The Model 1857 “light 12-pounder gun” was one of the most popular smoothbore field artillery pieces of the Civil War era.
Better known as the “Napoleon” after the design’s origins with the French Army in the Crimean War, it was adopted to replace smaller “6-pounder” guns adopted in the 1840s and fired a 12-pound shell (get it) out to about 1,500-yards or so if given enough black powder. The caliber was 4.62-inches and the gun tube itself weighed more than half a ton, but that didn’t stop it from being fielded by both sides in the conflict– with the North having a marked advantage in quantity.
The above, courtesy of the National Park Service, shows the Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park’s Volunteer Cannon Crew firing their Napolean at the Vicksburg National Military Park over the July 4 weekend, marking the anniversary of the Mississippi River bastion’s fall in 1863.
For an in-depth overview of the steps needed to load a Civil War-era M1841 6-pdr field piece, check out the U.S. Army Artillery Museum’s post here.