The hardest part of moving an army across a river was transporting its cannons. If there was time, the guns were disassembled and the pieces were floated across on small boats. When the army was in retreat or in pursuit of the enemy, fully assembled cannons were floated on pontoon boats or vessels made of waterproof blankets such as those shown here.
The most common cannon on the Civil War battlefield was the Model 1857 gun-howitzer. Soldiers called this smoothbore bronze gun a Napoleon. It was named after Louis-Napoleon, the emperor of France at the time. That ruler had sponsored the development of this gun and many other weapons.
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