1864: David Ranson Williams to Unidentified CSA General

This letter was written by Capt. David Ranson Williams of Covington, Kentucky, who served as an artillery captain with a battery of his design. He was best recognized for the “Williams Gun” which was a breech-loading, hand-cranked, rapid-fire 1-lb. cannon with a barrel 4-feet long and 1.57 caliber. It was made by F. B. Deane, Jr. & Son in Lynchburg, Virginia.

The guns described in this letter appear to be of a later, different design. The letter was addressed to an unknown general in the Confederate service.

The Williams Gun


Lynchburg, [Virginia]
February 15, 1864


The copy of the Report and Requisition was duly received, for which you will please accept my grateful acknowledgements.

The Department ordered twelve guns, 2.25 calibre—eight smooth bore and four rifled guns. Your Battery was to have delivered by the first of April, but on receipt of a letter from the Chief of Ordnance in your command, stating that they were not wanted, the control was withdrawn.

I was very sorry that the matter took this unfortunate turn, as I am not alone in the opinion that at the distance of sixteen or seventeen hundred yards, the rifled guns would have been very accurate. The rifled would have weighed about three hundred and forty pounds—the smooth bore about two hundred and forty pounds: calibre 56 in. long. The shell of the rifle, when charged, weighed 45 ounces. These guns can be fired from the shoulder with as much facility as the small guns.

I would like very much to build a Battery of these guns and accompany them to your command. I think I can safely guarantee not only their efficiency, but their superiority over the common gun—especially for cavalry service.

Very truly, — D. R. Williams

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