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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I started researching this gun a couple of years back and had to put it aside due to more pressing business but am now back on it. The National Archives is harder to get in to, now you have to make an appointment and put up with other barriers they’ve invented there. But I’ll get there before long.

Earlier I ran across the interesting possibility that this gun was at the first Battle of Bull Run. It is one of only, what, 18 such Parrotts that had been produced for the US prior to that battle. Trying to recall, there were 16 such guns at the battle. 9 were captured by the Confederates.

Anyway if anyone has found info that places No. 10 at Bull Run, or excludes it, pls let us know. I know the NPS ppl at the battlefield park and I think I have all the info they do on this point, they don’t have conclusive info one way or the other. All I know about the provenance is that it was sold to a collector by the small town in PA to which the govt had donated it around 1900.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Some basic facts: ,The first Battle of Bull Run was on July 21, 1861. Several Union units had various numbers of 2.9 inch Parrott rifles, totaling 16. The production/acceptance of 2.9 inch Parrotts at West Point Foundry is documented in Olmstead, et al, THE BIG GUNS, as follows: (here’s copy of portion of appendix D-12, pp. 269):

Font Number Parallel Paper Paper product


So on 7 April 1861, 18 2.9’s were ordered. Registry numbers 1-10 were credited on 18 May 1861. Registry numbers 11-12 were credited on 25 May. No. 13-18 were credited on 11 June. So that’s how we know 18 were available prior to the battle. I haven’t yet found when they were actually issued to the troops, but I do know the units to which 16 of the 18 were issued and how many for each according to an Order of Battle” compiled by the National Park Service at the Manassas National Battlefield Park.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Here are excerpts from above-mentioned Union Order of Battle showing only units with one or more Parrott 10-pounder rifles. I’m making this list of units so I can check for any unit histories that may mention where they received their Parrott rifles in the weeks before the battle.
UNION ARTILLERY AT FIRST MANASSAS (BULL RUN)



ARMY OF NORTHEASTERN VIRGINIA: Br.Gen. Irvin McDowell

Maj. William Barry, Chief of Artillery


1ST DIVISION: Br.Gen. Daniel Tyler

Company E, 3rd U.S. Artillery: Captain Romeyn B. Ayres

2 10-pdr Parrott Rifles, M1861

2 12-pdr Field Howitzers, M1841

2 6-pdr Guns, M1841



3D DIVISION: Col. Samuel P. Heintzelman

Company I, 1st U.S. Artillery: Captain James B. Ricketts

6 10-pdr Parrott Rifles, M1861 (6 captured on Henry Hill)


Company D, 5th U.S. Artillery (West Point Battery): Captain Charles Griffin

4 10-pdr Parrott Rifles, M1861 (1 captured on Henry Hill, 2 lost at Cub Run)

2 12-pdr Field Howitzers, M1841 (2 captured on Henry Hill)


Company G, 2nd U.S. Artillery: Lt. Oliver D. Greene

4 10-pdr Parrott Rifles, M1861
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Got this from an “expert” on 1st Battle of Bull Run, when I asked about when/where he thought Parrotts were issued to units that participated in the battle: “Ricketts' Company I, 1st US Artillery arrived in Washington from Ft. Leavenworth in late January 1861. Griffin's "West Point Battery," Co. D, 5th US Artillery, arrived in Washington about the same time. As you know, the first 2.9-inch Parrotts were not inspected until late May 1861. Thus it is a safe bet these batteries received their combined total of 10 Parrotts from the Washington Arsenal and probably in June 1861.”

This helps to narrow things down.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Got a reply to my question on Washington Arsenal archives, from the “Historyhub” site that’s a newish interface to the National Archives. It is where one is supposed to ask questions now. Here’s the pertinent part for my project, received today:

“We searched the National Archives Catalog and located 17 series in the Records of the Office of the Chief of Ordnance (Record Group 156) that may include information regarding the Washington Arsenal. For more information about these non-digitized records, please contact the National Archives in Washington, DC - Textual Reference (RDT1) at [email protected].

We also located 4 series in the Records of U.S. Army Continental Commands (Record Group 393) that are records of the Washington Arsenal. These non-digitized records are in the custody of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, State Archives (an affiliated archives) (XPSA). Please contact XPSA via email at [email protected].”

so I’ll be checking those out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Posted by me on Civilwartalk.com today: I’m researching the specific 2.9 inch Parrott rifles used in the battle. As of the date of the battle only 18 of the ten-pounders had been delivered to the Army. 16 of those were at the battle. 9 of the 16 were captured. Of the 18 guns then in the Army, two survive, registry numbers 2 and 10. I’m looking for any mention of 2.9 inch Parrott registry numbers as far as which had been issued prior to the Battle, which numbers were issued to Ricketts’ and Griffins’ batteries at Washington Arsenal, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Latest info rec’d from an impeccable source:
“According to my reference material (Dyer's Compendium), Greene's Battery (Co. G. 2nd US Artillery) was in Washington in May 1861 and assigned to Davies' brigade, Miles' division in June. They could have received their Parrott rifles any time during that period.”

As mentioned above, this battery had four 2.9 inch Parrotts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
More good info found at Archives yesterday, letter listing field gun/ammo inventory at Washington Arsenal as of 5 June 1861. Letter back file summary and letter.

Rectangle Wood Font Tints and shades Commemorative plaque

Brown Handwriting Rectangle Wood Font
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
After four man-days of searching in the National Archives, one important fact we determined is which two 10-pounder Parrotts were NOT at the Battle of Bull Run. Those were registry numbers 11 and 12. We know this because three groups of guns were shipped out by West Point Foundry prior to the Battle. In order, they contained 10, 2, and 6 Parrott rifles. The first and third groups went to Washington Arsenal and all 16 were issued to four batteries named earlier. The second group of guns (two guns) was sent to New York (apparently Watervliet Arsenal) to fill a requirement Gen. Ripley considered critical. The date that group of two guns was “credited” (May 25, 1861) just after the first group of 10, means they were registry numbers 11 and 12.
 

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John, this fascinating. Nice research. Well done.

In my gun collecting discussion with others we often say, "If this old gun could talk". That is often what spurs my research.

Knowing myself, if I did such an intensive investigation as you are doing, on one specific gun there would be a back story. I might have taken ownership of such item or have some sort personal connection. Research for me can sometimes fall close to obsession.

Your research is getting this old gun to speak, but what is the back story.

Where is this gun right now, who's gun is it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
John, this fascinating. Nice research. Well done.

In my gun collecting discussion with others we often say, "If this old gun could talk". That is often what spurs my research.

Knowing myself, if I did such an intensive investigation as you are doing, on one specific gun there would be a back story. I might have taken ownership of such item or have some sort personal connection. Research for me can sometimes fall close to obsession.

Your research is getting this old gun to speak, but what is the back story.

Where is this gun right now, who's gun is it.
Thanks Doug, gun is close to site of battle, privately owned. My interest in it is in solving the mystery, the first part of which is “Was it at the battle?” Yes. Other questions I’m working more slowly include “Which of the four Parrott-armed batteries was it in?” and “Was it among the nine 2.9” Parrotts captured by Confederates during the battle” and of course “Where did it go after the battle?” I like solving puzzles, and this is all good material for an article in the CMH journal or The Artilleryman.

The owner mentioned one small factor that helped motivate him to acquire the piece was the drag marks on top of the tube. It has obviously been dragged over rocky soil, upside down. Assuming this occurred during the War, he feels the fact that it was dragged upside-down might be significant. He believes if Union troops had to drag it due to say, a destroyed carriage, they would drag it with the “U.S.” up. Confederates would drag it with “U.S.” down to show their contempt and to damage the despised property marking. Maybe.

I‘ll post a couple more Archives documents that prove the pair of guns credited separately (Registry numbers 11, 12) between the two larger lots preceeding the battle were not shipped to Washington Arsenal, and couldn’t have participated in the battle.
Handwriting Rectangle Font Wood Plant

Handwriting Font Rectangle Material property Writing
 

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Awesome. Very interesting and I do get the "obsession" it what makes this interesting.

Although I was kinda hoping in the back of my mind, you had acquired it and you were going roll it out in your front yard and fire it off on Ring in the Spring day. You did it for Mythbusters, I know you would do it for us. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
Phase 2 attempts to determine which of the four US batteries that included Parrott rifles at Bull Run had No. 10. One assumption I’ve made is that the practice in 1861 was to arm batteries (assuming new guns) with sequential gun registry numbers. But ignoring this still allows us to draw some slightly less specific but useful conclusions.

On 5 June 1861 Major George D. Ramsay, Commandant of Washington Arsenal, sent his inventory of field cannons and ammunition to the Chief of Ordnance, who had received requisitions for these items. He reported having onhand the following:

10 ea. Parrott 10-pounder rifles (received a few days earlier from West Point Foundry)
4 ea., James Rifles, “6 pounder”
4 ea., 6 pounder smoothbore
3 ea., 12 pounder Howitzer
1 ea., 32 pounder Howitzer
3 ea., 24 pounder Howitzer

Ammunition in various quantities was onhand for all of these weapons.

COL James W. Ripley, Chief of Ordnance, required Army units to requisition in writing their needs for ordnance and ordnance stores. Then after assuring the items were available and proper to issue to that unit, he would approve in writing and direct an arsenal to issue the items, or in the case of horses, direct the unit to buy them and send the bill to an arsenal. We found dozens of approved requisitions from CAPT James B. Ricketts and CAPT Charles Griffin beginning on 20 May 1861, including horses, cannons, and stores of all kinds. Surprisingly, we found no requisitions, approved or otherwise, from the other two batteries that were armed with Parrott rifles at some point prior to,Bull Run. After COL James W. Ripley received the Washington Arsenal inventory, he approved the issue of Parrott 10-pounder rifles to CAPT Ricketts per the requisition. The number of guns wasn’t stated but ivery likely Ricketts requested six to uniformly arm his battery. We haven’t yet found an approved requisition for CAPT Griffin that specifically mentions cannon, but found many mentioning unspecified ordnance and ordnance stores requested in requisitions of various dates. CAPT Griffin probably also wanted six 10-pounders but since only four remained after Ricketts’ order was filled, he took two of the 12-pounder howitzers along with the four Parrotts. But whatever exactly transpired, we know all ten Parrotts onhand at Washington Arsenal at the time were issued to Captains Ricketts and Griffin. Therefore No. 10 served in one of those two batteries. Since 9 of those 10 Parrott rifles in the two batteries were captured on July 21, 1861, there‘s a 90% probability that No. 10 was among those captured.

Phase 3 will investigate No. 10’s wartime service following Bull Run, which was most likely with a Confederate battery.
 

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Excellent progress, but it sure takes a lot of time and effort to get it right, which you are doing. If the documents are out there, I am sure you will find them.....someday. ;-)
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Friend had some info: “My only record of a "2.9-inch 'Parrott' " rifle with #10 on it was in Frarie's 5th Louisiana Battery which received it from Columbus, MS. Arsenal in 1862. This battery seemed to have fought only in Louisiana. It surrendered at Tyler, Texas in 1865. “. He got the info from Tulane Iniv. Same paper also mentioned a Parrott#5. I’m almost positive these two Parrotts, then at Briarfield Arsenal, were Confederate Parrott copies made in Macon. Macon Parrott copies had a prominent registry number. Only two Macon Parrotts survive today, along with 18 made by Tredegar. So this info is unrelated to US Parrott no. 10.
 
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