Sixty cents a pound: Tredegar 12-pdr Field Howitzers

Tredegar Foundry produced around forty-five bronze 12-pdr field howitzers, along with thirty cast iron 12-pdrs, during the Civil War.  A surviving invoice from Tredegar indicates the Washington Artillery received two howitzers in June 1861.  The firm cast the last bronze howitzer in November 1862, then switched to 12-pdr Napoleon guns.

One of these Tredegar bronze howitzers sits at Gettysburg today between the tablets for Pegram’s Artillery Battalion and Crenshaw’s Battery.

Gettysburg 146
Tredegar 12-pdr Field Howitzer #1578

From muzzle to breech the Tredegar howitzer generally conformed to the Federal patterns.  The rings near the muzzle lack some of the detail moldings on the Ames and Alger Federal production.  A threaded hole provided a mount for the front sight blade.

Gettysburg 142
Muzzle Profile of Tredegar #1578

But the step at the reinforce retains the very thin fillet seen on most Federal howitzers of this model.

Gettysburg 143
Reinforce of Tredegar #1578

The breech also conforms to the Federal pattern in most respects.  The weight stamp appears in front of the vent.  In this case 757 pounds.  The remains of the hausse seat are fixed with three screws.

Gettysburg 141
Breech Profile of Tredegar #1578

The left trunnion stamp sets the date  of manufacture in 1862.

Gettysburg 140
Left Trunnion of #1578

The right trunnion provides the foundry marks – “J.R.A. & Co. // T.F.”

Gettysburg 139
Right Trunnion of #1578

Returning to the muzzle, Tredegar placed its foundry number at the top – 1578.

Gettysburg 138
Foundry Number 1578

At the bottom are the initials “S.E.A.” which may indicate an inspector.

Gettysburg 137
Possible Inspector's Marks

According to the gun foundry book records, Tredegar cast #1578 on May 31, 1862.*  Browsing through the Tredegar folder in the Citizens Files, there is this lengthy invoice.

About mid way down the page is an entry for a “12-pdr brass howitzer” with #1578 and a weight of 757 pounds indicated.

The invoice indicates Tredegar charged the Confederate government a rate of 60 cents per pound – extending the price of the howitzer to $454.20 – in Confederate dollars that is.  Sights for the howitzer cost an additional $25.  While not cited specifically for #1578, Tredegar charged the government $425 for carriage and limber and $37 for implements elsewhere in the invoice.

Extend the cost of that howitzer, sights, implements, carriage, and limber (not to mention caisson, ammunition, and horses) for an entire battery.  Now we are beyond the battlefield and looking at the big picture.  So that’s where all the cotton money went!  But in all seriousness, those cannons didn’t just appear at some spawn point.

I’ll return to this invoice in later posts.  Not only is #1578 on this list, but at least three other surviving field pieces, making it an interesting source document.

* See page 98, Confederate Cannon Foundries, by Larry J. Daniel and Riley W. Gunter, Pioneer Press, Union City, Tennessee, 1977.