Category Archives: Rifle Siege Guns

Summary Statement: December 31, 1862 – Connecticut, California, and Delaware Volunteer Batteries

The majority of artillery batteries employed by Federal forces during the Civil War were volunteer formations from the states.  Indeed, with the initial call for troops, there were more volunteer artillery batteries than needed.  Because the states were responsible for organizing and in some cases equipping these batteries, there were many variations – organization, training, equipage, and others.  Most of the “workable” variations were flushed out by the end of 1862.  As I’ve discussed before, senior artillerists focused on organization and training as early as the summer of 1861.  But the Federals were stuck with some of these variations, for better or worse.

From the administrative perspective, the naming of units is perhaps the most annoying to the researcher.  Some states conformed to the same conventions as the regulars – regiments with lettered batteries.  Others simply went with an ordinal number for each battery (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.).  Some states, New York for instance, used both. There were separate regimental systems for “light” and “heavy” artillery.  And… and… some states just seemed to adopt a “whatever” approach.  Thus the volunteer batteries were often cited by different names in reports.  Add to the confusion the practice of calling the battery by the commander’s name (or mustering officer’s name) in the field.  Makes one glad the alternate designations section appears in each OR volume.

That aside, there were also interesting variations with the equipment used by these volunteer batteries.  We’ll see more hand-written column headers as we proceed.  And those lead to some interesting research trails to say the least.

That preface out of the way, let us look at summary statements, alphabetically by state.  The first being from the states of Connecticut, California, and Delaware… Um… did I say alphabetical?  I guess the ordnance clerks winged it:


Over to the far right, we see a written column – “Siege Gun 1861, 4.5 in bore, …..”  I don’t know what the last line in that nomenclature is, but know that the weapon cited was one of my favorite – the 4.5-inch rifle.

So let’s break down the list starting with Connecticut.  Note the first two are the “light” batteries for field duty (see above about the different regimental systems here… more confusion for the light readers!).  The third is a battery from the “heavies” assigned for field duty:

  • 1st Battery, Connecticut Field [Light] Artillery – Beaufort, South Carolina with two 12-pdr field howitzers and six 3.80-inch James rifles.  The 1st Battery was assigned to the Department of the South.
  • 2nd Battery, Connecticut Field [Light] Artillery – Occoquan, Virginia with two 12-pdr field howitzers and four 3.80-inch James rifles.  Officially part of the Military District of Washington, the 2nd Battery was assigned to duty at Wolf Run Shoals.
  • Battery B, 1st Connecticut Heavy Artillery – Falmouth, Virginia with four 4.5-inch siege rifles.  This battery was assigned to the Artillery Reserve, Army of the Potomac.

And of course that last battery’s duty is well known.  I will venture to guess you’ve seen those guns before:

No mention in the summary of Battery M, 1st Connecticut Heavy, which was also assigned to the reserves at this time.  The two batteries were for all intents combined during their service in the field.

Moving out to California, one line is offered.  But it is not for a battery, but rather for 3rd California Volunteer Infantry having “stores in charge” that included two 6-pdr field guns and two 12-pdr mountain howitzers.  These were at Camp Douglas, Utah.  Keep in mind that the 3rd US Artillery had men assigned out west without artillery.  Yet we have the 3rd California Infantry with artillery without artillerists.  Go figure.

The last in this set that I’ve carved out of the summary is designated 1st Battery Delaware Artillery, Field.  That battery was sometimes known as Nield’s Independent Artillery, for it’s commander Benjamin Nields.  At the reporting date, it was stationed at Camp Barry in the District of Columbia.  They reported two 12-pdr field howitzers and four 3-inch steel rifles.  Wait… 3-inch steel rifles?  Perhaps some of those Singer, Nimick, and Company rifles?  Or one of the even more “exotic” weapons of more experimental nature?  I doubt either to be the case.  Looking forward a bit, a June 1864 report from the Official Records, when the battery was assigned to the Department of the Gulf, indicated four 3-inch Ordnance Rifles and two 12-pdr Napoleons:


Yes, enough time transpired between the two data points that guns may have changed out.  But I would submit it is more likely the wrong column was used in the summary due to a mistake at some point in the data gathering.

We’ve seen a lot of interesting entries from the first page of the summary.  The ammunition pages offer a few more.  However the smoothbore entries are as one might expect:


  • 1st Connecticut Light: 12-pdr field howitzer projectiles – 142 shells, 254 case, and 72 canister.
  • 2nd Connecticut Light: 12-pdr field howitzer – 120 shells, 160 case, and 31 canister.
  • 3rd California Infantry: 6-pdr field gun projectiles – 112 shot, 106 case, and 112 canister; 12-pdr mountain howitzer – 144 shell, 120 case, and 144 canister.
  • 1st Delaware: 12-pdr field howitzer – 26 shell, 54 case, and 20 canister.

For the rifled projectiles, we start with Hotchkiss patent:


  • 1st Connecticut Light: 6-pdr 3.80-inch projectiles – 120 Hotchkiss percussion shell, 120 Hotchkiss fuse shell, and 518 Hotchkiss bullet shell (case).
  • 2nd Connecticut Light: 6-pdr 3.80-inch – 70 Hotchkiss fuse shell and Hotchkiss 168 bullet shell (case).
  • 1st Delaware:  3-inch projectiles – 77 Hotchkiss canister and 340 Hotchkiss bullet shell (case).

Note the quantities for the 1st Connecticut.

As with yesterday’s discussion with the Parrott projectiles, keep in mind that different inventors modified their projectiles to fit in their competitor’s cannons.  Here we see Hotchkiss projectiles that fit into the James rifles.  More Hotchkiss  patent and the James Patent on the next page:


  • 1st Connecticut Light: 6-pdr 3.80-inch – 200 Hotchkiss canister and 235 James canister.
  • 2nd Connecticut Light: 6-pdr 3.80-inch – 50 (or 80?) Hotchkiss canister.

And rounding out the rifled projectiles, those of the Schenkl patent:


  • 1st Connecticut Light: 6-pdr 3.80-inch – 1,078 Schenkl shells.
  • 2nd Connecticut Light: 6-pdr 3.80-inch – 316 Schenkl shells.
  • 1st Delaware: 3-inch – 94 Schenkl shells.

Notice the variety of patent-types within the two Connecticut batteries.  Recall that mixing such types caused problems in the field.

And of course the quantities.  All told the 1st Connecticut Light had 2271 projectiles.  Their friends in the 2nd had but 604 (or 634, if I misread the one line).  At some point I will pull the numbers and make observations about the “load-out” for a battery, circa December 1862.  I suspect the 1st Connecticut will break the bell curve.

Last note about the projectiles – there are no entries for 4.5-inch to cover the heavy Connecticut battery.  So we are left not quantifying how well stocked (or not) those guns on the Rappahannock really were.

And finally, the small arms:


The handwritten column headers deserve some clarification.  From left to right, I read these as “Carbine”, “Springfield, Cal .58”, and <something> “Cal .58”.  Your guess is as good as mine about the third column.  It will come into play with the next installment, as for now there were no entries there for Connecticut, California, or Delaware.  Also note, further to the right, that the revolver calibers are replaced with “Army” and “Navy” :

  • 1st Connecticut Light: 135 Navy revolvers, 13 cavalry sabers, 46 horse artillery sabers, and 86 foot artillery sabers.
  • 2nd Connecticut Light: 20 Navy revolvers, 122 horse artillery sabers.
  • 1st Delaware: 24 Army revolvers and 142 horse artillery sabers.

No entries for the California infantry, presuming those small arms were carried against a regimental return elsewhere.

Again, roll the numbers around.  Nearly every man in the 2nd Connecticut and 1st Delaware had their own swords, though pistols were in shorter supply.  However, the 1st Connecticut, stationed in South Carolina, must have issued a revolver and sword for every man!

Artillery support when the Petersburg mine went off

As you might guess, when thinking of the Crater at Petersburg, a subject which crosses my mind is the use of artillery in the operation.  Not to diminish the other aspects of the battle, but the artillery of the Army of the Potomac played an important role there… and is somewhat overlooked in my opinion.  I’m not an expert in the battle.  So I would direct you to one of many folks who have written book length treatments of the battle.

My schedule has prevented me from writing up more on Petersburg up to this time.  Likely, given the sesquicentennial pace, I’ll have to put that on my “after April 2015” stack.  But I did want to mention the artillery’s role and provide a graphic depiction, by way of Brigadier-General Henry Hunt’s map:


The map, and a busy map it is, includes a table breaking down by battery the type and number of guns engaged on July 30, 1864:


For those who are squinting, the roll call is eighteen 4-½-inch rifles, two 20-pdr Parrotts, fifty-two 3-inch rifles (3-inch Ordnance or 10-pdr Parrotts), thirty-eight 12-pdr Napoleons, ten 10-inch mortars, sixteen 8-inch mortars, and twenty-eight Coehorn mortars.  Grand total is 164 guns and mortars brought to bear on the Confederate lines in support of the assault.

Some of that number were in the 18th Corps sector and not firing directly in support of the assault.  Others were, likewise, firing on the 5th Corps front well to the south of the crater.  But all were firing at some time that morning to suppress or pin down the Confederates in conjunction with the assault.  For comparison, the “great bombardment” by the Confederates on July 3, 1863 during that “contest” at Gettysburg involved about 140 guns.

Hunt’s map indicates not only the battery positions, but also what the targets were.  This adds to the “clutter” on the map. But this is an incredible resource for determining his intent with respect to the fires placed upon the Confederate lines.


The snip above looks at the area of the mine, and just south.  Notice there are more dashed blue lines leading to the Confederate redoubt south of the mine than there are the redoubt above the mine.  Suppression of the Confederate line was the intent there.

Another Federal position worth noting is that of Company C, 1st Connecticut Heavy Artillery.  Battery number 8 on Hunt’s map contained ten 10-inch mortars.  Circled here in blue.


Those mortars fired on approximately 1,000 yards of the Confederate front, to the south of the crater (blue shading in the snip above).  Recall, these mortars were firing, for at least part of the day, case shot as constructed under Colonel Henry Abbot’s instructions.  Battery Number 19, Company B, 1st Connecticut, with six 4-½-inch rifles, located north-east (center-right on the snip above) of the mortars also covered a large section of the Confederate lines.

One problem with these arrangements is that suppressing fire requires a high rate of ammunition expenditure.  Suppressing fire cannot be sustained, even by a master artillery chief such as Hunt, for longer than a few hours.  At some point, fresh ammunition chests must be rotated in.  The assault had to quickly achieve the initial objectives, or lose the suppressing fire support.

Abbot to Hunt: “Every step has been taken to hurry forward…”

In April 1864, Brigadier-General Henry Hunt sent recommendations and instructions to form a siege train supporting the Army of the Potomac’s next campaign.  On the first day of May 1864, Colonel Henry Abbot sent an update on his preparations toward that end:

Fort Richardson, VA., May 1, 1864.
Brig. Gen. Henry J. Hunt,
Chief of Artillery, Army of the Potomac:

General: Yours of the 29th ultimo is received. I will at once make requisition for the sand-bags, as you suggest. I propose to take ten 8-inch siege howitzers. I have the following ordnance, and ordnance stores afloat at the present time, and the list is daily increasing: 4 ½-inch guns–18 guns, 20 carriages, 10 sets implements, 10 platforms, 3,600 rounds; 30-pounder Parrotts–2 guns, 10 carriages, 10 platforms, 2,600 rounds; 10-inch mortars–10 guns, 10 beds, 1,000 shells; 8-inch mortars–20 guns, 8 beds, 2,290 shells; Coehorns–1,900 shells; 1 battery wagon (D); 1 forge (A); 1 large sling cart; with many smaller articles. Every step has been taken to hurry forward the remainder, and it is loaded as fast as received. I have now 7 schooners, about 200 tons each.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Henry L. Abbot,
Colonel First Connecticut Artillery.

Notice that Abbot chose to work with the slack Hunt offered in regard to the 8-inch siege howitzers (which Hunt accepted with reservations).  Instead of forty 4 ½-inch siege rifles, the siege train contained a mix of 4 ½-inch and similar caliber 30-pdr Parrotts.

Hunt wanted 1,000 rounds per gun.  But the number accumulated by May 1 fell far short of that goal.  Hard to believe in the vast storehouses and magazines around Washington and Baltimore there were not many thousands of these projectiles.  I would offer a similar observation about the battery wagon and forge.  Far more was needed for a siege train of the size requested.

But with seven schooners to transport the siege train, Abbot had the means to deploy this force at almost any point in tidewater Virginia.

(Citation from OR, Series I, Volume 36, Part II, Serial 68, page 320.)

“I would propose … the train be intrusted to Colonel Abbot”: Organizing a Siege Train for the 1864 Campaign

Earlier I posted about the reorganization, or if you prefer, consolidation, of the field artillery in the weeks before the start of the Overland Campaign.  Another organizational action, no less critical to the ultimate objective of the campaign, for the artillery supporting the Army of the Potomac was the re-creation of the siege train.  If the upcoming campaign were completely successful, and destroyed the Army of Northern Virginia outside of Richmond, then there would be little need for a siege train or any artillery.  But the most likely scenario (and what did come to pass) involved a siege of Richmond in some form.  Acting on prompts from his superiors, Brigadier-General Henry Hunt put forward his recommendations on April 16, 1864:

Artillery Headquarters, Army of the Potomac,
April 16, 1864.
Major-General Humphreys,
Chief of Staff:
General: I have respectfully to submit the following proposition for the organization of a siege train, should one be required for service with this army near Richmond:

The train should be prepared in Washington, and as a minimum composed of forty 4 ½-inch siege guns, six spare carriages: ten 10-inch mortars, two spare carriages; twenty 8-inch mortars, four spare carriages; twenty Coehorn mortars.

With the proper implements and equipments, tool wagons, sling carts, battery wagons and forges, mortar wagons, &c., the eight 4½-inch siege guns of Abbot’s regiment (First Connecticut Heavy Artillery), lately sent to Washington, to constitute a part of the train. If the material can be brought by water or rail to within a reasonable distance of the point at which the train is to be used, the horse teams of the two siege batteries and those of the Artillery Reserve would be available for transporting the guns, and such additional mule teams as are required to bring them up can, it is supposed, be furnished from the quartermaster’s trains. The ammunition trains of the Artillery Reserve and artillery brigades attached to corps can be employed for the transport of the ammunition.

There should be provided for each siege gun 1,000 rounds of ammunition: for each siege mortar 600 shells: for each Coehorn mortar 200. Of this ammunition 200 rounds per piece should be brought up before opening fire; the remainder to be near enough to enable the supply to be kept up. At least 500 sand-bags should be supplied for each gun and mortar of the train, with an equal number in reserve.

I would propose that the organization of the train be intrusted to Colonel Abbot, First Connecticut Artillery, whose regiment served with the siege train at the siege of Yorktown. That the work may proceed with the utmost rapidity, another regiment of foot artillery (Kellogg’s, Warner’s, or Piper’s) might be added to Colonel Abbot’s command. Colonel Kellogg served with credit in the First Connecticut Artillery at Yorktown and is familiar with the duties. The two regiments of foot artillery in the reserve will be available as reliefs, guards for working parties, fabrication of gabions and fascines, filling sand-bags, &c.

The instruction of the regiments with the train in the mechanical maneuvers, laying of platforms, &c., should commence at once. A thorough knowledge of these duties will save much time when every hour is valuable. The material and working directions for constructing magazines, one for every four guns, should also be prepared in advance, that workmen drawn from the foot artillery regiments with the army may assist the engineers or construct them themselves.

It is understood that there are rifled 32-pounders, 4-inch caliber, in the works at Richmond. Should it be considered necessary to oppose to them guns of corresponding power (100-pounders) the ordnance officer should be instructed to prepare them and their material. This would be a timely precaution.

In case it should be thought necessary to move the train by water up the Pamunkey to the neighborhood of Hanover Court-House, instructions should be given to load the material on barges, double-decked ones if possible, such as are used on the Hudson River for transportation of flour, and do not draw more than 5 feet. This depth I understand is found as far up as the bridge at Widow Lumpkin’s, near Crump Creek, and within 5 miles by land of the railroad. The depth of water and the nature of the road from the bridge to the railway should be ascertained positively before procuring the barges. A decked scow or two and 100 or 200 feet of trestle bridging, similar to that prepared by Major Duane for the pontoon train, but of stronger dimensions, should be provided to enable landings to be effected at any point.

Henry J. Hunt,
Brigadier-General, Chief of Artillery.

Hunt knew exactly the make of weapons he wanted in the siege train.  Notice he still preferred the 4.5-inch rifles over the Parrotts of similar caliber (30-pdr).  And for someone who had worked primarily with field artillery over the last three years, Hunt knew the value of high angle mortar fire in siege operations.  Lower in the proposal, he turns to the heavy 100-pdr Parrotts, but only as a counter to similar caliber Confederate weapons.  Such leads me to believe Hunt saw the artillery’s primary role during any such siege to be firing in support of the engineers advancing parallels, and not demolishing enemy works.

Hunt called for 500 sandbags per gun, with another 500 in reserve.  Given the number of sandbags used the previous summer on Morris Island, I would say his estimates were low.

Notice also, in the last paragraph, how Hunt called out specific locations from which to base the siege trains and how they might be moved forward.  The lessons from the 1862 Richmond Campaign hold up while planning for 1864.

And Hunt knew exactly who he wanted manning the guns and leading those gunners.  Two batteries of the 1st Connecticut Heavy Artillery, armed with 4.5-inch rifles, had performed well as part of the Army’s artillery reserve.  And the 1st  Connecticut earlier served with the Army of the Potomac in the 1862 campaign against Richmond.  The man to lead the siege trains was Colonel Henry L. Abbot.  Hunt knew exactly what he was getting there.  Abbot was one of the best artillerists of the war, though you’ve probably never heard of him because his specialty was heavy artillery.  For those unfamiliar with Abbot, I hope to introduce him and his work over the last year of the sesquicentennial … that is if Brett does not beat me to it!

(Citation from OR, Series I, Volume 33, Serial 60, pages 880-1.)

150 Years Ago: Hunt prefers the big siege rifles

One-hundred and fifty years ago (and one day, as I had other pressing news to report yesterday), Brigadier General Henry Hunt offered a report on the effectiveness of the heavy rifles employed at Fredericksburg the previous week.

I have the honor to report that the practice in the recent battle with the 20-pounder Parrott was in some respects very unsatisfactory, from the imperfection of the projectiles, which, notwithstanding the pains which have been taken to procure reliable ones, are nearly as dangerous to our own troops as to the enemy, if the former are in advance of our lines. In addition, the guns themselves are unsafe. At Antietam two of the twenty-two, and on the 13th instant another, were disabled by the bursting of the gun near the muzzle. The gun is too heavy for field purposes, and can be used with advantage only as batteries of position. For the last purpose it is inferior to the 4½-inch siege-gun, which requires the same number of horses and only half the number of drivers. I therefore respectfully propose that, as the allowance of artillery in this army is small, the 20-pounders be turned in to the Ordnance Department as soon as they can be replaced by light field guns,. and that a portion of the siege train (sixteen guns) be organized to accompany the force in the field for service in such positions as require heavy guns, and, in case of a siege, to form a part of the train. Seven such guns are now here. Twelve were asked for, and it is a misfortune they were not furnished. Two companies of the First Connecticut Artillery are serving with the guns now here. I propose that two other companies of that regiment be detailed, each company be organized as a battery with four guns, the whole to be placed under the command of a field officer of the regiment, and attached to the Reserve Artillery.

Ever since the Peninsula Campaign, the Army of the Potomac included a substantial siege train.  Recall the varied set of guns used at Malvern Hill.  By December 1862, the Army’s artillery park was more uniform in composition.  The field batteries assigned to the infantry formations were by and large 10-pdr Parrotts, 3-inch rifles, and 12-pdr Napoleons – although a few batteries of 12-pdr howitzers remained.  The siege batteries used, as alluded to in Hunt’s report, 20-pdr Parrotts and 4.5-inch Ordnance Rifles.

Lending weight to Hunt’s comment about the weight, the 20-pdr Parrott rifle was the heaviest weapon mounted on a field carriage.  On its modified 32-pdr howitzer carriage, a 20-pdr Parrott on the march – with limber, ammunition chest, gun, and carriage – weighed 4405 pounds.  The caisson with three more chests weighed about an other 4000 pounds.

On the other hand, the 4.5-inch rifle rode on a siege carriage.  With limber (no ammunition chest) the 4.5-inch rifle traveled weighing around 7300 pounds.  But before you go second guessing Hunt, the 4.5-inch rifle’s ammunition traveled in separate wagons, in loads that were better configured for transport.

The difference here is “field carriage” verses “siege carriage.”  The 20-pdr on field carriage arrangement allowed the gun to go into action from the march.  The 4.5-inch rifle required more time to prepare for action.  But Hunt felt the 20-pdrs “ready for action” configuration was of little value as the gun was too difficult to maneuver into action.  On the other hand, the weight of the 4.5-inch rifle was of less consequence as it was employed with more deliberation.

Regardless if you follow that logic, the greater concern with the 20-pdr was, as with all the Parrotts, the tendency to burst.  Three failed guns in two actions.  That is compared to the near flawless record of 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  The 4.5-inch rifle had not seen extensive service to this point, but would enjoy an air of reliability – at least for the moment.  Even later in the war main complaint against the bigger rifle was vent erosion, not bursting.

Despite Hunt’s requests, seven months later the Army of the Potomac still marched with a mix of 20-pdr Parrotts and 4.5-inch Ordnance Rifles.  Ironically, given Hunt’s concerns about mobility, it was the 20-pdrs of Taft’s 5th New York Battery on Cemetery Hill on July 3, not the 4.5-inch rifles of the 1st Connecticut.  The bigger guns were held back because they took up too much valuable space on the roads to Gettysburg.

(Citation is from OR, Series I, Volume 21, Serial 31, pages 189-90.)

150 years ago: Arms buildup for Vicksburg

The string of tactical defeats and strategic withdrawals for the Confederates in the Western Theater through 1862 not only conceded territory to the Federals but also translated to lost war material.  At the Iron Buffs of Columbus, Island No.10, Fort Pillow, and Memphis, the Confederates shed much needed heavy ordnance and material.  Likewise, the rebels left many small arms on the field at Fort Donelson and Shiloh.  Not to mention the loss of production facilities in Nashville, New Orleans, and Memphis.  All of which was sorely lacking at the next bastion under pressure – Vicksburg.  During the fall of 1862, as the center of gravity in the west shifted towards that particular bend of the Mississippi River, Confederates shipped large quantities of equipment to Vicksburg.

But “shipped to” does not necessarily mean “received at” when one balances the books.  In the last days of November, those in Vicksburg complained of delays.  A message sent on November 30, 1862 complained of receiving only 1,700 small arms.  In response, on December 2 Colonel Joshia Gorgas reported in detail the support offered to that point by the Confederate Ordnance Department:

  • October 29, Richmond: One thousand seven hundred small-arms.
  • October 29, Richmond: Four 4.62 rifled and banded guns, with carriages and ammunition complete; four 12-pounder bronze guns; four 24-pounder howitzers, with carriages, caissons, and ammunition complete.
  • November 9, Richmond: Four thousand rounds ammunition for 6-pounder gun and 12-pounder howitzer (three-fifths gun and two-fifths howitzer); 80 rounds 20-pounder Parrott ammunition; 200 rounds 3-pounder Parrott ammunition.
  • November 10, Charleston: Eight hundred arms to General Smith, Vicksburg.
  • November 10, Atlanta: Five hundred 3-inch rifle shot and shell.
  • November 11, Richmond: Seventy rounds 20-pounder ammunition.
  • November 18, Richmond and Lynchburg: One thousand five hundred arms and ammunition.
  • November 18, Knoxville: One thousand five hundred arms and ammunition.
  • November 18, Atlanta: Five hundred arms and ammunition.
  • November 24, Richmond: Three 10-inch columbiads.

In short about 6000 small arms forwarded from depots in Richmond, Charleston (South Carolina), Atlanta, and Knoxville to Vicksburg.  But of course the majority of those (save the first 1,700) didn’t get on a train until November and thus were likely still on the rails when Gorgas responded. (*)

But that was just the muskets and such.  The “fun” stuff we discuss on this blog is the artillery, right?  Four 4.62-inch rifled and banded guns, four 12-pdr guns (likely Napoleons), four 24-pdr howitzers, and three 10-inch Columbiads.  At least one of the 4.62-inch rifles ended up at Port Hudson and another ended up in Little Rock, Arkansas.  Because of that scattering, its hard to say for sure all three 10-inch Columbiads served at Vicksburg.  The river defenses contained at least two weapons of that caliber before hand, so mention in action reports is not proof of presence of these big triplets.

But there is a good line on when the guns left Richmond.  Tredegar often filed claims for hauling equipment and stores for the Confederacy.  A tally of the “hauling account” for November lists an entry for November 22:

On the 15th, Tredegar unloaded three 10-inch Columbiads shipped downriver from Bellona Foundry, from the wording “boat in basin,” likely using the James River Canal.  The entry also indicates one of the Columbiads went to the proving grounds.  Tredegar also loaded up two 4.62 inch rifles for shipment to Danville at that time – which may or many not be part of the set Gorgas ordered shipped on November 9.  The going rate to unload a gun from a canal boat was $5.  The rate to haul a gun to the range was $10.  Loading two guns on the railcars cost $15.

On November 22, Tredegar loaded three 10-inch Columbiads  on cars heading to Danville, and from there points west.  Since the entry mentions handling one Columbiad from the proving grounds and the other two from the basin to the depot, that covers the weapons mentioned on the 15th.  Tredegar also loaded three carriages for the Columbiads.

Notice the costs of the labor for the 22nd.  Just as on the 15th, $10 a gun to transport to the depot (either from the basin or proving range).  Counting gun and carriage, Columbiads cost $7.50 per gun to load onto rail cars.  The 4.62-inch rifles loaded on the 15th were mounted on siege carriages, so handling costs were fifty cents left.   Again, let me highlight the rather tight bookkeeping done for the Confederate government.

A look further down on the “hauling” tally indicates Tredegar handled five more of the 10-inch Columbiads a few days later:

On the 29th, Tredegar’s workers loaded three of five 10-inch Columbiads handled that day onto rail cars.  The tally does not indicate where those were sent.  Either date (the 22nd or the 29th) would fit for the day those Columbiads rolled out bound for Vicksburg.  I’m inclined to go with the 22nd since the name of the connecting destination was provided.  And again look at the handling costs – $10 to move a gun, $5 to load a gun on a railcar, and $7.50 to haul and load a carriage.

But before leaving the tally sheet, consider this entry made between the two clipped above:

Anyone care to venture a guess about those pieces and where they were used?  I’ll give you a hint.

Fredericksburg 24 Nov 12 051

In late November 1862, the Confederacy rushed guns to several threatened points.


* For Gorgas’ report and the original inquiry from Vicksburg, see OR, Series I, Volume 17, Part II, Serial 25, pages 775-6.

The receipt for hauling is located in the Confederate Citizens Files for J.R. Anderson & Company.

Improved guns for the forts: Confederate 4.62-inch Banded Rifles

A few months back, I discussed the 4.62-inch “Gorgas” Rifled Siege Guns produced in 1862 by Tredegar and Bellona Foundries.  The next chapter in that story was the improvement to correct deficiencies of the design.  As mentioned in the earlier post, Tredegar tested three of the “Gorgas” guns in September 1862, with three failures.  The next logical step, on a path well blazed by other gun-makers, was to apply a reinforcing band to the guns.

Apparently, the approval to band these guns came before the September testing.  Starting in August that year, Tredegar received orders to finish guns originally cast by Bellona.  The first received banding and rifling, being delivered to the government on, or about, August 3:

A second gun received similar treatment, being accounted for on August 24:

Delivery of the second gun to “Chafin’s Bluff” [sic] is noteworthy.  In his Report of Siege Artillery in the Campaigns Against Richmond, General Henry Abbot reported capturing a “one 4.6-inch Brooke rifled gun” after the battle of Chaffin’s Farm (pages 179-181).  The gun was part of the battery on the landward side of the Confederate line.  Its  employment, I would speculate, was as counter-battery against Federal guns placed to reduce the Confederate lines.  As such, the “Brooke” is more aptly identified as a 4.62-inch Siege and Garrison Gun… with the emphasis in this case on the “garrison” role.

Tredegar banded two more of the Bellona guns in November 1862.  Then they turned to producing their own version, adding at least five more.  Photographic and other anecdotal evidence indicates one of those rifled guns went to the defenses of Port Hudson, Louisiana.  Another of these guns was reportedly among the guns captured after the battle of Cedar Creek in October 1864.  Both weapons were among the West Point trophy collection but were, unfortunately for us cannon historians, scrapped during the World Wars.

But that simply shifts attention to Tredegar foundry number 1720, which appears on a March 1863 tally:

That month a “4.62 rifle & banded gun” with that foundry number went to Hamilton, North Carolina.  The gun was earmarked for the garrison at Fort Branch defending the Roanoke River.  That gun survives today, as an artifact recovered from the river by teams working at Rainbow Bend.

NC 28 Jul 12 230

Second from left – 4.62-inch Rifle

The 4.62-inch rifle’s foundry number is clear today (thanks to careful restoration).

NC 28 Jul 12 155

Foundry Number 1720

The bore has five-groove Brooke-style rifling.

NC 28 Jul 12 157

Brooke Rifling

Tredegar’s stamps (“J.R.A.” is still very clear) appear on the right trunnion.

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Right Trunnion

On the left is the year “1863”.

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Left Trunnion Stamp

However, the gun foundry book from Tredegar indicates the gun was cast in the later half of December 1862.   So this may indicate the year of proofing.

The band, which makes this weapon different from the earlier Gorgas guns, is a wrought iron composite.

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Breech Band

Although hard to determine, the band may use the “rings” as seen on Tredegar Parrotts and larger Brook rifles.  Notice also the breech profile, which is rounded as compared to the Stony Creek, Virginia gun.

Viewed from above, the casting lines remain clear on the gun.  J.R. Anderson eschewed any machining to smooth the exteriors, which he felt was merely decorative in nature.

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Tredegar 4.62-inch Banded Rifle

The history, from foundry to fortification, of this particular gun is easy to document given the Tredegar papers.  Indeed the date the gun went to the rail yard is known.  Once in place at Fort Branch, the gun was among a sizable battery that stood in the way of any Federal advance towards the rail lines at Weldon, North Carolina.  At the end of the war, the garrison dumped this gun along with most of the others into the river.  The gun remained there until 1977 when it was recovered.  The gun was still on its carriage, which is also on display today at Fort Branch:

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Top – Carriage for 4.62-inch Rifle

Odds are, that carriage is the same accounted for in the March invoice from Tredegar.  In most respects it follows the Federal siege gun patterns.

Warren Ripley, in his Artillery and Ammunition of the Civil War, agreed with Abbot’s identification, tentatively calling this type of gun a “Brooke” siege rifle.  But the authors of The Big Guns: Civil War Siege, Seacoast, and Naval Cannons identify these banded rifles as “Gibbon & Andrews” Siege Guns.  In my opinion, the firmest designation is simply “4.62-inch Confederate banded siege rifle.”

Regardless of the name, these Confederate pieces weighed upwards of 6000 pounds each.  Comparable contemporary Federal weapons, such as the 4.5-inch siege rifle (3,575 pounds) and the 30-pdr Parrott (4,200 pounds) weighed considerably less.  The weight difference is partially explained by the improved metalworking techniques used by the northern gun-makers.  The Federal guns could follow the Army as part of a siege train.  The Confederate weapons, however, were best left in the fortifications.

And that’s where the lone survivor of the type spent its days.