Last fall I profiled a 3-inch iron rifle, located today at the Arlington County veterans memorial in Clarendon, Virginia, made by the Noble Brothers & Company of Rome, Georgia.
The profile of the Clarendon 3-inch rifle resembles contemporary Tredegar guns of the same class and caliber. No doubt among the earliest actions of the Confederate Ordnance Department was to forward the designs to J.R. Anderson and the Noble brothers. The Clarendon rifle dates to November 1861. Noble brothers turned to bronze for both 6-pdr smoothbore and 3-inch rifled calibers, in addition to a fair number of 12-pdr howitzers.
While the howitzers remained, generally speaking, faithful to the established patterns, the field guns and rifles exhibited several deviations. One of which was a flattened knob resembling an empty spool. The knob is unique to Noble guns. Although unmarked, a 3-inch iron rifle at Manassas National Battlefield Park has just such a knob.
The 3-inch rifle is noticeably shorter than other weapons of its class, with the elevating screw resting at the very edge of the breech. This gun also lacks the muzzle swell seen on the Clarendon Noble gun.
This particular gun is among a set representing Confederate massed batteries which fired upon the Federal attack at the Deep Cut on August 30, 1862. However, until a few years ago the gun sat near the Stuart’s Hill / Park Headquarters at an overlook of the southwestern portion of the park.
As you can see from the wide view, the muzzle face is very rough. Almost appears to be cut or trimmed after manufacture.
But we can rule such “surgery” out, as the gun is balanced on the trunnions – despite being much shorter than other weapons of its class.
A look down the bore shows six groove rifling, although a little corroded… and now used as a dwelling for a feathered friend of the battlefield.
The gun also bears a “scar.”
The slash of that scar appears to be from improper handling as opposed to battle damage. There are significant lateral scrapes to go with the scar, also indicative of some bad handling.
Aside from the trophy number plaque, the upper breech shows a “ghost” of a sight bracket.
Lacking any markings to read, the best one can do is associate the weapon based on external features. The little field rifle at Manassas has the look of the Noble brothers’ work. But pending the cleanup of layers of paint and decades of oxidation, attribution is tentative.