CSS Neuse: Armament

The Neuse was armed with two double-banded 6.4” Brooke Rifles. These guns were the development of John Mercer Brooke, Chief of Ordnance and Hydrography for the Confederate Navy. He designed rifled cannons that were reinforced by shrinking wrought-iron bands around the breech of the gun. Rifling created much greater strains on cannons. Cast-iron, the main material for producing large artillery in that era is hard but very brittle and could burst under the great pressures present in rifled guns. By shrinking wrought-iron bands around the breech of a cast-iron cannon the gun could be strengthened to prevent bursting.

Brooke designed rifles in 4.62”, 6.4”, 7”, and 8” calibers and banded smoothbores of 10” and 11” calibers. Of these weapons, the 6.4”, 7”, and 8” rifles were the main guns for Confederate ironclads. Brooke guns had one, two, or three reinforcing bands. The Tredegar Iron Works in Richmond and the Selma Naval Iron Works in Selma, Alabama were the main manufacturers of the guns.

Because of their long range, durability, and accuracy Brookes were, arguably, the best rifled artillery produced at the time in America. In action against Union ironclads they proved to be formidable weapons. Brooke 6.4” rifle would have a range of three to five miles. The range available from guns on an ironclad was reduced somewhat by the limited elevation possible from within the casemate.


Plan your visit

Visit the CSS Neuse Interpretive Center to get up close and personal with the remains of the CSS Neuse and a number of recovered artifacts.

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