Smithfield Herald

Webcast to showcase artillery

Artillery was a major factor at the Battle of Bentonville, as cannonballs traveled for up to a mile across the 6,000 acre battlefield.

At 10:30 a.m. on March 11, a live webcast from Bentonville Battlefield will demonstrate and explain the workings of Civil War-era cannons. Students, teachers and the public can register for the webcast at During the webcast, viewers can ask questions via email.

Andrew Duppstadt is coordinator of the Historic Weapons Program for the N.C. Division of State Historic Sites. During the webcast, he will explain the magic of black powder and other bits of science and physics. A team of historians in period uniforms will explain the different types of artillery and projectiles. The 45-minute presentation will answer a number of questions: What’s the difference in a smooth-bore and rifled-bore cannon, and how did each perform in battle? Why does the order of loading and firing a cannon matter? What impact did artillery have on the war?

“We want our students and everyone interested to understand how these weapons performed in battle,” Duppstadt observes. “They represent the best military technology of the time and were used to great effect.”

Special training is required to handle black powder and period weaponry, as it is still dangerous and can be fatal if improperly handled. Duppstadt received training from the National Park Service to conduct and supervise historic re-enactments.

For more information, call 919-807-7389. The webcast is part of a series organized by the Connecting to Collections Project in the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources, in cooperation with the Division of State Historic Sites.

A federal grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services makes this forum possible. The N.C. Humanities Council, a statewide nonprofit and affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, also supports Connecting to Collections programs.