This can, appropriately, be called a "Decatur gun." No. 12 is a French 12-pounder, made at Douay in 1740 for Louis XV, and taken by Decatur during his operations against Algiers in 1815. The French 12-pounder was, as the Latin inscription on its breech rings show, made at Douay in 1740 by the famed works established for Louis XIV in 1667; Claude Berenger de la Falise was appointed Commissaire des Fontes de France in 1696, and he and his descendants continued to produce guns for the French service at Douay until 1819. This gun, named LE BELLIQUEUX (The Warlike One), has had a large hexagonal vent piece added. This vent piece, lacking the cup-shaped depression around the vent) for powder, was evidently added in the late 1700's after tube primers had supplanted loose-powder priming. Though made after the death of Louis XIV, it is still ornamented in the style of his regime. Besides the royal arms, the first reinforce bears the famous device of the "Sun King" with his motto, Nec pluribus impar. "Not unequal to many" was Louis' roundabout way of describing himself as a match for any number of adversaries. On the chase is the inscription Ultima ratio regum, "the last argument of kings," widely used on European ordinance during this age of royal absolutism. No. 12 was made under the system of ordnance reform proposed by General Valliere and adopted in 1732; this was the first rationalization of French land artillery and prefigured Gribeauval's reforms of the 1770s. The rooster head cascabel knobs were a feature of Valliere's scheme. Muzzle-loading smoothbore guns were similar in size and appearance, and a gunner had to measure the bore of a strange gun to determine its caliber. Guns in each of Vallerie's five standard calibers had an identifying cascabel design. The rooster told a gunner that this was a 12-pounder. Since the French livre weighed 1.097 English pounds, this "12-pounder" fired a heavier (13.164 pounds) ball than its British or American counterparts.
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