The Civil War in Missouri

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Cannon Tube Made by Excelsior Stove Works

MHM Collections

A manufacturer formerly engaged in the tinware business and crockery trade, Giles F. Filley started the Excelsior Stove Works in St. Louis in 1849. During the Civil War, Filley took an active part in supporting pro-Union causes. At his own expense he armed and equipped a company of men among his own employees who trained secretly at night at the stove works. Filley also utilized his factory, which had been casting attractive parlor and cook stoves, to produce small cannons that could be "used against the Guerillas, and by unprotected towns, and other places about the country." The foundry made only 30 of the artillery weapons—15 of them rifled and 15 smoothbore. According to Filley, the cannons fired a four-pound lead conical ball, grooved and wrapped with woolen yarn, which created a tighter seal on the projectile and prevented sparks as the ball was pushed down the cannon muzzle. He claimed that "the shooting was accurate with great penetration." The cannon's carriage was burned at the foundry after the war.