Civil War Artillery

Civil War artillery was somewhat limited to only firing at visible targets. Because of this the artillery fought side by side with the infantry.

Artillery pieces were, with the exception of one or two types such as the Whitworth all muzzle loading guns

They needed several men to properly crew a gun. Each one of these artillerymen was typically cross-trained so that they could do other jobs with the loading and firing of the weapon.

This was especially important if one member of the gun crew was wounded or killed, someone else could do his job as well as his own.

Civil War Cannons were very valuable and expensive, because of this they were very highly maintained and artillerymen had to have very strict discipline and strict rules to keep them operating and in proper working condition.

Civil War Artillery Battery

Artillery battery during the Civil War

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Now of course there was not just one type of cannon on a Civil War battlefield, in fact there were usually several types, sometimes even in the same Civil War battery

This was especially true with Confederate Artillery.

Since there was no shortage of Union Artillery they did not need to mix and match different guns into a single battery. The Union used one type of gun per battery.

There were also many different types of artillery rounds to go with these many different types of artillery pieces.

Smooth-bore Guns such as the Napoleon used round cannon balls. While rifled artillery pieces such as the 10-pounder Parrott rifle and the 3-inch Ordnance rifle used conical shaped shells.

There were four types of Civil War cannon ammunition that was used during the war. They were solid shot, shell, case, and canister.

Solid shot was used against soldiers and enemy artillery.

Shell was simply a hollow shell filled with black powder, which was ignited by a fuse.

Case was also a hollow shell and it was also filled with black powder but the one difference was that it had iron balls inside it, needless to say this did damage to people.

Canister was nothing more than a tin can filled with small iron balls which was used a pretty close range against infantry and cavalry. Canister turned an artillery piece into one big shotgun. Probably the last thing you want to be around when it’s about to be fired.

Despite all of this, artillery used during the Civil War was not very effective at inflicting causalities on the enemy. Most battle causalities came from rifle fire.

Civil War artillery was still extremely important, it even turned the tide of many battles during the course of the war.