Headquarters Army of Northern Virginia,

December 5, 1862

Hon Secretary of War, Richmond:

Sir: During the past campaign I have felt, in every battle, the advantages that the enemy possessed over us in their artillery. This arose in part from their possessing more experienced artillerists and better prepared ammunition, but consisted chiefly in better guns. These advantages, I am happy to state, are gradually diminishing. Our artillerists are greatly improving, our ammunition is more carefully prepared, and the efficiency of our batteries increased by guns captured from the enemy. I am greatly in need of longer range smooth-bore guns, and propose that, if metal cannot otherwise be procured, a portion, if not all, of our 6-pounder smooth-bores (bronze), and, if necessary, a part of our 12-pounder howitzers, be recast into 12-pounder Napoleons. The best guns for field service, in my opinion, are the 12-pounder Napoleons, the 10-pounder Parrotts, and the approved 3-inch rifles. Batteries composed of such guns would simplify our ammunition, give us less metal to transport, and longer and more accurate range of fire. I urgently recommend to the Department the consideration of this subject, and that measures be immediately taken to improve our field artillery. The contest between our 6-pounder smooth-bores and the 12-pounder Napoleons of the enemy is very unequal, and, in addition, is discouraging to our artillerists.

I require immediately, for a particular purpose, four 12-pounder Napoleons, and I request that they may be furnished to me without delay. Many of the inferior guns are now at Staunton, sent back by me when in the valley. I would also recommend for particular purposes, that some 20 and 30 pounder Parrott guns be also constructed.

I have the honor to be, with great respect, your obedient servant,

R E Lee





December 9, 1862

Chief of Ordnance:


See the latter part of this letter as to the four 12-pounder Napoleons.

J. A. S.

Secretary of War


December 10, 1862

I respectfully inclose a copy of circular sent to all our arsenals, showing that I have already, some time ago, given orders which will meet the views of General Lee. Recently Messrs. J. R. A. & Co., of the Tredegar Works, have been directed to work night and day to prepare guns of this description. I have requested Colonel Baldwin, chief of ordnance of General Lee, to send down old guns to be recast. In the mean time, however, we shall send to him these guns as fast as they can be made. None are now on hand.

J. Gorgas,

Colonel and Chief of Ordnance




Bureau of Ordnance,

Richmond, November 13, 1862

Until further order, no artillery will be made except the following caliber.

Bronze.—Light 12-pounder or Napoleon guns, caliber 4.62.

Iron.—For field battery of maneuver, 10-pounder Parrotts, banded, caliber 2.9. For field battery of reserve, 20-pounder Parrotts on 12-pounder carriages, caliber 3.67. For siege guns, 30-pounder Parrotts on 18-pounder siege-carriages, caliber 4.2.

Very respectfully,

J. Gorgas,

Colonel and Chief of Ordnance


Source: The War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume 21, pp. 1046-1047

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2018 January 17