James Rifles, Part III – The Type 2

Of the types identified as James Rifles, the most familiar is what some historians have come to call the Type 2.   The James Rifle, Type 2 has the same 3.80-inch bore of the other “true James Rifles.”  However what differentiated the type from the Type 1 was the exterior form – that of the “Ordnance shape” matching that defined in 1861.  The shape offered sweeping, easy lines, with no breech or chase ring.  The only right angle allowed on the form was where the trunnions joined the rimbases.   Otherwise the look was what we’d call today “streamlined.”

James Rifle, Type 2, Series 4
James Rifle, Type 2, Series 4

Seen here is Registry Number 21, produced in 1861 by Ames Manufacturing.  Today it represents Stone’s Battery (Bty K, 1st Missouri Lt. Arty.) along with three other guns along Grant’s Last Line at Shiloh National Military Park.  Clearly the form resembled a bronze version of the 3-inch Ordnance Rifle.  Just slightly larger.  For comparison consider the dimensions of the James Type 1, 3-inch Ordnance Rifle, the James Type 2, and the 4.5-inch Siege Rifle:

James Type 1 3-in Ord. Rifle James Type 2 4.5-in Rifle
Bore 3.8 in. 3 in. 3.8 in. 4.5 in.
Length Overall 65.6 in. 72.7 in. 74 in. 133 in.
Length of Bore 57.5 in. 62.75 in. 65 in. 120 in.
Muzzle Diameter (exterior) 18.17 in. * 6 in. 6.38 in. 9 in.
Diameter at Vent (Exterior) 9.8 in. 9.5 in. 9.9 in. 16 in.
Trunion Diameter 3.67 in. 3.67 in. 3.67 in. 5.3 in.
Metal Bronze Iron Bronze Iron
Weight 880 lbs. 820 lbs. 917 lbs. 3,572 lbs.
*Dimensions around Muzzle Swell

In short, the James Type 2 was about eight inches longer than the Type 1 (which used the Model 1841 form), but only slightly larger than the 3-inch Ordinance Rifle.  And the next notch up on the caliber scale, the 4.5-inch Rifle, was much more massive.

As indicated on the caption from the photo above, the James Type 2 is sub-classed by historians in four different series.  These series, like the type designations for the James Rifles, are purely the discriminators placed upon the surviving weapons found today, and do not match any known design or production designations.

The James Rifle Type 2, Series 1 differs from the later variants by having seven-groove rifling.  The reason for the number of grooves might have been simply to conform with the 3-inch rifle specifications (see page 17 of the 1861 Ordnance Manual).   No firm records exist as to the number manufactured, but based on registry numbers, likely only six were produced.  Of the five survivors, three are at Shiloh National Military Park.  One of these, on display at the visitor center.

James Rifle Type 2, Series 1 (center)
James Rifle Type 2, Series 1 (center)

A rather neat triangle of markings, over the reinforce between the vent and trunnions, identifies the piece and its origins.  These read “James Rifled Cannon // Manufactured by // Ames Mfg. Co. // Chicopee // Mass.”  :

James Type 2, Series 1 Markings
James Type 2, Series 1 Markings

Also visible on this particular gun, just above the triangle are inscriptions indicating the weapon was captured by the 4th U.S. Infantry at Corinth, October 4, 1862.

The manufacturer’s information is repeated on the right trunnion; and the year of manufacture – 1861 on the left.  The inspector’s initials, G.T.B. for George Thatcher Balch, appears on the muzzle.  Of note, ALL James Type 2 rifles were produced by Ames Manufacturing.   And all that have inspectors initials (a few do not or are worn too badly to identify) bear those of Lt. Balch.

However, outside of these first six pieces, the remainder of the Type 2 rifles used 10-groove rifling.  No records indicate exactly why, but one possible explanation was the inability of the projectile to seat in the wide rifling.  What historians have labeled the Type 2, Series 2 continued to use the “triangle” markings over the back part of the gun.  But these lack any acceptance marks such as the inspectors initials or “U.S.” stamps.

10-groove Rifling of Series 2
10-groove Rifling of Series 2

Only six survivors of fitting this “strict” description have been found.  Either the batch was a set of pre-production prototypes, or perhaps was a set not handled within the standard Army orders.  All six are on display at Shiloh.  One of these represents Mann’s Battery (Battery C, 1st Missouri Lt. Arty.) in the Peach Orchard, which was the unit’s second position of April 6, 1862..

James Type 2, Series 2
James Type 2, Series 2

The triangle of markings is clear, in spite of the patina:

Type 2, Series 2 "Triangle"
Type 2, Series 2 “Triangle”

The weight is recorded with a small stamping under the knob, which is standard for all but the last series of Type 2 guns.

Weight Markings - 918
Weight Markings – 920

Regardless of the reason for the switch to ten groove rifling, the remaining batches conformed to that standard.  In fact the only difference between the Series 3 and 4 was the markings.  Those for the Series 3 conform to the Regulations of 1840, while those of Series 4 conform to Regulations of 1861.    The former called for the registry number and inspectors initials on the muzzle face; manufacturer’s name on the right trunnion; year of manufacture on the left trunnion; the weight under the knob; and “U.S.” between the trunnions as an acceptance mark.  Those of the later regulation placed all markings on the muzzle face, with the exception of the “U.S.” acceptance mark.

Located at Mann’s Battery’s third position, this time along Grant’s Last Line, at Shiloh, is one of the park’s five Type 2, Series 3.  And to conform with the regulations, G.T.B., for the inspector, appears at the top, with the registry number at the bottom (either a 13 or 18).

Muzzle of a Type 2, Series 3
Muzzle of a Type 2, Series 3

Eighteen of this type have been located today, perhaps indicating a short production run.  Four of these survivors carry markings for the State of Connecticut, two which stand today on Matthews Hill in the Manassas National Battlefield Park.

State of Connecticut Markings
State of Connecticut Markings

By far the most numerous of the James Type 2 was the Series 4, with over eighty produced.  The Series enjoyed remarkable survival rates, with over fifty existing today.  With all the markings on the muzzle, these are easy to identify.

Type 2, Series 4 Muzzle
Type 2, Series 4 Muzzle

This piece is one of a pair representing Richardson’s Battery (Battery D, 1st Missouri Lt. Arty.) along Grant’s Last Line, again at Shiloh.  Clear are the stamps for “1862,” “A.M.C” for Ames Manufacturing Company, “G.T.B.,” “911” for the weight, and “No. 46.”

All of these James Type 2 used a standard sighting system.  The front sight was a blade type, fixed to the muzzle.  On the breech, a slot for a tangent sight passed under the knob.  This sight was fixed with a screw passing vertically into the slot.

Gunner's View Showing Slot for Rear Sight and Locking Screw Hole
Gunner’s View Showing Slot for Rear Sight and Locking Screw Hole

I have not seen a definitive range table for the James Type 2 Rifles, and can only assume the ranges were slightly better than that of the Type 1 (due to the longer bore).  Indeed the Ordnance Manual of 1861 did not even mention the caliber.  In theory, the caliber of gun gave a weight of shell on par with 20-pdr Parrott Rifles.  So it is nice to speculate about the potential of these weapons.  However, clearly there was enough working against the type to force it out of service.  During the Antietam Campaign of 1862, only ten James Rifles were numbered with the Army of the Potomac.  At Gettysburg the following year only four examples of the type, equipping the 2nd Connecticut Light Artillery which had just been pulled from Washington’s defenses, were on the field.  The phase out was slower in the Western Theater, with James Rifles remaining in service as late as the Atlanta Campaign.  Production ceased in 1862, with the exception of one test batch in February 1863 (which works in to the discussion of the Type 3 which I shall approach next).

Perhaps there was a side benefit of this rapid decline in popularity.   Considering the survival rate of the Type 2s, particularly the Series 3, and that few show excessive bore wear, the James were quickly sent to the arsenal storage facilities.  Instead of their numbers reduced by post-war service, plenty of the type remained in stocks when the War Department called the old guns out for park displays in the 1890s.


Aside from on site notes and links provided above, sources consulted for this post were:

Hazlett, James C., Edwin Olmstead, and M. Hume Parks. Field Artillery Weapons of the Civil War, Revised Edition. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2004.

Olmstead, Edwin, Wayne E. Stark, and Spencer C. Tucker. The Big Guns: Civil War Siege, Seacoast and Naval Cannon. Alexandria Bay, NY: Museum Restoration Service, 1997.

Ripley, Warren. Artillery and Ammunition of the Civil War, 4th Edition. Charleston, S.C.: The Battery Press, 1984.

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