Summary Statement, 3rd Quarter, 1863 – 3rd Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery

Below the list of batteries for the 1st Pennsylvania Light Artillery is a lonely line for one battery – Battery (or more aptly, Company) H, 3rd Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery:

0289_1_Snip_PA3

Interpreting that line:

  • Battery H, 3rd Artillery: At Baltimore, Maryland with four 10-pdr Parrotts.

Captain William D. Rank commanded this battery, the “light” battery of the regiment.  As alluded to for the previous quarter’s entry, this battery was inadvertently caught up in the Gettysburg campaign. And for the record, the battery was not included in that previous quarter’s summary.  Rather it warranted mention as one overlooked by the Ordnance Department.

Battery H was originally recruited to round out Colonel (well really Major) Herman Segebarth’s battalion of “marine artillery” stationed at Fort Delaware.  Battery H was among those formed in the winter of 1862.  Later in the fall, the battalion was joined with batteries from Colonel Joseph Roberts’ battalion heavy artillery to form the 3rd Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery (152nd Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers).  And from that regiment, Battery H was detailed to serve at Baltimore, while most of the regiment was sent to Fort Monroe.  Battery H performed duties with the other garrison artillery there around Baltimore.

On May 6, 1863, Battery H reorganized as light artillery to support cavalry detachments in the Middle Division.  Battery H sent a section of two guns in support of the 1st Delaware Cavalry posted to defend the Baltimore & Ohio bridge over the Monocacy in June.

When word came of the Confederate movements into Maryland, the detachment was supposed to fall back to the Relay House, near the Thomas Viaduct.  But before the detachment could reach that point, the section was instead directed to accompany Gregg’s cavalry division from the Army of the Potomac.  The battery fired in support of the cavalry on July 2, from a position along the Hanover Road.  And then on July 3, went into position to support the Second Corps.

After the battle, the section moved to Frederick and then returned to its garrison assignment at Baltimore.  Which we see indicated on the return.  However, here’s the rub…. most sources indicate the battery had two 3-inch rifles (presumably Ordnance rifles, as there were no other weapons of that caliber in general service for the Federals in July of 1863).   But we see, clearly, the battery had four 10-pdr Parrotts on hand as of November 1863.  Furthermore, when one examines that monument at Gettysburg up close, the relief depicts a Parrott:

ECB 12 Apr 08 327

Now we might contend the section had 3-inch Ordnance rifles on those fateful days in July 1863, only to turn them in later for Parrotts.  Or perhaps it was only that section with the wrought iron guns.  Or, given the wonderful artwork on the monument, the battery had Parrotts on the field at Gettysburg.  Likely some Gettysburg historian has traced down the details of this small bit of trivia.  I would simply point out the battery reported Parrotts on hand four months after the battle.

As for ammunition, the battery had only Parrott rounds on hand:

0292_1_Snip_PA3

  • Battery H: 395 shell, 320 case, and 80 canister for 10-pdr Parrott.

The other pages are posted on Flickr for those who wish to verify a stray tally went unnoticed.

As for small arms, the battery was equipped:

0292_3_Snip_PA3

Just edged weapons:

  • Battery H: Twenty-three horse artillery sabers.

But what of the other batteries/companies of the 3rd Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery?  Well… here are some of them on parade at Fort Monroe:

03828v

Most of the regiment was at Fort Monroe.  An August 31, 1863 return has nine batteries at Fort Monroe under direct command of Colonel Joseph Roberts, regimental commander. But let me list those individual batteries for reference here:

  • Battery A: Captain John S. Stevenson was promoted to Major in August, and replaced by John Krause, promoted on September 22.  The company was at Fort Monroe.
  • Battery B: Captain Franz Von Schilling in command.  Stationed at Fort Monroe.
  • Battery C: Captain George K. Bowen.  At Fort Monroe.
  • Battery D: Lieutenant Edwin A. Evans, prompted to captain in October. Stationed at Fort Monroe.
  • Battery E: Captain Samuel Hazard, Jr.  At Fort Monroe.
  • Battery F: Captain John A. Blake.  The company served as prison guards at Camp Hamilton, just outside Fort Monroe.
  • Battery G: Captain Joseph W. Sanderson.  At Fort Monroe.
  • Battery H:  As detailed above, under Captain Rank and serving at Baltimore.
  • Battery I: Captain Osbourn Wattson.  At Fort Monroe.
  • Battery K: Captain Eugene W. Scheibner.  At Fort Monroe.
  • Battery L: Captain Joseph B. Bispham.  At Fort Monroe.
  • Company M: Under Captain Francis H. Reichard and stationed at Fort Delaware.  This company appears to be the last to recruit up to full strength.  By December, the company was at Fort Monroe.

Now before we characterize the 3rd Pennsylvania Heavy as some regiment that just lay about the fortifications for the war, let me say their service from the fall of 1863 to the end was varied.  Detachments of the regiment served in a “naval brigade” formed to man and support gunboats operating on the James and other waterways in coastal Virginia and North Carolina.  These saw much action keeping Federal supply lines open.  Twenty-two of the regiment were captured when their armed steamer Bombshell was sunk during the battle of Plymouth, North Carolina, on April 18, 1864.

Other detachments from the regiment secured and operated lighthouses along the Virginia coast and waterways.

Batteries D, E, G, and M served in the Army of the James during the Petersburg Campaign, on the Bermuda Hundred front, mostly supporting siege batteries.  Battery E, in particular, manned Fort Converse which secured the bridge over the Appomattox. And Battery I served as headquarters guard for the Army of the James.

In short, while only Battery H can claim to have seen the “big elephant” by way of circumstances that brought them to Gettysburg, the rest of the 3rd Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery did contribute to the war effort.

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Summary Statement, 3rd Quarter, 1863 – Miscellaneous New York artillery

As a convention, I prefer to work through each state entry starting with “regimented” batteries first (where regiments existed of course), then through independent batteries, and lastly through any miscellaneous lines.  However, to ease handling and processing of these snips for transcription, I’m going to turn next to the miscellaneous lines before going to the independent batteries.

You see, the lines between the 2nd New York and 3rd New York include a couple of sections from infantry regiments.  Those are lines 18 and 19:

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Then, at the bottom of the page, we find entries for two cavalry regiments and stores held by an infantry regiment.  Those last three returns were received in the forth quarter of 1863, roughly when they were expected.  But those on the upper lines were not received until 1864.  So imagine how this conversation went down…..

Clerk:  Sir, I just received these two returns from the 98th and 99th New York Infantry claiming they have cannons. And I don’t have room to fit them at the bottom of the New York page in the summary.  What ever shall I do?

Ordnance Officer: Stick them in where you have space after the 2nd New York Artillery. Nobody will ever notice.  Nobody cares about these summaries anyway!

But yet, here we are in 2018 with that annoying second red line as result of the split data!

So we have five “miscellaneous” to consider from the New York section of the summary:

  • 98th New York Infantry:  Companies E and H, if my reading is correct, assigned to Croatan Station, North Carolina with two 6-pdr field guns.
  • 99th New York Infantry: A detachment reporting on the Gunboat Smith Briggs, in Virginia, with one 12-pdr field howitzer and one 10-pdr Parrott.
  • 3rd New York Cavalry: A detachment at New Berne, North Carolina with two 12-mountain howitzers.
  • 5th New York Cavalry: A detachment also at New Berne, and also with two (or is it three?) 12-pdr mountain howitzers.
  • 51st New York Infantry:  “Stores in Charge” of a Lieutenant Colonel at Camp Nelson, Kentucky.

Let me explore these five in more detail.

The 98th New York Infantry was among the forces sent from North Carolina to the Department of the South earlier in 1863, as part of the build-up before the Ironclad Attack.  When that effort failed, the 98th was among the forces sent back to North Carolina, specifically Beaufort.   On April 25, Lieutenant-Colonel Frederick F. Wead, then in command of the regiment, received orders to garrison “Newport Barracks, Havelock, Croatan, [and] Bogue sound blockhouse” which guarded the railroad between Beaufort / Morehead City and New Berne.  After the war, William Kreutzer (then Captain, but later Colonel of the regiment) mentioned these dispositions in a history of the regiment:

This writer was assigned to the command of two posts, one at a point where the railroad crosses Newport river, called Havelock, and the other at Croatan, ten miles above, along the road to New Berne.  Each post had a small earthwork in which was mounted on Napoleon gun.

This passage establishes the ‘who’ portion of the return but on disagrees with the summary’s line.  Perhaps, writing post war and being an infantryman, Kreutzer was simply mistaken about the guns.  At any rate, we can at least verify some cannon were under the care of the 98th New York at Croatan around this time of the war, performing “boring” garrison duty.

The 99th New York Infantry, with names like “Bartlett’s Naval Brigade” and “Lincoln Divers” offers a bit more interesting story.  Colonel William A. Bartlett began recruiting what was intended to be a full brigade in the spring of 1861.  It included almost as many men from Massachusetts and New Jersey as it did New York.  The intent was to assign these companies to Army gunboats and have them patrol the coast.  But by the time Bartlett reported to Fort Monroe, he’d met with an accident and the brigade was understrength. The “brigade” was then reorganized as an infantry and assigned duty at various posts around Fort Monroe and on vessels operating in that area.  Colonel David W. Waldrop commanded.    By the spring of 1863, most of those detachments were recalled and the regiment served at Suffolk, Virginia.  Of those still on detached duty was Company I, manning the gunboats West End and Smith Briggs.  The latter, we have a sketch to work from:

SmithBriggsGunboat

The Smith Briggs was a chartered (not outright purchased) 280 ton steamer converted to an armed transport, with a rifled 32-pdr and a rifled 42-pdr (probably converted seacoast guns using the James system).  Based on the entry here in the summary, I would contend the 99th New York maintained a 12-pdr field howitzer and a 10-pdr Parrott to supplement those big guns, and perhaps use on patrols off the gunboat.  Captain John C. Lee, of the 99th New York, commanded the Smith Briggs in 1863.  And he was still in command when the vessel ran aground off Smithfield, Virginia on February 1, 1864, and was destroyed.

The detachment from the 3rd New York Cavalry should be familiar to readers from the previous quarter.  These was Lieutenant James A. Allis command.

And a similar detachment was formed in the 12th New York Cavalry which also operated out of New Berne.  During the summer, Lieutenant Joseph M. Fish, of Company F, was detached to command a section of howitzers.  And these show up in some returns as “Fish’s Howitzers” or “Fish’s Battery.”

And lastly the 51st New York Infantry.  This regiment, part of the Second Division, Ninth Corps in the summer of 1863.  It was transferred to the Twenty-Third Corps in September and performed garrison duties in the District of Kentucky.  We’ll see some of the stores accounted for in the ammunition tables that follow.  The regiment’s Lieutenant-Colonel was R. Charlton Mitchell at this time of the war.

With that summary of the five units represented by the lines, let us turn to the ammunition reported. Starting with the smoothbore:

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  • 98th New York Infantry: 57 shot, 41 case, and 42 canister for 6-pdr field guns.
  • 99th New York Infantry: 42 shell and 88 case for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • 12th New York Cavalry: 32 shell, 44 case, and 46 canister for 12-pdr mountain howitzers.
  • 51st New York Infantry:  56 shot, 56 case, and 48 canister for 6-pdr field guns.

Note that no ammunition was reported (for the second quarter in a row) for Allis’ detachment from the 3rd New York Cavalry.

No Hotchkiss or Schenkl projectiles to report.  But there were some Parrott projectiles:

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Yes, on the ill-fated Smith Briggs:

  • 99th New York Infantry: 137 shell and 40 canister for 10-pdr Parrott.

No small arms were reported by these five detachments on the artillery summaries.  Usually infantry and cavalry commands filed their reports on different forms that were complied on a separate set of summaries.

Before leaving the “miscellaneous” of New York, there are two other batteries that deserve mention.  Recall Goodwin’s Battery, with its rather exotic breachloaders, and Varian’s State Militia Battery were mustered into Federal service to meet the emergency posed by Lee’s invasion of Pennsylvania.  Both were still in Federal service at the start of the quarter.  But only briefly in service.  Goodwin’s was mustered on July 27.  Varian’s was mustered out six days earlier.  As these batteries were off the Federal rolls by the end of September, they were not required to send in returns.  Lucky for them!


Citation: William Kreutzer, Notes and Observations Made During Four years of Service with the Ninety-Eighth N.Y. Volunteers in the War of 1861, Philadelphia: Grant, Faires & Ridgers, 1878, page 164.

Summary Statement: December 31, 1862 – Wisconsin’s Batteries

The last state with entries in the fourth quarter, 1862 summary statements was Wisconsin.  During the war, the Badger State provided thirteen light batteries.  One of those, the 13th Battery, would not be organized until December 1863 and thus falls outside scope for this post.  But the other twelve should be accounted for.  The summary carries six returns for those batteries on hand at the end of 1862, plus an additional line for weapons assigned to the 3rd Wisconsin Cavalry.

0084_Snip_Dec62_WI_1

With a few gaps to fill in, here are the Wisconsin batteries:

  • 1st Battery:  Reporting at New Orleans with six 20-pdr Parrotts.  The location was valid for August 1864, when the return was received in Washington.  As of the end of 1862, Captain Jacob T. Foster’s battery was employed with Sherman’s forces in the action at Chickasaw Bayou (Third Division, Right Wing, Thirteenth Corps).  Foster’s men fired 2,380 rounds in three days there.  Foster reported his men were very fatigued after the battle, “…the guns were handled as rapidly as light artillery, whereas they are in fact siege pieces, and should have at least 175 men to maneuver there.”  Foster’s gunners would be in action again less than two weeks later at Arkansas Post.
  • 2nd Battery:  No return.  Captain Ernst F. Herzberg commanded this battery at the end of 1862, but was replaced by  Charles Beger within the first week of the new year. The battery served at Camp Hamilton, outside Fortress Monroe, Virginia, at this time of the war.
  • 3rd Battery: No return.  Lieutenant Cortland Livingston took this battery into action at Stones River, as part of Third Division, Left Wing, Fourteenth Corps (Army of the Cumberland).  The battery fired 358 rounds in the battle.
  • 4th Battery: No return.  Was also at Camp Hamilton, Virginia.  Captain  John F. Vallee commanded this battery.
  • 5th Battery: No return.  Captain Oscar F. Pinney was mortally wounded on the first day at Stones River.  Lieutenant Charles B. Humphrey assumed command.  The battery was in First Division, Right Wing, Fourteenth Corps. The battery fired 726 rounds and lost one gun in the battle.
  • 6th Battery: At Cartersville, Georgia with two 6-pdr field guns, two 12-pdr field howitzers, and two 3.80-inch James Rifles.  Another case of a location derived from a later reporting date.  In this case the battery was at Cartersville in October 1864.  In December 1862, the “Buena Vista Battery” was operating in northern Mississippi as part of Seventh Division, Thirteenth Corps.  Captain Henry Dillon commanded.
  • 7th Battery: At Jackson, Tennessee with two 6-pdr field guns and one 12-pdr field howitzer.  Lieutenant Galen E. Green commanded this battery, which was assigned to the District of Jackson, Thirteenth Corps.  A somewhat sedate assignment at the time for the “Badger State Flying Artillery.”
  • 8th Battery: No return. “Lyons’ Pinery Battery” also supported First Division, Right Wing, Fourteenth Corps at Stones River. Captain Stephen J. Carpenter, in command, was killed on the first day of the battle.  Lieutenant Henry E. Stiles assumed command. The 8th fired 375 rounds in the battle.  It lost a 6-pdr and a 10-pdr Parrott.  At the end of the first day, Stiles reported two guns serviceable (type not specified).
  • 9th Battery: Fort Lyon, Colorado with four 6-pdr field guns and two 12-pdr field howitzers. Captain Cyrus H. Johnson commanded this battery posted in the District of Colorado (alongside McLain’s Colorado Battery, I might add)
  • 10th Battery: At Nashville, Tennessee with six 6-pdr field guns.  Assigned to the Fourth Division, Center Wing, Fourteenth Corps.  Captain Yates V. Beebe’s battery did not see action at Stones River.
  • 11th Battery: No return. An interesting back story to cover this blank line.  Formed in February 1862 as the 11th, this battery was transferred out as Battery L, 1st Illinois Light Artillery.  So we’ve covered them in a previous post.
  • 12th Battery: At Germantown, Tennessee with four 10-pdr Parrotts.  Sort of the reverse happened with this battery. It was formed in Missouri, but under authority of the Wisconsin governor.  Captain William Zickerick commanded the 12th at the end of 1862.  It was part of the Seventh Division, Thirteenth Corps at the time.

And as mentioned, one additional line:

  • 3rd Cavalry:  Reporting at Fort Scott, Kansas with two 12-pdr mountain howitzers.  The company designation appears to be “E.” The 3rd Cavalry had a section of mountain howitzers at the battle of Prairie Grove.  So we might arbitrate the location given in the summary.

So we see the Wisconsin batteries were posted to the Western and Trans-Mississippi theaters and involved with (probably, counting the 3rd Cavalry detachment) three different battles in December 1862.

Moving down to the ammunition pages, here are the smoothbore quantities on hand:

0086_Snip_Dec62_WI_1

And we have some entries to plant question marks next to:

  • 1st Battery: Seventy-one 6-pdr canister.  Now recall that 6-pdr caliber was 3.67-inch diameter, as was 20-pdr Parrott.  So this might be a case of “it fits in the bore, so we must be able to use it….”  to put things simply.  Plant a question mark there.
  • 6th Battery: 131 shot, 238 case, and 146 canister for 6-pdr field gun; 81 shell and 68 case  for 12-pdr field howitzer; 144 cainster for 12-pdr mountain howitzer.  Now 6th Battery was mixed with smoothbore guns, rifled guns, and field howitzers.  But were they using mountain howitzer canister in field howitzers? Or is that last entry a data entry error?  Again, we have a question mark.
  • 7th Battery: 60 shot, 80 case, and 45 canister for 6-pdr field gun; 15 case and 15 canister for 12-pdr field howitzer.  Small quantities might be explained by the battery having only three tubes on hand.
  • 9th Battery: 400 shot, 320 case, and 80 canister for 6-pdr field gun; 150 shell, 190 case, and 62 canister for 12-pdr howitzer.
  • 10th Battery:  598 shot and 550(?) case for 6-pdr field gun.
  • 3rd Cavalry: 69 shell and 7 canister for 12-pdr mountain howitzer.

While the smoothbore section leaves us some questions to ponder, the rifled projectile sections are noticeably empty…. starting with the Hotchkiss columns:

0086_Snip_Dec62_WI_2

Hotchkiss was unknown, apparently, to the Wisconsin men.  Furthermore, Parrott and Schenkl were only a little more familiar:

0087_Snip_Dec62_WI_1A

Well… we can zoom in there…:

0087_Snip_Dec62_WI_1

Two batteries with quantities to mention:

  • 1st Battery: 124 shell, 415 case, and 51 canister of Parrott-patent for 20-pdr Parrott.
  • 12th Battery: 502 shell, 149 case, and 119 canister of Parrott-patent for 10pdr Parrott; also 28 Schenkl shot for 10-pdr Parrott rifle.

But nothing further on the Schenkl columns on the next page:

0087_Snip_Dec62_WI_2

So we are left to speculate about what projectiles were on hand for the James rifles.

On to the small arms:

0087_Snip_Dec62_WI_3

For the four batteries reporting quantities:

  • 1st Battery: Sixteen Army revolvers and six horse artillery sabers.
  • 6th Battery: Sixty-six cavalry sabers.
  • 9th Battery: 135 Navy revolvers and twenty-three horse artillery sabers.
  • 10th Battery: Eighteen horse artillery sabers.

Closing this post, we come to the end of the fourth quarter, 1862 summaries. I’m going to take a short break on these posts before starting the first quarter, 1863.  There will be a few “administrative” notes to make as the column headers changed a bit with the new year.  But we’ll continue working through all these rows and columns in a somewhat orderly fashion.

 

 

“I feel desirous to do something…”: Foster looking for action along the James

On this day (October 8) in 1863, Major-General John G. Foster, commanding  the Department of Virginia and North Carolina, wrote to Major-General Henry Halleck in Washington to propose a series of operations in his sector.  Foster’s command included everything from the Virginia Peninsula down to the northern border of South Carolina.  Earlier in the summer, he’d forwarded reinforcements to the Department of the South when operations on Morris Island evolved into an extended siege.  Such limited Foster’s activity through the summer. Not one to be idle, he looked to create an opening that fall to break the quiet James River sector.  From his headquarters at Fort Monroe, he addressed Halleck:

General: I feel desirous to do something, and although my force is very small, I hope, by substituting the defense of citadels for that of the long lines, as Williamsburg, Yorktown, Gloucester, and Getty’s line, outside of Portsmouth, to obtain a small but effective movable column. The sickness which has prevailed at Williamsburg, Gloucester, Yorktown, and throughout the whole of North Carolina, has very much enfeebled the troops and made them for a time incapable of long marches. They are, however, available for expeditions by water, and what marches I may be forced to make can be borne by the negro troops. This is the case in the expedition now out scouring Matthews-County, of which the infantry is wholly composed of negro troops. To come to the point, I propose (now that I am obliged to understand that the troops sent to the Department of the South cannot be replaced so as to give me force enough to go to Weldon or to take Fort Caswell) to undertake little operations in succession, calculated to attract the attention of the enemy and draw off his force, which can be made very safe by means of the aid of the navy and the army gunboats.

The first point is Fort Powhatan, now deserted, which I propose to seize and turn into a small but strong work for us, from which I can commence a system of cavalry raids. Then, as soon as this has attracted the attention of the enemy so as to accumulate force enough to stop the operations of the cavalry, to seize a point on the other shore of the James, higher up, say, at Wilcox’s or Swynyard’s Wharves, or Harrison’s Landing, and pursue the same game. Then, with a small increase of force, City Point may be seized and fortified, and a dash be made toward Petersburg. To make sure of taking it will require quite an increase of force, say, 20,000 men; but this force can be sent, if you judge expedient, at any time. All that I can do now is to annoy the enemy, and from time to time to accumulate a force to meet an apprehended attack. If this meets with your approval, I will at once enter upon the necessary preparations.

I have the honor to be, general, your obedient servant,
J. G. Foster, Major General.

With hindsight we know this proposal was dead on arrival.  After September 21, the weight of the Federal armies shifted towards Chattanooga, Tennessee.  Sickness and the need to hold the purchase gained at Morris Island prevented Gillmore from releasing troops.  And within a day the Army of Northern Virginia would take up the march once again, threatening to take back any gains of the summer’s fighting in the east.

Take Petersburg to cut off connections to the deep South?  Foster was about a year ahead things.

(Foster’s letter appears in OR, Series I, Volume 29, Part II, Serial 49, page 267.)

From ’63 to ’66: The later batches of 3-inch Ordnance Rifles

In earlier posts I’ve discussed the 3-inch Ordnance Rifles produced by Phoenix Iron Company through 1862.  Early guns had “side sights” and lacked a stamp for Samuel Reeves’ patent.  Although some sources indicate the patent stamp appeared with registry number 236 in the series, I have offered a rebuttal on that point.  Regardless of the stamps, around registry number 284 the guns received an auxiliary sight between the trunnions.  Now let me turn to guns produced after March 1863.

…. Oh, and before going too far, conceded a point to a reader who wishes to remain anonymous – the Phoenix guns are properly identified as “wrought iron ordnance rifles” to set them apart from other weapons made to the ordnance pattern.  But I hope you will allow me to use the short name to reduce the word count!

As alluded to in the earlier post, the later batches of guns from Phoenix simplified the sights to a single set – pendulum hausse and muzzle blade sights.  Among the first guns to conform to that new standard is registry number 597, credited in the last week of March 1863.

9 July 2011 242
3-inch Ordnance Rifle #597 at Fort Monroe

The gun is a bit pitted, and … well… the better collection of ordnance rifles is up at Gettysburg.   So let me introduce you to registry number 616 over near the Gettysburg maintenance facility.

Gettysburg 4 Feb 12 110
Muzzle of #616

Fairly typical muzzle markings indicate Theodore Thadeus Sobieski Laidley (a name like that inspires a post!) inspected this gun in 1863. He called the weight at 816 pounds – like so many ordnance rifles.  The right trunnion stamp reiterates the vendor’s name.

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Right Trunnion of 3-inch #616

The left trunnion displays the patent date for the manufacturing process.

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Left Trunnion of 3-inch #616

But between the trunnions, only the “U.S.” acceptance mark.  No hole for the auxiliary sight.

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Trunnions of 3-inch rifle #616

This gun only retains the pendulum hausse seat and muzzle sight.

Gettysburg 4 Feb 12 112
3-inch Ordnance Rifle #616

The front sight originally stood taller than what we see today.  Handling has left them just a stub. Number 616 actually has a substantial base to the sight.  Most survivors simply have the remainder or “nubbin.” Some surviving 3-inch rifles have more substantial muzzle sights, such as the base left on 616.  Others have only the threaded hole for the sight.

Gettysburg 4 Feb 12 138
Hole for muzzle sight on #674

Again, the variations seen here (markings and sights) had no substantial effect on the use of the guns.  Or at least not that I’ve found in the veteran’s accounts.  So something must have worked!   With a few possible and minor exceptions, all remaining 3-inch Ordnance Rifles confirmed to those particulars.

Gettysburg 18 Feb 12 230
3-inch Ordnance Rifle #931

That includes registry number 931 delivered in 1866, more than a year after the last Confederate surrender.

So in conclusion, the long line of 3-inch Ordnance Rifles – over 950 of them – conformed in all practical details to the pattern set by the Ordnance Board in 1861.  There are no major variations that would affect performance of the weapon.  However for modern-day visitors, there are some subtle differences with the markings and sight arrangements.  These are in some cases clues to the story of the otherwise silent guns.

Oh, and don’t think I’m done with the Ordnance Rifles.  I fully intend to bore you readers with more minutia about these guns!

The Big Rodmans: 20-inch Rodmans, Part 2

In yesterday’s post on the 20-inch Rodman Gun, I’d mentioned the gun pictured below arrived at Fort Hamilton, New York for testing in the fall of 1864.

20-inch Rodman #1

Compared to the trials of the 15-inch gun, the 20-inch gun received a bit more fanfare – and full coverage in Harper’s Weekly. When first fired on October 26, 1864, those in attendance included the gun’s inventor Major Thomas J. Rodman; Army Chief of Ordnance, Brigadier General Alexander B. Dyer; Captain Henry Augustus Wise, Chief of the Navy’s Bureau of Ordnance; and General W. F. Smith. If illustrations accompanying the Harper’s article are any indication, a rather large crowd of onlookers joined the dignitaries.

“Large” was the word for every aspect of the gun. The gun rested upon a specially built 18 ton carriage from the Watertown Arsenal, which was also designed by Rodman. As a measure of the size of the gun, prior to firing, a man lowered himself into the bore of the gun and wormed down to the vent in order to clear an obstruction. 1

The objective of the test was only to verify the gun could fire the heavy projectiles. Unfortunately I’ve never come across any first hand account or report of the gun’s trials. Most secondary sources point to a caption in Francis Miller’s Photographic History of the Civil War. Although Miller incorrectly identified the photo of the 15-inch prototype as the 20-inch gun, he stated the big gun fired four shots in 1864. Firing a 1,080 pound solid shot, the gun used charges increasing through 50, 75, 100, and finally 125 pounds of powder. According to Miller, tests resumed in March 1867 with four more shots. This time charges of 125, 150, 175, and then 200 pounds, fired at a 25° elevation, propelled shot to a maximum range of 8,000 yards.2

Certainly impressive figures, but with the war winding down that massive iron gun was too much for peacetime budgets. Fort Pitt delivered one more 20-inch gun in 1869. This gun also survives today, on display at Fort Hancock, New Jersey. (And again let me thank Bill Coughlin for the photo.)

20-inch Rodman #2 at Fort Hancock

This gun bears the registry number 2 along with its weight marks of 115,100 pounds. John Alexander Kress inspected this monster gun. Once accepted, #2 went to Fort Monroe. In 1876 the gun went to Philadelphia for the Centennial Exposition.3

20-inch Rodman at Centennial Exposition

From there the gun eventually ended up at Fort Hancock among other heavy guns also undergoing trials in the later decades of the 19th century. Thankfully it was preserved to “guard” the post instead of being discarded.

Although the Army received only two 20-inch Rodmans, the guns significantly influenced post-war planning. Plans considered these largest of guns for the critical locations along the seacoast. Over the years, schemes for the 20-inch guns included more advanced carriages, muzzle loading rifled variants, and even breechloading conversions. None of these progressed far. Army acquisition at the time focused on refinement of weapons which could be mass produced in the event of war (since everyone felt there’d be ample warning before any future war). As such, the 1864 testimony of William Wade, part owner of the Fort Pitt Foundry, is worth note. When asked by the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War, Wade indicated his foundry’s capacity was, “two 10-inch or 8-inch guns per day, three 15-inch guns per week, and two 20-inch guns per month.4

Perhaps we could end the story there, simply saying the two 20-inch Rodmans were great guns that were never called to action. But that’s not the case. In the late 1870’s Peru came shopping for weapons due to heated tensions with Bolivia and Chile. In addition to some of the 15-inch Rodmans, the Peruvians acquired at least on 20-inch Rodman (sometimes noted as a 1000-pdr gun), presumably a surplus weapon at the foundry. During the War of the Pacific, this Rodman, paired with a 20-inch Dahlgren gun also cast by Fort Pitt, was used in defense of the port of Callao. 5 The guns presumably wound up in the hands of the Chileans at that point. Perhaps the big Rodman guns did fire more than a few “test shots” after all.

The legacy of the 20-inch Rodman was to American seacoast defenses in the last decades of the 19th century. While the days of muzzleloading, black powder, smoothbores waned after the Civil War, the range of the 20-inch guns influenced plans. With these larger guns, defenders could control larger expanses of waterways. Instead of just defending the harbor entrances, the Coast Artillery could think about covering likely approaches to the coast. The real change would wait until modern breechloading, rifled, steel guns arrived.

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  1. Harper’s Weekly, Volume VIII, No. 412, November 19, 1864, page 749.
  2. Miller, Francis Trevelyan, The Photographic History of the Civil War: Volume 5 – Forts and Artillery (New York: Review of Reviews, 1911), page 137.
  3. Ingram, J.S., The Centennial Exposition Described and Illustrated (Philadelphia: Hubbard Brothers, 1876), page 146.
  4. Testimony of William Wade, “Heavy Ordnance,” Report of the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War at the Second Session, Thirty-Eighth Congress (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1865), page 86.
  5. Markham, Sir Clements R., The War Between Peru and Chile, 1879-1882 (London: Sampson Low, Marston, and Company, 1882) page 186.

Walk Around the Lincoln Gun: 15-inch Rodman Prototype

The last several artillery posts have focused on the gun in this wartime photo:

15-inch Rodman Prototype at Fort Monroe

The 15-inch prototype remained at Fort Monroe after trials ended, very successfully, in early 1861.  Worth noting, the gun received its first nickname around that time – “The Floyd Gun” – after Secretary of War John B. Floyd, who’d been a supporter of the project.  By April 1861 the Fort Monroe garrison mounted the big gun on a barbette carriage near the Old Point Comfort lighthouse.   I’d speculate the carriage was either the same or a similar outfit to that used during the proofing in 1860.  However, the gun didn’t sit there very long.  In July 1861 the new 12-inch Rodman Rifle arrived for testing.  Jumping the gun, so to speak, General Benjamin Butler ordered the untested rifle onto the 15-inch smoothbore mount.

After the USS Monitor-CSS Virginia duel, General John Wool ordered the 15-inch gun placed back in a barbette carriage into the fort’s defenses.   The circular traces used by one of these two guns remains today, ironically, in Jefferson Davis Park on the fort’s wall.

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Traces for Center Pivot Barbette Carrige in Jeff Davis Park

On April 15, 1862, both the 12-inch rifle and the 15-inch prototype gun fired in the direction of Sewell’s Point, more so to gain the range than against any particular target.  But with this activity one can say the prototype “fired in anger.”

It was also around this time the gun received a new nickname.  With Mr. Floyd’s resignation and subsequent commission as a Confederate general, the old name was just bad for public relations.  So Secretary of War Edwin Stanton ordered the gun’s name changed to “The Lincoln Gun” and it remains so today.

If the wartime photo’s listing data from the National Archives is correct, the 15-inch prototype remained in place through 1864.  We know it is indeed the prototype from the muzzle markings.

Close Up of Muzzle

At the top appears the registry number  “1” and at the bottom are the initials “T.J.R.” for Thomas J. Rodman.

The right side trunnion, although at an angle in the photo, clearly shows the foundry stamps.

Right Trunnion in Photo

The stamps read “F.P.F.” and “K.R. & Co.”  These stand for “Fort Pitt Foundry”
and “Knap, Rudd and Company” respectively.   That particular stamping set appeared only in 1860.

Today the Lincoln Gun rests only a few hundred yards from its wartime post, at the edge of Fort Monroe’s parade ground.

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15-inch Rodman Prototype

My photo of the muzzle markings didn’t turn out right (for which I’ve kicked myself several times).  So trust me that the “No. 1” and “T.J.R.” remain on the muzzle.  The right trunnion also still shows the manufacturer’s stamps.

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Right Trunnion of Prototype Rodman

And the left trunnion provides the year of manufacture.

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Left Trunnion of Prototype Rodman

Notice the trunnions are shorter than those of earlier Columbiads.  Rodman designed the 15-inch gun to fit iron, not wooden, carriages.  However the prototype’s trunnions are about a half-inch longer than those of production Rodmans.

The breech displays the weight, just as recorded by Rodman in May 1860.

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Weight Stamp on Breech

Compare the ratchets in the breech face to the sockets on the 15-inch guns at Fort Foote, Maryland.

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Breech Face of Production 15-inch Rodman

Less easily determined by the naked eye is the shift of the trunnion location.  Production 15-inch guns had the trunnions just 1.25 inches to the rear, eliminating preponderance.

Rarely can we trace the story of a Civil War era gun with any degree of certainty.  However in the case of the Lincoln Gun, we know every place the gun was from foundry to field site.  We even have reasonably accurate records of every time the gun fired!

The Lincoln Gun – an artifact preserved in Fort Monroe National Monument with a story to tell!