Fine Craftsmanship Butchered: Revere Copper 6-pdr Field Gun

Some time back I detailed the 12-pdr “Napoleon guns” produced by Revere Copper during the war.  While those 12-pdrs at Malvern Hill look dirty from exposure, the guns themselves are good examples of the work done by a firm with a long history of metalworking.  In addition to those 443 Napoleon guns, Revere also produced a handful of 6-pdr Model 1841 Field Guns.  A Federal order placed in November 1861 called for two guns.  The company received credit for these in February 1862 as registry numbers 1 and 2.

Today registry number 1 sits at Gettysburg representing Dow’s 6th Maine Battery in a position in McGilvery’s Line along modern Hancock Avenue.

Gettysburg 162
Revere 6-pdr Model 1841

Sadly, in the 1890s the Gettysburg Battlefield Commission had the Revere gun modified to resemble a 12-pdr Napoleon.  Like other “False Napoleons” this 6-pdr had external features trimmed down to present a smooth line, although the gun stands out visually being 7 inches shorter than a real Napoleon.

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Breech of Revere Gun

The process trimmed off the base ring and rounded the contours of the breech.  However the neck of the knob retains a narrow fillet, unlike some “pho-poleon” conversions.  The reinforce step just past the trunnions was smoothed down. The chase ring also disappeared under the cutting tools.   The muzzle moldings remained.  A sharp eye notes some slight differences between the moldings on the Revere gun and those of other Model 1841 guns.  But this could of course be due to the alterations.

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Muzzle of Revere Gun

Conforming with standards established in 1861, Revere placed their markings on the muzzle face.

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Muzzle Marks on Revere Gun

Likely the tool used to enlarge the front of the bore to the 12-pdr size obliterated part of the markings.  This should read “Revere Copper Co. // 1861 // 853 lbs. // J.P.F. // No. 1”, including the initials of inspector Joseph P. Farley.

The gun at Gettysburg is the lone survivor of the pair produced by Revere for Federal orders.  The possibility exists that Revere offered similar guns to private or militia organizations. But no records, and more importantly no guns, survive to tell that story.  At roughly the same time Revere setup production of the two 6-pdrs, the firm started production of the 12-pdr Napoleons.  The Farley inspected Revere’s 6-pdrs and initial batches of 12-pdrs at about the same time.  Revere continued production of 12-pdrs through April 1864.

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Revere Gun in Profile

Yes, I would love to have this example of fine Revere craftsmanship intact so as to better compare the gun to contemporary 6-pdrs.  Certainly would like to confirm or reject the notion that Revere used a unique muzzle molding.  But the lone survivor from Revere was butchered a bit so as keep up appearances on the battlefield.

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