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Company M stands by its guns at Fort Davidson State Historic Site, during the September 2010 reenactment of the Battle of Pilot Knob, Pilot Knob, Missouri
COMPANY M, 1st MISSOURI LIGHT ARTILLERY
Company M fields a battery of a 4-pounder Filley gun, an Ames 3-pounder gun, a Woodruff gun, and a 12-pounder mountain howitzer. With the smaller guns, Company M serves as mobile artillery at reenactments, often advancing with the infantry in line of battle. At the reenactment at Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis in 1997, our guns participated in a half-mile running fight from the camps to the main battlefield, and then advanced halfway across the field during the main engagement. For national events, the Company is affiliated with the Frontier Brigade, 1st Federal Division.
The 4-pounder gun is patterned after a cannon made by Giles F. Filley, an example of which is in the collection of the Missouri Historical Society.
Giles F. Filley was a prominent St. Louis businessman during the mid-to-late 19th century. He founded the Excelsior Stove Works in St. Louis in 1849 and ran the company until his retirement in 1895. Before and during the Civil War, he was an ardent Unionist, and his brother Oliver D. Filley was Republican mayor of St. Louis from 1858-1861. The Filley brothers and their cousins were all active in the raising of Union militia in St. Louis at the outset of the war.
In a note written to the Missouri Historical Society accompanying a donation in 1898, he described his gift:
This wrought-iron cannon is one of thirty I had made in 1861. Half were rifled, the remainder smoothbore. They carried a lead conical ball weighing about four pounds. The balls were grooved and wrapped with woollen yarn. The shooting was accurate with great penetration. They were used against the Guerrillas and by unprotected towns, and other places about the country. The carriages were burned at our foundry in 1881.
The tube remains in the collection of the Society and is currently on display in the History Museum’s special exhibit on “The Civil War in Missouri” through March 2013. The tube is 42.5" long, with a bore of 2.125".
For an official history of the various units of the 1st Missouri Light Artillery during the War of the Rebellion, read the excerpt of Annual Report of the Adjutant General of Missouri for the Year ending December 31, 1865.
For information about Company M, or if you have additional information about Giles F. Filley or the cannon he had made, contact:
For a general biography of Giles F. Filley, click here.
For a reprint of an 1861 newspaper article on the History of Rifled Cannon, click here. This article includes a description of French 4-pounder guns.
For a reprint of a 1973 Civil War Times Illustrated article on the The Woodruff Gun, click here.