20 pdr. Parrott Rifle
- Type: Rifled gun
- Rarity: Uncommon
- Years of Manufacture: Between 1861 and 1865
- Tube Composition: Cast Iron, Wrought Iron Breech Band
- Bore Diameter: 3.67 inches
- Rifling Type: 5 grooves, right hand gain twist
- Standard Powder Charge: 2 lbs. Black Powder
- Projectiles: 20 lb. solid bolt, case, common shell, cannister
- Effective Range (at 5°): 2,100 yards (1.1 miles)
- Maximum Range (at 15°): 4,400 yards (2.5 miles)
- Tube Length: 89 inches
- Tube Weight: 1750 lbs. (0.8 tons)
- Total Weight (Gun & Carriage): 2,925 lbs. (1.46 tons)
- Carriage Type: No. 3 Field Carriage (1,175 lbs.), 57" wheels
- Horses Required to Pull: 8
- No. in North America: approx. 330 (Army) and 300 (Navy)
- Cost in 1862 Dollars: $380(US); $550 (CS)
- Cost in 1865 Dollars: $387(US); $4500(CS)
- Invented By: Robert Parker Parrott in 1861
- US Casting Foundry: West Point Foundry, Cold Springs, NY
- CS Casting Foundry: Tredegar Iron Works, Richmond, VA
- Special Notes: Highly accurate, excellent for counter-battery fire, challenging to transport, prone to bursting.
About 20 pdr. Parrott Rifles
The 20 Pounder Parrott Rifle was one of the heaviest field artillery pieces of the American Civil War. It was highly accurate, cheap to make, and easy to operate. However, it was soon discovered that some Parrott Rifles, particularly the 20 pounders, were prone to bursting... killing and injuring many artillerymen. The cast iron design of these large rifles just couldn't contain the stresses of firing.
By December of 1862, General Henry Hunt attempted to eliminate the 20 pdr. Parrott completely from the Army of the Potomac. He wrote, "I have the honor to report that the practice in the recent battle with the 20-pounder Parrott was in some respects very unsatisfactory, from the imperfection of the projectiles, which, notwithstanding the pains which have been taken to procure reliable ones, are nearly as dangerous to our own troops as to the enemy, if the former are in advance of our lines. In addition, the guns themselves are unsafe. At Antietam two of the twenty-two, and on the 13th instant another, were disabled by the bursting of the gun near the muzzle. The gun is too heavy for field purposes, and can be used with advantage only as batteries of position. For the last purpose it is inferior to the 4½-inch siege-gun, which requires the same number of horses and only half the number of drivers. I therefore respectfully propose that, as the allowance of artillery in this army is small, the 20-pounders be turned in to the Ordnance Department as soon as they can be replaced by light field guns."
Regarding the usefulness of the 20 pdr. Parrott, while detailing siege operations in the Richmond area, Henry L. Abbot wrote, "The 20-pounder Parrott proved to be too small to give the precision of fire demanded of a siege gun, and to be too heavy for convenient use as a field gun. Moreover its projectiles did not seem to take the grooves as well as those of either smaller or larger calibres. The gun was accordingly not regarded with favor."
Although the 20 Pounder Parrott had a questionable reputation, it served it's purpose on the battlefield. 20 pdr. Parrott Rifles may not have been the best field guns, but they could be produced quickly and in quantity at a time when the Army was desperate for rifles, not necessarily the best rifles, but rifles. When the war was over they were not used again.
To the Sound of the Guns: http://markerhunter.wordpress.com/2010/03/14/20-pdr-or-3-67-inch-army-parrott-rifle/