The Most Widely Produced Rodman Gun: 10-inch Rodman

If production figures are any measure, the Army felt the 10-inch Rodman was the most important element in the nation’s seacoast defenses during and immediately after the Civil War.

The first ten 10-inch Rodmans came out of Fort Pitt Foundry between September and October 1861.   Based on circumstantial evidence, these were likely cast to the original Rodman design with ratchets and preponderance on the breech.  None of these survive today.

Fort Pitt Foundry continued producing 10-inch Rodmans in the spring of 1862.  But these guns received registry numbers from a fresh sequence.  Some of those low registry numbers exist today and feature sockets on the breech for use on the new elevation system.  Without checking the balance of the guns, I think it safe to assume these have no preponderance on the breech.

Fort Pitt delivered 689 more 10-inch Rodmans before production ceased in March 1867.  Earlier I featured Fort Pitt registry numbers 156 and 182 in a comparison with a Confederate “revised pattern” Columbiad at Fort Moultrie.

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10-inch Rodman - Fort Pitt #156

I offered a pretty fair “walk around” in that post, so I will send those interested in that direction.  But I would mention one variation seen among the hundreds of Fort Pitt Rodmans – the shape of the sockets.

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Breech Face of Fort Pitt #182

The guns at Fort Moultrie have squared sockets. But look at this Rodman over at Fort Monroe, Virginia.

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Breech Face of Fort Pitt #457

However Fort Pitt number 457, produced in 1865, has rounded sockets.

The breech face to the left of the sockets is rusty.  This gun had a bronze range table fixed to the breech face, at least up until the 1950s.  The screw holes are still visible.

The gun’s muzzle has many layers of paint, but enough of the particulars show through to make a positive identification.

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Muzzle of Fort Pitt #457

In addition to Fort Pitt, three other source produced 10-inch Rodmans. West Point delivered two 10-inch Rodmans in June 1862.  These may have been experimental castings, because the registry numbers, 1 and 2, were repeated when the foundry resumed production in July 1865.  West Point continued production through March 1867 with a total of 184 cast including the duplicate numbers.

Cyrus Alger didn’t deliver its first 10-inch Rodman until late in 1863.  Over four years, the foundry delivered monthly batches, never exceeding a dozen.  All told, when production ceased in March 1867 the Boston foundry had cast a total of 176.

The Scott Foundry, operated by Seyfert, McManus & Company in Reading, Pennsylvania, delivered 242 from October 1863 through April 1867.  The company’s total deducted a handful of condemned guns.

The total number of 10-inch Rodmans produced, including the ten “prototypes” and those in post war years, tallied over 1300 guns.  That exceeds the number of 12-pdr Napoleons or 3-inch Ordnance Rifles produced in the war.  One could say the weight of metal tipped towards what the Army considered its primary mission – seacoast defense – even during the Civil War.  The 10-inch Rodman was one of the most, if not the most, widely produced American muzzle loading cannon.

One last note on Fort Pitt number 457.  Today it stands outside the old post headquarters building.

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Fort Pitt #457 - "Old Number 40"

For years after the Civil War the gun was among the armament of the Water Battery on the bay side of Fort Monroe.  The gun received the nickname “Old Number 40″ many decades ago due to its position in the battery.  The gun remained there until 1906 when engineers demolished most of the Water Battery while placing new fortifications.

“Old Number 40″ tells the story of a long serving, even if long obsolete, weapon system.

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