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Confederate Revolving Cannon

Discussion in 'Civil War Weapons and Ammunition' started by Barrycdog, Feb 7, 2014.

  1. Barrycdog

    Barrycdog Major

    Jan 6, 2013
    Buford, Georgia

    The Confederate Revolving Cannon was a weapon developed and used during the War Between The States. The weapon was designed somewhat like a revolver pistol, scaled up to the size of a cannon.

    Henry Clay Pate was a former attorney who, during the U.S. Civil War, organized a mounted company that was called Pate's Rangers or the Petersburg Rangers. The innovative Pate designed the revolving cannon, which he had cast at the Petersburg foundry in Petersburg, Va. This cannon was then made available to Pate's unit.

    The cannon saw use in the siege of Petersburg, Va. It was captured by Union troops at Danville, Va, on April 27, 1865. While innovative, the weapon did not play a significant role on the battlefield. After its capture, the cannon was sent to the Ordnance Laboratory, United States Military Academy, West Point, New York.
    Design and Features

    The revolving cannon was designed with the goal of increasing the fire rate of a cannon. The design was somewhat similar to that of a revolving pistol of the time, consisting of a cylinder which contained the rounds to be fired, with the rotation of the cylinder used to bring the round into position at the breech of a single barrel. The barrel had a two inch bore, and the cylinder held five rounds.

    The cylinders of the revolving cannon were fired using percussion caps. The cap was struck by a large spring-actuated striker.

    The cannon employed a screw mechanism which would push the cylinder forward when it was in position. This reduced the gap between the cylinder and the barrel, which significantly reduced gas leakage during firing.

    A lever attached to a ratcheting mechanism was used to rotate the cylinder. A spring loaded dog would slip into recesses in the cylinder, holding it in the correct position for firing.

    Note: William Austin Leyden of the 9th Battalion Georgia Artillery had a patentent for a revolving cannon too.

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  3. Dave Wilma

    Dave Wilma 2nd Lieutenant

    Aug 12, 2011
    Elliott Bay
    I saw this basic principle in a modern naval gun, Swedish design I think. The big limitation is the endurance of the barrel which would be prone to overheating and extreme wear.
    Barrycdog likes this.
  4. gary

    gary 1st Lieutenant

    Feb 20, 2005
    That cannon is now at the Siege Museum in Petersburg.
    Barrycdog likes this.
  5. Southron

    Southron Sergeant

    Dec 27, 2011
    I would LOVE to show up at a Nationals at Fort Shenandoah with a replica of that cannon. Bet the Artillery Inspection Committee would do a "double take" at it!!!
    jgoodguy likes this.
  6. RobertP

    RobertP Captain

    Nov 11, 2009
    on the long winding road
    How long would it take to reload that thing?
    Barrycdog likes this.
  7. 7th Mississippi Infantry

    7th Mississippi Infantry Major Forum Host

    Sep 28, 2013
  8. Story

    Story Corporal

    Aug 5, 2011
    SE PA
  9. William G Hendry

    William G Hendry Private

    Jan 4, 2017
    How many were made or is it a proto type , it would be a real killer.

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