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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.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division
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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.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division
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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.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division
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8-inch Parrot rifle

At Battery Hays on Morris Island, S.C., an 8-inch Parrot rifle is seen dismounted from its position.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Haas & Peale
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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.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division
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Muzzle burst

This 300-pounder Parrot Rifle was damaged by a muzzle burst during firing.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division
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Federal ordnance

This photograph shows Federal ordnance and guns at the depot in Broadway Landing, Va., during the siege of Petersburg in 1865.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division
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Ordnance and wagon wheels

Another view of the Federal ordnance stockpiled at the depot in Broadway Landing.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division
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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.

Updated:Caption:Photo:David Knox/Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division
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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.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division
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Union volunteer

An unidentified Union volunteer is seen here in a photographer's studio with his shouldered rifle with fixed bayonet.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division
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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.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division
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Soldier in Confederate uniform

An unidentified soldier in Confederate uniform poses with his D-Guard Bowie knife and Colt revolving rifle.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Library of Congress
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Battery Rosecrans

This photograph shows Battery Rosecrans at Morris Island, S.C., where three 100-pounder Parrot rifles are mounted.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division
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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.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division
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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.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division
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Blakely guns and ammunition

Blakely guns and ammunition in the arsenal yard in Charleston, S.C.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division
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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.

Updated:Caption:Photo:William Morris Smith, Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division
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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.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division
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The 'Beauregard' gun

The "Beauregard" gun, named for General Pierre G.T. Beauregard, is seen here mounted at Fort Pulaski, Ga.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Timothy H. O'Sullivan/ Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division
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Battery of 100-pounder Parrott guns

A battery of 100-pounder Parrott guns inside Fort Putnam at Morris Island, S.C.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division
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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.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division
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Light Brooke rifle

A light Brooke rifle, a 3-inch gun, is seen here in Richmond, Va.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division
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