One of Beauregard’s Columbiads recovered from the ocean floor?

I’ve written some in the past about the remarkable find of the steamer Philadelphia. (And note, this is not the gunboat USS Philadelphia which plied the waters around Charleston during the war.) Some time after the Civil War the steamer left Charleston with a load of scrap metal, including several heavy artillery pieces of Confederate vintage. The Philadelphia never made it out of South Carolina waters and sank off the coast. Recently Rufus Perdue discovered the wreck and began recovery of some 25 cannons (!).

I mentioned a Bellonia 10-inch columbiad donated to the South Carolina Military Museum in that earlier post. Recently another of the cannons, this one a Tredegar columbiad of the same caliber, showed up in the news. Earlier this month, WMBF News of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina ran a story about cannons found in recent years, featuring both the Philadelphia cannons and relics from the CSS Pee Dee. Regarding the columbiads, the article notes:

Mr. Rufus Perdue was fishing for grouper off the coast of McClennanville when he discovered the sunken USS Philadelphia. The ship sank under the weight of cannons decommissioned from Charleston after the Civil War, being transported north.

“This is one of about 25 cannons,” Perdue said. “They were shipped out of Charleston at the end of Reconstruction.”

Mr. Perdue unearthed those cannons, which he now proudly displays outside his Murrells Inlet home.

I can’t embed the video from the article here, but please give it a look. I mean really take a look at around the 1:34 mark:


The four digit number on the muzzle stands out in white. Is that 1676? 1678? 1873? Any of those numbers match the Tredegar Gun Book entries for 10-inch columbiads. The first two are of interest to the discussion of Charleston’s defenses in March 1863.

Foundry numbers 1676 and 1678 appear on a receipt list from November 1862. According to the receipt, number 1676 was sent to Cumberland Gap (yes, up in the mountains).

Page 564a

I’ll have to research a bit to determine if the gun ever got there, and if not where it was redirected.

But number 1678, paired with 1681, were bound for Charleston.

Page 564b

Keep in mind this table from the Charleston board, which shows three 10-inch columbiads delivered to the First Military District in November of that year.


The J.R. Anderson receipt accounts for all three of the November columbiads – number 1672 delivered by the foundry on November 5 along with the two mentioned above. The receipt also accounts for 10-inch columbiad number 1687 delivered at Richmond in the last days of the month, the forwarded to Charleston in December.

But… if the number is 1873, then it was cast in July 1863 and was a later arrival at Charleston. Either way, the recovered columbiad was likely a participant in the long siege of Charleston.

4 thoughts on “One of Beauregard’s Columbiads recovered from the ocean floor?

  1. Given your research in this area, do you believe the article is correct in stating that the Philadelphia actually sank because it was overloaded with cannon? Or was something else involved, such as inclement weather, that contributed? I’m always leery when television news tries to cover history topics.

    It’s not like the Union didn’t have an abundance of ships in the Charleston area after the war and couldn’t have spread the load around.

    • I have not seen enough information on the Philadelphia to make a conclusion myself. When ships are lost, one expects to see a paperwork trail – insurance claims, boards of inquiry. But this one falls outside the records (years) for which I’ve pulled records. Complicating matters, the former gunboat by the same name was sold back into commercial service (new name though). And it too was lost around the same time… But records show it hit a shoal in Virginia. Still I’ve seen a few people mention the gunboat in connection to the cannons. I think the two were separate ships, but I still want to see the records to prove so.

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