The types of cannon you see here all saw action during the Vicksburg fighting. For centuries, artillery had ruled the battlefield. By the time of the Civil War, advances like rifled barrels, improved aiming and ignition had made cannon more powerful—and more deadly than ever before.
Here Confederate artillery made Vicksburg's fortifications tough and closed down the Mississippi to Union traffic. Here also, Union cannon held Confederates captive inside their defenses, forcing their final surrender.
Right Side Insert
Pick Your Target, Pick Your Shot
Civil War artillerymen used a variety of lethal projectiles to rain down death and destruction on their enemy.
Canister shot burst when fired, spraying iron balls like a shotgun.
Spherical shell packed with gunpowder exploded in flight, throwing deadly shrapnel.
Solid shot battered fortifications, ships, and crashed through large formations of troops.
Spherical case blew apart after firing, launching musket balls in every direction.
Rifled projectiles spun along spiral grooves inside a cannon's barrel, giving them more accuracy.
Main photo: Confederate rifled cannon were used in the defenses
Bottom right: Park rangers and volunteers demonstrate the cannon firing drill taught to Civil War artillerymen.