Bashers from Bibb County: Macon Arsensal 12-pdr Napoleon Guns

Macon Arsenal, as mentioned in the earlier post, focused towards the production of Parrott rifles and 12-pdr Napoleon smoothbores. By far the most common surviving Macon guns are the later. Like the other Napoleons from government arsenals, the Macon guns match the “Type 5” profile designated by historians.

Although documents fail to reveal the total number produced, the educated guess is less than eighty. Of those, thirty-six survive today. If the registry numbers were in sequence, the very first Macon Napoleon survives today on Lee Hill at Fredericksburg.

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Macon registry number 1

However, if one really wants to study the Confederate Napoleons, go to Gettysburg. Fourteen Macon Napoleons are on display (or being refurbished for display) on that battlefield. The sample allows easy comparison to see variations among the lots. Two different Confederate battery positions on Oak Hill afford just such a comparison. Registry number 10 stands next to the tablet for Page’s Battery (The Morris Artillery), overlooking the McLean Farm and pointed towards the town of Gettysburg.

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Macon registry number 10

Early Macon Napoleons used a stamping pattern similar to pre-war Army regulations. The registry number and inspector’s initials went on the muzzle face, top and bottom respectively.

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Muzzle face of #10

The foundry stamp appeared on the right trunnion. In this case a simple “M.A.” for Macon Arsenal.

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Right trunnion of #10

The year of manufacture went on the left trunnion – 1863.

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Left trunnion of #10

The inspector placed the weight stamp on the breach at the location normally covered by the pendulum hausse seat. In this case, 1185 pounds.

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Breech face of #10

Notice the attachment points for the seat – two screws in a vertical arrangement.

The stamping pattern changed a bit with later guns. We met this gun, representing the King William Artillery, the other day.

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Muzzle of Macon #43 (or is it #48?)

The stamping pattern here conforms with other Confederate Napoleons (and mimics the Federal instructions of 1861). Across the top is the name of the foundry – “Macon Arsenal” with the year “1864.” To the right is a slightly blurred “No. 43” (although it could be a “48”). On the left is the weight – 1184. And at the bottom is the inspector’s initials – “E.T.” More about that in a bit.

Just as with Federal Napoleons, the Macon guns had a foundry sequence number on the right rimbase. Clear for this gun is the “No. 54” indicating this was the 54th casting from the foundry.

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Rimbase number on Macon #43

Over the top of the gun, just back of the trunnions, is the “C.S.” acceptance mark.

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Acceptance mark on #43

Notice the flared rimbases on this gun. The Macon weapons shared a similar pattern to the Columbus Arsenal guns in that regard. The overall profile differed little from those “sister” guns.

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Profile of Macon #43

The breech, likewise, resembled the Columbus guns, differing from the Napoleons from Augusta Foundry, with a flatter face profile.

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Breech profile of #43

Macon guns, most always, used a two screw hausse seat. Note the two blind holes on this gun – one on the left side of the seat holes and the other on the knob. I wonder if someone was sampling bronze from this gun.

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Breech face of #43

The muzzle profile is distinctive “Type 5” Confederate – no muzzle swell. There is some variation regarding the tapped hole for the front sight. Some are larger than the one seen on number 43.

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Muzzle profile of #43

Two other minor variations, these somewhat easier to pick out, exist with Macon guns. First is the inspectors. In addition to Richard M. Cuyler (R.M.C.) who commanded the arsenal, at least four other inspectors stamped guns from Macon. I’ve yet to trace down the name for “E.T.” who inspected number 43 (or 48) above. Another unidentified inspector used the initials “J.G.C.” There is a “J.K.” stamp which probably represents the work of John Knepps. And “T.A.S.”, seen on number 14 below, probably stands for T.A. Sengstack.

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Muzzle marks of Macon #14

Another, very minor, variation with the stamps involves the acceptance marks. Early guns often have very small “C.S.” stamps.

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Acceptance mark on Macon #6

These stamping variations, of course, have no impact on the gun’s performance. However they do speak to the inspector’s interpretation of Confederate instructions (or lack thereof); and later conformity to standards.

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Macon #19

Like most Confederate bronze guns, the Macon guns exhibit casting flaws on the surface. The Macons have picked up a green patina over the century and a half of exposure, not much different in hue from Federal guns. Many guns cast at Macon used bronze from melted 6-pdr guns and 12-pdr smoothbores.

Bells, statues, and old guns – the Confederates used what ever materials they could acquire.

Published by Craig Swain

"Historical marker hunter" and Civil War enthusiast.

One thought on “Bashers from Bibb County: Macon Arsensal 12-pdr Napoleon Guns

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