Eighteenth Annual Appomattox CH / Longwood U. Civil War Seminar

The Eighteenth Annual Civil War Seminar, hosted by Appomattox Court House National Historic Park and Longwood University, is on Saturday, February 18, 2017.  As in the past few years, the place to be is Jarman Auditorium on the Longwood University campus, Farmville, Virginia.

Details about the speakers and schedule went up on the Appomattox event page earlier this week (to which I’ll add annotations from the flyer):

  • 8:30 a.m.          Doors open
  • 9:00 a.m.          Introduction by Dr. David Coles
  • 9:10 a.m.          Eric Buckland:  John S. Mosby: The Perfect Man in the Perfect Place

From January 1863 to April 1865, Virginian John Singleton Mosby was afforded the unique opportunity to execute a vision he had for conducting irregular combat operation behind Union lines in Northern Virginia.  He achieved singular success as one of the greatest small unit unconventional leaders in history.

  • 10:15 a.m.        Ralph Peters: The Human Side of Civil War Leadership

… explores the professional, emotional and physical challenges of command late in the war, as losses among leaders mounted and health decayed, even as the war’s demands expanded. It focuses on exemplary figures such as Francies Channing Barlow and “Little Billy” Mahone, John Brown Gordon and William C. Oates, as well as Grant and Lee.

  • 11:30 a.m.        William C. Davis: Grant, Lee, and Leadership

The two greatest commanders of the Civil War era had very different leadership styles and approaches to management, yet when it came to how they made decisions they were remarkably similar.  Their ways of marshaling manpower, material , and other resources helped determine the outcome of their campaigns, but so did their personalities and outlooks on life and the world around them.

  • 12:30                 Lunch
  • 1:45 p.m.          Dr. Richard J. Sommers: Enduring Lessons in Leadership from the Siege of Petersburg

The Siege of Petersburg was the longest campaign of the Civil War. It centered on the Northern attack and Southern defense of the Confederate capital, Richmond, and its crucial line-of-communications center, Petersburg.  The campaign pitted the foremost general of each nation – Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant for the United States and General Robert E. Lee for the Confederate States – directly against each other.

  •  2:45 p.m.        William C. Davis: Lincoln and Davis as Commanders in Chief

We often forget that the president is also the commander-in-chief of all the armed forces of the United States.  As such it is his duty in wartime to marshal all the resources — human and industrial — of his nation to the overarching goal of defense and/or victory.  Lincoln and Davis came to the task each with significant advantages and handicaps, and each in some areas performed better or worse than the other.

No reservations necessary.  Signs will be posted on the Longwood University Campus.  For directions to the campus go to http://www.longwood.edu.  For more information contact Dr. David Coles at 434-395-2220 or Patrick Schroeder at 434-352-8987, Ext. 232.

As I’ve mentioned for previous years, you will not find a better venue in terms of quality of content for the price – this one is FREE.

I plan to attend and hope to see you there.  But if you are unable to, I’ll be on Twitter providing some of the highlights.

Summary Statement, 2nd Quarter, 1863 – Preface and Notes

The official title of the ledger sheet is “Summary Statement of Ordnance and Ordnance Stores on hand in the Artillery Regiments in the service of the United States during the Second Quarter ending June 30th, 1863.”

Page 1

The layout of this form differs little from that of the previous two quarters.  So readers will be familiar with the format and presentation.  Yes, some of this will be repetitive – the same batteries reporting mostly the same equipment.  Though I hope readers understand the intent – that of presenting the data in a linear format so as to allow for “point in time” references. Yes, this is handy for the “what guns did they have?” or “what ammunition was on hand?” questions.  Though the latter, I’d say, was more a day to day proposition.  Furthermore, I think these numbers provide a glimpse back at operational and administrative procedures used during the war.  Things that escaped discussion, for the most part, as we surged to understand battles, campaigns, and politics.  But still a factor to consider when discussing the success or failures within the parameters of those battles, campaigns, or political actions, as the case may be.

In essence, the second quarter of 1863 should be a “copy and paste” for the most part from the first quarter.  There were not a lot of major reorganizations and refits conducted between March and June of that year (well… one exception, which will be mentioned below).  But what will make the second quarter of interest is what was going on operationally.  And there were four major moving parts, operationally speaking, in my opinion.

During the months of April, May, and June, General U.S. Grant executed the Vicksburg Campaign.  Concurrently, if not completely complementary, General Nathaniel Banks worked against Port Hudson.  Those operations seemed to sponge up resources from all around the Mississippi Valley, supplanting most everything going on from the Appalachians to the Rockies.

Well save one thing… the slow starting Tullahoma Campaign out of central Tennessee.  The new organization of the Army of the Cumberland would stand to the test of a major movement, though not a major battle until the following quarter.

In the east, the Chancellorsville Campaign proved a misfire for Federal efforts.  That prompted some shuffling of artillery batteries within the Army of the Potomac, mostly to streamline and improve command and control of the “long arm.”  Although the summary statements did not track such assignments, I will keep note of those as we discuss each battery in turn. And of course we must keep in mind those batteries were soon back on the march, going north instead of south, as the Gettysburg campaign began.

Lastly, because you know my favorite study, we must also recall the Department of the South was not exactly a dormant sector.  In April, the Federals would salvage a lodgement along the coast after the defeat of the ironclads at Fort Sumter. The position on Folly Island would turn into a base to launch a major offensive on Morris Island.

So those are all things “rattling around in the box” that we call the second quarter of 1863.  Notice how so much of those operations placed batteries in the field on June 30.  Indeed some on the cusp of major battles.  And I think this is reflected in the “date received” column of the summaries.  Consider the first lines from the first page, covering the 1st US Artillery:

0168_1_Snip_1stUS

None of these returns were received in Washington before August.  One was not posted until 1864.  Mind you, these were the “regulars” and on top of that the FIRST regulars.  Some of whom were operating with the modern DC commuter’s range of downtown Washington.  Yet, their reports were delayed for a couple of months.  So we can immediately tell the operational tempo of war affected the turning wheels of bureaucracy.

And of course that immediately calls up questions about the accuracy of those returns.   If your “report as of date” is June 30 and on July 1 your battery is involved in a most vicious combat, how do you file?

A recently mentioned example to mind, consider Battery B, 4th US.  The summary has the battery with 164 canister. Now was that the quantity going into action on July 1, some of which would be expended in front of the Thompson House?  Or was that 164 canister after post-battle resupply?  Or was that 164 canister as of November 6 when the report was received in Washington?  And that for a battery operating, for a significant portion of the period, within a day’s railroad ride for any envelope addressed to Washington.

Yes, the numbers lead to questions. But at the same time, they provide a better foundation for discussion.  You see, those cannon and their projectiles were not simply laying about in nice piles for the use of the army.  That equipment and materials had to be supplied.  SUPPLIED.  A verb that is so easy to write, representing a vital supporting activity to any operation… but one often painfully difficult to enact.

Later this week, I’ll start posting the transcriptions for the second quarter.  You’ll find those linked, as I post them, on the Second Quarter, 1863 page.

Fortification Friday: “a redan or a lunette, is thrown up on the exterior to cover the outlet”

Before we close the discussion of openings for forts (see what I did there?), let me circle back to compare Mahan and Wheeler in regard to one of the fine points considered.  That being the use of a detached redan or lunette in advance of the outlet.  Recall that in pre-war writing, Mahan suggested:

In very frequented passages, a redan or a lunette, is thrown up on the exterior to cover the outlet, and thus ensure its safety in case of surprise.

And Wheeler, in the post-war, mentioned a similar arrangement, but perhaps narrowed the application to those larger outlets, for sorties, where simple interior traverses would not be practical.

Mahan offered two figures that illustrated the redan to the front of an outlet:

PlateVIIFig48_49

Figure 48 offers a wide redan in front of an outlet, which is further covered and flanked by by the “horns” of the larger work.  A very well protected outlet, we might say.  Mahan considered this a Redan Line.

On Figure 49, we see much more complexity.  Particularly with the defensive lines of fire.  The outlet is nested within a redan of a larger line.  On both sides are faces within redans of differing angles. This is considered a Tenaille Line – a proper definition we will discuss later.  But the point being the covering redan, to the front of the outlet, was absolutely necessary here in order to protect that weak spot.  The covering redan is somewhat off center of the outlet, perhaps to limit exposure at the expense of accessibility.

Wheeler, as you may recall, gave us only a simple rendition of the covering redan:

WheelerFig51

The question I have in regard to these advanced, detached “parts” covering openings is… just how often were these employed during the Civil War?

When examining surviving earthworks, we often find the area around the outlets obliterated.  Sometimes, due to necessity, that is done to facilitate visitor access.  But more often, just a case where the structures around the outlets were the most susceptible to erosion.

And when examining wartime plans, we see some use of these redans… but more often not.  Consider Fortress Rosecrans outside Murfreesboro:

FortressRosecrans

This was, some have said, the largest fort built during the war.  And in this plan we see examples of many features suggested by Mahan.  Specific to the outlets, we see up near the top that Battery Cruft was a detached lunette (maybe a “half lunette”) covering an outlet.  Elsewhere, such as next to Lunette McCook at the bottom right, we see an outlet (an existing road) without a covering redan or traverse.  Though we do see obstacles erected to the right of Lunette McCook.  And certainly that named work was positioned to dominate the approaches to the outlet.  Furthermore, what you don’t see in my “snip” are works in advance of the fortress that covered the railroad and road.  Though those were oriented south and not regarded as covering the outlet in question.

Another plan to consider is from Virginia, at Deep Bottom:

DeepBottomSnip

Here we see five road crossings at the main line of the works.  One of those is blocked entirely by a redan.  The other four (including one that appears to be a path cut just to clear a redan) have no traverses or covering works.  Just obstacles placed in front.

If we are assessing the protection of outlets, with Mahan’s suggestions in mind, we find a mixed application of those covering redans.  Seems to me the use of that sort of feature was based on the engineering assessment of need.

Now considering such use under Wheeler’s suggested implementation, let’s look to the location of a few large scale sorties.  First, how about the works were the Crater assault was mounted:

CraterSector

And further around the lines, and further forward in the historical timeline, to the sector around Fort Mahone:

FortMahoneSector

And to the left of that sector near where the Federal Sixth Corps mounted their sortie:

FortWelchSector

Now the scale of these maps mean these are not so much “plans” as operational maps.  So we know there are structures that escaped the pen here.  But what stands out, with double underlines, is the use of something far more elaborate than Mahan and Wheeler discussed.  We see entire sections of works advanced in a manner to provide staging grounds for those formations preparing for the assaults. Major assaults, mind you, involving whole divisions.  These were, you see, works built for the offensive.  Grand offensives!  In that light, might we say the entire Federal line was one large “covering work” in front of an array of staging areas and supply depots?

“… forced to halt and lie down by the tornado of canister…”: Stewart’s Battery at Gettysburg

Last summer, Civil War Trust re-opened the Thompson House site at Gettysburg, better known as Lee’s Headquarters.  The Trust’s site details the work from acquisition through restoration with sliding navigation and videos.  If you are not familiar with this story, the Trust finalized the purchase of the grounds in January 2015.  The restoration involved the demolition of non-historic structures, removal of a parking lot, and renovation of the historic structure.  We might simply say this was a “rollback of the asphalt” type preservation effort.  But there’s a little more.  The effort effectively restored a portion of the viewshed.  And given the prominence of the house in relation to the battle, as well as featuring in photographs from the war and immediate post-war period, the restoration aids in interpretation.

However, from my perspective the most anticipated change was the return of cannons to a location adjacent to the Thompson House.  Speaking here of the position for Battery B, 4th US, commanded by Lieutenant James Stewart at the time of the battle. I’ve heard several stories as to why the position has long been without cannons.  But all boil down to the park not having the resources to spread around. The concrete pads were there.  But no cannon.

1 Nov 261

The spot was within the NPS easement, and thus technically not part of the Trust’s restoration, but the re-installation of the cannon just made perfect sense at this juncture.

012

For those who query about such details, the guns are 12-pdr Napoleons.  The one on the left (of the photo above) is registry number 14 from Cyrus Alger (cast in 1862):

013

And on the right is registry number 318 from Revere Copper, cast in 1863:

017

The battery had six Napoleons in action during the battle.  Around mid-day on July 1, 1863, Stewart deployed the battery on the north side of the Chambersburg Pike.  Stewart himself took a three gun section to the north side of the railroad cut.  The other three, under Lieutenant James Davison, stood between the Pike and the railroad.  Augustus Buell, in “The Cannoneer”, described the disposition:

We were formed… “straddle” of the Railroad Cut, the “Old Man” [Stewart] with the three guns forming the right half-battery on the north side, and Davison with the three guns of the left half-battery on the south side.  Stewart’s three guns were somewhat in advance of ours, forming a slight echelon in half-battery, while our three guns were in open order, bringing the left gun close to the Cashtown Road.  We were formed in a small field just west of Mrs. Thompson’s dooryard, and our guns ranked the road to the top of the low crest forming the east bank of Willoughby’s Creek.

And today we can look over those guns at for a view similar to that of Davison’s gunners on the day of battle.  We might debate as to exactly where the guns were placed that day.  But we see here ample room to deploy a three gun section commanding the slope up to McPherson’s Ridge.  And what did the battery do in this position?  Again, Buell recalled:

Directly in our front -that is to say, on both sides of the pike – the Rebel infantry, whose left lapped the north side of the pike quite up to the line of the railroad grading, had been forced to halt and lie down by the tornado of canister that we had given them from the moment they came in sight over the bank of the creek.

However effective the battery fires were, they were somewhat exposed with the Confederate advance.

015

Buell continued:

But the regiments in the field to their right (south side) of the pike kept on, and kept swinging their right flanks forward as if to take us in reverse or cut us off from the rest of our troops near the Seminary.  At this moment Davison, bleeding from two desperate wounds, and so weak that one of the men had to hold him on his feet (one ankle being totally shattered by a bullet), ordered us to form the half-battery, action left, by wheeling on the left gun as a pivot, so as to bring the half-battery on a line with the Cashtown Pike, muzzles facing south, his object being to rake the front of the Rebel line closing in on us from that side. Of the four men left at our gun when this order was given two had bloody heads, but they were still “standing by,” and Ord. Serg’t Mitchell jumped on our off wheel to help us.  “This is tough work, boys,” he shouted, as we wheeled the gun around, “but we are good for it.” And Pat Wallace, tugging at the near wheel, shouted back: “If we ain’t, where’ll you find them that is!”

Well, this change of front gave us a clean rake along the Rebel line for a whole brigade length, but it exposed our right flank to the ranking volleys of their infantry near the pike, who at that moment began to get up again and come on.  Then for seven or eight minutes ensued probably the most desperate fight ever waged between artillery and infantry at close range without a particle of cover on either side.  They gave us volley after volley in front and flank, and we gave them double canister as fast as we could load.  The 6th Wisconsin and 11th Pennsylvania men crawled up over the bank of the cut or behind the rail fence in rear of Stewart’s caissons and joined their musketry to our canister, while from the north side of the cut flashed the chain-lightning of the Old Man’s half-battery in one solid streak!

At this time our left half-battery, taking their first line en echarpe, swept it so clean with double canister that the Rebels sagged away from the road to get cover from the fences and trees that lined it.  From our second round on a gray squirrel could not have crossed the road alive.

All that drama taking place within easy view of the area now preserved around the Thompson house:

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(Citation from Augustus Buell, “The Cannoneer”: Recollections of Service in the Army of the Potomac, Washington, D.C.: The National Tribune, 1890, pages 67-8.)

Fortification Friday: Barriers, Bridges, and Ramps … the fort “communications” infrastructure

Writing the instructions for cadets, almost two decades after the Civil War, Junius B. Wheeler focused more on the functional requirements of outlets in the fortifications, as opposed to the important details of construction.  The nuances here are, I think, important.  Mahan presented the outlet had important operational uses within fortifications, but proceeded to discuss the particulars assuming the student would understand what those uses were. Wheeler focused on the uses up front, citing communications as the need and outlets as the remedy. And we must broaden “communications” a bit, perhaps our 21st century writers might say “traffic” and refer to movement of personnel, supplies, as well as messengers carrying communication.

Wheeler added to Mahan’s instructions with mention of “turn back” traverses at the mouth of outlets (to reduce the area under enemy lines of fire) and wider outlets for sorties.  But for the most part, the construction techniques remained the same.  Likewise, Wheeler identified the same supplemental structures as Mahan – barriers and bridges – while adding a few embellishments.

First off, we have the barriers. Which were… well… gates:

Barriers. – The outlets are usually arranged so that they can be quickly closed, to guard against surprise. The means used is a gate, technically termed a barrier.

The gate is made with two leaves, hanging on posts by hinges, and made to open inward.

The frame of each leaf is composed of two uprights, called stiles; two cross pieces, one at the other at the bottom, called rails; and a diagonal brace, called a swinging bar.

The leaf of the barrier may be open, by spiking stout upright pieces, with intervals between them, to the pieces of the frame; or it may be made solid, forming what is known as a bullet-proof gate.

Yes, something you might purchase, pre-fabricated, at the home improvement store.  But note that Wheeler offered two versions – a light “open” leaf version with spaces between the uprights AND a heavy “bullet-proof” version with no spaces.  The latter was illustrated in Figure 52 of Wheeler’s book:

WheelerFig52

Wheeler added some practical observations about the construction of these heavy gates:

Since the gate must be strong, the leaves of it are necessarily very heavy.  The leaves must be hung upon stout posts, firmly braced into the ground, to sustain the great weight of the gate.

The top rails of all barriers should not be less than six feet above the ground.

In the barriers with open leaves, the vertical pieces are usually extended from eighteen inches to two feet above the top rails, and their upper ends sharpened.

In those which are solid, it is usual to arrange some obstruction upon the top rail, such as sharp pointed spikes, broken glass, etc., to interfere with persons climbing over the top. It is usual to provide apertures in the leaves, through which the men can fire upon the ground outside.

Gotta love those details.  From having a “peephole” to shoot out from to having broken glass atop the gate.

Bridges were another supplement to the outlet’s composition:

Bridges. – When the ditch has been completed along that part of the work in front of the outlet, it is usual to carry the roadway across the ditch by means of a bridge.

The ditches of field works are, as a rule, quite narrow, and the bridges used to span them are very simple constructions.

A common method of building the bridge is to lay three or more sleepers across the ditch, and cover them with planks laid transversely.  If the span is sufficient to require intermediate supports, these are obtained by using trestles placed in the ditch.

A bridge built in this way can be quickly removed and speedily re-built, if there be any necessity for it.

We might consider this a temporary bridge without any means for retracting or removing, save dismantling.  Thus it was kept to the bare minimum arrangements.

Wheeler mentioned that other “hand-books on military engineering” described the use of draw bridges or rolling bridges in fortifications. He only briefly discussed the former, being basically as that detailed by Mahan in earlier texts.  The latter were designed to be “… pushed out from the work, and drawn back into it.” Both sort of bridges were,

… known as movable bridges, are useful to guard against surprise, to prevent stragglers from entering, and to keep the garrison in the work.  As a defense against an assault of a field work, they are of but little value.

To belabor that point:

The best method, is to have no ditch in front of an outlet, but let the roadway be on the natural surface of the ground.

Of course, operational needs might vary. But you get the point.

Wheeler offered one more supplemental structure under his heading of communications, but not one that was directly associated with outlets.  This was the ramp.  While all writers on fortifications discussed ramps in some regard, Wheeler saw fit to highlight the structure and its role for interior communications (and again, broaden that definition as mentioned above):

Ramps. – The short roads used in fortifications to ascend from one level to another, are termed ramps.

The width of a ramp depends upon its use, following the rule laid down for the width of passages.  A width of six feet for infantry, and of ten feet for artillery, are the widths generally used.

The inclination of the ramp may be as great as one on six, and as little as one on fifteen, depending upon the difference of level between the top and bottom. The side slopes of earth with its natural slope.

The ramps in a work should be placed in positions where they will not be in the way, nor occupy room which may be required for other purposes.

Steps or stairways are sometimes used instead of ramps. The rule for them is that the breadth of each step, called the tread, shall be at least twelve inches, and the height of the step, known as the rise, shall be about eight inches.

They are substituted for ramps in those places where there is not sufficient room for the ramp.

Nothing new or advanced here.  Ramps and stairs were part of fortifications dating back to the earliest times.  What is noteworthy here is that Wheeler considered them part of the fort’s communication infrastructure… again communication in the sense of how one moves into, out of, and inside of the fort.

(Citations from Junius B. Wheeler, The Elements of Field Fortifications, New York: D. Van Nostrand, 1882, pages 151-5.)

 

Battle of the Bands, part 2: Comparison between Tredegar, Macon, and authentic Parrotts

When discussing Parrott rifles, we really have to focus on the bands.  The bands over the breech end of the cannon are what make the Parrott a Parrott, by type.  Without the band, the Parrott would simply be a gun of cast-iron that generally followed the Ordnance Shape in exterior arrangements.  One that would be prone to bursting.  And thus something not likely to have seen much service.  On the other hand, with the band in place, at least the field gun calibers were actually reputable weapons… relatively speaking.

And it is important to understand the variations of these bands. Some time back I highlighted the difference between the authentic, original Robert P. Parrott-designed, and West Point Foundry produced, guns and those “knock offs” from Tredegar. The Tredegar weapons had longer and thicker bands.  This was due to construction techniques.  In brief, the original, patented, Parrott design called for a single bar to be heated, formed into a spiral, then placed onto the breech (and turned as it cooled).

On the other hand, Tredegar lacked the lavish facilities of West Point Foundry (and one might also say was aloof to some of the advancement in metalworking… but that’s a complex story). So when “copying” the Parrott for Confederate orders, Tredegar modified the technique to construct the band.  In short, Tredegar constructed a set of wrought iron rings or hoops.  When heated, those slipped onto the breech and were butt welded together.  As the rings cooled, they shrunk down onto the breech. Please note the basic technique was similar for Tredegar’s Parrott copies and larger weapons to include Brooke Rifles.  These butt welded bands were not as strong as the spiral welds from West Point Foundry.  So Tredegar allocated more metal to compensate.

As indicated above, Tredegar’s work was aimed at replicating the features of the northern weapon.  Those copies were based on examples purchased just prior to the war (notably by Virginia) and others captured early in the war.  One would suspect the features employed for this replication would be passed directly to other vendors producing Parrott-type rifles for the Confederacy, such as Macon Arsenal.

But such presumption should be given a “field test” with study of surviving pieces.  And the place to do that is along Confederate Avenue at Gettysburg.  There we find a pair of 20-pdr Parrotts from West Point, although a “Navy” weapon with breeching shackle attached:

Gettysburg 13 May 2012 147

A pair of 20-pdr Tredegar Parrotts:

Confederate Ave 30 Jan 10 179

And, recently returned to the field, a pair of 20-pdr Parrotts from Macon Arsenal:

Gettysburg 020

(Yes, I should have stood to the right side of that Macon gun there… but Jim, I’m a blog writer, not a photographer!)

Measuring the length of the bands on these three, starting with the original, Yankee Parrott:

Gettysburg Sept 10 001

Just over 16 inches.  I call it 16 ¼ inches overall.

Now the Tredegar Parrott:

Gettysburg Sept 10 030

Substantially longer. I would call it 21 ¼ inches overall.

And finally, back (on the road) to the Macon gun:

Gettysburg Sept 10 020

Hold the phone there!  Look close at that tape:

Gettysburg Sept 10 022

Despite the “wiggle” in my tape, we have something shorter than the other two.  I call it 15 ¾ inches, round about.  So with three quick measures, we can throw out the presumption about Macon’s products just being straight copies of the Tredegar guns.  Of course, you could probably deduce that by noting the clearance of the band on the standard NPS reproduction carriage.

But is the Macon band thicker, by chance, for compensation?  Let’s start, for a baseline, back at the Federal Parrott:

Gettysburg Sept 10 003

Since the band edge is rounded off, we have to eye-ball this a bit.  I call it at just over 1 ½ inches.  I’ve seen secondary sources state this should be, precisely, 1.625 inches.  But we are “in the field” and the 1 ½ inch measure will be OK for now.

Moving to Tredegar’s product:

Gettysburg Sept 10 028

I’d say this is just about the same thickness.  Just over 1 ½ inches.  Though there are secondary sources that credit the Tredegar band on 20-pdrs as being 2 inches thick.  Let me take an assignment here to survey all surviving Tredegar 20-pdrs at Gettysburg for comparison.  But for now, we have the 1 ½ inch measure to work with for our purposes.

Now back to Macon:

Gettysburg Sept 10 025

So you don’t have to strain the eyes too much, I had a second measure where I fiddled with the ferule a bit measuring the second of the pair:

Gettysburg Sept 10 014

Clearly in both cases the measure is LESS than 1 ½ inches.  Substantially so.  I’d call it 1 9/32 inches.

But you may have noticed that my ruler was “set up” off the actual barrel a bit.  That’s because on both Macon Parrotts there is a “lip” or ring between the band and the barrel.  Let’s look close:

Gettysburg Sept 10 015

The clearance on the first Macon Parrott is tighter, but on the second there is a clear separation between this lip and the other components of the gun.  This is also clearly not a supplemental or inner band.  My first thought was this lip was the remainder of some fitting that limited the advancement of the band during construction.  But the more I looked at the lip, it appeared to be threaded.

And that, perhaps, would explain the different dimensions of the band. Speculation here, only, as no source I know of corroborates this. Perhaps Macon Arsenal threaded the bands onto the breech.  Such also might explain the “scuffs” that appear on the guns today.  If the bands were threaded, perhaps Macon felt the construction imparted additional strength over the butt welded bands and thus reduced dimensions.  But again, I’m only speculating here based on appearances.

By all means, don’t just accept my speculation here.  Go visit the guns and make your own observations. Then circle back to discuss!

Overall, let me offer this table for field measures of these three sets of Parrott rifles:

20pdrParrottComparisons

I would point out the measure taken in the field for both Confederate guns differs from printed secondary references.  So more “field trips” are warranted for conformation.

One other measure to share…. looking at the bore of the Macon rifle:

Gettysburg Sept 10 024

The bore size corresponds to the 20-pdr caliber, properly, at around 3 ¾ inch, in the books supposed to be 3.67 inches.  Notice the well defined rifling.  This piece likely did not see much service.  In all likelihood, the weapon was delivered in the spring of 1864, going to a location in Georgia.  Given the outcome of that summer’s campaign, quite possible this 20-pdr was captured, and spent the rest of the war in some Federal depot.

Wonder what story this gun would tell if allowed to speak?

Two stories I hope are interpreted with the Reconstruction Era National Monument

Officially announced as we entered the Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend, President Obama created the Reconstruction Era National Monument, along with several other monuments at historic sites related to the advancement of civil rights.  From the official fact sheet:

Reconstruction Era National Monument: Located in coastal South Carolina, the new Reconstruction Era National Monument encompasses four sites throughout Beaufort County that tell the vibrant story of the robust community developed by freed former African American slaves in the Reconstruction Era South.  This designation includes the Brick Baptist Church and Darrah Hall at the existing Penn Center on St. Helena Island as well as the Old Firehouse in downtown Beaufort and parts of Camp Saxton in Port Royal where the Emancipation Proclamation was read on New Year’s Day in 1863. These sites establish the first unit of the National Park System focused on telling the story of Reconstruction.

And that brand-new Monument already has its official website.  I’m impressed with the direction taken.  As I’ve pointed out before, there is a tendency to compartmentalize Reconstruction as if a separate, stand-alone chapter.  We should properly see a story-arc that connects the Civil War through to Civil Rights … and right up to our doorsteps today.  And Beaufort County, South Carolina is a perfect place to demonstrate that continuity.   Reconstruction of that county stated during the Civil War.  And the turns of Reconstruction into the post-war era may be traced readily across various sites in the county.

I am pleased to see the inclusion of Mitchelville and Fort Howell in the Monuments list of “Places to See.”  These immediately call to mind the military role within Reconstruction.  We often forget, despite being largely a political event, Reconstruction was in part a military operation.  And one that deserves deep study as a military operation.  Certainly as those military activities often directly contributed, or in some cases detracted from, the advancement of Civil Rights.  Furthermore, many of the military experiences from that period which deserve study.  There are lessons learned applicable even today.  (Dare I remind readers the very lengthy “reconstruction” engagements still ongoing in places such as Afghanistan?)

Several places within the Beaufort Historic District will no doubt get attention. Mention of the Baptist Church brings to mind one important story I’d like to see highlighted with the interpretation. After the battle of Port Royal Sound, November 1861, much of the county was occupied by Federal forces.  Many white residents fled inland, leaving behind a population of former slaves.  Those numbers swelled as more slaves escaped through the lines, or were brought to freedom by the Federals.  And that population turned, as people will in trying times, to their religious convictions for support.  Working among the freemen, Reverend Solomon Peck worked to establish a church, using the Old Baptist Meeting House among other places.  Seeking formal sanction for assuming control of the structures, Peck wrote to President Lincoln.  And Lincoln replied along the lines that if the majority of the members of the church still present (on the island) are indeed loyal to the United States Government, then they are entitled to use the facilities.  After all they would be “the church” in standing.

Doesn’t sound like a big deal. But when you look at it through the lens of history, it is. This is a level of equality not normally extended at that time.  So long as the persons were loyal … says nothing of citizenship, but loyal… then the government would recognize a legal standing.  The government recognized them as the body of a church.  Legally.  And what dovetails nicely in this story is the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation in the church, to freedmen, at the start of January, 1863.

Another story that I would much wish to see used in the interpretation of the new Monument comes from the military side in those Civil War years.  Frederick Denison, of the 3rd Rhode Island Heavy Artillery, recorded an episode that occurred outside Beaufort as the regiment garrisoned the island, in the spring of 1863:

We are here tempted to record a little military anecdote.  While Lieutenant [Edward] Waterhouse was on duty near Beaufort, having occasion to ride across the island in a carriage, he invited a staff-officer of the Regulars to ride with him.  Meeting a private of a colored regiment who paid the required salute, the Lieutenant properly returned it, when the following dialog ensued:

Regular: “Do you salute niggers?”

Lieutenant: “He is a soldier and saluted me.”

Regular:  “I don’t care for the regulations.  I swear I won’t salute a nigger.”

Lieutenant: “I obey the regulations and return a soldier’s salute.”

Regular: “Curse such regulations. I’ll never salute a nigger; and I don’t think much of any one that will.”

Lieutenant: (Coolly reining in his horse).  “You can get out and walk, sir.”

The snob tried his shoe-leather on the sand, a wiser man, we may hope, and with a higher idea of both the Lieutenant and the polite colored soldier.

You see, the Emancipation Proclamation might say the slaves are free. Constitutional amendments might guarantee their freedom, citizenship, and right to vote.  And those freedmen might even wear the uniform and carry a musket.  But real equality is not pressed down by the government.  It’s achieved at the personal level.  When the Lieutenant Waterhouses of the Army saw fit to treat every USCT private in the same manner as any other private in the Army, there is an equality to speak of.

The simple exchange of salutes might seem small in the grand scheme of things.  But that salute was but a small example of a larger sentiment building among those serving in the department.  Those USCT soldiers would earn the respect and admiration of many for deeds on Morris Island during the summer which followed. There would be plenty of those “regular staff-officer” types, at the time and the century that followed, who would not catch on.  Thankfully, over the span of the next 100 years, there were more of the Lieutenant Waterhouses who did.

(Citation from Frederic Denison, Shot and Shell: The Third Rhode Island Heavy Artillery Regiment in the Rebellion, 1861-1865, Providence, R.I.: Third Rhode Island Artillery Veterans Association, 1879, page 150.)