The Paper Trail on a Tredegar Columbiad

Yesterday I used this 10-inch Columbiad along Fort Moultrie’s cannon row in a comparison with co-located 10-inch Rodman guns.

Fort Moultrie 3 May 2010 597
Tredegar 10-inch Columbiad #1656

As a 10-inch Confederate Columbiad, the gun is worthy of note just because of the rarity of surviving examples.  But even beyond just an example of a rare make and model of artillery, this gun is one of the few Civil War era pieces with complete (or at least darn close) pedigree.  Given surviving documents from the Confederate Citizens Files and park service histories, it is possible to track this gun’s story from casting to the place it sits today.

The gun’s story starts in Richmond.  According to the foundry’s “Gun Book” (transcribed in Confederate Cannon Foundries by Larry Daniel and Riley Gunter), Tredegar cast #1656 on August 20, 1862.  Other cannons cast that day included three 10-inch seacoast mortars, two 10-pdr Parrotts, one 20-pdr Parrott, and a 7-inch Brooke Rifle.  The heavy guns cast that day were weapons to support a buildup of defenses on the southern coasts.  The 10-inch mortars and the 10-inch Columbiad were in batches of similar weapons shipped to Charleston, South Carolina.  And the 7-inch Brooke Rifle?  I’ll get to it in a minute.

Tredegar 10-inch Columbiad #1656 went through boring, finishing, and proofing by the first week of September.  On September 10, Tredegar hauled the gun to the Petersburg depot, charging the Confederate government $10, as seen in this snip from the invoice:

Being thorough, the Tredegar clerks noted the foundry number in the invoice.  But this is simply an itemized list for time and labor spent moving equipment.  Where did the gun end up after leaving the depot?

The same gun shows up on an invoice of cannon and equipment sold to the Confederacy in September 1862.  Here’s a snip from that rather lengthy invoice:

Agreeing with the other invoice, an entry for September 10 lists “1 – 10″ Columbiad #1656  13290 lbs @ 8 cents  – $1063.20.”  Above the item line is the notation “Sent to Charleston.”

So the paper trail indicates Tredegar cast #1656 on August 20, 1862 then shipped it to Charleston on September 10.  Once at Charleston, General P.G.T. Beauregard put it to good use.  The 10-inch Columbiad joined other similar guns employed on Sullivans Island in the batteries around Fort Moultrie.  No doubt #1656 fired more than a few rounds at Federal blockaders and ironclads.

Near the close of the war, #1656 was among the fifteen 10-inch Columbiads abandoned by the Confederates.*  Most of these remained at their wartime stations in the immediate post-war years.  In 1872, the Army pulled four of these Columbiads out of Fort Moultrie replacing them with Rodman guns.  These four ended up as ornamental displays at the entrances to the fort.  Initially buried breech down, by 1930 the guns were mounted atop concrete pedestals.  These four remained at Fort Moultrie when the installation transferred to the National Park Service in 1960.

Two of the four remained on the pedestals.

Fort Moultrie 3 May 2010 624
One of two "Gate Guards" at Fort Moultrie

But the other two, were dismounted.  As seen above #1656 went to cannon row, while Tredegar #1664 went on a carriage inside the fort.

Fort Moultrie 3 May 2010 497
Tredegar 10-inch Columbiad #1664

So from Richmond to Fort Moultrie, the story of #1656 is well documented, thanks to Tredegar’s paperwork, Army records, and park service administrative histories.

But what about that 7-inch Brooke Rifle cast the same day?  Well it survives too.

WashNY 21 July 296
7-inch Single Banded Brooke #1652

It was among those guns captured on the CSS Atlanta, which are trophies at the Washington Navy Yard.


* A detailed history of the guns at Fort Moultrie is  The Historic Guns of Forts Sumter and Moultrie by Mike Ryan (Unpublished, 1997).

Published by Craig Swain

"Historical marker hunter" and Civil War enthusiast.

3 thoughts on “The Paper Trail on a Tredegar Columbiad

  1. really enjoy all your research and postings. When i’m at charleston at xmas, i’ll check out ft. moultrie. one question: is that a railway gun behind the brooke gun?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: