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.

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

  1. Mr. Swain,
    I am a researcher of Brooke guns and the picture that you have posted on 12 Jan 2014 caught my attention. I shared your blog and photos with another Brooke researcher, Bill Lockridge. We both are in agreement with you that this is indeed an “Army” Brooke. Please contact us.
    Thank you,
    Gordon Thrasher

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