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James Rifle 14-Pounder

Bronze Rifled Towed Field Gun

United States | 1861

"The 14-Pounder James Rifle rifling process attempted to make rifled artillery pieces out of existing bronze smoothbore types during the American Civil War."

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 08/06/2018 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
By the time of the American Civil War (1861-1865), it was already recognized that rifled weapons were the future of the battlefield in the accuracy-at-range that the weapon types provided. This led to a period of modernization for both small arms and artillery systems. Militia general and engineer/inventor Charles T. James looked to perfect a process in which the readily-available bronze smoothbore field guns could be converted to more effective rifled forms in the numbers required for the Union war effort. This eventually led to the generic term of "James Rifle" being applied to a series of guns featuring his rifle pattern and most were of 14-pounder form.

The need for rifling was apparent in the early part of the war when smoothbore guns still reigned supreme for both sides. However, these bronze creations saw inaccuracy creep in through the loss of material or deformation of it during action. Charles James partnered with the Ames Mfg Co. of Massachusetts to further his pattern along and this led to a new rifled cannon with a bore exceeding 3" being born - the 14-pounder James Rifle mentioned previously. Stocks of 6-pounder Model 1841 bronze smoothbore guns (detailed elsewhere on this site) also followed suit.

The base design was consistent with artillery pieces of the period. The gun tube, tapered at its business end, was seated atop the mounting hardware which included a single tow arm. The carried involved a pair of heavily-spoked road wheels and the crew was positioned all around the weapon when it was operated. As with other muzzle-loading artillery pieces of the period, the weapon required multiple crew members for optimal efficiency. Siege-minded versions of guns were mounted on appropriate siege carriages for stationary, defensive fire.

In the end, the process of rifling existing bronze artillery pieces was not an outright success. While bronze proved an excellent metal for artillery for its part in history, it proved too soft for extended use in the rifling process - leading to the rifling grooves wearing out prematurely. As such, the James Rifle process, and its corresponding James projectiles developed for it, were succeeded by more modern, practical artillery solutions before the end of 1862 (James himself died in late-1862). Some siege guns using the James Rifle process were fielded in the bombardment of Fort Pulaski in April of 1862. Additionally, some Federal naval guns were rifled with the James pattern out of necessity.

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Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one land system design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the James Rifle 14-Pounder Bronze Rifled Towed Field Gun.
None. This is a towed artillery piece.
Installed Power
The physical qualities of the James Rifle 14-Pounder Bronze Rifled Towed Field Gun.
Armament & Ammunition
Available supported armament, ammunition, and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the James Rifle 14-Pounder Bronze Rifled Towed Field Gun.
1 x 14-pounder (3.8" bore) gun tube.
Dependent upon ammunition stocks.
Nightvision - NONE.
Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear Protection (CBRN) - NONE.
Notable series variants as part of the James Rifle 14-Pounder family line.
James Rifle - Base Series Designation.
14-Pounder - Typical James Rifle conversion
32-Pounder - Siege/Garrison gun conversion
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the James Rifle 14-Pounder. Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national land systems listing.

Total Production: 500 Units

Contractor(s): Ames Manufacturing Company - USA
National flag of the United States

[ United States ]
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Image of the James Rifle 14-Pounder
Image from the Public Domain; Model 1829 32-pounder gun pictured.

Design Qualities
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to battlefield requirements.
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
The James Rifle 14-Pounder Bronze Rifled Towed Field Gun appears in the following collections:
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