150 years ago: Replinishing the magazines at Charleston

In just 2 ½ hours of action on April 7, 1863, the guns defending Charleston harbor fired 2,229 rounds.  As discussed earlier, General P.G.T. Beauregard was concerned at the expenditure of ammunition.  Try as you might, one cannot “un-shoot” a gun.  Recovery of shot spread across the bottom of the channel was impractical.  So the Confederates had to rely upon resupply from the foundries and arsenals.

One of the vendors involved was, no surprise, J.M. Eason and Brothers.  Through the month of April, the firm delivered projectiles to the Charleston Arsenal:

Page 21

The receipt indicates delivery of:

  • Thirty-six 42-pdr rifle bolts
  • Ten 42-pdr hollow shot
  • Four 42-pdr rifle shell
  • Thirty-nine 32-pdr rifle bolts
  • Forty-five 24-pdr conical rifle shot

Along with parts for making friction primer tubes and cartridges.

So fire off 140 of the 42-pdr rounds on April 7, then receive 50 replacements by the end of the month.  A net deficit of 90 rounds.  But wait a second.  The 42-pdr bore was 7-inches, and the rifled modifications shared projectiles with the 7-inch Brookes (at least some varieties of projectiles that is).  So with 86 Brooke rounds fired, the Confederates were at a deficit of 176 for the month.  Not so good.  Even worse, Eason deliveries replenished only 13% of the number of 32-pdr bolts fired on April 7.  But with no 24-pdrs firing on April 7, that caliber was a net gain for the month… though of little value overall.

Eason was but one of several vendors providing ordnance for Charleston’s defenders.  But at the same time, these vendors were stretched thin with orders from other pressed sectors and a rather diminishing supply of raw materials.

Again, we see Beauregard was right to admonish his gunners for wasteful firing. After all, $2706.50 would only buy a fraction of that expended on April 7.


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