Confederate Single Banded “Army” Brooke in Fort Sumter photo?

I mentioned the gun in this photo earlier today:

The photo was taken near the end of the Civil War after Confederates evacuated Fort Sumter and Charleston.  Otherwise the cameraman would have been subjected to no end of harassment from Morris Island’s batteries.  It is attributed to George Barnard.  The same gun appears in at least one other photo taken at that time in the same location outside the fort.  And it is far too large to be a “prop” that Barnard moved around.

So the reasonable assumption is this gun was left in the debris by the Confederates, after it fell from the fort during one of the many bombardments of Fort Sumter.  Looking at the background from the close up photo (the one used at the top of this post), the location of Sullivan’s Island provides a datum point to suggest the location of the gun.


If my triangulations are correct, the photo was taken at what was the southern corner of the fort.  As the most exposed corner, that bastion was obliterated by Federal bombardments, reduced to rubble early by the close of 1863.  Both photos show the obstructions placed by Confederates to impede landings.


There are the chevaux-de-frise mentioned in an earlier post:


The closest stake has wire wrapped around it.


But let me focus on the gun.  The exterior shape is suggestive of Brooke Rifles.  Perhaps this is a function of the photo’s perspective, but the gun’s chase has the cone shape typical of Brooke Rifles.  The trunnions, rimbases, and sight base are also similar to those features seen on surviving Brooke Rifles.


Compare to a single banded 7-inch Brooke from the CSS Atlanta, now displayed at the Washington Navy Yard:

WashNY 21 July 296

The photo resolution allows close examination of the band… and the rust pitting. This band was built up with at least five “hoops” welded together.  That number of hoops was the same recorded for early production Brooke 7-inch rifles with single bands.


Notice the water seepage between the last two bands.  This may indicate some damage, which would be in the area of the vent.

There were two 7-inch Brookes in Fort Sumter at the time of the April 1863 ironclad attack.  Later in the summer, one of those Brookes suffered damage during firing, resulting in a crack near the vent.  Speculative at best, but something which should be considered, and which might explain why the Confederates just left the gun outside Fort Sumter.

The gun has all the appearances of a Brooke Rifle … right up to the breech:


The breech appeared to have a “mushroom knob” of the type common on new pattern columbiads (as designed before the war by Thomas J. Rodman to better handle the strain when handling these large guns).  Several surviving Confederate columbiads have the mushroom knob.  In fact, if you look over the gun in the foreground, there’s a Confederate columbiad, with just such a mushroom knob, also in the rubble.


But no surviving Brookes have mushroom knobs.  One explanation I would advance here – this is an “Army” Brooke.  In an earlier post, I noted that two Brookes arriving at Charleston in February 1863 were described by Tregedar as “Army Rifles” and on delivery receipts as “Brooke rifles.”  For some time I’ve assumed the “Army” attributes included a split knob and ratchet bar as shown on surviving plans from Confederate Navy records:

But with the photograph in mind, I’d suggest the breach face of those “Army Brookes” were similar to contemporary Confederate columbiads – mushroom knob with ratchets sunk into the breech face.

A detail question from the details of a photograph.

“A quantity of iron was shipped by the steamer last night”: Scrap iron from Ft. Sumter

A recurring theme that I see with the Confederate war effort is the shortage of iron.  Territory lost early in the war, particularly in the western theater, cut into the supply sources for iron.  Manufacturing centers throughout the south limited output for want of iron.  In search of more supply, the Confederates turned to scrap iron to feed into the iron works.  Throughout the summer of 1863, authorities encouraged the garrison at Batteries Wagner and Gregg to recover spent projectiles.  Likewise the defenders of Fort Sumter collected scrap metal, no small amount of it projectiles from the long Federal bombardments, and sent it away to Charleston.  Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Elliott reported one such shipment in his daily log for January 12, 1864:

I have the honor to report that the thick weather will not permit an observation of the fleet this morning.  I was unable to discover the fourth monitor yesterday.  A quantity of old iron was shipped by the steamer last night; a 42-poundr lies ready for shipment when the flat shall be sent.

The Department’s journal offered a better description of the scrap, noting:

Last night a quantity of scrap iron, pieces of shells, &c., was brought to the city from Fort Sumter, and a 42-pounder smooth-bore, which has recently been disinterred from the ruins, lies on the berm ready for shipment….

One would assume the 42-pdr gun was buried during the first major bombardment of Fort Sumter that occurred the previous August.  And it was likely unserviceable.

Keep in mind this material was not being collected from someone’s junk yard or garage.  This was a removal of scrap iron from the front lines, under active bombardment and threat of attack.  Men were risking life and limb in some cases to collect up shell fragments and such.

The scrap iron from Fort Sumter went from there to be melted and reformed into useful implements of war.  Some of that iron probably returned to Fort Sumter in the form of defensive materials or braces used by Confederate engineers.  Photographs taken at the end of the war show prominent and numerous “I-beams” to support wire impediments at water’s edge on the destroyed faces of the fort.

And those photos from 1865 show several guns, big guns mind you, that were not recovered by Confederates.  The one in center view here is a bit of a mystery.  Let me spin that discussion off to a separate post this morning.

(Citations from OR, Series I, Volume 35, Part I, Serial 65, pages 133, 179.)