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American Civil War Cannons

The American Civil War saw the widespread use of a variety of different cannons. These cannons differed in size, manufacture, and capabilities. Both the Federalists and the Confederates used cannons purchased from the British, invoking international free trade over political alliances. Cannons ranged in size from 6 pounders to 12 and even 24 pounders.

The Confederates armies captured several Union cannons and artillery pieces over the war, meaning these items now have proof and unit markings from both sides of the war. Rifled cannons, which influenced modern artillery, were first used during the Civil War. American Civil War cannons are often well-used, having traversed the country trading units and sides sometimes several times over; however, some in firing condition can still be found today.

Quick Facts

  • The South had only one Cannon foundry when the war began, Tredegar iron works
  • The first shot fired during the American Civil War was by a cannon at Fort Sumter, most likely a Britten projectile
  • Both smoothbore and rifled cannons were used to great effect during the American Civil War

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