20-pounder Parrott rifle

From July 1-3, 1863, the Confederate army's advance northward, led by Robert E. Lee, ended in the bloody Battle of Gettysburg in eastern Pennsylvania. Often described as the turning point of the American Civil War, the battle 150 years ago this week resulted in the largest number of casualties in a devastating conflict that all told, in its four-year span, spelled death for 750,000 men in the Union and Confederate forces combined.

The weapons of the time were brutal, and the elementary understanding of medicine and surgical techniques meant that the conditions of the injured frequently deteriorated rapidly.

The 20-pounder Parrott rifle was one of the heaviest field artillery pieces of the American Civil War and a staple of battles. Widely used by both sides, it was highly accurate, cheap to make, and easy to operate.But there was a costly trade-off: the cast-iron Parrotts were prone to bursting and killing and injuring the artillerymen using them.
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Photo by: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division / Caption by:

4.5-inch siege rifles

The 4.5-inch siege rifles were another effective siege and garrison gun, used widely in Union artillery batteries. Many commanders considered these easy-to-transport guns superior to the 20-pounder Parrott because of their even greater range and accuracy.

Here we see three 4.5-inch siege rifles of the 1st Connecticut Battery at Stafford Heights, on the banks of the Rappahannock River overlooking the town of Fredericksburg, Va. These rifles are pictured in their traveling positions, with implements loaded.
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Photo by: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division / Caption by:

Napoleons

Here, a soldier guards a row of Napoleon gun-howitzers, one of the most common and deadly field pieces of the American Civil War. Developed under the auspices of Louis Napoleon of France, it first appeared in the American artillery in 1857. The smooth-bore Napoleon fired a 12.3-pound projectile and had a maximum effective range of about 1,600 yards.
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Photo by: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division / Caption by:

8-inch Parrot rifle

At Battery Hays on Morris Island, S.C., an 8-inch Parrot rifle is seen dismounted from its position.
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Photo by: Haas & Peale / Caption by:

200- and 500-pounder rifled guns

This is Federal Battery No. 1 at Farenhold house, York River, Va., where we see the 200-pounder and 500-pounder rifled guns.
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Photo by: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division / Caption by:

Muzzle burst

This 300-pounder Parrot Rifle was damaged by a muzzle burst during firing.
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Photo by: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division / Caption by:

Federal ordnance

This photograph shows Federal ordnance and guns at the depot in Broadway Landing, Va., during the siege of Petersburg in 1865.
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Photo by: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division / Caption by:

Ordnance and wagon wheels

Another view of the Federal ordnance stockpiled at the depot in Broadway Landing.
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Photo by: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division / Caption by:

The 'Dictator'

The "Dictator,", a seige weapon, weighed in at 17,120 lbs., and was made portable for limited field use during the siege of Petersburg, Va., by being mounted on a railroad car.
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Photo by: David Knox/Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division / Caption by:

Battery Rodgers

In the vicinity of Alexandria, Va., Battery Rodgers was erected in 1863, overlooking the Potomac River near Jones Point. A 15-inch Rodman gun is seen on the left, and a 200-pounder Parrott rifle is mounted on the right in this doubled image for a stereoscope viewer.
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Photo by: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division / Caption by:

Union volunteer

An unidentified Union volunteer is seen here in a photographer's studio with his shouldered rifle with fixed bayonet.
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Photo by: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division / Caption by:

Soldier in Union uniform

An unidentified soldier in Union uniform poses with three Remington revolvers, two Bowie knives, and a Springfield rifle musket, one of the most reliable infantry weapons of the war.
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Photo by: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division / Caption by:

Soldier in Confederate uniform

An unidentified soldier in Confederate uniform poses with his D-Guard Bowie knife and Colt revolving rifle.
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Photo by: Library of Congress / Caption by:

Battery Rosecrans

This photograph shows Battery Rosecrans at Morris Island, S.C., where three 100-pounder Parrot rifles are mounted.
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Photo by: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division / Caption by:

Parrott gun and Rodman gun

An 8-inch Parrott gun is seen here in the foreground with a Rodman gun beyond in the Alexandria, Va., Battery Rodgers at Hunting Creek and the Potomac.
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Photo by: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division / Caption by:

Dahlgren gun aboard USS Pawnee

Rear Admiral John A. Dahlgren standing by a Dahlgren gun on deck of USS Pawnee in Charleston Harbor, S.C.
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Photo by: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division / Caption by:

Blakely guns and ammunition

Blakely guns and ammunition in the arsenal yard in Charleston, S.C.
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Photo by: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division / Caption by:

Fort Totten

Officers of Companies A and B, 3d Massachusetts Heavy Artillery, and crew of a 100-pounder Parrott gun on the iron barbette carriage, which helped to reduce recoil force, at Fort Totten in Washington, D.C.
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Photo by: William Morris Smith, Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division / Caption by:

The 'Lincoln Gun'

The "Lincoln Gun," a 15-inch Rodman Columbiad at Fort Monroe, Va. The gun's barrel alone weighed 49,000 pounds. Two types of ammunition were fired from this weapon -- a 450-pound solid shot, and a 330-pound explosive shell carrying a 17-pound bursting charge.
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Photo by: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division / Caption by:

The 'Beauregard' gun

The "Beauregard" gun, named for General Pierre G.T. Beauregard, is seen here mounted at Fort Pulaski, Ga.
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Photo by: Timothy H. O'Sullivan/ Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division / Caption by:

Battery of 100-pounder Parrott guns

A battery of 100-pounder Parrott guns inside Fort Putnam at Morris Island, S.C.
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Photo by: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division / Caption by:

12-pounder howitzer gun

At the Peninsula in Virginia, a 12-pounder howitzer gun is seen after being captured by Butterfield's Brigade near Hanover Court House on May 27, 1862.
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Photo by: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division / Caption by:

Light Brooke rifle

A light Brooke rifle, a 3-inch gun, is seen here in Richmond, Va.
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Photo by: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division / Caption by:
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