Famous Opening Cannon of The Battle of Gettysburg, a 3-inch Ordnance Rifle

This 3-inch Ordnance Rifle is one of four guns of Battery A, 2nd U.S. Artillery that today stand at the base of the Buford monument at Gettysburg, on the spot where they fired the opening artillery salvo of that pivotal battle.

ARTILLERY PROFILE
  • Model: Standard 3-inch Ordnance Rifle
  • Type: Muzzleloading Rifled Gun
  • In Service With: Horse Battery A, 2nd U.S. Artillery, Cavalry Corps
  • Under Command of: Lieutenant John Calef
  • Purpose: Counter-battery, plus infantry & cavalry battlefield support
  • Invented By: John Griffen in 1855
  • Current Disposition: Mounted on stone base facing West at the John Buford Monument
  • Location: Chambersburg Pike, Gettysburg National Military Park, Pennsylvania
  • Map Coordinates: 39°50'16.5"N 77°15'05.9"W
MANUFACTURING
  • US Casting Foundry: Phoenix Iron Company, Phoenixville, Pennsylvania
  • Year of Manufacture: 1862
  • Tube Composition: Wrought iron
  • Muzzle Markings: TTSL No. 233 PICo. 1862 816 lbs.
  • Registry Number: No. 233
  • Foundry Number: 244 (Not visible)
  • Trunnion Markings: None Visible
  • U.S. Ordnance Inspector: (TTSL) Maj. Theodore T.S. Laidley
  • Purchase Price in 1862: $330.00 (US)
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Buford Monument, with 4 guns of Battery 'A', 2nd U.S.
Gettysburg NMP, ©Kendra, 2002


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Plaque Mounted on Opening Gun
Gettysburg NMP, ©Kendra, 2002


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Muzzle Detail, Opening Gun
Gettysburg NMP, ©Kendra, 2019

WEIGHTS & MEASURES
  • Bore Diameter: 3.0 inches
  • Bore Length: 65.0 inches, 21.6 bore diameters
  • Tube Length: 73 inches
  • Trunnion Diameter: 3.67 inches
  • Barrel Thickness: at Muzzle - 1.5 inches; at Vent - 2.355 inches
  • Tube Weight: 816 lbs.
  • Carriage Type: No. 1 Field Carriage (900 lbs.), 57" wheels
  • Total Weight (Gun & Carriage): 1716 lbs.
  • Horses Required to Pull: 6
  • No. of Crew to Serve: Typical - 9, 1 Gunner, 8 Numbered Crew Positions
PERFORMANCE
  • Max Rate of Fire: 2 rounds per minute
  • Rifling Type: 7 rifle grooves, right hand consistent twist (1 turn in 11')
  • Standard Powder Charge: 1 lbs. Cannon Grade Black Powder
  • 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
NOTES
The John Buford Statue can be found on the Chambersburg Pike in the Gettysburg National Battlefield Park. It stands facing westward toward the position of the advancing Rebel army position of July 1, 1863. When a design for the Buford statue was under discussion in 1888, John Calef, the commander of Horse Artillery Battery "A" under Buford's command, suggested that the design incorporate four Ordnance Rifles that were in the battery.​
Included in his suggestion was gun number 233, the same gun that fired the first Union artillery shot of the battle. The Army Chief of Ordnance tracked down all four guns and donated them to the monument design committee. During the dedication ceremony of the John Buford statue on July 1st, 1895, Major John Calef symbolically spiked all four tubes.​
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Muzzle Detail of all four guns at Buford Monument, including illuminated Rifling of Opening Gun
1862 no. 233 "Opening Gun" / 1862 No. 244 / 1863 No. 632 / 1864 No. 756
Gettysburg NMP, ©Kendra, 2019 (CLICK TO ENLARGE PHOTOS)
"OPENING GUN" PLAQUE TEXT
Bronze Plaque
THE FOUR CANNON GUARDING THE BASE OF THE STATUE
BELONGED TO
HORSE BATTERY "A" 2ND U.S. ARTILLERY
THIS PIECE WAS
THE OPENING GUN OF THE BATTLE
FIRED FROM THIS SPOT
UNDER THE PERSONAL DIRECTION OF GEN. BUFORD
JULY 1, 1863


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