Hvy.Arty 30 pdr. "Army" Parrott Rifle


The 30 pdr. Parrott saw service as early as the First Battle of Manassas. A Union 30 pdr. Parrott with Company G, 1st U.S. Artillery fired the opening shot of the battle. The gun was given the nickname "Long Tom" by it's loving crew. Due to the difficulties of moving such a large gun quickly, the gun position was overrun by Confederates. The gun served the South for the remainder of it's lifetime.

ARTILLERY PROFILE
  • Type: Rifled Siege Gun
  • In Service With:
    • U.S. Army
    • C.S. Army (Copies & Captured Pieces)
  • Purpose: Reducing Fortifications, Siege Operations
  • Invented By: Robert Parker Parrott in 1861
  • Rarity (Field): Rare
  • Rarity (Siege and Fortification): Common
MANUFACTURING


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Captain Shaw, 3rd Regiment, Battery Wagner
2nd Battle of Ft. Wagner Morris Island, SC, Haas & Peale, 1863.


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Two 30-pdr. Parrotts and stacks of shells inside Fort Putnam
Morris Island, SC, during the Campaign against Charleston Harbor.

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Ranges of Parrott Guns, and Notes for Practice
by R.P.Parrott, 1863


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Vicksburg NMP, ©Rusk County Avengers, 2019
Muzzle Detail Below


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West Point Foundry, Registry #353, Foundry #229
Cast in 1864, Weight 4150 lbs., Inspector RMH
©Rusk County Avengers, 2019


  • US Casting Foundry: West Point Foundry, Cold Spring, NY
  • CS Casting Foundries: Tredegar Iron Works, Richmond, VA
  • Years of Manufacture: Between 1861 and 1866
  • Tube Composition: Cast Iron, Wrought Iron Breech Band
  • Purchase Price in 1861: $520.00 (US)
  • No. Purchased During the Civil War: 391
  • No. of Surviving Pieces Today: ???
  • Variants: The "Navy" version is shorter & lighter, the bore is only 96.8" long
WEIGHTS & MEASURES
  • Bore Diameter: 4.2 inches
  • Tube Length: 131.5 inches
  • Tube Weight: 4,200 lbs. (2.1 tons)
  • Rifling Type: 5 grooves, 1.3 inches wide, right hand gain twist, 1 turn in 24'
  • Carriage Type: No. 2 Siege Carriage (2,300 lbs.)
  • Total Weight (Gun & Carriage): 6,500 lbs. (3.25 tons)
  • Horses Required to Pull: 10
  • No. of Crew to Serve: 9
AMMUNITION
  • Standard Powder Charge: 3¼ lbs. Cannon Grade Black Powder
  • Projectile Weights: 24 lb. Bolts, 24 to 29 lb. Shells
PERFORMANCE
  • Rate of Fire: 1 round per minute
  • Muzzle Velocity: 1,155 ft/sec.
  • Effective Range (at 15°): Using a shell... up to 4,800 yards (2.7 miles)
  • Projectile Flight Time (at 15°):Using a shell... 17⅝ seconds
  • Max Effective Range (at 25°): Using a shell... up to 6,700 yards (3.8 miles)
  • Projectile Flight Time (at 25°): Using a shell... 27 seconds
  • Max Range (at 35°): Using a bolt... 8,453 yards (4.8 miles)
NOTES
The 4.2-inch (30-pounder) rifles were the most widely used of the Parrott siege guns. It was mounted on a conventional siege carriage. The early pattern guns had the elevating screw under the breech, while newer pattern gun had a long screw running through the cascabel. The long elevating screws of the newer models was subject to breaking (Abbot 1867, p. 90).​
The 4.2-inch Parrott rifles were preferred over the 4.5-inch siege rifles by some gunners because of the superiority of Parrott shells over the various shells available for the 4.5-inch siege rifle.​
Union 30 pdr. Parrott rifles did not have as many severe problems with bursting as was commonly found with larger Parrott rifles, however Tredegar's 30 pdr. Parrott copies were not nearly as reliable.​
At Fredericksburg, the effect of two Confederate Tredegar 30 pdr. Parrotts was devastating to Union attackers, but both guns burst during the battle, one on the thirty-ninth round, the other on the fifty-fourth round. Lee, Longstreet, and other high officers were standing near one of the cannon when it exploded, but miraculously all escaped injury. (Charles B. Dew, Ironmaker to the Confederacy: Joseph R. Anderson and the Tredegar Iron Works, Richmond: Library of Virginia, 1999, p. 187)​
During the siege of Petersburg 44 Union 4.2-inch Parrott rifles fired 12,209 rounds. Only one gun burst when a shell detonated before clearing the muzzle. One 4.2-inch Parrott rifle also burst during the campaign against Charleston harbor, but only after it had fired 4,606 rounds (Abbot, Henry L., Siege artillery in the Campaigns Against Richmond, with Notes on the 15-inch Gun, Including an Algebraic Analysis of the Trajectory of a Shot in its Ricochets Upon Smooth Water, Washington, D.C., 1867, p. 87,160,170).​

FOR FURTHER READING
ASSOCIATED LINKS
 
Last edited:

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
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NPS Photo. Living History volunteers fire a 30 pound Parrott at Fort Pulaski

Confederate occupiers of Fort Pulaski, at the mouth of the Savannah River, were on the receiving end of 30 pound Parrott solid bolts during the opening days of the Civil War. The defenders had laughed out loud at those pathetic Yankees putting up artillery positions way out of range of smoothbore cannon. The first solid bolt fired from a 30 pound rifle smacked into the masonry that Robert E. Lee had supervised the laying of with a thump, sending a shower of broken brick raining into the moat.

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There was nothing for the defenders to do but keep their heads down until a breech was formed & they could surrender with honor.

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The corner of the fort where the breach occurred was rebuilt with brick without the embrasures for lower tier cannon. The Immortal 600 spent a miserable few months caged up in that corner of the fort.

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The fort is a National Park. https://www.nps.gov/fpu/index.htm is the link to information to visiting Fort Pulaski. If you look carefully at the base of the wall on the far side of the upper tier, there is the impression of the blunt nose of a 30 pound solid bolt. I have fired a couple of thousand demo rounds from Civil War cannon, gotta say that the 30 pound demo inside Pulaski is in a class by itself.

Photos of the fort by the author.
 
Last edited:

Belfoured

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019

The 30 pdr. Parrott saw service as early as the First Battle of Manassas. A Union 30 pdr. Parrott with Company G, 1st U.S. Artillery fired the opening shot of the battle. The gun was given the nickname "Long Tom" by it's loving crew. Due to the difficulties of moving such a large gun quickly, the gun position was overrun by Confederates. The gun served the South for the remainder of it's lifetime.

ARTILLERY PROFILE
  • In Service With:
    • U.S. Army
    • C.S. Army (Copies & Captured Pieces)
  • Type: Rifled Siege Gun
  • Purpose: Reducing Fortifications, Siege Operations
  • Invented By: Robert Parker Parrott in 1861
  • Patent:
  • Years of Manufacture: Between 1861 and 1866
  • Tube Composition: Cast Iron, Wrought Iron Breech Band
  • Bore Diameter: 4.2 inches
  • Rarity (Field): Rare
  • Rarity (Siege and Fortification): Common
PERFORMANCE
View attachment 338436
Ranges of Parrott Guns, and Notes for Practice
by R.P.Parrott, 1863

View attachment 338469
Captain Shaw, 3rd Regiment, Battery Wagner
2nd Battle of Ft. Wagner Morris Island, SC, Haas & Peale, 1863.


View attachment 338470
Two 30-pdr. Parrotts and stacks of shells inside Fort Putnam
Morris Island, SC, during the Campaign against Charleston Harbor.

View attachment 338745
Vicksburg NMP, ©Rusk County Avengers, 2019
Muzzle Detail Below


View attachment 338746
West Point Foundry, Registry #353, Foundry #229
Cast in 1864, Weight 4150 lbs., Inspector RMH
©Rusk County Avengers, 2019


  • Rate of Fire: 1 round per minute
  • Rifling Type: 5 grooves, 1.3 inches wide, right hand gain twist, 1 turn in 24'
  • Standard Powder Charge: 3¼ lbs. Cannon Grade Black Powder
  • Muzzle Velocity: 1,155 ft/sec.
  • Effective Range (at 15°): Using a shell... up to 4,800 yards (2.7 miles)
  • Projectile Flight Time (at 15°):Using a shell... 17⅝ seconds
  • Max Effective Range (at 25°): Using a shell... up to 6,700 yards (3.8 miles)
  • Projectile Flight Time (at 25°): Using a shell... 27 seconds
  • Max Range (at 35°): Using a bolt... 8,453 yards (4.8 miles)
  • Projectiles: 24 lb. Bolts, 24 to 29 lb. Shells
WEIGHTS & MEASURES
  • Tube Length: 131.5 inches
  • Tube Weight: 4,200 lbs. (2.1 tons)
  • Carriage Type: No. 2 Siege Carriage (2,300 lbs.)
  • Total Weight (Gun & Carriage): 6,500 lbs. (3.25 tons)
  • Horses Required to Pull: 10
  • No. of Crew to Serve: 9
  • No. in North America from 1861 to 1865: 391
    • No. of Original Pieces You Can See in the Field Today: ???
  • Cost in 1861 Dollars: $520.00
MANUFACTURING
  • US Casting Foundry: West Point Foundry, Cold Spring, NY
  • CS Casting Foundries: Tredegar Iron Works, Richmond, VA
  • Variants: The "Navy" version is shorter & lighter, the bore is only 96.8" long
  • Special Notes:
The 4.2-inch (30-pounder) rifles were the most widely used of the Parrott siege guns. It was mounted on a conventional siege carriage. The early pattern guns had the elevating screw under the breech, while newer pattern gun had a long screw running through the cascabel. The long elevating screws of the newer models was subject to breaking (Abbot 1867, p. 90).​
The 4.2-inch Parrott rifles were preferred over the 4.5-inch siege rifles by some gunners because of the superiority of Parrott shells over the various shells available for the 4.5-inch siege rifle.​
Union 30 pdr. Parrott rifles did not have as many severe problems with bursting as was commonly found with larger Parrott rifles, however Tredegar's 30 pdr. Parrott copies were not nearly as reliable.​
At Fredericksburg, the effect of two Confederate Tredegar 30 pdr. Parrotts was devastating to Union attackers, but both guns burst during the battle, one on the thirty-ninth round, the other on the fifty-fourth round. Lee, Longstreet, and other high officers were standing near one of the cannon when it exploded, but miraculously all escaped injury. (Charles B. Dew, Ironmaker to the Confederacy: Joseph R. Anderson and the Tredegar Iron Works, Richmond: Library of Virginia, 1999, p. 187)​
During the siege of Petersburg 44 Union 4.2-inch Parrott rifles fired 12,209 rounds. Only one gun burst when a shell detonated before clearing the muzzle. One 4.2-inch Parrott rifle also burst during the campaign against Charleston harbor, but only after it had fired 4,606 rounds (Abbot, Henry L., Siege artillery in the Campaigns Against Richmond, with Notes on the 15-inch Gun, Including an Algebraic Analysis of the Trajectory of a Shot in its Ricochets Upon Smooth Water, Washington, D.C., 1867, p. 87,160,170).​

FOR FURTHER READING
ASSOCIATED LINKS
https://markerhunter.wordpress.com/2010/06/25/30-pdr-army-parrott-rifle/https://markerhunter.wordpress.com/2012/12/05/30-pdr-parrotts-fredericksburg/
I see that the 30 lb went to 5 grooves, as did the 20 lb - distinct from the 10 lb's three grooves. Are you aware of any sources detailing the reason? I assume it has something to do with the weight of the bolt and not its dimensions (since the 20 lb's bore was 3.67" - not that much larger than the 10 lb's 2.9"/3") - but don't know.
 

CivilWarTalk

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I see that the 30 lb went to 5 grooves, as did the 20 lb - distinct from the 10 lb's three grooves. Are you aware of any sources detailing the reason? I assume it has something to do with the weight of the bolt and not its dimensions (since the 20 lb's bore was 3.67" - not that much larger than the 10 lb's 2.9"/3") - but don't know.
All my research on Parrott points to the idea that he was a secretive guy, there isn't much written about the Parrott's from the factory that he didn't write with the purpose of publishing, and I'm not sure if he had a policy of keeping his research secret because of the war, or because he was protecting his Patents, or what.

Parrott did do a lot of experimenting prior to the war, years and years. So one might imagine that he learned all sorts of tricks to making the guns fire more reliably and accurately.

I do remember a paper written by, I believe, Blakely, stating that Parrotts system had used a 50/50 system of lands and grooves, and I think there was some formula he extrapolated from Parrott's designs? I will have to look for that again.... See exactly what it related to.
 

James N.

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I was surprised to learn the Confederates had one at Fredericksburg in December, 1862, represented by the piece above near Lee's Hill. Another beauty is this one at Parker's Crossroads, Tennessee where one never was until recently:

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Another pair of them guard the monument denoting Grant's Headquarters at Savannah, Tennessee during the Shiloh Campaign:

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