Brookes for Beauregard: Heavy rifles defending Charleston

When discussing Beauregard’s Charleston board, I mentioned this table detailing the heavy ordnance received at Charleston between August 1862 and March 1863:


The table indicates two 7-inch Brookes arrived at Charleston for use in the city’s defense. (As a side note, Savannah received three in the same time period with another two earmarked for the ironclads then under construction.) One of that pair of Charleston Brookes might have been the one tallied on a Tredegar receipt for March 1863:

Page 697c

Tredegar cast foundry number 1722 in late December 1862. Yet, in spite of all the pressure from Charleston for heavy guns, the Brooke remained in Richmond until March. So the rifle was well “cooled” even if Beauregard was not.

Likely the Charleston pair were single banded Brookes. One interesting detail about number 1722 comes from the Tredegar Gun Book, which lists this gun as an “Army Rifle.” The Army model of the Brooke Rifle featured elevating ratchets on the breech, as opposed to the navy style breeching loop and elevating screw.

Page 557

On April 7, 1863, those two Brookes were part of Fort Sumter’s armament. Mounted on either side of the east side pan coupé (that would be the east corner of the fort), the gunners had an excellent view of the main ship channel.  UPDATE:  Well I got in front of my notes and put these guns at the wrong location in the fort!  They were NOT at the east side pan coupé as pictured below….

Fort Sumter 4 Aug 11 1652
East Pan Coupe of Fort Sumter today

Rather they were on opposite ends of the east facing walls.  One was at the far end of the north east face barbettes:

Ft Sumter 3 May 2010 240
North east facing barbettes. One Brooke sat at the far end of this line

And the other sat at the other end of the east face, about where the last marker (to the distant right) stands in this view below:

Ft Sumter 3 May 2010 249
Standing atop the east face of Fort Sumter

The Brookes fired 86 rounds at the Federal ironclads that day. Several of those shots scored hits. Speaking of the effects on the USS Keokuk, Colonel Alfred Rhett indicated, “The wrought-iron bolts from 7-inch Brooke gun were plainly seen to penetrate her turret and hull, and she retired in forty minutes, riddled and apparently disabled.”

The impact of those Brookes would be far more than the weight of the projectiles thrown.

6 thoughts on “Brookes for Beauregard: Heavy rifles defending Charleston

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