Model 1861 6-Pounder Wiard Rifle
Towed Field Gun / Howitzer
The Wiard Rifle saw only limited production and limited service during the American Civil War - it was noted for its ranged accuracy as well as other unique traits for time.
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The 'Wiard Rifle' name is a generic identifier associated to any field artillery piece developed by American inventor Norman Ward during the American Civil War period (1861-1864). At least two notable types of guns were detailed by the inventor during the war, these becoming a 6-pounder and a 12-pounder form - both popular calibers of the time. The former, the focus of this article, was noted for its exceptional range capability (out to 7,000 yards when elevated thanks to its unique carriage design) and construction, which involved steel, was something of a rarity for the time.
The guns were given a tube of 53" in length and may have been smoothbore from the outset and rifled in post-production as was common to other smoothbore types during the conflict. Construction was made up of "puddled" wrought iron. For its stated range, the gun fired a 6lb Hotchkiss projectile powered by 0.75lb of powder charge. The carriage component, of largely traditional appearance with spoked roadwheels, allowed for full rotation of the gun towards the intended direction of fire and elevation was up to 35-degrees - allowing for a level of indirect Line-of-Sight (LoS) firing to be achieved. If the weapon system had a failing, it was in efficiency at shorter ranges.
There were no more than sixty of the guns produced for service during the Civil War and an order was had in 1861. At least three Union batteries, these falling under the leadership of Major General Daniel Sickles, have been associated with the weapon with both 6-pdr and 12-pdrs believed to have been taken on by the force. It is of note that Sickles and Wiard shared a friendship during the period which may be a reason for the purchase.
At any rate, the Wiard rifled guns were not taken into widespread service during the war and appear to have fallen into disuse shortly after cessations of hostilities.