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Civil War Cannons - Parrott 100 Pdr

Parrott 100 Pdr
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Civil War Cannons

100 Pdr. Parrott Details

An exact 1/6th scale re-creation:

We use copies of original engineering drawings and painstakingly created field drawings to produce our scale re-creations of these magnificent seacoast guns. We search arsenal libraries and government document depositories, foundry sites, etc., etc. to obtain copies of original drawings. We also do a lot of crawling around, beside and underneath original seacoast guns when no original drawing exists. The reason for all this "hands on" research is to make sure that we accurately record and pay attention to………every single detail ………that exists on each seacoast gun and carriage that we decide to make.

Among the most interesting details are the markings located all over these guns. On the upper, rear edge of the barrel's reinforce, you will notice stamped letters and numbers left and right of a center-of-mass line. Look for "R.P.P. No331. 9747 lbs." The original Navy barrel with these markings is located in City Park, Denver, CO near the Denver ZOO. This marking refers to the fact that this 100 Pdr. was produced in Robert Parker Parrott's West Point Foundry in Cold Spring, NY. Its registry number is 331 and it weighs 9747 pounds. On the left trunnion face you will see "R.B.H." with a single "P." above. The "P." represents Parrott of course and the "R.B.H." stands for the Navy's ordinance inspector, Robert B. Hitchcock who inspected ordinance for the Navy Department in the years 1850, 51, 57, and 61-65. On the right trunnion face you can see "100 Pdr." and "18 64" and under that a small "64" again indicating the year of manufacture. On the front sight boss you can see a small "331". This is another registry number designation. The naval anchor impression on the top of the tube between the trunnions indicates acceptance by the U.S. Navy. The characters stamped on the muzzle-face, "WATER CORE" represent a foundry casting practice invented by Thomas Rodman, designer of the large Army smoothbore guns known as Columbiads. This process, adopted by Parrott, used a cooling core with cold water pipes inside to form the bore which cooled first, thereby starting a process in which the exterior metal compressed the inner metal as it shrank, providing increased strength. Part of the pleasure of owning one of our centerpiece guns is the vast variety of detail each displays. Every time you look at our first effort, the 100 Pdr. Parrott Rifle, you tend to notice details that you missed before. There are more than 300 individual pieces of hardware on each of these guns. To maintain our absolute quality standards, Seacoast Artillery Company makes every single one of them!

We re-create the original arsenal surface finish as accurately as we can without faking any of the materials. The 19th century arsenals and foundries used cast iron, wrought iron, steel, brass and bronze. We use ordinance steel, alloy steel, carbon steel, bronze and brass depending on safety, functionality and appearance considerations. The platform is a re-creation of one mounted in Fort Totten, in the Washington, D.C. defenses, shown in an original 1864 photograph located in the Library of Congress Civil War Photo Collection. This fort was one of the earth-work forts, which surrounded Washington during the Civil War. Our gun's platform is made of red oak, one of the woods used in original platform construction. Depending on the species distribution of local forests, the artillery artisans would have a nearby sawmill cut red oak, white oak, maple or yellow pine into timbers of appropriate size. They would then final shape, fit, assemble and install the platform on the firing site. The original platform was designed to get the gun and the artillerymen up out of the mud. The octagon shaped, "oak planks on edge" elevated surface, inside the traverse circle tracks allows for rainwater drainage. The "center-pintle" design lets the crew push the chassis and rotate the gun a full 360 degrees. This important design feature let the gun crew fire on an enemy attacking from the rear of the gun position.

An authentic rammer is included. We studied an original at Fort Monroe, Virginia. It has a tough hickory head and a resilient staff made of ash, the baseball bat wood. A display sponge is also included. We were forced to do a bit of modeling here. The original sponge-head was made from a piece of sheepskin stretched over the hickory head attached to the ash staff. As the thinnest sheepskin available was much too thick a covering for the 1/6 scale hickory sponge-head, we decided to cover the head with flox which is a synthetic fiber used to provide a fuzzy, felt-like surface inside jewelry boxes. This material, glued to the sponge-head, gives you a good idea of what an original artillery sponge looked like when it was new.

Ten replicas of the original bolts, (armor piercing solid shot) and one shell are also included. All of these contain the essential brass sabot, (expanding flange) which was forced into the cannon's rifling grooves upon firing, causing the bolts or shells to spin providing excellent accuracy. At the top of the shell is an inert, finely machined representation of a typical Parrott percussion fuze.

The elevation mechanism is loaded with details. First of all, there are more than one dozen individual parts which make up this seemingly simple assembly. Take a look at the photo of the elevation screw and handle in the gallery labeled, “Attention to Detail”. Look at the knob on the handle. Do you see the tiny, tapered pin which secures the knob to the handle? Why in the world did we bother to do that? The reason is that these miniscule details were revealed to us when we purchased a huge enlargement of the famous Fort Totten photo upon which our re-creation is based. The rectangular hole in the rear-most transom which allows the crew to insert a tiller shaped iron bar to assist them in carriage rotation, is not visible at all in any reference book on artillery or history textbook. It is included because it shows up beautifully in our historical photo enlargement.

The base and pintle-pedestal is loaded with interesting details as well. Notice in the gallery of finished 100 Pdr. photos that the four sections of track meet each other in a series of 45 degree splices. It’s easy to imagine why this design feature was produced. With this configuration you don’t have the familiar thunk, thunk of a common, square-cut rail junction as the carriage traverses the gap. The gunner would certainly prefer that his careful sighting adjustments were not thrown into the basket by one carriage wheel slipping into a gap between the track sections. Also, look at the wood supporting the traverse circle track. At the bottom of the base it looks like we used a thinner plank under a thick one to get the total height we needed. Did we run out of thicker oak planks? Did we just goof up? No and definitely, No. If you study all the available historical photos showing this type of platform base, you will see that they built them just this way, using two different sizes of timbers.

Almost forgot these two. Back to the tube details. We installed a threaded copper vent piece. These were originally used to facilitate replacement if vent erosion from long-duration firing occurred. We drilled the copper vent to .075 inch diameter. This is a wee bit large scale-wise, but a necessary size so you can easily get a piece of 1/16th inch dia. fuse down the hole. The common 3/32nd inch fuse will not fit, of course. Any fireworks supply place can supply the smaller dia. fuse. Also note that we installed two small, brass, slotted, round head machine screws into the threaded holes near the vent that were placed there to accept the hold-down bolts for the naval locks used if the gun was onboard a ship. Parrott’s 100 Pdr. cannon contained all the features which made it useable by the Army or the Navy. Our re-creation has a naval anchor mark topside, between the trunnions, showing it was a Navy inspected and accepted tube just like the one we studied in the park adjacent to the Denver Zoo. How did it come to have an earth-work fort platform base? Read on; the answer is in the –Historical Info section which is coming up NEXT.

 


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