Prints and Photographs Division,
Library of Congress
The Williams Gun was invented by Captain R. S. Williams and produced in small numbers for the Confederacy by the Tredegar Iron works in Richmond in 1861.
This small crank-operated breechloading artillery piece saw action at the Battle of Seven Pines in 1862.
The Williams Gun was operated by a crew of three. One man operated the crank, which opened and closed the breech block.
A second man loaded the round, and a third man placed a new percussion cap in a side-mounted lock before each firing.
When the crank was rotated, the breech block closed and a horizontal hammer automatically fell on the percussion cap.
The Williams gun could fire over twenty rounds in a minute to a range of approximately 2000 yards.