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HISTORICAL RESEARCH SECTION

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This page provides information, sources, and links relating to the four 1864 2.9 inch Confederate Parrott Guns (S/N's 2075, 2129, 2175, &, 2211) presently located on the memorial mound at the base of the Civil War statue. These four particular cannons were confiscated by, and obtained from, the Federal Government immediately after the Civil War. Parrott Rifles are very distinctive ... and the ones we have are exceedingly rare. There are reportedly only 59 of these now in existence - and we have four of them!

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The Parrott Rifle

Parrott Rifle on Carriage
Image Source: STEEN CANNONS

Robert P. Parrott, at the West Point Foundry, came up with a new method for strengthening a cast iron gun with a band of wrought iron at the breech. The design of reinforcing bands was, in itself, not new; many Confederate guns were cast iron with bands for added strength, and they also banded and rifled many captured Union smoothbores.

Parrott's method was to form a band of iron around a mandrel, hammering it until it was welded into one piece, then while hot forcing it onto the breach of the tube being water cooled on the inside. Parrott rifles were made in 10- and 20-pound field pieces, 30-pound siege guns and 100-, 200- and 300-pound seacoast and Navy guns. This design was cheaper and easier to produce, but tended to burst right in front of the reinforce (a 200-pound gun at Morris Island, South Carolina burst after just 36 rounds).

The original 10-pounder (Model 1861, characterized by a muzzle swell) had a bore of 2.9-inches, while the Model 1863 (no muzzle swell) had a bore of 3-inches in order to standardize the ammunition. In February, 1864 Second Model Parrotts were accepted (of approximately 279) by the Board; in June the First Models were pulled out of the field, and many were rebored to 3-inch(119 out of approximately 250 First Models made). It does not seem any of these were re-issued, as none survive today. Approximately 600 (total of both models) 10-pound Parrotts were purchased during the war (additionally, some were purchased by states).
SOURCE: (Find source and enter here later)

NOTE: This information documents the Union Parrott Rifle.
Confederate Artillery were copied from Union designs
and therefore lagged Union development by 3-4 years.

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Rifling a cannon to improve its performance was a well known principle prior to the war. Problem was that most cannon were constructed of bronze, which although had good strength characteristics, would quickly wear to the point of uselessness when rifled. A harder metal was needed. Cast iron was the natural choice but this metal is very brittle and prone to crack - especially after hard use. Cannon made of it tended to burst occasionally when fired, killing or wounding the crew.

Robert Parker Parrott was the first to successfully turn out quantities of rifled cast iron cannon thru a new method of attaching a reinforcing wrought iron band to the breech end of the gun. The wrought iron band was allowed to cool in place while the gun was rotated, which allowed the band to clamp uniformly about the breech. The resulting cannon could be produced quickly at a cost of about $187 each. Although the breech was reinforced the rest of the gun was not, giving them the tendency to burst at the muzzle. The Parrott gun became the workhorse of the artillery for the first years of the war, and continued to be produced in quantity even after the introduction of the 3-inch ordinance rifle.
SOURCE: http://myhome.shinbiro.com/~PMOADE/arty.htm

NOTE: The 4 Parrott Rifles we have were manufactured at
Richmond's Tredegar Iron Works (aka Tredegar Foundry) in 1864.
They were copied from the Union design of 1861.

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Parrott Rifles, as the name implies, were rifled guns made of iron with a strap of wrought iron wrapped around the breech. These guns unfortunately had a tendency to burst at the muzzle.
SOURCE: http://mirkwood.ucs.indiana.edu/acw/cwhart.htm

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The 10-pounder Parrott rifles were manufactured with two different bore diameters. An early war model had a 2.9-inch bore, while the model produced in 1863 had a 3-inch bore. Yet both of these cannon are commonly referred to as 10- and, sometimes, 12-pounders, even though the ammunition used varied in weight. The 2.9-inch caliber Parrott rifle is, and should be, referred to as a 10-pounder Parrott rifle and the 3-inch caliber should be referred to as only a Model 1863 3-inch caliber Parrott rifle, not a 10-pounder Parrott rifle.
SOURCE: http://www.civilwarartillery.com/main800.htm

NOTE: Again, this information relates to Union Parrott Rifles.
This explains why our Parrott Rifles are referred to as
10-pounders even though they were manufactured in 1864.

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The system of rifled ordnance designed by Robert Parker Parrott is the best example of the confusion resulting from the attempt to pour new wine into old bottles. His rifled gun with a 2.9-inch bore was designated a 10-pounder Parrott, his 3.67-inch rifle a 20-pounder Parrott, and so forth. However, depending upon the type of ammunition used, these pounder designations were more theoretical than real. Parrot's largest rifles, the 8-inch and 10-inch, were known as 200- and 300-pounders in the Army, but as 150- and 250-pounders in the Navy.

10 Pounder Parrott Specifications:
Tube Length: 78 inches | Tube Weight: 890 pounds
Bore Diameter: 2.9 inches | Range: 2000 yards | Shot: Cast Iron
SOURCE: http://www.cwartillery.org/aguns.html

NOTE: Union Parrott Rifle Specifications shown above.
I found specifications for the Confederate version (which we have)
once ... and will post the data here once I relocate it.
(I remember the tube weight being over 1100 pounds - Thom)

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ADDITIONAL LINKS
NOTE: Clicking any of these links will open a new browser page.

For more information about the inventor of the Parrott Rifle
check out this page at the Civil War Artillery Page:

THE INVENTOR: Robert Parker Parrott

For more information about Richmond, VA's Tredegar Foundry
where the Parrott Rifles we have were manufactured:

THE FOUNDRY: Tredegar Iron Works

If you are interested in the Battle of Chicamauga
which is probably the battlefield from which
these particular cannons were confiscated, try:

CHICAMAUGA "River of Blood"

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Page Last Updated: 17 MARCH 2001