01981 - African-American guard; with 12-pdr Napoleon Gun, Unknown location [LC-DIG-cwpb-01981]
The “Napoleon” 12 Pounder was named for Napoleon III, nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte & was widely popular on both sides. These bronze cannon differed from the rifled guns of the day in that it was smooth on the inside of the barrel.
This meant that it was less accurate & with a shorter range than the rifled weapons of the day. The distinct advantage that it did possess was that this allowed it to fire a wider variety of ammunition. By loading canister or grape shot, it would effectively turn the cannon into a high powered shotgun. Small projectiles would burst from the gun & spread out making them very effective against enemy forces charging against the defenses using the cannon. Following the war, the bronze cannons were phased out in favor of rifled guns.