32-pounder guns were the smallest standard "sea-coast" cannon and among the smallest "ship-borne" cannon in 1861. These cannon were made of iron, were designed with smoothbore barrels, and were intended to throw solid shot at long range using low angle of elevation. They could also fire other types of projectiles.
As the war progressed and more modern cannon, like the rifled Parrotts and large bore Dahlgrens, were invented and produced, the 32-pounders were replaced in the Federal army and navy.
In the weapons-poor South, the Confederacy used 32-pounder guns from the beginning of the war to the very end. In an attempt to extend their usefulness, some of these guns were rifled. This increased their range, accuracy and the weight of their projectiles.
Length 106.4 inches
Weight 4761 pounds
Bore Diameter 6.4 inches
Range 1756 yards
Solid Shot Weight 32.5 pounds
Spherical-case Shot Weight 32 pounds
Shell Weight 26.5 pounds
Grape Weight 39.8 pounds
Canister Weight 30 pounds
Powder Charge 6-8 pounds
The markings on this cannon show that it was manufactured in 1845 at the Fort Pitt Foundry in Pittsburgh, PS for the U.S. Navy. Alexander Scammell Wadsworth was the inspector. Its registration
number is 229. The pre-Civil War service of this cannon is unknown.
During the war, this gun became part of the armament of the U.S.S. Sumter. On August 14, 1862, the Sumter ran aground off the town of Bayou Sara, LA, and her crew abandoned their ship. The Confederates immediately salvaged all of the Sumter's useful equipment, including the cannon - this 32-pounder gun and another one like it.
The two cannon were sent to Port Hudson and became part of the defenses there. On the night of March 14-15, 1863, this cannon helped repulse Admiral David Farragut's seven ship flotilla as it attempted to pass Port Hudson's Confederate batteries.
Captain Felix Le Besque
Battery No. 9
Caliber - 8 inch Kind - Shell Gun Number - 264 Weight - 62.2.12 Date - 1842 Inspector - A.S.W. Caliber - 32-pounder Kind - Smooth-bore Number - 229 Weight - 42.2.05 Date - 1845 Inspector - A.S.W.
When the Federal Army brought up their heavy guns during the siege, the Confederates shuffled their guns around to meet these new threats. This 32-pounder was shifted to the land defenses near Slaughter's Field.
"I then commenced to manufacture a siege carriage for a 32-pounder navy gun, which carriage was completed in two days and the gun in position"
Captain Louis J. Girard,
Chief of Ordnance