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[109] fired solid shot almost exclusively; but they were perfectly reliable, and their projectiles never failed to fly in the most beautiful trajectory imaginable. Their breech-loading arrangements, however, often worked with difficulty, and every one of the six was at some time disabled by the breaking of some of its parts, but all were repaired again and kept in service. As a general field-piece its efficiency was impaired by its weight and the very cumbrous English carriage on which it was mounted, and while a few with an army may often be valuable, the United States three-inch rifle is much more generally serviceable with good ammunition. The Blakely guns were twelve-pounder rifles, muzzle-loaders, and fired very well with English ammunition (‘built-up’ shells with leaden bases), but with the Confederate substitute, they experienced the same difficulties which attended this ammunition in all guns The only advantage to be claimed for this gun is its lightness, but this was found to involve the very serious evil that no field-carriage could be made to withstand its recoil. It was continually splitting the trails or racking to pieces its carriages, though made of unusual strength and weight. Of the Armstrong shunt-guns, six were obtained just before the close of the war, and they were never tried in the field. They were muzzleloaders, and nothing could exceed their accuracy and the perfection of the ammunition. Their heavy English carriages were more unwieldy than those of the American rifles, but taking all things into consideration, the guns are probably the most effective field-rifles yet made.

Besides these English rifles, a few captured James rifles (brass sixpounder smooth-bores, grooved to fire the James projectile), and some old iron four-pounders grooved, were tried in the field for a short while, but were found to be very poor, and as a multiplicity of calibres rendered the supplying of ammunition very difficult, they were soon turned in. In fact, the variety of calibres comprised in the artillery was throughout the war a very great inconvenience, and materially affected the efficiency of the ordnance-service both in the quantity of ammunition carried and the facility with which it was supplied. At the commencement of the war this variety was often almost ludicrously illustrated by single batteries of four guns, of four different calibres, and it was only after the battalions were well organized in the winter of 1862 that anything was done to simplify this matter.

The heavy guns which defended the James river against the enemy's fleet were principally the ordinary eight-inch and ten-inch columbiads,


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1862 AD (2)
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