Rifled Guns

One of the 32-pounders at Fort Fisher after the fort's bombardment and eventual capture. Note how the carriage has been set up so that it can be moved easily from side to side. (Library of Congress)

The U.S. Army's M 1:861 4.5-inch siege rifle and the M1862 4.62-inch siege rifle were 12-pounder weapons that saw Wide use on both sides. The U.S. Army also developed its M1861 4.5-inch siege rifle, a weapon that looked much ¬°ike a 3-inch Ordnance Rifle hut was made of cast, not wrought, iron. One Union artillery expert later reported that: "The two siege batteries of 4.5-inch ordnance guns which accompanied the Army of the Potomac in all its movements from Fredericksburg were of great use from their superior range and accuracy, in silencing troublesome field batteries and in other field service and could be moved with the reserve artillery without impeding ihe march of the army ..." The weapon, using a 3.25-pound charge behind a 25.5-pound patent Dyer shell at 10' elevation, had a range of some 3,265 yards. The 30-pound Hotchkiss or Schenkl projectiles were the most commonly used ammunition for this piece.

Confederate officials also produced similar iron siege rifles, with the Tredegar Iron Works in Richmond casting ii.s first 8-inch rifle in June,

1861, its first 9-inch rifle that July, its first 10-inch rifle and its first 32-pounder rifle that November, atid its first 4.62-inch rifle in December,


On August 30, 1863 Confederate Major Edward Manigault, on the defenses of Charleston, noted: "Late this afternoon Received at Battery Haskett one 4.62 in. Rifle Siege Gun. Weight 5,750 lbs. Marked B.l7. [Bellona Foundry] J.I ..A. [Junius 1.. Archer, foundry owner] 1862. Band [reinforcing band over the breech] 19 in. long x 2 in. thick. Gun & Carriage look new. Siege Carriage." This was but one of several such guns Manigault's defenses owned, and they were his favorite guns. For example, he wrote on September 4, 1863, that: "The 4.62 Rifle is by far the most accurate and reliable one we have ..." Bellona does not appear to have produced Brooke rifles, so this weapon is likely to be a copy of the earlier I '.S. Army 4.62-inch siege rifle.

As far as capabilities, he noted on August 20, 1883: "Fired 20 Shots from 4.62 in. Rifle Siege Gun twelve of which were directed to Morris Island and eight at the Mud Battery in the Marsh S.E. from l.egare's

Point. With 3 pnd. Charge of powder the 4.62 in. Rifle required about 20" Elevation to reach Morris Island and 10 /? deg. to reach Mud Fort in Marsh."

As with any large guns, mishaps could happen with the 4.62-inch siege rifle. On August 22, 1863, Manigault recorded: "At 2:20 P.M. the 4.62 in Rille Siege Gun on Platform No. I burst. The breech was blown out without any other damage being done. The Bands were neit her broken nor

Artillery Damage Photos

thrown off and the rear one Only somewhat loosened." Generally, however, the guns were durable. I le recorded that on August 30, 1863: "Up to 3 P.M. today the 4.62 Rifle has been fired 155 times and the vent is much enlarged and somewhat ragged on the outside,"

Charles T.James, a U.S. senator before the war, designed a system of rifling bronze smoothbore guns, as well as a totally unique 14-pounder bronze (a few of steel) iifle for the U.S.

Army. These largely date from 1801 - 62, die year in which James was killed in an accident involving one of his experimental guns. James rifles in 24-, 32-, and 42-poundcr sizes were used by Union forces, including those that took Fori Pulaski, where they were considered highly ellective. In appearance they were smoothly tapered tubes that resembled 3-inch Ordnance Rilles.

Water Battery For Forts
A row of columbtads at the Confederate water battery of Fort Johnson in Charleston Harbor. Damage to the near carriage seems to have been deliberate. (Library of Congress)

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