''Parrot'' Rifled Gun

  • American Civil War
  • 2 mins

By Crusader1307

With the onset of The American Civil War (1861-1865), military technology reached new heights (and lows). Often the technology outmatched the tactics of the day. This would cause many more casualties than the traditional "Napoleonic Tactics" taught and used. One such weapon was The Parrott Rifled Gun. Invented by Army Captain Robert Parrott, he had resigned from The US Military Academy at West Point to manage The West Point Foundry. Using then current technology and his own design modifications, he developed The Parrott around 1860 (just in time for use in The Civil War). Made from a brass and cast  wrought-iron composite, The Parrott was supposed to have a much robust barrel.

 

Early tests showed stress fractures due to the large powder charges. Parrott developed a large iron band to be placed around the breech of the barrel. This simple innovation would strengthen the barrel (and also give The Parrott it's characteristic large backside). The Gun ran the range from 10-pound to the rare (and limited number made), 300-pound versions. The 300-pound Parrot was designed for use against the captured Union Fort Sumter (which was the site of the first shots of the war). Used on ships, the 300-pounder Guns would reduce Sumter to rubble by the end of the war. The standard Parrott field piece (24-pounder), had an 1,800 pound barrel weight. This easily made it the heaviest of US field pieces during the war. The maximum effective range of the 24-pounder was roughly 3,000 yards.

 

Both Union and Confederate forces deployed Parrott Guns. A standard Naval version was developed featuring a 100-pound shot capable of 4,400 yards. One of the most famous of The Parrott Guns was "The Swamp Angel". Used in the Siege of Charleston, South Carolina (US), this gun was very effective at destroying the City. The Swamp Angel survived the war and is on display at Trenton, New Jersey (US). All told though, many Artillerist's disliked The Parrott. Consistent firing without proper cooling would still damage the barrel (causing bursting). Barrels therefore needed to be replaced more often. After the war, The Parrott Guns were discontinued from service.