Ridgeway Civil War Research Center,
A virtual examination of artifacts of the American Civil War


Civil War Artillery
by Harry Ridgeway

Smoothbore artillery projectile, spherical ball, solid shot, smoothbore 12 pounder, 4.62in.
Artillery 1210 Ball solid shot 12pdr. 4.62in.

This is the "Ridgeway Civil War Research Center...", a research tool for educational purposes only, and is provided at no cost to the reader. Some of the relics listed are retained in the author's collection, most reside in other collections and are not owned by the author. None of the items listed in this section are for sale, please refer to relicman.com sales listings for items offered for sale. This is a work in progress, I list items as I get to them, there are many patterns that are not listed yet, this list will be regularly updated as I get pictures and descriptions for more items. I will also correct mistakes, so if you see any please tell me. All items listed are believed to be authentic to the Civil War or as otherwise described. Any excavated relics have been recovered from private property with owners permission. This information is available for research purposes, pictures may be used by permission only.
All projectiles listed have been disarmed.

Most information on this page is from:
Field Artillery Projectiles of the American Civil War, 1993 Edition. by Thomas S. Dickey and Peter C. George.
Civil War Heavy Explosive Ordnance, A Guide to Large Artillery Prjectiles, Torpedoes, and Mines, by Jack Bell.
Artillery Fuses of the Civil War, by Charles H. Jones.
Pictures are by the author, unless otherwise indicated.

Weapons used:
Smoothbore 12 pounder, 4.62in. Caliber of the gun is 4.62in., round projectile diameter should measure 4.52 in. approximately, variations will be noted.
Coehorn mortar 12 pounder, 4.62in. Caliber of the gun is 4.62in., round projectile diameter should measure 4.52 in. approximately, variations will be noted.

A standard weight for a solid cast iron spherical ball was set at 12 pounds, hence balls of this caliber were referred to as "12 pounder". Weight of a solid shot is 12 pounds, hollow shot will weigh less. "Common" shot was a contemporary term referring to a "standard" containing an explosive charge and no balls. "Case shot" round referred to a hollow ball containing explosive charge and case shot balls. Generally (but there are exceptions) the walls of the ball are thinner for case shot, thicker for "common" shot. A ball filled with case shot will usually weigh more than a "common" round but this relationship can vary as the number of balls actually filled in a case shot can vary, the wall thickness can vary, and weight loss due to excessive corrosion can produce misleading results. Usually the case shot ball is filled with small lead balls around .5 inch to .7 inch, but dimensions are usually uneven and sometimes other materials were used such as iron balls, bullets, iron nails or almost any other form of scrap. "Canister" shot is not a round ball at all but refers to a cylindrical "can" filled with balls. Often the term "canister" and "case shot" have been used interchangeably but the correct use of the terms refers to distinctly different types of ordnance as indicated.

The bore for the 12 pounder is supposed to measure 4.62in., the ball itself will measure approximately 4.52in., the difference is the space needed to ram a ball through the muzzle into the chamber and is referred to as "windage". A ball needed to fit very close to these measurements, otherwise it would be a disaster for the artillery battery. If a ball is too large, it will simply not fit through the bore. If a ball is small, too much energy will be lost firing it and it simply will not be effective as a weapon. If a ball is not truly round it could jam the bore and that truly is bad news for a jammed gun could easily blow up on firing. There are many balls out there that are not cannon balls, these are weights, balls used to grind coal or other minerals , ornaments, gate weights, and the worst are 12 pound athletic shot-puts. So one test of a cannon ball is that the measurement has to be pretty much right. The best way to measure a ball is to use a seamstress tape measure (about $3 bucks at Wal-Mart) get a measurement of the circumference, divide by Pi (oh hell you thought you were done with high school math) and you have the diameter. I will make it easy, pi is 3.141593, so if a ball measures much more or less than 14.2 inches in circumference, it isn't going to be a cannon ball no matter how much you want it to be, so 14.2in. circumference, divided by pi 3.141593, equals 4.52in. Results like 4.4in, 4.7in, and weights of 11.75lbs. and 12.25lbs. are all grinding balls, (euphemism for "junk") and they need to be taken to the recycling center and not sold as a cannon ball on ebay. There are millions of these grinding balls out there, the mining industry has been using them for centuries and they can be any size.


Artillery 1211 Ball solid shot 12pdr. 4.62in.
Smoothbore artillery projectile, spherical ball, solid shot, smoothbore 12 pounder, 4.62in., with sabot
Projectile was intended for the smoothbore 12 pounder "Napoleon", solid shot were generally fired against enemy cannon. Both sides cast solid 12 pounders, there is no sure way to tell which side manufactured it, both have mold seams. Originally the ball used a wood cup sabot attached to the ball with straps, on firing the straps would break releasing the ball. Projectile measures: diameter 4.52 in., weight 12lbs.
Ref: Dickey & George, Field Artillery (1993 Edition), pg. 34.

A0011...Smoothbore artillery projectile, spherical ball, solid shot, wood sabot, smoothbore 12 pounder, 4.62 in., with wood sabot
Projectile was intended for the smoothbore 12 pounder "Napoleon", solid shot were generally fired against enemy cannon. Both sides cast solid 12 pounders, there is no sure way to tell which side manufactured it, both have mold seams. Originally the ball used a wood cup sabot attached to the ball with straps, on firing the straps would break releasing the ball. Wood sabot was turned on a lathe with a groove on the bottom to hold the powder bag, two metal straps are held in place nailed with hand forged square nails. Projectile measures: diameter 4.52 in., weight 12.2lbs, with sabot. Sabot and straps intact, with hand forged nails. Projectile is disarmed, casting is solid iron. Recovered: early pickup around Winchester, Virginia.
Ref: Dickey & George, Field Artillery (1993 Edition), pg. 34, with sabot
Ridgeway collection, Old Court House Civil War Museum, Winchester, Virginia


Artillery 1212 Ball solid shot 12pdr. 4.62in.

Smoothbore artillery projectile, spherical ball, solid shot, smoothbore 12 pounder, 4.62in.
Projectile was intended for the smoothbore 12 pounder "Napoleon", solid shot were generally fired against enemy cannon. Both sides cast solid 12 pounders, there is no sure way to tell which side manufactured it, both have mold seams. Originally the ball used a wood cup sabot attached to the ball with straps, on firing the straps would break releasing the ball. Projectile measures: diameter 4.52 in., weight 12lbs.
Ref: Dickey & George, Field Artillery (1993 Edition), pg. 34.
A0681.1...Smoothbore artillery projectile, spherical ball, solid shot, smoothbore 12 pounder, 4.62in., Baker house, Winchester Virginia.
Projectile was intended for the smoothbore 12 pounder "Napoleon", solid shot were generally fired against enemy cannon. Both sides cast solid 12 pounders, there is no sure way to tell which side manufactured it, both have mold seams. Originally the ball used a wood cup sabot attached to the ball with straps, on firing the straps would break releasing the ball. Projectile measures: diameter 4.52 in., weight 12lbs. Projectile is disarmed, casting is solid iron. Recovered: Baker House, Third Battle of Winchester, by Ray Morrison. The Baker house was a well known landmark because it had a cannon ball lodged in the side of the building that was visible to passerbys. The house was demolished in the 1970's. Mr Morrison claimed that this is the ball that was lodged in the house, however it is noted that several cannon balls were recovered from the site. He claimed that he got it from the construction crew by convincing them that it was live and he would take care of it! Now there is only a shopping center at the site.
Ref: Dickey & George, Field Artillery (1993 Edition), pg. 34.
Old Court House Civil War Museum, Winchester, Virginia

A0682...Smoothbore artillery projectile, spherical ball, solid shot, smoothbore 12 pounder, 4.62in., three cannon balls from Cedar Creek.
Projectile was intended for the smoothbore 12 pounder "Napoleon", solid shot were generally fired against enemy cannon. Both sides cast solid 12 pounders, there is no sure way to tell which side manufactured it, both have mold seams. Originally the ball used a wood cup sabot attached to the ball with straps, on firing the straps would break releasing the ball. Projectile measures: diameter 4.52 in., weight 12lbs. These three balls were recovered together, manufacture is crude, these are likely Confederate manufacture. Projectile is disarmed, casting is solid iron. Recovered from the Confederate position on the Stickley farm at the 1864 Battle of Cedar Creek, where the Confederate artillery covered the retreat. Although most of the troops were able to escape across Cedar Creek, none of the guns made it.Courtesy of Mike Foreman.
Ref: Dickey & George, Field Artillery (1993 Edition), pg. 34.
Old Court House Civil War Museum, Winchester, Virginia.

A2041...Smoothbore artillery projectile, spherical ball, solid shot, smoothbore 12 pounder, 4.62in.
Projectile was intended for the smoothbore 12 pounder "Napoleon", solid shot were generally fired against enemy cannon. Both sides cast solid 12 pounders, there is no sure way to tell which side manufactured it, both have mold seams. Originally the ball used a wood cup sabot attached to the ball with straps, on firing the straps would break releasing the ball. Projectile measures: diameter 4.52 in., weight 12lbs. Projectile is disarmed, casting is solid iron. Recovered: Port Hudson, Louisiana.
Ref: Dickey & George, Field Artillery (1993 Edition), pg. 34.

A2247...Smoothbore artillery projectile, spherical ball, solid shot, smoothbore 12 pounder, 4.62in.
Projectile was intended for the smoothbore 12 pounder "Napoleon", solid shot were generally fired against enemy cannon. Both sides cast solid 12 pounders, there is no sure way to tell which side manufactured it, both have mold seams. Originally the ball used a wood cup sabot attached to the ball with straps, on firing the straps would break releasing the ball. Projectile measures: diameter 4.52 in., weight 12lbs. Projectile is disarmed, casting is solid iron. Recovered: Richmond, Petersburg, Virginia campaign.
Ref: Dickey & George, Field Artillery (1993 Edition), pg. 34.

A2472...Smoothbore artillery projectile, spherical ball, solid shot, smoothbore 12 pounder, 4.62in.
Projectile was intended for the smoothbore 12 pounder "Napoleon", solid shot were generally fired against enemy cannon. Both sides cast solid 12 pounders, there is no sure way to tell which side manufactured it, both have mold seams. Originally the ball used a wood cup sabot attached to the ball with straps, on firing the straps would break releasing the ball. Projectile measures: diameter 4.52 in., weight 12lbs. Projectile is disarmed, casting is solid iron. Recovered: Richmond, Petersburg, Virginia campaign
Ref: Dickey & George, Field Artillery (1993 Edition), pg. 34.

A2483...Smoothbore artillery projectile, spherical ball, solid shot, smoothbore 12 pounder, 4.62in.
Projectile was intended for the smoothbore 12 pounder "Napoleon", solid shot were generally fired against enemy cannon. Both sides cast solid 12 pounders, there is no sure way to tell which side manufactured it, both have mold seams. Originally the ball used a wood cup sabot attached to the ball with straps, on firing the straps would break releasing the ball. Projectile measures: diameter 4.52 in., weight 12lbs. Projectile is disarmed, casting is solid iron. Recovered: Cold Harbor, Virginia
Ref: Dickey & George, Field Artillery (1993 Edition), pg. 34.

A2488...Smoothbore artillery projectile, spherical ball, solid shot, smoothbore 12 pounder, 4.62in.
Projectile was intended for the smoothbore 12 pounder "Napoleon", solid shot were generally fired against enemy cannon. Both sides cast solid 12 pounders, there is no sure way to tell which side manufactured it, both have mold seams. Originally the ball used a wood cup sabot attached to the ball with straps, on firing the straps would break releasing the ball. Projectile measures: diameter 4.52 in., weight 12lbs. Projectile is disarmed, casting is solid iron. Recovered: Bermuda Hundred, Virginia.
Ref: Dickey & George, Field Artillery (1993 Edition), pg. 34.

A2521...Smoothbore artillery projectile, spherical ball, solid shot, smoothbore 12 pounder, 4.62in.
Projectile was intended for the smoothbore 12 pounder "Napoleon", solid shot were generally fired against enemy cannon. Both sides cast solid 12 pounders, there is no sure way to tell which side manufactured it, both have mold seams. Originally the ball used a wood cup sabot attached to the ball with straps, on firing the straps would break releasing the ball. Projectile measures: diameter 4.52 in., weight 12lbs. Projectile is disarmed, casting is solid iron. Recovered: Virginia campaign.
Ref: Dickey & George, Field Artillery (1993 Edition), pg. 34.

A2558...Smoothbore artillery projectile, spherical ball, solid shot, smoothbore 12 pounder, 4.62in.
Projectile was intended for the smoothbore 12 pounder "Napoleon", solid shot were generally fired against enemy cannon. Both sides cast solid 12 pounders, there is no sure way to tell which side manufactured it, both have mold seams. Originally the ball used a wood cup sabot attached to the ball with straps, on firing the straps would break releasing the ball. Projectile measures: diameter 4.52 in., weight 12lbs. Projectile is disarmed, casting is solid iron. Recovered: not known
Ref: Dickey & George, Field Artillery (1993 Edition), pg. 34.

A2560...Smoothbore artillery projectile, spherical ball, solid shot, smoothbore 12 pounder, 4.62in.
Projectile was intended for the smoothbore 12 pounder "Napoleon", solid shot were generally fired against enemy cannon. Both sides cast solid 12 pounders, there is no sure way to tell which side manufactured it, both have mold seams. Originally the ball used a wood cup sabot attached to the ball with straps, on firing the straps would break releasing the ball. Projectile measures: diameter 4.52 in., weight 12lbs. Projectile is disarmed, casting is solid iron. Recovered: not known.
Ref: Dickey & George, Field Artillery (1993 Edition), pg. 34.

A2756...Smoothbore artillery projectile, spherical ball, solid shot, smoothbore 12 pounder, 4.62in.
Projectile was intended for the smoothbore 12 pounder "Napoleon", solid shot were generally fired against enemy cannon. Both sides cast solid 12 pounders, there is no sure way to tell which side manufactured it, both have mold seams. Originally the ball used a wood cup sabot attached to the ball with straps, on firing the straps would break releasing the ball. Projectile measures: diameter 4.52 in., weight 12lbs,. Projectile is disarmed, casting is solid iron. Recovered: not known
Ref: Dickey & George, Field Artillery (1993 Edition), pg. 34.

A2759...Smoothbore artillery projectile, spherical ball, solid shot, smoothbore 12 pounder, 4.62in.
Projectile was intended for the smoothbore 12 pounder "Napoleon", solid shot were generally fired against enemy cannon. Both sides cast solid 12 pounders, there is no sure way to tell which side manufactured it, both have mold seams. Originally the ball used a wood cup sabot attached to the ball with straps, on firing the straps would break releasing the ball. Projectile measures: diameter 4.52 in., weight 12lbs,. Projectile is disarmed, casting is solid iron. Recovered: not known.
Ref: Dickey & George, Field Artillery (1993 Edition), pg. 34.

A2794...Smoothbore artillery projectile, spherical ball, solid shot, smoothbore 12 pounder, 4.62in.
Projectile was intended for the smoothbore 12 pounder "Napoleon", solid shot were generally fired against enemy cannon. Both sides cast solid 12 pounders, there is no sure way to tell which side manufactured it, both have mold seams. Originally the ball used a wood cup sabot attached to the ball with straps, on firing the straps would break releasing the ball. Projectile measures: diameter 4.52 in., weight 12lbs. Projectile is disarmed, casting is solid iron. Recovered: not known
Ref: Dickey & George, Field Artillery (1993 Edition), pg. 34.

A2856...Smoothbore artillery projectile, spherical ball, solid shot, smoothbore 12 pounder, 4.62in.
Projectile was intended for the smoothbore 12 pounder "Napoleon", solid shot were generally fired against enemy cannon. Both sides cast solid 12 pounders, there is no sure way to tell which side manufactured it, both have mold seams. Originally the ball used a wood cup sabot attached to the ball with straps, on firing the straps would break releasing the ball. Projectile measures: diameter 4.52 in., weight 12lbs. Projectile is disarmed, casting is solid iron. Recovered: not known.
Ref: Dickey & George, Field Artillery (1993 Edition), pg. 34.

A2866...Smoothbore artillery projectile, spherical ball, solid shot, smoothbore 12 pounder, 4.62in.
Projectile was intended for the smoothbore 12 pounder "Napoleon", solid shot were generally fired against enemy cannon. Both sides cast solid 12 pounders, there is no sure way to tell which side manufactured it, both have mold seams. Originally the ball used a wood cup sabot attached to the ball with straps, on firing the straps would break releasing the ball. Projectile measures: diameter 4.52 in., weight 12lbs. Projectile is disarmed, casting is solid iron. Recovered: Richmond Petersburg, Virginia campaign.
Ref: Dickey & George, Field Artillery (1993 Edition), pg. 34.

A3026...Smoothbore artillery projectile, spherical ball, solid shot, smoothbore 12 pounder, 4.62in.
Projectile was intended for the smoothbore 12 pounder "Napoleon", solid shot were generally fired against enemy cannon. Both sides cast solid 12 pounders, there is no sure way to tell which side manufactured it, both have mold seams. Originally the ball used a wood cup sabot attached to the ball with straps, on firing the straps would break releasing the ball. Projectile measures: diameter 4.52 in., weight 12lbs. Projectile is disarmed, casting is solid iron. Recovered: Sharpsburg Maryland, by Mr. Ford, a Maryland relic hunter.
Ref: Dickey & George, Field Artillery (1993 Edition), pg. 34.

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