Patented in 1861 by former Union officer Robert P. Parrott, the Parrott rifle was inexpensive to manufacture and accurate. The Parrott could hit a target at 2,500 yards, about twice the range of a smoothbore gun. They were so accurate that the Confederates produced their own version of the piece.
Parrott's cannons were easily identified by the reinforcing band around the breech—the point of greatest pressure during firing. The idea of banding was not new, but Parrott's innovation was to slowly rotate the gun tube throughout the fitting and cooling, so the metal would retain a consistent density and cool evenly. This made the guns much stronger at the breech to prevent the long-recognized problem of bursting. There were several other types of cannon with similar reinforcement, but the Parrott rifle was by far the most common.
The 10-pounder Parrott was an important artillery piece and the first workable rifled gun available to either side, but still proved to be a major disappointment. All Robert Parrott's improvements had really managed to do was to move the failure point forward, so they still burst unexpectedly and often.
Captain Robert Parker Parrott
Born in 1804, Robert P. Parrott graduated 3rd in his class from West Point Military Academy and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 3rd U.S. Artillery in 1824. He resigned from the army in 1836 to take over as superintendent of the West Point foundry in Cold Spring, NY. Parrott became lessee and operator of the foundry, and experimented with the manufacture of artillery. In 1867, he turned foundry operations over to others but he experimented with projectiles and fuzes until his death in 1877.
The 10-pounder Parrott rifle (Model 1861, characterized by a muzzle swell) had a 2.9-inch bore, while the Model 1863 (no muzzle swell) had a 3-inch bore. The 10-pounder Parrott used shell, spherical case, and cannister. The 1863 version could fire ammunition for the Model 1861, but not vice-versa.
Robert Parrott Parker (1804-1877, USMA Class of 1824) by Thomas P. Rossiter, 1868, Oil on canvas, West Point Museum Art Collection, United States Military Academy, West Point, New York, WPM #7529
This land has been preserved by the Civil War Preservation Trust in partnership with the South Branch Valley Civil War Society, Inc, McNeill's Rangers, SCV Camp #582 and 7th West Virginia, SUV Camp #7
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Forts and Castles • War, US Civil.
Location. 39° 0.068′ N, 79° 8.336′ W. Marker is in Petersburg, West Virginia, in Grant County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of North Fork Highway (West Virginia Route 55) and Hospital Drive, on the right when traveling east. Marker is located along the ½-mile walking trail around Fort Mulligan, a Civil War site preserved by the American Battlefield Trust. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 100 Hospital Dr, Petersburg WV 26847, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Irish Brigade & the McNeill Rangers / The Civil War Comes to Hardy County (within shouting distance of this marker); Welcome to Fort Mulligan Civil War Site (within shouting distance of this marker); The Last Days of Fort Mulligan (within shouting distance of this marker); Civil War Cannons (within shouting distance of this marker); Protecting Supplies (within shouting distance of this marker); A Strategic Location (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Defending the Fort (about 400 feet away); The Impregnable Fortress (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Petersburg.
More about this marker. The bottom left of the marker contains a "Table of Fire Arms" describing the types of ammunition fired by the 10-pounder Parrott Rifle.
Also see . . . Fort Mulligan. American Battlefield Trust (Submitted on December 18, 2020.)
Credits. This page was last revised on January 2, 2021. It was originally submitted on December 17, 2020, by Shane Oliver of Richmond, Virginia. This page has been viewed 52 times since then and 26 times this year. Last updated on January 1, 2021, by Shane Oliver of Richmond, Virginia. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on December 17, 2020, by Shane Oliver of Richmond, Virginia. • Devry Becker Jones was the editor who published this page.