The 8-Pound Cannon or Canon de 8 Gribeauval is an 18th Century artillery piece, machine-bored for maximum lethal precision. It was the Long-Range weapon of Napoleon Bonaparte
The 8-pound cannon had a six-foot iron barrel mounted on top of a frame with two wheels, with a total weight of over 2,000 lbs. The inside diameter of the barrel was 106 mm (4 in), although the cannonballs were only 103 mm in diameter. It was called an 8-pounder because it fired 8 pound cannon balls. The rate of fire varied based on the skill of the crew; but it was about the same of a musket (1-3 rounds per minute).
- Total Weight: 2,470 lbs
- Shot Diameter: 103 mm
- Range: 1,680 yards
In addition to the usual eight-pound cannonballs, grapeshot was used as an anti-personnel ammunition. Grapeshot consisted of a canister (usually tin) filled with lead or iron balls. When the cannon was fired, the canister was ripped apart by the force of the blast and the lead balls spread out after leaving the barrel, like a shotgun shell.
The 8-pound cannon was tested against George Washington's 6-pound. In a test against an enemy encampment, it was able to kill 3 soldiers and disable the enemy cannon while the 6-pound cannon killed 2 men and disabled the cannon. It's grapeshot ammuniton was also tested against Washington's scattershot ammunition. The grapeshot killed 8/15 targets to the scattershot's 3/15. The edge was given to the 8-pound cannon due to the precision in it's building.
Napoleon studied at the elite École Militaire in Paris, where he was trained to become an artillery officer. Having spent his early career serving in an artillery regiment, Napoleon believed that effective use of cannons would be able to overcome any infantry regiment.
Napoleon's use of cannons was unique for focusing on specific targets to break through the enemy line and to have professional soldiers as cannoneers: which few European armies did.
In the Battle of Austerlitz; Napoleon devastated retreating Russian forces by bombarding the frozen Satschan Ponds that the Russians attempted to cross. The bombardment destroyed the ice; causing thousands of Russian soldiers, along with their artillery, to drown.
- The largest caliber cannon was the 80cm Austrian Pumhart von Steyr used by the House of Habsburg. It would be classified as a 1520-Pound cannon. However due to the weight of the balls; it only had a 600m range, which was an abnormally short distance for a cannon.
- Along with the 6-pound cannon, the 8-pound cannon was the first cannon, as well as the second crew served weapon after the Ballista.