20-pdr and 30-pdr Parrotts against Wagner: Battery Hays on the left

Having spent time discussing the batteries on Morris Island proper and the parallels, time to give the batteries on the “left” their due. These batteries sat on sand dunes which extended off the back of the island into the marsh. These were far enough off the island to require their own map in the official records.


As the positions were surrounded by marsh and backwater creeks, there was no need as much infantry trench work seen with the batteries on the parallels. The separation from the beach-side of the island also offered a good angle on Fort Sumter, Battery Wagner, and Battery Gregg.

Covering most of the lower half of the map, Battery Hays took up more space than any of the other batteries (either on the left or the parallels). Engineers built Battery Hays prior to the July 18 attack on Battery Wagner. At that time, the battery held seven 30-pdr Parrotts and four 20-pdr Parrotts. These were arranged in “left” and “right” wings. Why these were not separate named batteries, I could not say. Later work added a couple more 30-pdr Parrotts, and more importantly the 8-inch Parrott in the advanced gun position.

Turning to the right wing of the battery in detail, these consisted of three detached positions with one supporting infantry trench:


From top to bottom (that would be from left to right, or west to east, if you prefer), there was a two gun 20-pdr Parrott position, another two gun 20-pdr Parrott position, and a two gun 30-pdr Parrott position. The rear most position had a bombproof and the others had splinter-proof magazines. Notice the infantry trench from the center position, connecting to the road leading to the rear of the dunes.

The reports of Brigadier-General John Turner, the Chief of Artillery directing the bombardments, did not mention the 20-pdr Parrotts in the list of weapons firing at either Fort Sumter or Battery Wagner from mid-August. So those may have been directed elsewhere, or just used to cover the backwaters.

Included with the map was a profile of the center position, on the line K-L:


We see here the parapet of the gun position, the traverse between the two galleries, and the epaulement. To the rear (left) is the splinter-proof for this position.

Looking to the left wing of Battery Hays, the gun positions there were consolidated into a single work:


The seven guns of the left wing sat in three galleries. These were the seven 30-pdr Parrotts mentioned by Turner in his reports. Line E-F is a profile provided by the engineers:


One of the two bombproofs positioned in the epaulements is on that profile line.

A detachment of Company D, 3rd Rhode Island Infantry manned Battery Hays during the bombardments of August and September. Captain R.G. Shaw of the 3rd Rhode Island Heavy Artillery commanded the battery. The battery stood 1,830 yards from Battery Wagner and 2,950 yards from Battery Gregg.

A series of photos shows, I think, the three galleries of the left wing of Battery Hays. Again, turning to the Hagley Museum and Library collection of Haas & Peale photographs, we see a pair of 30-pdr Parrotts:


Another pair of 30-pdrs:


And a trio of Parrotts in the last photo:


Look close and you’ll see budge barrel in each photo.


Many of, if not all, these Parrotts have the bolted on naval clevis. This may indicate the Parrotts were drawn from naval stocks down at Port Royal. Or perhaps the Army got priority shipment, taking over a naval order, from West Point. Look close and you’ll see rear sights set for the desired range.


Look even closer and you’ll see the loop of a gimlet or priming wire standing up from the vent, over the gun’s band.

The 20- and 30-pdr Parrotts were light weapons compared to the armament of other positions on Morris Island. I’ll look next to the heavy guns in the Left Batteries among the dunes.