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"Canon de l’Empereur"
Canon obusier de campagne de 12
12-pounder "Napoleon"
300px
Canon obusier de campagne de 12 modèle 1853 on display in Les Invalides.
Type Regimental artillery field gun
Place of origin France
Service history
In service 1853-
Used by France, United States
Wars American Civil War
Production history
Designed 1853
Number built France: ?
United States: Union States: 1,100, Confederate states: 600
Specifications
Weight 626 kg (1,227 lb), with carriage: 1,200 kg (2,353 lb)
Length 1.91 m (66 in)

Shell 4.1 kg shell, ball, canister
Caliber 121 mm (4.62 in)
Muzzle velocity 439 m/s (1,440 ft/s)
Effective range 1,480 m at 5° elevation (1,440 yd)

The Canon obusier de 12 (French:"Canon obusier de campagne de 12 cm, modèle 1853", USA: 12-pounder Napoleon), also known as the "Canon de l’Empereur" was a type of canon-obusier (literally "Shell-gun cannon", "gun-howitzer") developed by France in 1853. Its performance and versatility (it was able to fire either ball, shell, canister or grapeshot) allowed it to replace all the previous field guns, especially the Canon de 8 and the Canon de 12 as well as the two howitzers of the Valée system.

CaracteristicsEdit

File:Canon Obusier Le Lassaigne.jpg

The "canon obusier" was a smoothbore cannon using either shells, balls or canisters, and was therefore a vast improvement over previous cannon firing metal balls, such as the Gribeauval system. Although the "Canon obusier de 12" is commonly described as a 12-pounder in English, the "12" in the cannon's designation actually represents the caliber (12 cm). The new weapon "revolutionized field artillery. The Napoleon was light enough to be moved rapidly on the battlefield by horses, heavy enough to destroy field fortifications almost a mile away, and versatile enough to fire solid shot, shell, spherical case, and cannister."[1] The French Army introduced the "canon obusier de 12" in 1853.

American careerEdit

This type of "canon obusier", commonly called in English the "12-pounder Napoleon Model 1857", was the primary cannon used in the American Civil War.[2][3] Over 1,100 such Napoleons were manufactured by the North, and 600 by the South.[4] At Gettysburg, 142 out of 360 Federal guns (36%) were Napoleons.

The "12-pounder Napoleon" was widely admired because of its safety, reliability, and killing power, especially at close range. 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. Confederate Napoleons were produced in at least six variations, most of which had straight muzzles, but at least eight cataloged survivors of 133 identified have muzzle swells.

SuccessionEdit

The "canon obusier" was soon superseded by rifled cannons, which had much more accuracy and range, with the developments of Antoine Treuille de Beaulieu and the introduction of the La Hitte system in 1858.[5]

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. "The Napoleon" National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior
  2. The Mitrailleuse by Dr. Patrick Marder Military History Online
  3. Nps.gov
  4. Nps.gov
  5. "...the introduction by the French army of the Beaulieu 4-pounder rifled field-gun in 1858: the new artillery, though much more accurate and long-ranged than the smoothbore 'canon-obusier' it replaced (which, incidentally, was the most prevalent artillery piece of the US Civil War), was not suited to firing anti-personnel case-shot (which, in French, is called 'mitraille')." in The Mitrailleuse by Dr. Patrick Marder Military History Online


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