In earlier posts I’ve discussed the 3-inch Ordnance Rifles produced by Phoenix Iron Company through 1862. Early guns had “side sights” and lacked a stamp for Samuel Reeves’ patent. Although some sources indicate the patent stamp appeared with registry number 236 in the series, I have offered a rebuttal on that point. Regardless of the stamps, around registry number 284 the guns received an auxiliary sight between the trunnions. Now let me turn to guns produced after March 1863.
…. Oh, and before going too far, conceded a point to a reader who wishes to remain anonymous – the Phoenix guns are properly identified as “wrought iron ordnance rifles” to set them apart from other weapons made to the ordnance pattern. But I hope you will allow me to use the short name to reduce the word count!
As alluded to in the earlier post, the later batches of guns from Phoenix simplified the sights to a single set – pendulum hausse and muzzle blade sights. Among the first guns to conform to that new standard is registry number 597, credited in the last week of March 1863.
The gun is a bit pitted, and … well… the better collection of ordnance rifles is up at Gettysburg. So let me introduce you to registry number 616 over near the Gettysburg maintenance facility.
Fairly typical muzzle markings indicate Theodore Thadeus Sobieski Laidley (a name like that inspires a post!) inspected this gun in 1863. He called the weight at 816 pounds – like so many ordnance rifles. The right trunnion stamp reiterates the vendor’s name.
The left trunnion displays the patent date for the manufacturing process.
But between the trunnions, only the “U.S.” acceptance mark. No hole for the auxiliary sight.
This gun only retains the pendulum hausse seat and muzzle sight.
The front sight originally stood taller than what we see today. Handling has left them just a stub. Number 616 actually has a substantial base to the sight. Most survivors simply have the remainder or “nubbin.” Some surviving 3-inch rifles have more substantial muzzle sights, such as the base left on 616. Others have only the threaded hole for the sight.
Again, the variations seen here (markings and sights) had no substantial effect on the use of the guns. Or at least not that I’ve found in the veteran’s accounts. So something must have worked! With a few possible and minor exceptions, all remaining 3-inch Ordnance Rifles confirmed to those particulars.
That includes registry number 931 delivered in 1866, more than a year after the last Confederate surrender.
So in conclusion, the long line of 3-inch Ordnance Rifles – over 950 of them – conformed in all practical details to the pattern set by the Ordnance Board in 1861. There are no major variations that would affect performance of the weapon. However for modern-day visitors, there are some subtle differences with the markings and sight arrangements. These are in some cases clues to the story of the otherwise silent guns.
Oh, and don’t think I’m done with the Ordnance Rifles. I fully intend to bore you readers with more minutia about these guns!
- Iron rifle from Rome: Noble Brothers 3-inch Rifle (markerhunter.wordpress.com)
- Heavy Iron to Protect the Coasts: 15-inch Rodman Guns (markerhunter.wordpress.com)
- Comparing the Big Guns: Rodman vs. Confederate Columbiad (markerhunter.wordpress.com)