View Full Version : Researching "Satan" a bronze 12pdr Napoleon

06-04-2008, 11:01 PM
Dear List,

A friend of mine recently acquired a bronze napoleon 12 pdr that is stamped "Satan" on one of the trunions (lug that mounts the barrell to the carriage) Verbal history says the gun is an original and was one of three that had something to do with the Citidal in Charleston, cast from church bells, used at fort fisher, pushed into the swamps, found about sixty years ago, etc. The gun really has no visible markings, I didn't get a good look around the muzzle, and the casting sure has a lot of imperfections in it. It looks old, feels old, and appears old. I don't doubt that it is an original...heck it even has a big dent in the side of the tube where a cannon round hit it according to legend.

My question is can I find out how authentic the stories are? I have looked through every Charleston research book and now gathering info on Fort fisher.

I just want to be able to tell the 'taters' the real story of the gun

any help would be nice.


Yerby Ray

06-05-2008, 05:50 PM
Welcome to the boards.

Different hive round these parts..it is encouraged to exhaust all obvious sources first...here is start to some folks who are real helpful if approached appropriately.

Good luck..report back your findings....I have a book or two I might could look through.



Bruce Schultz
06-06-2008, 02:12 PM
I made a tintype of the artillery unit posing with Satan at the Old Fort reenactment last weekend. If I could figure out how to post the image, I'd show it to you.

Gary of CA
06-07-2008, 08:36 PM
This thread is mistitled. It should be, Finding Satan. Researching the gun could be quite a spiritual journey that will lead to enlightenment, but not salvation.

06-07-2008, 09:04 PM
If I'm not mistaken, wasn't there a battery of four guns, possibly used by Stonewall Jackson's men, each named after a Biblical Demon? If I recall correctly, they were named Satan, Lucifer, Bail, and Beelzebub. Could be the same gun

06-07-2008, 09:20 PM
I think you're refering to the four disciples Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. They were from the Rockbridge Artillery I believe.

06-08-2008, 01:06 AM
I cringe whenever I hear the 4 cannons referred to as the "Disciples". Below is information that one cadet of the VMI CWRT, Mr. Andrew Breer '08, compiled for us to clear up some of the school rumors regarding the "Gospels" and their history:

"The four six pound guns of the original VMI cadet battery were cast in the spring of 1848 at Cyrus Alger & Co of Boston Massachusetts. They are cast quite a bit lighter than that of a normal Model 1841 six pound gun. The guns arrived on post by the summer of that year. Major Thomas J. Jackson taught with the guns from 1851 to the outbreak of hostilities in April of 1861. All first classmen would have had a mandatory course on field artillery, which means every graduate from 1848 on would have learned their lessons from these pieces. At the time of rebellion, the guns were molded into the Rockbridge Artillery. The four guns fired the first artillery shots of the war in the Shenandoah Valley at the Battle of Falling Waters in July of 1861. The four guns were in no less than seven different engagements, including The Battle of First Manassas, and then they received their name sakes as the Four Gospels by General William Pendleton, a former Lexington resident. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were back on post by May 15, 1863, when they fired cannonades off every 30 minutes for the funeral of former professor T. J. (now Stonewall) Jackson. The guns stayed behind for New Market, being deemed not powerful enough to do any real harm, but stayed on post until the end of the war when the US War Department sent them to the Washington Armory, to return them in 1876."

I've never heard of any cannon or artillery piece related to VMI or the Citadel in Charleston, referred to as "Satan". I think there are a few El Cid grads who frequent these forums who can provide some insights as to what sort of artillery pieces their Corps there used prior to and during the war. Please do some thorough research before showing up to an event and spinning stories to impress " 'taters " about the gun, and really that goes for any aspect of living history. One of the reasons why we have the information above about the four 6 pdr's is because we often got a number of questions from visitors to the school about them (all 4 sit in front of the VMI Barracks) and we want to pass on the best information possible to the public, which should be the goal of any good historian, professional or amatuer.

06-08-2008, 05:10 PM
Thank you all for the positive responses and please forgive me in my delayed response. I fell ill Thursday with three stomach ulcers (created from bacteria....who knew???) which open two large blood vessels in my stomach and I lost three units of blood. So I just got home to read what all of you have written.

While in the hospital I read two histories of the Wilmington campaign and the stories of the bronze 12 pdrs at Fort Fisher do not jive with the rumor surrounding this gun in question.

My next plan of attack is to contact the Citadel and see if they can shed some light on the mystery.

Please know that I do not intend to keep passing along the stories of this gun; my goal is to find out the truth and spread that word.

Thank you all once again.