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Weapons Main Page >   Common Field Pieces > Whitworth Rifle
~Common Field Pieces~
Whitworth Rifle (1857 2.75 in. Breechloader)

Photographs by the Author
Taken at Gettysburg Nat'l. Military Park
  A rare piece of British manufacture, the 2.75 in. Whitworth Rifle was designed to be loaded through the breech. The Whitworth also used a unique projectile and rifling system. Whereas most rifled cannon of the period used projectiles with an expanding base plate that caught in a series of lands and grooves, the Whitworth featured a twisting hexagonal bore and used a special hexagonal projectile. The result of this extremely efficient design was a range of 2,800 yards and a distinctive high-pitched shreak.

  Unfortunately, the breechloading mechanism was prone to jamming and the weapon was frequently converted into a muzzleloader. The Whitworth Rifle was used in extremely limited numbers by both sides during the war.

  The Whitworth Rifle was designed by Sir Joseph Whitworth and was manufactured in Manchester, England.

Hazlett, James, Edwin Olmstead, & M. Hume Parks. Field Artillery Weapons of the Civil War.
     (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1983).

Thomas, Dean. Cannons: An Introduction to Civil War Artillery.
     (Gettysburg: Thomas Publications, 1985).
  ©2005 Richard McCoy. View Copyright Info or learn more About the Author.