Here and on hills to the left and right the Confederates developed a powerful concentration of artillery.
During the Federal attacks of December 13, 1862, Confederates cannon poured devasting frontal and crossfire into the advancing battle lines. Long range rifles here on Lee's Hill participated in the enfilade fire.
The bronze 12-pounder smoothbores called "Napoleons" were less accurate than rifled cannon, but remained the standard field piece of the war. Sturdy and dependable, they had an effective range of about a mile.
These bronze smoothbores lobbed explosive shells in a higher curve than Napoleons. This made them especially useful among hills and valleys. Howitzers were manufactured in several sizes.
Shot and Shell
Solid shot and explosive shells thrown into massed troops were deadly at long range. Scattering pellets of canister often broke infantry charges.
Rifled cannon fired many kinds of shot and shell.
Spiral grooves, called rifling, inside these small iron cannons caused the projectile to spin in flight for greater speed and accuracy.
(Right marker): The Big Parrots
Two mammoth Parrott rifled cannon, one placed here and the other south on Howison's Hill, were the largest Confederate guns on the field.
The 30-pounder Parrotts were siege guns. Burnside's delay gave time to bring them from Richmond by rail.
The caption of the picture on the far left of this marker identifies that one of the Confederate Parrots exploded and was replaced. Its caption reads,"A smaller Parrott, like this Union gun, replaced the big one which blew up on its 39th firing. Lee, Longstreet and other officers near the exploding Parrott escaped injury; so did the gun crew."
The adjacent picture, entitled Tredegar is captioned, "The Confederates not only used captured Parrotts, they also manufactured guns on the Parrott principle. The two 30-pounders temporarily with Lee's army were made at the Tredegar Iron Works in Richmond."
On the far left of this marker is a picture of a, Whitworth Rifle. "While the smaller Parrott was filling the place, the Confederates were bringing in one of their Whitworth rifles, but it did not arrive until dark. This English made breechloader could easily hurl its peculiar 12-pound bolt three miles."