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I've been interested in old artillery pieces for many years and have done a lot of reading about them, but one thing that's always escaped me is how the French and Spanish assigned proper names to their bronze cannons.

Who was charged with assigning the names? Was there some kind of christening ritual? Why were the cannons named?

Here is a sampling of names which are typically found in a banner near the muzzle of the cannon. Earlier cannons may have the names actually cast into them, but most I've seen have the names engraved within an engraved banner near the muzzle. The sampling is taken from the Naval Historical Center Publication, a pamphlet entitled "The Bronze Guns of Leutze Park, Washington Navy Yard, Washington DC" by John C. Reilly Jr. (undated)

The pamphlet numbering system reference numbers are used.

No. 8, Spanish 12 pdr. gun, "EL ALANO"

No. 9, Spanish 6 pdr. gun cast in 1686 "S. BRVNO" for San Bruno

Nos. 10-13, (text is comingled here so bear with me)

No. 10, 13, Spanish 27 pdr.(?) guns "CAMILLO" and "CORZO"

No. 11, 12, French 12 pdr.: "LE VIGOREAUX" and "LE BELLIQUEUX"

No. 14, Spanish 6 pdr.: "GENEROSO"

No. 15, Spanish 12 pdr.: (no name listed in text, if anyone knows it please advise.)

No. 16, Spanish 12 pdr: "ALEATOR"

No. 17, Spanish 12 pdr: "EL TORO"

No. 18, Spanish 12 pdr: "EL TOSICO"

No. 19, Spanish 9 pdr. (should perhaps read "8 pdr?) "EL GALGO"

No. 20, Spanish 9 pdr. (8 pdr?) "CAMBERNON"

No. 24, Spanish 24 pdr. howitzer: "JUSTICIERO" (this shows Spanish cannon names are not unique, as I've seen a Spanish 9 inch mortar also named "Justiciero."
 

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cannonmn, Read your post with a good deal of interest; Mike and I visited Leutze Park at the Washington Navy Yard about three years ago. Very unfortunately our old camera gave up just after we got all those Brooke rifles photographed, so we have none of those really neat Spanish bronze guns. We just Emailed Mario Lucchini who lives in South America - Santiago de Chili. Maybe he knows some answers to your questions. We will post his reply if he does. He posted some pics of the beautiful cannon models he makes last January 9th, 2007. Below is a little bit more on naming some big guns made in this country. Does anybody have photos of the Leutze Park cannon?

T & M

"Terry C.,
There were four XX-inch Dahlgren seacoast and naval guns cast at the Fort Pitt Foundry during or soon after the Civil War and one was officially named "Satan". The first of these guns was cast during the war in May of 1864 for the Federal Navy, but it was rejected and after that sold to the government of Peru for installation in the fortress at Callao, Peru. It was named "Beelzebub", probably by the Peruvian newspapers after the common Spanish custom of "Christening" their guns.

The second massive 20-inch Dahlgren was named "Satan" and it received Registry No. 1, evidently accepted by the Army in 1866.

The third huge 20-inch Dahlgren was named "Lucifer", Reg. No. 2 in 1866.

The fourth monstrous 20-inch Dahlgren was named "Moloch" and received Reg. No. 3 in April of 1867.

All weighed from 95,600 to 96,150 Lbs., quite a bit less than the two huge Rodman 20-inch seacoast guns which tipped the scales at 117,000 Lbs. plus. These both survive and today are located at forts Hamilton in Brooklyn, NY and Hancock in Sandy Hook, NJ. only 9 miles apart.

We really doubt if this particular"Satan" showed up at the Statesville reenanactment!!

FYI, Tracy & Mike

Ref., Pittsburgh During the America Civil War, 1860 to 1865 by Arthur Berl Fox"
 

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Thanks for the link, the pix that site are a lot better than those in the pamphlet. I've looked over the Navy's gun records in the National ARchives and the records for the 20" Dahlgren guns include the same names mentioned above. This is probably one of the very few instances where any US ordnance received official names.
 
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