An “Old Navy” 24-pdr Gun at Fort Pulaski

Let me introduce another gun from Fort Pulaski. This particular piece sits on a center pintel barbette carriage, just a few spots over from the 4.5-inch Blakelys and the 6.4-inch Brooke Rifle.

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24-pdr Navy "Sloop" Gun

The gun is a 24-pdr naval gun with a bit of history.  Barely readable marks indicate the gun was produced by Bellona Foundry.  The navy weight stamp reads “32-3-25” which translates from hundred weight to 3581 3693 pounds – 32 hundredweights (of 112 pounds), with three quarters (28 pounds each), and 25 remaining pounds.

Given that weight, the Navy identified this gun as a 24-pdr of 32 cwt (the abbreviation of hundredweight).  The Navy intended for this type of gun to arm a series of sloops produced in the 1820s, as part of a “Gradual Increase” of naval armaments.  The measures took the form of a series of appropriations aimed to build a strong navy based on lessons learned from the War of 1812.

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Breech profile of 24-pdr

At first the breech profile appears more “Army” than “Navy.”  But close examination of the breech face and knob show the remains of a breeching loop.

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Stub of the now removed breeching loop

The breech has a base ring.  But the gun is missing the standard Navy lock piece block on the top of the breech.

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Muzzle of 24-pdr

The bore has a slight flair out at the first few inches from the muzzle face.  Some sources indicate this was part of a “flash pan” incorporated at the time to reduce cinders when firing.

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Muzzle Profile of 24-pdr

The muzzle is straight without any swell.  A chase band is the only important feature.

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Trunnion and reinforce band

The unmarked trunnions join the gun just behind a reinforce band.  The trunnions have very small rimbases.  Notice also the bands really do look like bands with no ornamentation.

A “mate” to this gun stands in the Antietam National Cemetery.

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24-pdr Navy Gun at Antietam

Its markings are easier to read.

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Markings on 24-pdr

The “PM” and “Pf” marks are likely proofing and inspecting marks.  The registry is No. 33.  The weight in this case is 32-1-8 or 3620 pounds.  Notice this gun has a lockpiece.  But we don’t know if it has the breeching loop, since the gun is mounted upright.

From an ordnance standpoint, these guns are interesting as examples of a limited production run of 24-pdr guns.  The Navy needed light 24-pdrs for light “sloops of war.”  These were among the last 24-pdrs produced for the Navy, as most Gradual Increase authorizations called for 32-pdrs (in various weight classes).

Both the Fort Pulaski and Antietam guns share a link to the sloop USS Fairfield.  Launched in 1828, the Fairfield was among a set of similar sloops built at the same time.  She saw service in the Mediterranean, West Indies, South Atlantic, and Pacific.  During that time the Fairfield confronted Moroccan pirates and Ecuadorian revolutionaries.  But by the mid-1840s she was laid up at Norfolk.  In 1852 the Navy broke up the Fairfield.  Presumably the guns lay at Norfolk, but Civil War service of these weapons is undocumented.

Today the Pulaski gun bears in the direction of the Federal batteries which breeched the fort, while the Antietam gun honors the dead who rest in the national cemetery.  Both are fitting uses for these old guns.

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