Live Shooting and Exhibition
In the course of a years' events we will sometimes have the chance to actually shoot our rifled cannon live. This means either shooting solid shot at targets or in rare occasions shooting exploding ordnance in exhibition at US Military installations. All of these occasions offer the opportunity to see, feel and hear the sounds and sights that the artilleryman of 1861 – 65 experienced. Besides being a ton of fun and allowing us to rub elbows with active military personel, Civil War experts and enthusiasts accross the country, we come away from these events with an awe of what these guns can accomplish. Made of iron and oak, they were cannon that shot projectiles with great accuracy . They were and are extremely accurate and can hit their target within a mile range as accurately and in most cases much more accurately than modern ordnance (105mm and 155mm guns ). This is simply because the Civil War rifled gun was made to hit a cannon sized target at up to a mile distance when engaged in a gun vs gun duel on a mid 19th century battlefield where every target was something seen by the naked eye. The modern battlefield is a much longer range affair and indirect fire is the rule, not the exception, and modern artillery is supremely designed to rain down shells with pinpoint accuracy on targets many miles distant... something a Civil War era gun crew could never dream of doing. The Civil War era rifled gun was made in sizes from the 10 pounder Parrott and Ordnance Rifle all the way up to the monster 300 pounder Parrott rifle. Most common were the 3.0 inch Ordnance rifle and Parrott Rifles.
The guns we have fired “live” are:
Model 1857 Light Gun Howitzer “Napoleon” - 12 pounder
Field Gun – 6 pounder
Parrott Rifle – 10 pounder (Model 1861)
Parrott Rifle – 3.0 inch (Model 1863)
Parrott Rifle - 20 pounder
Parrott Rifle – 30 Pounder (Both field and Barbett Pintle Carriages)
Orndance Rifle – 3.0 inch
Wiard Rifle – 6 pounder
Mountain Howitzer – 12 pounder
8 inch Siege Mortar
10 inch Siege Mortar
13 inch Sea Coast Mortar
8 inch Siege Howitzer
Dahlgren Naval Deck gun
Gatling Gun (.58 caliber)
Military installations that we have visited
and live fired at:
Camp Ripley, MN
Camp McCoy, WI
Fort Sill, OK
Camp Grayling, MI
Hardwood Range, (McCoy) Wi
This is not to say that the Civil War was fought with rifled guns only. It was certainly not. The smooth bore gun, gun-howitzer and howitzer along with mortars made up an equally large and important grouping of artillery that was made for short and moderate distance “shell” and “canister” work. These guns and howitzers were, in most cases, made of bronze and had no rifling, shooting spherical projectiles with varying degrees of accuracy and canister rounds when the enemy got within 500 yards. Mortars were made mostly of iron with a few bronze examples being used. On most Civil War battlefields, it was guns like the 12 pounder “Napoleon” that ruled the day if combat was in close range or direct frontal assaults were made. Smooth bore guns and howitzers were made in a wide variety of forms and range from the 6 pounder field gun up to the monster Rodman guns (up to 15 inches in bore diameter) that were mounted in fixed positions within forts and seacoast defensive positions.
Guns that members of Battery I have fired at one time or another “live.”
We would like to thank Paulson Brothers Ordnance in Clear Lake Wisconsin for often times involving us in serving on it’s crews. Bruce and Bernie Paulson have been an indispensable part of our growth in knowledge about things “artillery” and we are proud to call them friends and partners in helping us get where we are today. Many of the guns listed below are part of their amazing collection and to shoot them live is to truly step back into history.
Side note.. It should be mentioned that in shooting our 2.9 inch Parrott Rifle (Affectionately named Agnes) we can hit a 8 foot x 4 foot target relatively consistently at ranges between 900 and 1200 yards with original sights and original style ammunition. This speaks volumes about the accuracy of these “old guns".