, have been restored. Much of the restorative work came from Major Calvin Gilbert who owned the Gettysburg foundry.
Calvin Gilbert owned a foundry which bore his name in Gettysburg. This man was responsible for creating all of the cast iron battery tablets (including this one) at this park. His work did not end there as his foundry created many of the carriages for the historic cannons at Gettysburg. Although almost all of the cannons are from the Civil War, their carriages, sights, and caissons have been restored at his foundry in the early part of the 20th century. GIlbert was in his 70s when he did this work and completed work at other battlefields as well.
The two Napoleons and the 15th New York Independent Battery Monument is just off of Route 15, part of the newly adopted Pennsylvania Byway system, past the northeast corner of the Peach Orchard. Traveling north on Rt. 15, make a right on Wheatfield Road and the monument is on the left or north side of road leading from the Peach Orchard to the Wheatfield and Little Round Top. This battery was in position in the Peach Orchard on the second day, where it assisted repelling Kershaw's first attack. Parking is available at small, cutout shoulders along the road, some wide, some narrow. The is actually decent parking at an expanded shoulder up a bit and off to the right. Be sure to stay off the grass or you will be tickete by park police. I visited this monument on Thursday, July 5, 2012 at 12:21 P.M. I was at an elevation of 596 feet, ASL. I used a Canon PowerShot 14.1 Megapixel, SX210 IS digital camera for the photos.
My SOURCE for all things weapons at Gettysburg provided me additional information about this weapon which did not appear on the muzzle. I learned each armory is unique in that it has a different pattern in which the registry information is displayed on the muzzle. The Alger Armory is unique in the arrangement of their muzzle stamp, too. I used red to designate that data. The rest is as it appears exactly on the muzzle, starting at the top, 12 o'clock position and moving clockwise.
No. 78 ......1862 ......A.M. Co. ......1225 ......FDY #95 ......GRVS 10RH
Registry Information Explanation
No. 78 is the registry or registration number, a way for the army to keep track of its weapons obtained from the foundry's commissioned to do so. Apparently, the Federal government made this tracking system mandatory especially to keep track of defective weapons which were removed from circulation. 1862 is the manufacture date which means in this year the foundry were still producing the older 1857 design from seven years earlier. A.M. Co. for some reason represents the N.P. Ames, J.T. Ames or Ames Manufacturing Co.,MA, the armory responsible for manufacturing the weapon. I am not sure how the A.M. resolves itself to be the name of the company. 1225 lbs represents the total weight of the bronze firing tube which was very heavily in comparison to the lighter and newer 3-inch ordnance rifle of 1861 which weighed about four hundred pounds less than the Napoleon and was just as accurate and deadly. FDY #95 is an internal control number specific to the foundry. Finally, and most importantly, GRVS 10RH refers to the rifling of this usually smooth bored weapon. GRVS means grooves and 10RH means which direction, so, this weapon has 10 right hand rifling grooves. The registry number is at the 11 o'clock position, the Manufacturing year is at the 1 o'clock position, the foundry name is at the 4 o'clock position and the cannon weight is at the 8 o'clock position.
About the Foundry
This armory was founded by Cyrus Alger (born in West Bridgewater, Massachusetts, 11 November 1781; died in Boston, 4 February 1856) was a United States arms manufacturer and inventor. He was one of the best practical metallurgists of his time, and his numerous patents of improved processes show continued advance in the art practised by him. The first gun ever rifled in America was made at his works in 1834, and the first perfect bronze cannon was made at his foundry for the U. S. ordnance department, The mortar “Columbiad,” the largest gun of cast iron that had then been made in the United States, was cast under his personal supervision. SOURCE Curiously, there is no information directly available about this armory, only the founder.
About the Gun
The twelve-pound cannon "Napoleon" was the most popular smoothbore cannon (remember this is a rifled version) 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. The Federal version of the Napoleon can be recognized by the flared front end of the barrel, called the muzzle-swell. 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 This bronze gun does not have that flare. Casting of these bronze Napoleons by the Confederacy ceased due to lack of resources and in January 1864 Tredegar began producing iron Napoleons. Just before this in early 1863, resources were so scarce, Robert E. Lee sent nearly all of the Army of Northern Virginia's bronze 6-pounder guns to Tredegar (another foundry) to be melted down and recast as Napoleons. SOURCE
Commonly referred to as the "Napoleon", this bronze smoothbore cannon fired a twelve-pound ball and was considered a light gun through each weighed an average of 1,200 pounds. This powerful cannon could fire explosives shell and solid shot up to a mile and charges of canister up to 300 yards with accuracy. The Napoleon was a favorite amongst some Northern artillerists because of its firepower and reliability. Two Union batteries armed with Napoleons at Gettysburg were very effective in holding back Confederate infantry attacks and knocking down opposing southern batteries. Battery G, 4th U.S. repeatedly slowed Confederate infantry attacks against the Eleventh Corps lines on July 1, while Captain Hubert Dilger's Battery G, 1st Ohio Light Artillery almost annihilated two Confederate batteries with accurate and punishing counter-battery fire at long distance. Most Union Napoleons were manufactured in Massachusetts by the Ames Company and the Revere Copper Company. SOURCE
12-pounder bronze gun, Model of 1857 Specifications
||1,227 lb (557 kg)
||2.5 lb (1.13 kg)
|Range (5° Elevation)
||1,619 yd (1,480 m)
The monument, marks the position of the 15th New York Independent Battery Monument on July 2, 1863 and reads as follows:
Captain Patrick Hart
Lieut. Edward M. Knox
Formerly Light Battery B.
July 2nd. 1863.
Killed 3, wounded 13.
Total loss 16.
This place is crazy-ridiculous with monuments, memorials and markers (oh my!), as well as cannons, rifles and guns. The Peach Orchard and Wheatfield Road are a collective and veritable outdoor museum. Allow a minimum of one hour to walk around and fully understand and appreciate the history presented here.