The armament of Battery Wagner included a varied lot when compared to the predominately Parrott siege train on the Federal side of Morris Island. The assortment of Wagner’s guns reflected the sources drawn upon by the Confederates. Battery Wagner featured fifeteen gun positions and three mortar positions. Those are lettered here for clarity:
Major Thomas Brooks recorded the locations of guns in the battery at the time of capture. You’ll notice I skipped “F” because that location, of a broken gun, was not annotated clearly. Brooks skipped “J” in his records. So we have A to T with those omissions.
There were minor variations in the armament during the siege. And of course several of the weapons were disabled, some repaired, during the siege. Let me discuss these in order of the positions:
- A – During the early assaults on the battery, no guns were here. By September a 12-pdr field howitzer occupied this position.
- B – Also unused early in the siege. Later an 8-inch siege howitzer occupied this spot.
- C – Originally a rifled 32-pdr gun. Later a 10-inch Columbiad. The Federals reported the columbiad had a broken trunnion.
- D – A 10-inch Columbiad. Damaged at intervals during the siege, but in good condition at the time of capture.
- E - 32-pdr smoothbore gun.
- F- Not a proper position, but listed as a 42-pdr rifled and banded gun, but dismounted.
- G – Originally an 8-inch seacoast howitzer, but later an 8-inch siege howitzer, which was damaged at the time of capture.
- H – 42-pdr carronade, on a broken carriage at time of capture.
- I – 8-inch Navy Shell Gun.
- K – No gun in place at the time of the July assaults. Later a 32-pdr gun.
- L – No gun in place at time of July assaults. Later a 32-pdr Navy Gun.
- M – 8-inch Navy Shell Gun.
- N – 32-pdr carronade. (At one time a 32-pdr howitzer was reported in this position.)
- O -32-pdr carronade
- P – 32-pdr carronade. Originally mounted on the wall but broken and dismounted by the time of capture.
- Q – 32-pdr gun. Burst and dismounted at time of capture. The gun was at one time mounted at the position in front of “R”.
- R – 8-inch bronze English mortar.
- S – 10-inch seacoast mortar.
- T – 32-pdr carronade covering the sallyport (though I think this may have been a 32-pdr field howitzer).
I don’t think this is an exhaustive listing. Additional 12-pdr and 32 pdr field howitzers and 32-pdr howitzers were listed in the fort’s armament at the start of the siege. Also add to this tally the guns in Battery Gregg which included 8-inch shell guns and a IX-inch Dahlgren.
These weapons saw heavy service during the seven weeks of siege operations. During some of the days of heaviest fighting, Brigadier-General Alfred Colquitt reported the following expenditures of ammunition from Battery Wagner’s guns:
- August 29 – 32-pdr smoothbore guns fired 27 shell, one canister and one grapeshot; 32-pdr howitzers fired 20 shells; 12-pdr howitzer fired 99 case and 53 canister.
- August 30 – 10-inch mortars fired 40 shells; 10-inch columbiads fired four shells; 8-inch seacoast howitzers fired 30 shells and eight grape; 32-pdr smoothbore guns fired 9 shells and one each of grape and canister; 12-pdr howitzers added 62 case, 44 shells, and 8 canister.
- August 31 – 203 shots from guns and howitzers; 61 shells from mortars.
- September 1 – 182 shots fired from all weapons.
Compared to the Federal siege guns, the non-uniform armament of Battery Wagner offered few long range weapons. A couple of columbiads, often just one serviceable, offered token resistance against the Federal ironclads. At the same time a motley array of short range weapons were employed to “sweep” the approaches to the fortification. The carronades, howitzers, and mortars in Battery Wagner were much feared by those building the approach lines in front of the Confederate works.