30 pdr. Parrott Rifle

From CivilWarWiki
Jump to: navigation, search
30 pdr. Parrott Rifle (WPF), Fredericksburg, VA,
by Michael Kendra, September 28, 2013.
  • Type: Rifled Siege Gun
  • Rarity (Field): Rare
  • Rarity (Siege and Fortification): Common
  • Years of Manufacture: Between 1861 and 1866
  • Tube Composition: Cast Iron, Wrought Iron Breech Band
  • Bore Diameter: 4.2 inches
  • Rifling Type: 5 grooves, 1.3 inches wide, right hand gain twist
  • Standard Powder Charge: 3.25 lbs. Black Powder
  • Projectiles: 24 lb. Bolts, 24 to 29 lb. Shells
  • Range (at 15°): up to 4,800 yards (2.7 miles)
  • Max Range (at 35°): 8,453 yards (4.8 miles)
  • Tube Length: 131.5 inches
  • Tube Weight: 4,200 lbs. (2.1 tons)
  • Total Weight (Gun & Carriage): 6,500 lbs. (3.25 tons)
  • Carriage Type: No. 2 Siege Carriage (2,300 lbs.)
  • Horses Required to Pull: 10
  • No. in North America: 391
  • Invented By: Robert Parker Parrott in 1861
  • US Casting Foundry: West Point Foundry, Cold Spring, NY
  • CS Casting Foundry: Tredegar Iron Works, Richmond, VA


About 30 pdr. Parrott Rifles

The 4.2-inch (30-pounder) rifles were the most widely used of the Parrott siege guns. It was mounted on a conventional siege carriage. The early pattern guns had the elevating screw under the breech, while newer pattern gun had a long screw running through the cascabel. The long elevating screws of the newer models was subject to breaking (Abbot 1867, p. 90).

The 30 pdr. Parrott saw service as early as the First Battle of Manassas. A Union 30 pdr. Parrott with Company G, 1st U.S. Artillery fired the opening shot of the battle. The gun was given the nickname "Long Tom" by it's loving crew. Due to the difficulties of moving such a large gun quickly, the gun position was overrun by Confederates. The gun served the South for the remainder of it's lifetime.

The 4.2-inch Parrott rifles were preferred over the 4.5-inch siege rifles by some gunners because of the superiority of Parrott shells over the various shells available for the 4.5-inch siege rifle.

Union 30 pdr. Parrott rifles did not have as many severe problems with bursting as was commonly found with larger Parrott rifles, however Tredegar's 30 pdr. Parrott copies were not nearly as reliable.

At Fredericksburg, the effect of two Confederate Tredegar 30 pdr. Parrotts was devastating to Union attackers, but both guns burst during the battle, one on the thirty-ninth round, the other on the fifty-fourth round. Lee, Longstreet, and other high officers were standing near one of the cannon when it exploded, but miraculously all escaped injury. (Charles B. Dew, Ironmaker to the Confederacy: Joseph R. Anderson and the Tredegar Iron Works, Richmond: Library of Virginia, 1999, p. 187)

During the siege of Petersburg 44 Union 4.2-inch Parrott rifles fired 12,209 rounds. Only one gun burst when a shell detonated before clearing the muzzle. One 4.2-inch Parrott rifle also burst during the campaign against Charleston harbor, but only after it had fired 4,606 rounds (Abbot, Henry L., Siege artillery in the Campaigns Against Richmond, with Notes on the 15-inch Gun, Including an Algebraic Analysis of the Trajectory of a Shot in its Ricochets Upon Smooth Water, Washington, D.C., 1867, p. 87,160,170).

Two 30 pdr. Parrotts, Captain Shaw, 3rd Regiment, Battery Wagner
Second Battle of Fort Wagner Morris Island, South Carolina, Haas & Peale, 1863.


Additional Information

To the Sound of the Guns: http://markerhunter.wordpress.com/2010/06/25/30-pdr-army-parrott-rifle/

Bull Runnings: http://bullrunnings.wordpress.com/2013/06/24/hains-related-questions-answered/