I’m always fascinated with the paper trail that follows the cannons from manufacture, through acquisition, out to issue to the artillerists. This invoice dated June 19-22, 1861 offers some insight in that regard.
J.R. Anderson & Company (owners of Tredegar Iron Works) issued this invoice to the Confederate States for items sent to the Washington (Louisiana) Artillery. The first three lines on the invoice are:
- 2 – 6-pdr rifled bronze guns, totaling 1840 pounds
- 1 – 6-pdr rifled bronze gun, at 920 pounds
- 2 – 12-pdr smooth bronze howitzer, totaling 1580 pounds
The cumulative weight of the five field pieces was 4340. Tredegar sold the guns at 55 cents a pound, or $2387. On subsequent lines on the invoice notes carriages, caissons, and implements issued for the field pieces. Tredegar charged the government $150 to rifle the 6-pdrs. Heck, they even itemized $16 for hauling the guns to an issue point. All told, Tredegar’s bill was over $7000.
I would point out that regulation 6-pdr bronze guns weighed around 880 pounds while 12-pdr field howitzers weighed about 785 pounds. So while the weight of the two howitzers is within tolerance, the 6-pdr rifled guns weigh forty pounds more than regulation.
At the time, gunmakers often identified guns by the base casting pattern. In this case calling them 6-pdrs, but rifled. Although a bit heavy, the guns likely conformed to the Model 1841 pattern.
According Bull Run expert Harry Smeltzer, the Washington Artillery used several guns labeled “6-pdr / 3-inch rifle” at First Manassas. The order of battle shows the 3rd company of that esteemed formation with one 3-inch rifle and the 4th company with two. This provides a convenient one-for-one correlation regarding the 6-pdr rifled guns on the invoice.
So, did those guns survive the war? Well the bottom line is, without records for specific registry numbers, weights, and other identification annotations, the answer is “unknown.” However, I would call out two guns sitting at Fort Monroe as leading contenders for the distinction. These two guns have foundry numbers 1194 and 1196.
The two guns have simplified and smoothed moldings were the base ring joined the reinforce and the reinforce ends. Recall similar variation on the two Tredegar 6-pdr smoothbore guns at Virginia Military Institute.
The muzzle profile, similar again to Tredegar’s 6-pdr smoothbores, simplified the moldings.
The blade front sight remains on both rifles.
Most of the rear sight on #1196 is missing. But substantial parts of an unorthodox looking rear sight remain on #1194.
The right trunnions bear the familiar marks of “J.R.A. & Co.” and “T.F.”
According to the left trunnion stamps, Tredegar cast both guns in 1861.
As standard for Tredegar, both guns have the foundry number on the muzzle face.
The bore is perhaps a hair over the advertized 3 inches.
And the rifling is 12-groove, right hand twist.
The two guns at Fort Monroe match the description of the type issued to the Washington Artillery in June 1861. According to Tredegar’s gun foundry book, the firm made no field pieces in the 6-pdr type in May or June of 1861. Looking back to April, an entire missing page leaves blanks for guns receiving foundry numbers 1163 to 1214 – the range in which the two Fort Monroe guns fall.
Based on the national register of surviving Civil War artillery, of the four other surviving 3-inch bronze rifles with Tredegar stamps, two have acceptance stamps for the state of Mississippi. Another has a foundry number for production prior to April 1861. But the third is foundry #1195 – perhaps coincidentally the “missing” number between the two Fort Monroe guns – and was last reported in Aurora, Illinois (although according to the registry with left-hand twist rifling). So survivors include three consecutive foundry numbers.
So were these guns on the field at First Manassas? The evidence I have is certainly more circumstantial than direct. And unless additional “paper trails” emerge, these guns remain silent.
Aside from on site notes and links 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.