Napoleons in the Second Parallel on Morris Island

There are a several other photos taken on Morris Island during the summer of 1863 which I’ll give mention. Some of these show the “rear area,” in particular the ordnance yard and camps. Others show Batteries Wagner and Gregg after Federal occupation. I’ll get to those in due time.

However, I should, from a chronological standpoint, discuss a couple of photos taken in the second parallel showing the use of field artillery on the line. We’ve already looked at a photo of the howitzer battery. In addition to those four howitzers, and the two placed out in the surf battery, between two and four 12-pdr Napoleon guns and two 3.67-inch Wiard rifles bolstered the defense of the second parallel.

A photo of two Napoleons shows what I think is the two gun position drawn on Major Thomas Brooks’ siege map:


Brooks called out two locations in the second parallel with the annotation “Napoleon in barbette.” Those appear to be single gun positions. But on the far right of the line, in front of the Requa position on the surf battery on Brooks’ map, is a two gun position:


For a brief time in late August, the howitzers from the surf battery were relocated there. I think the photo shows those two guns, and those two guns are Napoleons at an early time in the evolution of the parallel. Looking to the background of the photo, the position overlooked the beach. And directly in front of the battery are branches of trees, which may be parts of the abatis laid there.

The Napoleons were part of Battery B, 3rd New York Light Artillery under Captain James Ashcroft. As with many of the photographs of batteries on Morris Island, the photographers appear to have captured an “action” scene. The crew is loading the gun on the right.


And we know that Napoleon was produced by Ames, Alger, or Revere, since there is both a hausse seat and a baseplate.

Better view of those fittings on the gun to the left. Notice also the blade sight on the muzzle. The crew ran out the lanyard for this gun. They were, one might guess, ready to fire the gun for the photographer. But wait a minute…


… firing through the sandbags? OK, set this one aside as a posed photograph. Give some credit, however, as Sullivan’s Island is visible in the background. The photographer was indeed on the front lines, even if a quiet salient of that line.

Elsewhere in the photo were several empty boxes and other debris. The blur leaves no visible markings to determine the purpose of these boxes.


Half concealed on the left is an ammunition chest.


To the far left of the photo is the wheel of some other vehicle.


The hub and axle are not that of another Napoleon. And it is not a limber. It is a non-regulation wheel. I think you’ve seen one like it before:

Matching the wheel and the ammunition chest brings us to this photo:


So we’ll look at that photo next.

Photo credits: Hagley Museum and Library collection of Haas & Peale photographs, ID Number 71MSS918_021.tif and 71MSS918_014.tif. Library of Congress, reproduction number LC-DIG-cwpb-03639.