Historic Civil War cannon in Jefferson to be refurbished
An old Civil War artillery tube sits in the traffic circle in Jefferson, Pennsylvania. In the background is a brick structure that was present when three separate cavalry forces passed through Jefferson during the 1863 Gettysburg Campaign. More on that in a future post.
I spent my lunch hour yesterday taking several photographs in the Jefferson area. This unique artillery piece will be removed from display in 2009 and transported to Georgia to undergo restoration, according to Codorus Valley Historical Society member Ray Kinard.
What makes this cannon tube so unique?
According to artillery experts Phil Katcher and Tony Bryan, this gun is a variation on the standard U.S. Army bronze Napoleon 12-pounder tube. During the Civil War, one of the most significant producers of artillery pieces was the Phoenixville Iron Company (P.I.C.) near Pittsburgh. They manufactured the gun in Jefferson’s circle, as evidenced by the faint PIC inscription engraved on the gun’s muzzle.
What is unique is this gun tube is not the standard bronze alloy, but is instead wrought iron. It also does not have the characteristic muzzle swell associated with bronze Napoleons. Interestingly, the Jefferson tube bears the markings of a typical 3-inch Ordnance Rifle (which were iron), but it weighs far more. The typical rifle weighed 815 pounds, while this iron copy of a Napoleon checks in at 1,220 pounds according to Katcher and Bryan.
The Jefferson gun lacks the required initials of a U.S. Army Ordnance officer, which was needed before the tube was accepted into service. Therefore, Katcher and Bryan suggest it was made as an experimental piece to test wrought iron as a substitute for bronze.