FOR FURTHER READING
- Type: Muzzleloading Rifled Gun
- In Service With:
- United States Army - Marked "U.S."
- State of New Jersey - Marked "N.J."
- Purpose: Counter-battery & Support the infantry and cavalry forces in the field
- Invented By: John Griffen in 1855
- Patent: For Manufacturing Issued on December 25, 1855
- U.S. Patent No. 13,984
- Rarity: Common
- US Casting Foundry: Phoenix Iron Company, Phoenixville PA
- CS Casting Foundries: Tredegar Iron Works, Richmond VA
- (CS castings are called 3-inch Iron Field Rifles and are not true Ordnance Rifles)
- Years of Manufacture: 1861 to 1865
- Tube Composition: Wrought iron
- Muzzle Markings: U.S. Ordnance Inspector's Initials, Registry Number, Foundry Name, Year, Weight
- Trunnion Markings: Varies - Blank (Both) / Patent Information (Left) / Foundry Name (Right)
- Purchase Price in 1861: $330.00 (US)
- Purchase Price in 1865: $450.00 (US)
- The 1854 Griffin Gun, Type 1 Experimental (2.9 inch smoothbore)
- The 1861 Griffin Gun, Type 2 Experimental (3.5 inch rifled)
- Singer-Nimick & Co. of Pittsburg cast Steel versions of the Ordnance Rifle Pattern, weighing 834 lbs., in 1862
- There are known post-war breechloading conversion experiments of the Ordnance Rifle Pattern
- No. Purchased During the Civil War: 956
- No. of Surviving Pieces Today: 556+
- Special Notes: Lightest and strongest rifled tube of the Era. Sometimes incorrectly referred to as a Rodman gun.
- Bore Diameter: 3.0 inches
- Bore Length: 65.0 inches, 21.6 calibers
- Rifling Type: 7 rifle grooves, right hand consistent twist (1 turn in 11')
- Trunnion Diameter: 3.67 inches
- Barrel Thickness: at Muzzle - 1.5 inches; at Vent - 2.355 inches
- Tube Length: 73 inches
- Tube Weight: 816 lbs.
- Carriage Type: No. 1 Field Carriage (900 lbs.), 57" wheels
- Total Weight (Gun & Carriage): 1,720 lbs.
- Horses Required to Pull: 6
- No. of Crew to Serve: Typical - 9, 1 Gunner, 8 Numbered Crew Positions
- Could operate at a reduced rate with as few as 2 Crew
- Standard Powder Charge: 1 lbs. Cannon Grade Black Powder
- Projectiles Types: Hotchkiss, Schenkel, & Dyer projectiles are all suited to the rifling of this gun
- Projectiles Weights: 10 lb. Bolts, 8 to 9 lbs. Shells
- Typical Number of Projectiles Per Gun: 200 - Loaded in 4 - 50 Round / Mixed Ammo Chests
- 2 Limbers, each carrying a Chest; 1 to pull the Cannon, and 1 to pull the Caisson, which carried 2 additional Chests
- Rate of Fire: 2 rounds per minute
- Muzzle Velocity: 1,215 ft/sec.
- Effective Range (at 5°): using Case Shot...up to 1,850 yards (1.05 miles)
- Projectile Flight Time (at 5°): using Case Shot...6.5 seconds
- Max Range (at 16°): using Case Shot...4,180 yards (2.3 miles)
- Projectile Flight Time (at 16°): using Case Shot...17 seconds
Originally derived from experiments with an earlier design called the "Griffin Gun," named after its' designer, John Griffen, the Ordnance Rifle was manufactured at the Phoenix Iron Company in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. It was adopted by the Federal Ordnance Department in early 1861. The design of this rifle, soon a favorite with artillerists in both armies, is recognized by the complete absence of any discontinuities in the surface of the gun. It was also a major step forward in material, being made entirely of wrought iron.
To manufacture the Ordnance Rifle, strips of wrought iron were hammer-welded in crisscrossing spiral layers around a mandrel; this was then bored out and the finished product lathe turned into shape. Though time consuming and expensive to produce, the result was a singularly tough and accurate weapon. Less precise machining and lower-grade iron gave their Confederate counterparts more trouble.
While the Napoleon was the weapon of choice for short-range fighting, the Ordnance Rifle was valued for its long range accuracy. A one lb. charge of gunpowder could accurately propel a 10 lb. elongated shell a distance of 2,000 yards at only 5 degrees of elevation. Longer distances, but less accuracy, could be achieved with higher elevations. Artillerymen preferred this piece because it did not have the tendency to explode upon firing as cast iron cannon did. This gun is one-hundred pounds lighter than the 10-pdr. Parrott Rifle (800 lbs. to the Parrott's 900) which made it more mobile. For this reason, it was the preferred weapon of the fully mounted Horse Artillery.
The North produced more than 1,000 3-inch Ordnance Rifles during the war at a cost of about $350 each, and were considered prized captures by the South. While the Confederate states manufactured some Parrott rifles, they were unable to produce copies of the 3-inch Ordnance Rifle because they lacked the technology.
This gun is sometimes erroneously referred to as a "Rodman." The process used by Thomas Rodman in casting the Columbiads was not used in producing the wrought iron barrel of the Ordnance Rifle. As far as can be determined, Rodman had nothing to do with the design or production of this gun.
FOR FURTHER READING
- Civil War Artillery at Gettysburg, Cole, Philip M, Da Capo Press, New York, N.Y., 2002.
- Field Artillery Weapons of the Civil War, by Olmstead, Hazlett, & Parks, Univ of Delaware Press, 1988.
- Artillery and Ammunition of the Civil War, by Warren Ripley, Battery Press, 1984.