Aug 20



Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guide George Newton is standing by a British-made Whitworth on Oak Hill. This view was taken facing northwest at approximately 4:15 PM on Sunday, August 9, 2009.

Licensed Battlefield Guide George Newton is a native of Baltimore, an Air Force Vietnam War Veteran, a retired insurance executive, and the author of Silent Sentinels: A Reference Guide to the Artillery at Gettysburg.

In part one of our artillery series we featured a Napoleon manufactured by Quimby and Robinson in Memphis, Tennessee, and a 10-pounder Parrott Rifle, manufactured by the West Point Foundry in Cold Spring, New York.

In part two we concentrated on 24-pounder howitzers at Moody’s Battery, A 12-pounder howitzer, manufactured in 1837, and the oldest gun on the field, and some 20-pounder Parrotts.

In part three George showed the only 6-pounder displayed on the battlefield, and showed us how fifteen 6-pounders at Gettysburg National Military Park were converted into “false Napoleons.”

In our fourth post, George Newton showed us the artillery pieces used on headquarters markers, and the two monuments on East Cemetery Hill to Cooper’s Battery B, 1st Pennsylvania.

In our fifth post on artillery, George presents the highest numbered 3-inch Ordnance Rifle at Gettysburg National Military Park, and the positions of the artillery pieces today representing Cooper’s Battery and Rickett’s Battery.

In our sixth post, Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guide George Newton explained the advantages of 3-inch ordnance rifles, and the artillery bombardment involving East Cemetery Hill on July 2, 1863.

In today’s post, Licensed Battlefield Guide George Newton shows us the British-made Whitworths, and explains how they were loaded, and their advantages and disadvantages.

For George’s previous posts on Gettysburg Artillery please click here.



This map shows the locations of the videos that we shot on Oak Hill. Videos #1-#22 were presented in our first six artillery posts. Videos #23 and #24 were taken on Oak Hill near the Eternal Light Peace Memorial (Peace Light). This map was created facing north at approximately 4:30 PM on Tuesday, August 11, 2009.



There were seven breech-loading and five muzzle-loading 12-pounder (2.75-inch caliber) Whitworth rifled guns in the United States during the American Civil War. Two of the breech-loaders are on display on Oak Hill at Gettysburg National Military Park. This view was taken facing northwest at approximately 4:00 PM on Sunday, August 9, 2009.



The Whitworths, in Hurt’s Alabama Battery, were engaged on Herr’s Ridge on July 1, 1863, Seminary Ridge on July 2, 1863, and Oak Hill on July 3, 1863. This view was taken facing northwest at approximately 4:30 PM on Sunday, August 9, 2009.



While Whitworths had a maximize range of approximately 10,000 yards (approximately six miles), their effective range was also very good. In 1863 during a test trial in Southport Sands, England it was claimed that a 12-pounder breech-loading Whitworth rifle hit a target from 4.7 miles away. This view was taken facing north at approximately 4:00 PM on Sunday, August 9, 2009.



The steel tubes on the Whitworths were 104 inches long (8.67 feet). The tubes weighted approximately 1092 lbs. For a comparison, the U.S. made 10-pounder Parrotts had a tube 78 inches in length (6.5 feet), and weighed approximately 890 lbs. This view was taken facing southwest at approximately 4:00 PM on Sunday, August 9, 2009.

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In Video #23 (Videos #1-#22 were shown in our previous artillery posts) Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guide George Newton is standing on Oak Hill. He discusses the British-made Whitworths that occupied this position on July 3, 1863. This view was taken facing northwest to north at approximately 4:15 PM on Sunday, August 9, 2009.



In Manchester, England, in the late 1850’s, Sir Joseph Whitworth patented a system for cannons (and small arms) which used a hexagonal bore design instead of the usual rifling methods. The ammunition also carried the hexagonal design in order to follow the bore, thus allowing for better range and accuracy. This view was taken facing north at approximately 4:00 PM on Sunday, August 9, 2009.



The length of this tube gives birds privacy to build a fairly significant nest. This view was taken facing north at approximately 4:00 PM on Sunday, August 9, 2009.



One of the way to tell original artillery tubes from reproductions is that the original tubes have writing on their muzzles. An exception are these Whitworths which are original, but do not have markings on their muzzles. This view was taken facing north at approximately 4:00 PM on Sunday, August 9, 2009.



Despite the great range and accuracy of this rifle, the Whitworth was difficult to keep operational. First, ammunition was unique to the rifle, and also expensive and difficult to import. Second, the breechloading mechanism was prone to jam, forcing many guns to be loaded as a conventional muzzle-loader of the era. This view was taken facing southwest at approximately 4:00 PM on Sunday, August 9, 2009.



Despite the great range and accuracy of this rifle, the Whitworth was difficult to keep operational. First, ammunition was unique to the rifle, and also expensive and difficult to import. Second, the breechloading mechanism was prone to jam, forcing many guns to be loaded as a conventional muzzle-loader of the era. This view was taken facing southwest at approximately 4:00 PM on Sunday, August 9, 2009.



Many of the problems with the Whitworth concerned its breech. This view was taken facing south at approximately 4:00 PM on Sunday, August 9, 2009.

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In Video #24 Licensed Battlefield Guide George Newton is still standing by the Whitworths. He shows us how they were loaded, how one has a friction primer guard, and discusses the problems artillerists experienced with the Whitworths. This view was taken facing southeast to east at approximately 4:15 PM on Sunday, August 9, 2009.



Close to the camera is the hinge upon which the breech pivots. This view was taken facing southeast at approximately 4:00 PM on Sunday, August 9, 2009.



The Whitworth closest to the Peace Light does not have a friction primer guard… This view was taken facing southwest at approximately 4:00 PM on Sunday, August 9, 2009.



…while the other one has the friction primer guard. This view was taken facing southwest at approximately 4:00 PM on Sunday, August 9, 2009.



The severe twist of the rifling sometimes caused too much pressure to be put on the wooden carriages, and caused them to break. This view was taken facing north at approximately 4:00 PM on Sunday, August 9, 2009.



This Whitworth, without a bird’s next, shows the tight twist of the rifling. This view was taken facing north at approximately 4:00 PM on Sunday, August 9, 2009.



George’s Book, Silent Sentinels: A Reference Guide to the Artillery at Gettysburg, was published in 2005 by Savas Beatie LLC, 521 Fifth Avenue, Suite 3400, New York, New York, 10175. The telephone number is (610)-853-9131. The book is 259 pages with 235 pages of text, photographs, and illustrations. It is currently retailing on Amazon.com for $29.95. If it is not retailing from Amazon (or for that price), you may order it directly from the publisher, Savas Beatie. The cover of this book was scanned at approximately 8:30 PM on Friday, November 21, 2008.

To see other posts by Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guides, click here.


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