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Park gets working cannon (Fredericksburg)
Fredericksburg ^ | 4/10/2006 | CATHY JETT

Posted on 04/10/2006 12:53:30 PM PDT by stainlessbanner

The sound and smell of the brutal cannon barrages at the Battle of Fredericksburg must have been overwhelming.

The deep, rich booming of the 12-pound, smoothbore Napoleons. The high-pitched "crack, crack" of Parrott rifles. And the acrid, sulfuric stench of black powder at each explosion.

"A chicken could not live on that field when we open on it," said a Confederate cannoneer atop Marye's Heights to Lt. Gen. James Longstreet as they looked down upon advancing wave after wave of blue-coated Union soldiers.

Soon, visitors to the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park will get a taste of what it must have been like to have been positioned with Washington's Artillery of New Orleans on that commanding spot above Fredericksburg or with the 4th U.S. Artillery across the Rappahannock River on Stafford Heights.

The military park, which is run by the National Park Service, has just received a finely detailed replica of a Napoleon, known as the "workhorse" of Civil War artillery. It will be named during a ceremony sometime next month, and fired in living-history demonstrations featuring those units starting June 8-11.

"We're really excited because it will draw people to the park and help make history come alive," said Stacy Humphreys, a park supervisor and its black powder expert.

The Napoleon, with its gleaming bronze barrel and handcrafted carriage, was delivered on a trailer to the park headquarters on Lafayette Boulevard Saturday by Marshall Steen of Steen Cannons in Ashland, Ky. He is the country's top manufacturer of full-scale, reproduction field artillery.

"This is better than any Christmas I've ever experienced," said an ecstatic Humphreys, who did the necessary paperwork for the $30,000 purchase.

The money is part of the $1 million Congress approved to help the National Park Service update its living-history programs. Last year, the military park here used some of that money to buy a powder magazine. This time, it picked the Napoleon because it was used throughout the war by both the Confederate and Union forces.

"That way, we can do the most interpretations with it, and can use it at all four of our sites," said Humphreys, who has been fascinated by cannon ever since her parents took her to New Market Battlefield Historical State Park when she was 4.

This new cannon is a replica of one at Gettysburg National Military Park, and even has the same year, 1862, model number, 29, and foundry's initials, G.T.B. A.M.C. for Ames Manufacturing Co. of Chicopee, Mass., stamped on the muzzle.

Steen said he prefers to make replicas of cannon that are in the park where his will be used. That way, visitors can watch his being fired, then go see the original. Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, however, does not have an authentic 1862 Napoleon.

Still, the handful of park service personnel, living-history volunteers and tourists who watched him unwrap the cannon in the headquarters parking lot yesterday couldn't have been more delighted.

"The public loves this stuff [watching the firing]," said Terry Thomann, who runs the Civil War Life--The Soldiers' Museum in Spotsylvania County. "When you can actually fire a cannon, it's great."

The Napoleon was a smooth-bore cannon invented by the French Army under Emperor Louis Napoleon in 1850. Only a handful existed in the United States when the Civil War broke out, but it had become the most popular smoothbore cannon for both sides by the Battle of Gettysburg.

"They were good short-range guns," Humphreys said. "It was the workhorse of both armies."

The Napoleon was called a 12-pounder because it fired 12-pound cannon balls that would bounce as they landed. Artillerymen would switch to a more deadly canister as the enemy drew near. These would disintegrate and spray out lead shot the size of golf balls.

Two groups of living-history volunteers will use the cannon at special events and in weekend programs. One will represent the Washington Artillery, a group of well-heeled Louisiana gentleman who paid for their uniforms and equipment. They wore their motto, "Try Us," on gold pins bearing the head of their mascot, the tiger.

The other group will depict the 4th U.S. Artillery, which was part of the famed Iron Brigade. These were hardy midwesterners who picked "Skill is better than luck" as their motto.

"That is what artillery is all about," Humphreys said. "You had to be good in math and science and you had to work as a team. The crew or detachment of 10 men really had to depend on each other."

Having the new cannon, she said, will help the park service bring their stories to life.


TOPICS: News/Current Events; US: Virginia
KEYWORDS: 12pounder; artillery; bang; boom; cannon; dixie; fredericksburg; militaryhistory; napoleon; nps; redlegs; union; wbts

1 posted on 04/10/2006 12:53:38 PM PDT by stainlessbanner
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To: righthand man; TexConfederate1861; chesley; rustbucket; JamesP81; LeoWindhorse; groanup; NerdDad; ..
Dixieping

12-pounder in Fredericksburg

2 posted on 04/10/2006 12:54:38 PM PDT by stainlessbanner
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To: stainlessbanner

I want one!


3 posted on 04/10/2006 12:54:58 PM PDT by VRWCmember
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To: stainlessbanner

That's a beautiful picture.


4 posted on 04/10/2006 12:56:22 PM PDT by SittinYonder (That's how I saw it, and see it still.)
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To: stainlessbanner

Old Dominion bump


5 posted on 04/10/2006 12:58:35 PM PDT by ▀udda▀udd (7 days - 7 ways Guero ╗ with a floating, shifting, ever changing persona....)
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To: stainlessbanner
Different kind of gun at the end of the conflict that changed the course of warfare forever.


6 posted on 04/10/2006 12:58:47 PM PDT by sully777 (wWBBD: What would Brian Boitano do?)
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To: stainlessbanner

Cool! I used to live within an easy stroll's distance of Marye's Heights and the Military Park at Fredburg. I may have to motor down there soon.


7 posted on 04/10/2006 12:58:51 PM PDT by Riley ("What color is the boathouse at Hereford?")
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To: VRWCmember
I want one!

Then I think you should have one. Go to this site with your credit card and pick the one you like best!

8 posted on 04/10/2006 12:59:05 PM PDT by Kenton
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To: VRWCmember

I prefer my 10-pounder M1861 Parrott rifle. More accurate and a 2.9 inch bore takes a lot less powder to make a convincing BOOM than a 4.67 inch one.


9 posted on 04/10/2006 1:00:11 PM PDT by RebelBanker (If you can't do something smart, do something right.)
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To: VRWCmember

I want two!!


10 posted on 04/10/2006 1:00:11 PM PDT by TXBSAFH (Proud Dad of Twins, What Does Not Kill You Makes You Stronger!!!!!!)
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To: stainlessbanner

geez, and we can't even fire a pellet gun in Fulton County!


11 posted on 04/10/2006 1:02:21 PM PDT by peacebaby (ya'll come on down now, ya hear?)
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To: Kenton

Credit where credit is due:
http://www.steencannons.com/

Mine is a South Bend Replicas barrel on a Paulson Brothers carriage.


12 posted on 04/10/2006 1:03:30 PM PDT by RebelBanker (If you can't do something smart, do something right.)
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To: stainlessbanner
it fired 12-pound cannon balls that would bounce

And roll. Many feet were lost to these rolling cannonballs since they seem to be moving slow enough to stop by putting the leg down in front. Surprise!

13 posted on 04/10/2006 1:04:26 PM PDT by RightWhale (Off touch and out of base)
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To: RightWhale

Sam Watkins in his book 'Company Aytch' describes just such an incident before the (horrifying) battle of Franklin.


14 posted on 04/10/2006 1:05:49 PM PDT by Riley ("What color is the boathouse at Hereford?")
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To: RebelBanker

God Bless America! LOL... gotta get one of those...


15 posted on 04/10/2006 1:06:21 PM PDT by Kenton
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To: sully777

AND it's decendents are being used today! Electric powered gatlings kick butt!


16 posted on 04/10/2006 1:14:09 PM PDT by calex59 (No country can survive multiculturalism. Dual cultures don't mix, history has taught us that!)
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To: stainlessbanner

17 posted on 04/10/2006 1:17:49 PM PDT by Airborne1986 (Well, you can do what you want to us. But we're not going to sit here while you badmouth the U.S.A.)
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To: stainlessbanner

"The high-pitched "crack, crack" of Parrott rifles."

http://www.espd.com/oxhill/Artifacts/Shells/parrot.htm


18 posted on 04/10/2006 1:29:46 PM PDT by BenLurkin (O beautiful for patriot dream - that sees beyond the years)
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To: stainlessbanner
They may of been able to get one a bit cheaper at Dixie gun works.

http://www.dixiegunworks.com/advanced_search_result.php?osCsid=9a15c3fef1df4ffc7a0d8a911226e88c&osCsid=9a15c3fef1df4ffc7a0d8a911226e88c&keywords=cannon
19 posted on 04/10/2006 1:36:40 PM PDT by mouser (run the rats out its the only hope we have)
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To: mouser

Cheaper, but not authentic or safe.

Dixie Gun Works artillery can only be safely used as lawn ornaments.


20 posted on 04/10/2006 1:49:31 PM PDT by RebelBanker (If you can't do something smart, do something right.)
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To: RebelBanker

I used to own an 1846 heavy 12 pounder. A divorce created a situation that ended up with the Paulsen Brothers adding it to their collection.


21 posted on 04/10/2006 2:09:35 PM PDT by vetvetdoug
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To: sully777

When I was a kid and first learnt about Gatling's Gun, I thought it was old fashioned. Silly me.


22 posted on 04/10/2006 2:14:01 PM PDT by Bill The Butcher
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To: stainlessbanner

23 posted on 04/10/2006 2:14:07 PM PDT by reagan_fanatic (Someday we'll look back on all this and plow into a parked car)
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To: stainlessbanner
betcha I could range city hall from here with that. ;)

Just saying...

24 posted on 04/10/2006 2:17:09 PM PDT by patton (Once you steal a firetruck, there's really not much else you can do except go for a joyride.)
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To: sully777
A little later, along came THIS beauty:


25 posted on 04/10/2006 2:18:03 PM PDT by Bill The Butcher
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To: Kenton

Geez, for what I paid for my espresso machine I could have had a mortar. Durn the luck.


26 posted on 04/10/2006 2:21:04 PM PDT by Bill The Butcher
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To: stainlessbanner

Nice field piece. I have a small desktop model that is non-firing, but I have my Confederate Flags around it. I used to fire a 105MM Howitzer, and would love to fire one of the old Napoleons. Once an Ordie, always an Ordie.


27 posted on 04/10/2006 4:39:40 PM PDT by Colt .45 (Navy Veteran - Thermo-Nuclear Landscapers Inc. "Need a change of scenery? We deliver!")
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To: Colt .45
I used to fire a 105MM Howitzer, and would love to fire one of the old Napoleons.

FReepmail me if you can be around Maryland some weekend and I will see what I can do. One warning - black powder is VERY addictive!

28 posted on 04/10/2006 7:26:03 PM PDT by RebelBanker (If you can't do something smart, do something right.)
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To: stainlessbanner
I have always wanted to be up close when one of them went off.
29 posted on 04/10/2006 10:32:48 PM PDT by smug (Tanstaafl)
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To: stainlessbanner

there shoulda been a hundred Fredricksburgs....


30 posted on 04/10/2006 11:18:09 PM PDT by LeoWindhorse
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To: LeoWindhorse
LOL Then we wouldn't have as much to talk about.
31 posted on 04/11/2006 6:58:35 AM PDT by smug (Tanstaafl)
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To: Cannoneer No. 4

Redlegs ping!


32 posted on 04/11/2006 9:53:41 AM PDT by archy (I am General Tso. This is my Chief of Staff, Colonel Sanders....)
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To: archy

Washington Artillery of New Orleans

More good pics over here.

33 posted on 04/11/2006 2:20:57 PM PDT by Cannoneer No. 4 (When your mother taught you not to play with sharp objects, she wasn't referring to Occam's Razor.)
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To: 1stFreedom; Redleg Duke; SAMWolf; archy; I got the rope; 300winmag; cavtrooper21; ...
Field Artillery & Mortar Ping


34 posted on 04/11/2006 2:23:13 PM PDT by Cannoneer No. 4 (When your mother taught you not to play with sharp objects, she wasn't referring to Occam's Razor.)
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To: RebelBanker
I started out on a Parrot Rifle. Napoleons are monsters to feed.

Click here to see Old Thunder in action.

35 posted on 04/11/2006 2:30:57 PM PDT by Cannoneer No. 4 (When your mother taught you not to play with sharp objects, she wasn't referring to Occam's Razor.)
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To: Colt .45

36 posted on 04/11/2006 2:44:05 PM PDT by Cannoneer No. 4 (When your mother taught you not to play with sharp objects, she wasn't referring to Occam's Razor.)
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To: stainlessbanner
i wish our lads in 1861 had had MORE of those!

free dixie,sw

37 posted on 04/11/2006 2:53:49 PM PDT by stand watie ( Resistance to tyrants is OBEDIENCE to God. -----T.Jefferson)
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To: stainlessbanner

"A little more grape, Captain Bragg!"


38 posted on 04/11/2006 5:53:12 PM PDT by Redleg Duke (Kennedy and Kerry, the two Commissars of the Peoples' Republic of Massachusetts!)
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To: stainlessbanner

"Artillery lends dignity to what would otherwise be a vulgar brawl!"


39 posted on 04/11/2006 5:53:44 PM PDT by Redleg Duke (Kennedy and Kerry, the two Commissars of the Peoples' Republic of Massachusetts!)
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