The Napoleon

Grant Park Revisited: The Napoleon

By H. Scott Wolfe

The Blakely rifle shares Galena’s Grant Park with a Civil War contemporary. A second canon reposes near the base of the Jo Daviess County Soldier’s Monument. Known technically as a 12-pounder Field Gun, Model 1857, the weapon was popularly coined, the Napoleon.

This bronze, smoothbore cannon was the true “workhorse” of Civil War artillery. A mainstay for both combatants, Napoleons constituted nearly 40% of the Union and Confederate artillery armament. The gun’s superb versatility…in long-range dueling or short-range anti-personnel fire…was unsurpassed.

The origins of the Grant Park Napoleon are revealed by the markings visible on the muzzle of the gun. It was cast in 1862 at Miles Greenwood’s Eagle Foundry in Cincinnati, Ohio. During the early stages of the Civil War, a woeful shortage of ordinance compelled the Federal government to contract with sundry Western foundries to produce cannon for the Union armies operating in that theatre. This Napoleon was a product of one such contract.  more...