Designation Rifled 6-Pounders

alan polk

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Jun 11, 2012
When I visit Civil War military parks, I often see markers indicating, for example, "two 6-pound guns served in this position." I know that many 6-pound smoothbore cannon were rifled during the war, but what were they referred to after they were rifled? Were they all called 6-pounders? One fired rifled shells and the other fired spherical balls so I would think they would be designated by different names. Does anyone here know? Thanks!
 

Frederick14Va

Sergeant Major
Joined
Oct 14, 2013
Location
Virginia
There were a host of former 6lb bronze guns (3.67in) that were rebored-rifled for the new James Shell... These more correctly should thereafter be known and designated by the new status as a "14lb James Rifle" (3.80in) . However the exterior appearance of the gun still looks like a bronze 6lbr... Not until you look into the bore and see the very slightly larger bore and rifling present that one can discover what it actually is... Even though its proper designation should be a "14lb James Rifle", you still may find references calling it by default a "Rifled 6lbr" for obvious reasons.....
 

alan polk

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Jun 11, 2012
There were a host of former 6lb bronze guns (3.67in) that were rebored-rifled for the new James Shell... These more correctly should thereafter be known and designated by the new status as a "14lb James Rifle" (3.80in) . However the exterior appearance of the gun still looks like a bronze 6lbr... Not until you look into the bore and see the very slightly larger bore and rifling present that one can discover what it actually is... Even though its proper designation should be a "14lb James Rifle", you still may find references calling it by default a "Rifled 6lbr" for obvious reasons.....
Okay, that is good information. I thought that a 6-pound rifled smooth bore would still maintain a bore diameter of 3.67". Were not some ACW projectiles for rifled cannon made at 3.67" diameter? If so, which rifled cannons fire a 3.67" projectile?
 

redbob

Major
Regtl. Staff Shiloh 2020
Joined
Feb 18, 2013
Location
Hoover, Alabama
Some guns were reamed out to make a larger bore and some were just rifled without having their bores enlarged. These operations were much easier on bronze guns than on iron ones and the rifleing on the bronze guns tended to wear out (with the resulting loss of accuracy) much quicker.

To muddy the waters even further, a rifled 3.67" gun would fire what is designated a 20# projectile and there were a number of manufacturers who made shells of this size. The ball diameter for a 6# gun is 3.58".
 
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Frederick14Va

Sergeant Major
Joined
Oct 14, 2013
Location
Virginia
Okay, that is good information. I thought that a 6-pound rifled smooth bore would still maintain a bore diameter of 3.67". Were not some ACW projectiles for rifled cannon made at 3.67" diameter? If so, which rifled cannons fire a 3.67" projectile?

The 20lb Parrott Rifle also had a 3.67 bore, but different animal and generally different type of shells used.

The James Rifles in its various calibers didn't last too long... they were basically a temporary fix to provide longer range siege guns into the inventory... mostly utilizing existing smoothbore guns that could be altered... later ordinance came about in short order that were better suited than the James... and were mostly replaced in the field..
 
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alan polk

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Jun 11, 2012
Guys, thanks so much! Let me see if I'm on the right track. For instance, the 1st Indiana light artillery is listed as having at Vicksburg 4 James rifles and two 6-pounders. Now, from this could I safely assume that the 6-pounders were smooth bore and not rifled but that the James guns were 14 pounder rifled smoothbores?
 

redbob

Major
Regtl. Staff Shiloh 2020
Joined
Feb 18, 2013
Location
Hoover, Alabama
Guys, thanks so much! Let me see if I'm on the right track. For instance, the 1st Indiana light artillery is listed as having at Vicksburg 4 James rifles and two 6-pounders. Now, from this could I safely assume that the 6-pounders were smooth bore and not rifled but that the James guns were 14 pounder rifled smoothbores?
I believe that you can, even at that later time; batteries in the Western theatre still often had a mixture of guns assigned to them. Also, James guns were very unpopular in that the James shells/bolts tended to throw their lead sabots off as soon as they were fired, endangering any troops (friendly or otherwise) that happened to be nearby. By 1863 Lee had ordered all bronze 6# guns in the ANV be returned to the arsenals where they were to be melted down and recast as 12#ers.
 
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Frederick14Va

Sergeant Major
Joined
Oct 14, 2013
Location
Virginia
However the 6lbrs didn't disappear... they could still be found amongst troops in secondary and garrison locations... and on occasion used in action.... Spring-Summer of 1864 noted a bunch of them still in use... Southside Va, Bermuda Hundred, early parts of Petersburg... etc... have dug plenty of 6lb shot and shells
 
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