Another 10-inch Rifled Columbiad to defend Charleston

Last month I discussed the elaborate work done to convert this 10-inch Model 1844 Columbiad into a rifled and banded weapon for use defending Charleston.

Fort Moultrie 3 May 2010 568

At that time, I mentioned a similar conversion done to another 10-inch Model 1844 Columbiad.

Remarkably, considering only two such conversions were allowed, is that both survived the war.  The wartime photo above was taken at Fort Johnson at the end of the war.  The axe-job on the carriage and lack of return rollers is the result of a quick attempt by Confederates to disable the gun.

Historian Warren Ripley made a strong tentative identification of the weapon in the wartime photo with the nod going to this rifled 10-inch columbiad at Fort Sumter today:

Fort Sumter 4 Aug 11 1601

This columbiad’s markings are shallow, partly due to heavy coats of paint needed to prevent corrosion.  But the trunnions still show the manufacturer’s stamp:

Fort Sumter 4 Aug 11 1597

And the year of manufacture:

Fort Sumter 4 Aug 11 1598

The muzzle markings indicate this columbiad was registry number 9 of Alger’s lot:

Fort Sumter 4 Aug 11 1596

At the bottom, hard to read, are the initials “J.W.R.” for the inspector John Wolfe Ripley.

The end of the bore is marred by corrosion, where at one time in the past a cannonball served as a plug.  Further down the bore, the rifling is still relatively good for 150 year old cuts:

Fort Sumter 4 Aug 11 1595

The breech of this columbiad retains the button cascabel and the elevating ratchets:

Fort Sumter 4 Aug 11 1594

And this view offers a good perspective to examine the bands, and what made the conversion different from the columbiad at Fort Moultrie today.  There are two bands over the breech.  But as the trunnions of this columbiad were intact, Eason & Brothers did not have to produce a trunnion band with associated retaining plate and rods.  Instead the columbiad received a simple set of bands.

Ft Sumter 3 May 2010 236

The inner band extended a couple inches more than the outer band.  And the outer band is beveled at the forward end.

According to correspondence from General P.G.T. Beauregard, after the success with the first 10-inch conversion, he directed Eason & Brothers to make this second conversion.  Both columbiads were the older Model 1844 pattern and not the new and revised patterns produced by Tredegar and Bellona during the war.  With the first conversion, Beauregard could say he took an unserviceable weapon and restored it to a serviceable condition.  With this second conversion, he could at least say the weapon was an older type of little value against the ironclads.  The second conversion weighed 20,000 pounds when complete, 2,000 pounds less than the first.

As indicated in the wartime photo, this 10-inch rifle went to Fort Johnson.  It appears in several photos taken at the end of the war.

Note the tall forward sight on the muzzle.  The columbiad remained at Fort Johnson, serving for some time as a memorial, until the 1950s when it was donated to the National Park Service and place in Fort Sumter.

The wartime photos are full of the great details I like to review.  So look for them to show up again in future posts.  But in the near term, I’m going to follow up this “walk around” with a look at a report given by Beauregard to Colonel Josiah Gorgas on this day (January 9) in 1864. In that report the general discussed the 10-inch rifled guns and other concerns about the cannons on hand at Charleston.