Monthly Archives: December 2009

HMDB Civil War Updates – Week of December 28

A short holiday work week in the Civil War category with only 23 entries.  These represent Civil War related topics at sites in Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Kentucky, New York, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.  Here is the rollup:

- A detachment of Wilson’s Raiders burned a Confederate storehouse in Trussville, Alabama at the very end of the war.

- A memorial in Stratford, Connecticut lists those from the locality who were buried in cemeteries in the south.  The list of names include some who volunteered for New York regiments and others in the 30th Connecticut, a “colored” regiment.

- Two state markers from Washington, Georgia this week, both referencing properties in town.  Dr. Louis Alexander Dugas, who in town, volunteered to work in the military hospital system in Georgia during the war.  Jefferson Davis’ family spent several days at Holly Court in April 1864, awaiting the Confederate President.

- A marker near Crestwood, Kentucky notes the grave of film-maker D.W. Griffith.  Griffith brought the Civil War to the silver screen with Birth of a Nation in 1915.  His father served the Confederacy as a Colonel.

- A plaque in Goshen, New York notes the contributions of Anna Dickinson, a leader in the abolitionist movement during the war.

- The courthouse bell in Ashland, Ohio rang for Lee’s surrender, in observance of Lincoln’s death, and later notifying the town of the end of the Spanish-American and World War I.  Nearby is a memorial, placed by Jonas Freer, and a 6-pdr field gun attached to its limber.

- A state marker in Sandusky, Ohio notes McPherson Cemetery is named for General James B. McPherson.  The marker also lists other notables buried in the cemetery.

- A state marker in Shelbyville, Tennessee notes the Confederate cemetery in town.  The men were mostly casualties of fighting at Liberty and Guy’s Gaps, along with some from Forrest’s command.

- When the Army of Tennessee camped along the Duck River line in 1863, General William Hardee headquartered at Beechwood near Wartrace, Tennessee.

- Several entries from around Austin, Texas this week.  Keeping somewhat with a time line, let me start with a marker discussing the Texas Secession Convention in January to March 1861.   Nearby another state marker relates activities of the state Adjutants General in support of the war effort.  Another marker discusses Unionist leader and reconstruction Governor Edmund Jackson Davis. Also near the state capitol is a marker to Ira H. Evans, a Federal officer from Vermont and Congressional Medal of Honor winner.  After post-war service in the Army, Evans settled in Texas and was involved with politics and civic affairs.

- Buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Austin, Johann Groos, the Texas Land Commissioner, was among those who served the state militia during the war.  David Edmiston, buried in the Joseph J. Manor Cemetery in nearby Webberville, Texas, served in the Confederate Army.  Also near Austin is the site of Anderson’s Mill, which provided powder for the state and Confederate troops (Thomas Anderson was a Pennsylvania native).

- Two Napoleon guns protect the Albemarle Confederate Memorial in Charlottsville, Virginia.

- A state marker for Newtown, Virgina notes a small action involving General Pickett’s Division fought just before the unit moved north as part of the Gettysburg Campaign.

- The King William County Confederate Memorial features a soldier at rest.

- A marker near Williamsburg, Virginia notes an action fought on May 5, 1862 in which then Lieutenant George Custer led a detachment across Cub Dam Creek.

- The 14th New Hampshire memorial in Winchester National Cemetery lists the regiment’s members who fell in the Third Winchester.  I had trouble reading the inscriptions, so would appreciate any clarifications.

That’s it for a short week.  Next week in addition to the normal rundown, I’ll look at year-end statistics.

Confederate 12-pdr Field Howitzers – Part 2, Iron Types

Under the pressures of war and shortage of resources, Confederate gun-makers often turned to cast iron instead of bronze.  Even though production shifted away from the 12-pdr Howitzers by mid-war, Southern foundries delivered a fair number of the type cast in iron.  As mentioned in the previous post on Confederate 12-pdr Howitzers, I arbitrarily group surviving examples of these iron howitzers into two groups – those that resemble the Model 1841 form to some degree and those with smooth lines resembling the Model 1861 forms.

Of the former group, perhaps the best known representative is a howitzer of unknown origin located at Antietam.  The weapon is presumed Confederate, and represents Brockenbrough’s Baltimore Battery in the West Woods.

12-pdr Iron Howitzer of Unknown Manufacture

The piece is just over 60 inches long including the knob, or about an inch and a half longer than the regulation bronze Model 1841.  Parts of the form, particularly the muzzle and chase, recall the Federal pattern.  However, this piece lacks a step between the reinforce and chase, normally seen just in front of the trunnions.  The base ring around the breech is significantly larger than the bronze type, measuring a full 12-inches in diameter.  The knob is flattened at the back and is attached to the breech with a substantial fillet.

Muzzle of Unknown 12-pdr FH

Muzzle damage breaks up the otherwise well-defined form.  But most of the front sight survived handling and time.  The overall form implies the foundry used some elements of the Model 1841 pattern.  However, the addition of two inches of thickness at the breech may indicate the need to compensate for the fragile nature of cast iron.

In contrast, cast iron 12-pdr howitzers from Tredegar in Richmond present cleaner lines, indicating either some knowledge of stress lines or a need to simplify the casting molds.  The example below is one of a pair representing Confederate positions at Petersburg, near the Massachusetts memorial.

12-pdr Iron FH from Tredegar

From a distance, these resemble squat Ordnance Rifles, but the thickness of the barrel give away their caliber.  Around the breech is a distinct reinforce, with a carefully blended step down to the barrel.  Even the neck of the knob presents a sweeping line without any fillet.  Weight of the Tredegar iron howitzers varied between 830 to 950 pounds, easily 50 to 170 pounds more than a standard bronze type of the caliber.  Even with the extra metal, the howitzers experienced some failures.  All told Tredegar delivered around 25 of these howitzers.

Of the Western foundries, T.M. Brennan of Nashville, Tennessee provided eighteen 12-pdr cast iron howitzers before the city fell to the advancing Union army after the fall of Fort Donelson.  The piece below stands between Ketchm’s Alabama Battery and the Washington Artillery on Ruggles’ Line at Shiloh.

12-pdr Brennan FH

As with the Tredegar piece, the Brennan offers a smooth form, much resembling the Federal Model 1861 profile.  The muzzle swell is the main difference on the Brennan.  The howitzer is just over 58 inches long overall.

Other vendors producing iron 12-pdr howitzers for the Confederacy included Quinby & Robinson of Memphis, Tennessee (identified by one survivor) and  Noble Brothers of Rome, Georgia (also with one surviving example).  Some source indicate Bellona Foundry outside Richmond produced some 12-pdr field howitzers during the war, if so those likely were cast iron also.  But production of both cast iron and bronze 12-pdr howitzers ceased at the end of 1862 with directives to focus production on 12-pdr Napoleon-type guns and 10-pdr Parrotts. (see OR, Series 1, Volume 21, Serial 31, p. 1047.)

Before closing  I should mention a few other Confederate foundries where evidence indicates at least some activity associated with 12-pdr howitzers:

- A.B. Reading & Brothers of Vicksburg, Mississippi produced two bronze examples, one of which was recaptured from the Federals at Chickamauga (see Report of Capt. O.T. Gribbs, C.S. Artillery, Ordnance Officer, OR, Series 1, Volume 30, Serial 51, p. 40-43).

- Skates & Co. of Mobile, Alabama delivered one bronze 12-pdr in December 1861.

- Ellis & Moore of Nashville, Tennessee may have delivered two iron 12-pdr howitzers for the State of Tennessee in May 1861.

- Deane & Son of Lynchburg, Virginia received a contract to produce forty 12-pdr howitzers in the summer of 1861.  Likely none were delivered.

- Webster, Thomas, & Company of Chattanooga, Tennessee contracted for the State of Tennessee to deliver a battery of guns including two 12-pdr howitzers.

- J.R. Young & Company, using the Madison Iron Foundry near Huntsville, Alabama, worked to deliver batches of iron field artillery, which likely included some 12-pdr howitzers.  However production was slow and no deliveries are documented.

In summary, the Confederates out of necessity made wide use of the 12-pdr field howitzer.  Where quantities acquired from Federal sources fell short, limited production batches attempted to arm the rebel artillerists.   I would put the total number delivered as around 150 tubes all told.  While most came from Tredegar in both bronze and cast iron, sources ranged as far west as the major Mississippi River ports.  However, many of these production facilities fell to the advancing Federals by the end of 1862.  Those that didn’t were ordered to shift to production of better types.

———————————————————————————-

Aside from on site notes, links, and citations provided above, sources consulted for this post were:

Daniel, Larry J., and Riley W. Gunter.  Confederate Cannon Foundries.  Union City, Tennessee: Pioneer Press, 1977

Hazlett, James C., Edwin Olmstead, and M. Hume Parks. Field Artillery Weapons of the Civil War, Revised Edition. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2004.

Olmstead, Edwin, Wayne E. Stark, and Spencer C. Tucker. The Big Guns: Civil War Siege, Seacoast and Naval Cannon. Alexandria Bay, NY: Museum Restoration Service, 1997.

Ripley, Warren. Artillery and Ammunition of the Civil War, 4th Edition. Charleston, S.C.: The Battery Press, 1984.

Howitzers for Christmas!

Yes, a couple of howitzers for your Christmas!   These artifacts sit today at the Washington Navy Yard.

8-inch Siege Howitzer Model 1841

I like to “stay on target,” so allow me to relate a Christmas connection regarding these cannon, in lieu of a traditional holiday greeting.

Slightly Damaged 8-inch Howitzer

The Navy acquired these two pieces as trophies following an action on Christmas Day, 1863, outside Charleston, South Carolina at the town, now mostly a placename, of Legareville.

In 1863, General P.G.T. Beauregard, commanding the Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida (but primarily preoccupied with the defenses of Charleston), instructed his subordinates to set up ambushes of Federal gunboats patrolling the inlets and tidewaters along the coast. Particularly annoying to the Confederates were the gunboats operating in the Stono River near Charleston.[1]  As winter approached, a detachment of Brig. Gen. George Gordon’s Federal Division landed at Legareville to dismantle buildings for construction materials to be used on nearby Morris Island.  The Navy covered the Federal infantry with a gunboat anchored in the river’s main channel for support.[2]

Confederate Brigadier General Henry Wise, commanding the Sixth Military District put an elaborate ambush plan in motion.  The Confederates sent a force constituted of two 30-pdr Parrott rifles and four 8-inch Siege Howitzers pulled from the Charleston siege train, a field artillery battery, 460 men from the 26th and 56th Virginia Infantry, and a small force of cavalry, all under the command of Colonel P.R. Page of the 26th Virginia.[3]  The plan called for a set of concealed batteries overlooking the marshes southwest of Legareville.  The Parrotts and howitzers would disable or drive off the gunboat.  That accomplished, the infantry supported by the field battery would storm Legareville and capture the Federal force.[4]   The Confederates completed the battery positions and maneuvered the forces into place on Christmas Eve night, 1863.

Legareville Area of Operations

The gunboat USS Marblehead had duties off Legareville that Christmas morning.  The Marblehead was a 700 ton, two masted steam gunboat, mounting two XI-inch Dahlgren guns, two 24-pdr smoothbore guns, and one 20-pdr rifle (likely a Parrott).  Lieutenant-Commander Richard W. Meade, Jr., commanded the Marblehead.

USS Marblehead (US Naval Historical Center)

Downriver, where the Kiawah River joins the Stono, the USS Pawnee stood by in support.  At 1,558 tons, the Pawnee was provisioned for eight IX-inch Dahlgens, one 100-pdr Parrott Rifle, one 50-pdr Dahlgren Rifle, and two 12-pdr boat howitzers.[5]  Commander George Balch commanded the Pawnee.

USS Pawnee (US Naval Historical Center)

USS Pawnee (US Naval Historical Center)

Further downstream stood the 200 ton mortar schooner C.P. Williams, armed with one 15-inch Mortar, two 32-pdr guns, one 20-pdr Parrott, and two 24-pdr howitzers.[6]  Acting Master S. N. Freeman skippered the mortar schooner.  These three vessels fell under the overall command of Commander Balch.

At around 6 a.m. that Christmas morning, the Confederate heavy guns began firing on the Marblehead.   The gunboat immediately went into action, but at a reduced pace to to a leaky boiler.[7]   In spite of this handicap, the gunboat remained on station, preventing any movement of the Confederate infantry.  Meanwhile, the Pawnee and C.P. Williams moved up.  By 6:35 a.m., Balch brought the Pawnee up the Kiawah River in position to enfilade the Confederate batteries.  Around 7 the mortar schooner joined in.  With the weight of eighteen heavy guns, the Confederate position soon became untenable.  By 7:30, the Confederates withdrew from the battery positions.[8]

General Wise reported the loss of one artillerist killed and five wounded.  The loss of eight horses along with damage to equipment meant two of the 8-inch howitzers remained behind.[9]  Col. Page felt the failure was largely due to inaccurate artillery fire, stating the Marblehead “…was never touched by the artillery.”[10]  General Beauregard echoed this sentiment in his short summary of the action, “Expedition to destroy two gunboats in the Stono yesterday failed through bad firing of our batteries.”[11]

Disputing that assessment, Lt. Cdr. Meade detailed damage to his vessel noting, “she has 12 shot in the hull (1 between wind and water); 18 shot struck in the upper works and aloft. We have one 30-pounder shell which lodged in the steerage and did not explode, showing that the rebels had something heavier than mere field pieces.”[12]  Three of the Marblehead‘s crew were killed and four wounded.[13]  So clearly some of the Rebel rounds found a target.

The Federal infantry at Legareville advanced up a causeway in pursuit of the Confederates, and found the two abandoned howitzers.  Lacking horses or other means of getting the weapons over the marshes, the infantry spiked the howitzers and destroyed the carriages.[14]  On the 28th, Lt. Cdr. Meade lead a landing party to the battery locations, navigating up the creeks.  Meade found the removal by water easier, bringing off the howitzers.  He reported these to be “…8-inch seacoast howitzers, weighing 2,650 pounds each, and throw a shot of 69.5 pounds weight.”   He also noted one of the pieces was loaded, and extraction of the round revealed “… a cylinro-conical projectile (with soft metal base), weighing 100 pounds….”  Meade saved the round for the Bureau of Ordnance’s examination.[15]

Meade’s reference to “seacoast howitzers” likely was a miss-identification of the Army weapon.  The weight given complies with that of the 8-inch Siege Howitzer Model 1841.  Two Army models of 8-inch seacoast howitzers weighed between 5,740 and 8,517 pounds.  Further support for the siege howitzer identification is a photograph showing just such a weapon on board the Pawnee, but on a Navy style truck carriage.

8-inch Howitzer on USS Pawnee

After the war, the two howitzers became part of the U.S. Navy Yard’s collection of trophies.  If these pieces could talk, they might relate only a minor action in the larger scope of the war.  But that Christmas in 1863 was far from peaceful.

Happy Holidays to you all, and let us pray our future is filled with peaceful Christmases.

————————————-

Notes:

1.  Ripley, Warren. Artillery and Ammunition of the Civil War, 4th Edition. Charleston, S.C.: The Battery Press, 1984. pp.50-1.

2.  Report of Brig. Gen. George H. Gordon, U.S. Army, commanding division, Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Volume 28, Serial 46, pp. 747-8.  Gordon mentions the 74th Pennsylvania Infantry in pursuit of the Confederates in the Christmas Day action, but is not specific with regard to the Legareville detachment’s composition.

3. Manigualt, Edward.   Siege Train:  The Journal of a Confederate Artilleryman in the Defense of Charleston, edited by Warren Ripley.  University of South Carolina Press, 1996. p. 101.

4.  Report of Brig. Gen. Henry A. Wise, C.S. Army, commanding Sixth Military District, Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Volume 28, Serial 46, p. 750.

5.  Canney, Donald L.  The Old Steam Navy, Volume One: Frigates, Sloops, and Gunboats, 1815-1885.  Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1990.  p. 86.

6.  Based on report of ammunition expended, enclosure to Report of Acting Master Freeman, U.S. Navy, commanding U.S. Schooner C.P. Williams, Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies, Series I, Volume 15, p. 194.

7.  Report of Lieut-Commander Meade, U.S. Navy, commanding U.S.S. Marblehead, Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies, Series I, Volume 15, p. 190.

8.  Report of Commander Balch, U.S. Navy, commanding U.S.S. Pawnee, Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies, Series I, Volume 15, p. 189.

9.  Report of Gen. Wise, Army OR, p. 750.

10.  Report of Col. P.R. Page, Twenty-sixth Virginia Infantry, Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Volume 28, Serial 46, p. 750.

11.  Report of General G.T. Beauregard, C.S. Army commanding Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida,  Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Volume 28, Serial 46, p. 749.

12.  Report of Lieut-Commander Meade, U.S. Navy, transmitting list of damages sustained by the U.S.S. Marblehead, Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies, Series I, Volume 15, p. 192.

13.  Report of Assistant Surgeon Kidder, of the U.S.S. Marblehead, Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies, Series I, Volume 15, p. 191.

14.  Report of Gen. Gordon, Army OR, pp. 748-9.

15.  Report of Lieut-Commander Meade, U.S. Navy, regarding the removal of the guns, Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies, Series I, Volume 15, p. 194-6.  The weight of the gun was corrected in an addendum to the report.