Table of Contents Dahlgren Guns and Rifles Brooke Rifles and Smoothbore Guns Parrott Rifles
Dahlgren Guns and Rifles
32-pounder Dahlgren shell gun. Total length, 93.72 inches;
weight, 3200 pounds; total production, unknown but small; known
survivors, none as designed. The tube pictured here is actually a
4.4-inch Sawyer rifle made from a 32-pounder Dahlgren gun block, the
only known survivor with Dahlgren's original 32-pounder profile
designed in 1855.
32-pounder Bureau of Ordnance gun of 4500 pounds. Total length,
108 inches; weight, 4500 pounds; total production, 379 by Alger,
Builders, Fort Pitt, and Seyfert, McManus & Co. 1864-67; Known
survivors, 91. Although resembling his design, this type is not a
Dahlgren but is included here where searchers are most likely to look
for it. With a bore too small for its late introduction, very few saw
service during or after the Civil War. Most were used in saluting
batteries. Note its regressive use of fragile old-style breech-ing jaws
and a quoin for elevation.
VIII-inch Bureau of Ordnance gun of 6500 pounds. Total length,
114.5 inches; weight, 6500 pounds; total production, 351 by Alger,
Builders, Fort Pitt, and Seyfert, McManus Co. 1864-67; known survivors,
26. Also not a Dahlgren, it is located here where most searchers will
look for it. Few saw service during or after the Civil War. Like the
32-pounder of 4500 pounds above, this regressive design also
resurrected fragile old-style breeching jaws and a quoin for elevation.
IX-inch Dahlgren shell gun. Total length, 131.975 inches;
weight, 9200 pounds; total production, 1185 at Alger, Bellona, Fort
Pitt, Seyfert, McManus & Co., Tredegar, and West Point 1855-64;
known survivors, 53. Fort Pitt Foundry also made 16 for the Army in
1861 with no known survivor. Extremely reliable and widely used
throughout the U.S. Navy, none is known to have burst in service.
XI-inch Dahlgren shell gun. Total length, 159.7 inches;
weight, 16,000 pounds; total production, 465 at Alger; Builders; Fort
Pitt; Hinkley, Williams & Co.; Portland Locomotive Works; Seyfert,
McManus & Co.; Trenton Iron Works; and West Point 1856-64; known
survivors, 21. This is the only size Dahlgren to have been cast both
with and without muzzle swell. Like the IX-inch Dahlgren, none is known
to have burst in service.
A slightly smaller X-inch Dahlgren shell gun weighing 12,500 pounds was designed, and 29 were made by Seyfert, McManus & Co. and West Point Foundry 1855-64. A similar X-inch Dahlgren solid shot gun, having a straight muzzle and weighing 16,500, was designed and 29 made 1862-65. None of either is known to survive.
XI-inch Dahlgren shell gun sleeved to 8-inch rifle. Between
1876 and 1880, West Point and South Boston Foundry (Alger) sleeved 51
XI-inch smoothbore Dahlgrens to 8-inch rifles via muzzle insertion of
15-groove rifled sleeves. Preponderance was adjusted via eccentric
trunnion bushings. Original markings remain on the base line behind the
vent. Original trunnion markings were turned off and replaced by data
relating to the conversion (inspecting officer's initials, year of
alteration, weight after conversion, new Registry Number, and
designation as "8 IN RIFLE"). Because of the greater recoil resulting
from firing heavier elongated projectiles, new carriages were designed
as illustrated here.
XV-inch Dahlgren short cannon. Total length, 161 inches;
weight, 42,000 pounds; total production, 34 by Fort Pitt Foundry
1862-64, known survivors, 2. Dahlgren's original design featured
38-inch muzzle diameter. This was later reduced to 21 inches by order
of the Navy Bureau of Ordnance. The survivor pictured here is one of
those with reduced muzzle diameter. Three 12-inch Dahlgren rifles
averaging 45,520 pounds were produced from XV-inch Dahlgren gun blocks
in 1863. None proved durable enough for service, and none is known to
XV-inch Dahlgren long cannon, "New Model". Total length, 177
inches; weight, 43,000 pounds; total production, 86 by Alger, Fort
Pitt, and Seyfert, McManus & Co. 1864-66, 71 & 72; no
survivors. Designed by the Navy Bureau of Ordnance in 1864 with longer
length to extend through the turret, it was slightly modified by
increasing muzzle diameter from 21 inches to 25 inches in 1870. The
final version is illustrated in this drawing.
XX-inch Dahlgren. Total length, 216 inches; weight, 97,300 pounds;
total production, 4 by Fort Pitt Foundry 1864-67; no survivors. Of the
four made, one was not accepted and was sold to Peru.
The other three saw no service and were
sold for scrap at New York Navy Yard in June 1897. The photograph
shows the one purchased by Peru when emplaced at Callao; the gun
was inscribed "BEELZEBUB". After being
captured by Chile in the "Guerra del Pacifico" (1879-1884),
it was taken to Chile where it was last seen in Arica
but is no longer there.
4.4-inch (30-pounder) Dahlgren rifle Total length, 94.82
inches; weight, 3200 pounds; total production, 55 by Fort Pitt Foundry
and Washington Navy Yard in 1864; known survivor, 1. Many of these were
condemned and sold at auction as early as December 1865. While a 5.1-inch (50-pounder) Dahlgren rifle, a 6-inch (80-pounder) Dahlgren rifle, a 6.4-inch (100-pounder) Dahlgren rifle, a 7.5-inch (50-pounder) Dahlgren rifle, and an 8-inch Dahlgren rifle were also designed and some made, none proved as successful as Dahlgren's shell guns.
Period photographs of Dahlgrens from the Monitor, Kearsarge,
and Pawnee are reproduced on the Famous Guns page.
Brooke Rifles and Smoothbore Guns
Brooke rifles are the Confederate version of, and are generally
considered an improvement on, large Union Parrott rifles. While various
sizes of rifles and smooth-bore guns were designed by John Mercer
Brooke for the Confederate navy, a few 7-inch rifles were completed
with elevating ratchets on the breech for Confederate army service. All
Brooke tubes have a hemispheric breech contour, a straight tapered
chase, unturned exterior surfaces, and seven-groove rifling with
right-hand twist of a unique "triangular" Brooke design.
jaws of Brooke tubes are exact copies of those designed by John
Dahlgren for his shell guns.
Similar 4.62-inch rifles and 8-inch single-banded smoothbore siege guns
were not designed by Brooke, are not Brookes, and are discussed under
Confederate siege guns and rifles.
6.4-inch single-banded Brooke rifle. Total length, 141.85
inches; weight, 9100 pounds; total production, 10 by Tredegar Foundry;
known survivors, 2. While the early versions of 6.4-inch and 7-inch
Brooke rifles were single-banded, those cast after 28 October 1862 had
two bands at the "desire" of Confederate Secretary of the Navy Stephen
R. Mallory. A few of the early single-banded rifles had a second band
6.4-inch double-banded Brooke rifle. Total length, 141.85
inches; weight, 10,600 pounds; total production, 40 (25 by Tredegar and
15 by Selma); known survivors, 9. Of the 29 rifles of this type
attempted at Selma, only 15 were successfully finished as 6.4-inch
rifles. Five castings that failed as rifles were successfully bored up
to 8-inch double-banded Brooke smooth-bore guns of identical
appearance to 6.4-inch Brooke rifles. One of them survives. The other
ten castings failed to pass inspection at various stages of completion.
7-inch double-banded Brooke rifle. Total length, 147.4 inches;
weight, 15,000 pounds; total production, 62 (23 by Tredegar and 39 by
Selma); known survivors, 8. Brooke made several minor modifications
to this double-banded design during the period of their production.
Like the early 6.4-inch rifles cast at Tredegar Foundry, the first
28 7-inch cast there initially had only a single band. Three of these
are known to survive, but we have no reproducible photo available at
this time. The first six 7-inch Brooke rifles, including the two on CSS Virginia,
were IX-inch Dahlgren gun blocks bored to seven inches, rifled and
banded. No survivor exists to reveal their final profile.
7-inch treble-banded Brooke rifle. Total length, 151.2 inches;
weight, 20,800 pounds (average of three); total production, 3 by
Tredegar Foundry; known survivors, 1. This pattern was cast without
trunnions and utilized a trunnion band and breech strap to accept the
10-inch Brooke smoothbore gun. Total length, 158.25 inches; weight,
21,300 pounds; total production, 10 (4 by Tredegar and 6 by Selma); known
survivors, 2. Tredegar Foundry also cast four 8-inch Brooke rifles, of
which none is known to survive, using a pattern whose dimensions were
nearly identical to this one.
11-inch Brooke smoothbore gun. Total length, 170.75 inches; weight,
23,600 pounds; total production, 8 (2 by Tredegar and 6 by Selma). Known
survivor, 1. Selma also produced one additional 11-inch by boring up a
10-inch smoothbore that failed during inspection due to enlargement of
Construction of Brooke (and other Confederate) wrought-iron reinforcing
bands. This photo illustrates the method of constructing reinforcing
bands for Confederate Parrotts, Brookes, and other reinforced cannon. No
Confederate foundry had the capability to roll wide wrought-iron
reinforcing bands. Instead, individual 2-inch thick by approximately
6-inch wide bands were assembled to form bands of the desired widths.
Because this is a comprehensive system of ordnance, including rifles
designed for field work, siege and garrison deployment, and naval use,
Parrott rifles are discussed here as a group rather than being
distributed among the several different categories on those topics.
The large numbers of Parrotts scattered across the country
at parks and battlefields,
together with the distinctive reinforcing band, make them familiar and
easily identifiable to most
students of the Civil War. However, few of us have seen all of the models
Parrotts are named for their inventer, Robert Parker Parrott. His biography is under Famous Artillerists.
2.9-inch (10-pounder) Army Parrott rifle, Model of 1861
Nominal length (from muzzle face to rear of reinforcing band): 73
inches. Rifling: 3-groove, right hand twist. Weight: 890 pounds. The 3-inch model, introduced in late 1863 differed in having no muzzle swell. An unknown quantity, perhaps 12 or more, were bored 3.3-inch with 12-groove, right-hand rifling.
These were produced during the spring and summer of 1861 for the Union
Committee of the City of New York. Known survivors: 105 2.9-inch, 46
3-inch, 8 3.3-inch.
2.9-inch (10-pounder) Confederate Army Parrott rifle Nominal
length: 74.5 inches. Rifling: 3-groove, right hand twist. Weight: 1,150
pounds. Note longer reinforcing band than Union version and straight
taper of chase. Also made with 3-inch bore that had 12-groove, left-hand twist rifling. The front of the reinforcing band is beveled on most surviving specimens. Known survivors: 19 2.9-inch, 7 3-inch.
2.9-inch (10-pounder) Confederate Navy Parrott rifle Nominal
length: 74.5 inches. Rifling: 3-groove, right-hand twist. Six of this
pattern, with underlug instead of trunnions but otherwise identical to
those above, were made by Tredegar Foundry. Known survivors: 2
3.67-inch (20-pounder) Army Parrott rifle, Model of 1861
Nominal length: 83.5 inches. Rifling: 5-groove, right-hand twist.
Weight: 1,700 pounds. A later pattern has no muzzle swell. Known
Some 3.67-inch and 4.2-inch Army Parrott rifles were converted for Navy
use aboard ships by machining the knobs to accept wrought-iron shackles.
3.67-inch (20-pounder) Confederate Army Parrott rifle Nominal
length: 83.5 inches. Rifling: 5-groove, right-hand twist. Weight: 1,860
pounds. Except for the length of the reinforcing band, very similar to
Union Army version. Note that chase does not have straight taper like
other Confederate Parrott rifles. Known survivors: 17
3.67-inch (20-pounder) Navy Parrott rifle Nominal length:
83.5 inches. Rifling: 5-groove, right-hand twist. Weight: 1,750 pounds.
Differs from Army version in having more hemispherical breech and
breeching jaws instead of knob. Know survivors: 78
Illustrated here is the typical manner in which U.S. Navy Parrott
rifles had their foundry initials, Registry Numbers and weights marked
near the rear of the reinforcing band. Clockwise from 10 o'clock:
initials of Robert Parker Parrott, owner of West Point Foundry;
Registry Number; weight of tube.
4.2-inch (30-pounder) Army Parrott rifle, Model of 1861
Nominal length: 126 inches. Rifling: 5-groove, right-hand twist.
Weight: 4,200 pounds. Early versions had muzzle swell, later versions
did not. Known survivors: 198
4.2-inch Army Parrott rifle muzzle face markings. The illustrated
muzzle markings are typical for all Army Parrott rifles made after late
4.2-inch (30-pounder) Confederate Parrott rifle Nominal
length: 132 inches. Rifling: 5-groove, right-hand twist. Weight: 4,700
pounds. Reinforcing band and chase longer than Union version. All had
muzzle swell. Known survivors: 3
4.2-inch (30-pounder) Navy Parrott rifle Nominal length: 102
inches. Rifling: 5-groove, right-hand twist. 24 inches shorter than the
Army pattern and weighing 3,500 pounds. Early version had muzzle swell,
later versions did not. Known survivors: 74
4.2inch experimental Army Parrott rifle Nominal length: 125.1
inches. Rifling: 5-groove right hand twist. Weight: 3,610 pounds. Only
known survivor of five made in 1864 to fit the same carriage as the
4.5-inch Ordnance Rifle.
5.3-inch (60-pounder) Navy Parrott rifle Nominal length: 111.25 inches. Rifling: 7-groove, right-hand twist. Weight: 5,400 pounds. Known survivors: 7
6.4-inch (100-pounder) Army/Navy Parrott rifle, Model of 1861
Nominal length: 138 inches. Rifling: 9-groove, right-hand twist.
Weight: 9,800 pounds. Army and Navy patterns are identical except for
the manner of marking. Known survivors: 53 Army, 32 Navy
8-inch (200-pounder Army, 150-pounder Navy) Parrott rifle, Model of 1861
Nominal length: 146 inches. Rifling: 11-groove, right-hand twist.
Weight: 16,500 pounds. Army and Navy patterns are identical except for
the manner of marking. Known survivors: 8 Army, 0 Navy
One of the most famous Parrott rifles is the Swamp Angel shown here at
Trenton, NJ. Its band was lost when it burst, and its breech was
reassembled with some pieces missing. For detailed information on this
historic piece, see the
Angel entry. Although Ripley cast some doubt on the identification of
this piece, Edwin Olmstead and Wayne Stark removed enough paint to
clearly read the Registry No. as "6," agreeing with Gillmore's
description of the 8-in Parrott rifle in the Swamp Battery, so the
identification may safely be regarded as conclusive.
10-inch (300-pounder) Army Parrott rifle, Model of 1861
Nominal length: 156 inches.Rifling: 15-groove, right-hand twist.
Weight: 26,900 pounds. While established as an official pattern by U.S.
Navy Bureau of Ordnance, none was purchased by the Navy. Known
survivors: 13 Army
All Union Parrott rifles larger than 10-pounders had the Registry No.
duplicated on the right rimbase near the front sight hole to insure the
properly calibrated sight for that rifle was installed in the field.
The West Point foundry number was marked on the right rimbase as