Battery Glover: “This work is intended for five guns”

The subject for the second installment of “Fortifications around Charleston in Detail” is Battery Glover.  I discussed this battery last year when detailing the fortifications around Charleston as they existed in the spring of 1863.  So Battery Glover should be no stranger here.  However the battery is one of the more obscure in the defenses, having saw no substantial action during the war.

Name:  Originally referenced as “Lawton Battery.”  Renamed Battery Glover in November 4, 1862, under General Orders #88 (OR, Series I, Volume 14, Serial 20, Page 666).  A couple of secondary sources mention “Battery Styles” at this location.  But that designation is tenuous, in my opinion.

Named for:  There is no official notice on the naming of this fort.  The most likely is Colonel Thomas J. Glover, Colonel of the 1st South Carolina Volunteer Infantry, who was killed at Second Manassas in late August 1862 (from what I understand, on Chinn Ridge).

Location: James Island, facing Charleston Harbor’s south channel.

JamesIslandEastLinesMap

Description: A battery fronting the inner portion of Charleston Harbor.  Four or five gun positions (the fifth may not have been completed).  Frontage of approximately 110 yards.  Height of parapet was about 10 feet above ground level.  Ditch in front of works roughly three feet deep.  Depth of works, including magazine, was 70 yards.  Internal dimensions of magazine approximately 75 by 25 feet.

Purpose: According to a circular from Brigadier-General Roswell Ripley, from December 1862, Battery Glover was part of the inner circle (or third) of fire designed to protect Charleston Harbor.  “Should any vessel succeed in passing the second circle of fire the third will be formed and put into action by the guns of White Point Battery and Battery Glover, with such guns of Forts Johnson and Ripley and Castle Pinckney as will bear.” (OR, Series I, Volume 14, Serial 20, Page 734).

Captain John Johnson’s map demonstrates how Battery Glover covered the Ashley River channel in conjunction with those other fortifications.

BatteryGloverLocation

Established:  Prior to the fall of 1862.

Plans, photographs and other depictions:   There may be at least one wartime photograph of Battery Glover from the harbor, but I don’t have a copy to post. Federal engineers made detailed diagrams of the battery after the fall of Charleston, providing a plan of the battery:

BatteryGloverPlan

The profile on section 1 showed three guns in position, with a fourth position left empty.  This matched Confederate descriptions of the armament in January 1865 (see below).

BatteryGloverProfileSect1

Section 2 profile demonstrated the ditch in front of the works and the height of the walls.

BatteryGloverProfileSect2

The central magazine extended well back of the gun platforms.

BatteryGloverProfileSect3

Armament:  Varied during the war:

  • March 3, 1863 – One rifled 32-pdr and three smoothbore 32-pdr guns, with an unmounted 8-inch shell gun.   Brigadier-General S.R. Gist wrote, “This work is intended for five guns, some of which are now in position, viz: One rifled 32-pounder and three smoothbore 32-pounders on barbette carriages; the fifth gun, an 8-inch shell gun (navy), is awaiting its carriage. This gun, not being intended for solid shot, would be more serviceable if placed in the front battery at Secessionville in lieu of the rifled 24-pounder now in that battery, and its position filled by a gun of long range and one capable of projecting heavy solid shot or bolts.”  (OR, Series I, Volume 14, Serial 20, page 605.).
  • August 1863 – The 8-inch shell gun went to Redoubt No. 1 on the James Island line (OR, Series I, Volume 28, Serial 47, page 256).  Orders passed down to prepare two 10-inch columbiad platforms in the battery (Ibid, page 286).
  • October 21, 1863 – armament reduced to three rifled 32-pdr guns (OR Series I, Volume 28, Part I, Serial 46, page 148).    However, in a report on the defenses, “It is advisable to place a heavier armament in Battery Glover, when it can be obtained, and the present armament should then be sent to localities better suited for it” (Ibid, page 433).
  • May 25, 1864 – Inventory by Major George Upshur Mayo states the battery had two 42-pdr rifled, single banded guns, with 151 bolts, 100 shells, and 110 pounds of cannon powder (OR, Series I, Volume 35, Part II, Serial 66, pages 505-9).
  • January 1865 – Three 8-inch columbiads (OR, Series I, Volume 47, Part II, Serial 99, page 1025).

Significant actions and activity:  The battery was not involved with any major actions, as the Federals never tested the inner defenses.  In May 1864, Mayo reported “This battery is not in order. The eccentrics of the carriages require adjusting. The magazines are good.”

Units assigned and commanders:  In March 1863, the battery had 75 personnel assigned.  In June 1863, Company G, 2nd South Carolina Volunteer (Heavy) Artillery garrisoned the fort (OR, Series I, Volume 28, Part II, Serial 47, page 162).  Mayo’s report of May 25, 1864 indicated “Captain [John] D. Johnson commanding; Lieut. R.M. Anderson sick since May 8; Lieut W.D. Scarborough sick in camp about six weeks.”  These officers were part of Company E, Palmetto Battalion, South Carolina Artillery (3rd Battalion, Light Artillery).

Status today:  In the mid-1990s, I visited this site and noted a slight trace of remains.  But I don’t know if those are extant today.  The site is on private property.  I don’t know who the owner is now, and out of respect for that won’t  post the exact location here.

The stalemate of April outside Charleston, Part 2

First off, let me update the map provided in part 1 of this set (looking at the situation outside Charleston in late April 1863):

April63Dispositions
I’ve added the place-names for the islands held by the Federals.  Also depicted the units deployed to James, Morris, and Folly Islands.

Second, let me better describe Brigadier-General Vogdes’ command.  The brigade  consisted of 6th Connecticut, 36th Illinois, 4th New Hampshire, 100th New York, 62nd Ohio, 67th Ohio, and 85th Pennslvania infantry regiments.  The Third Battalion of the 1st Massachusetts Cavalry (Companies I, K, L, and M) accompanied the brigade.  Also attached to Vogdes’ command was one company of the 3rd New York Light Artillery, two companies of the 3rd Rhode Island Artillery, and Battery C, 1st U.S. Artillery.  Rounding out the formation was three companies of the 1st New York Engineers.

On Seabrook Island, just off the map to the left, Brigadier-General Thomas Stevenson had the 10th Connecticut, 24th Massachusetts, 56th New York, and 97th Pennsylvania, along with additional supporting troops.  All told, nearly 7,500 Federals occupied the barrier islands south of Charleston.

On the Confederate side, General P.G.T. Beauregard’s calls for assistance, prior to and after the April 7 ironclad attack, resulted in an increase in troops around Charleston.  On March 21, Brigadier-General Roswell Ripley’s 1st Military District (Charleston, Fort Sumter, James Island, St. Johns Island, and posts to the north of Charleston) numbered 12,345 troops present, up from 8,663 reported at the middle of the month.  On April 7, when the ironclads attacked, that number was roughly the same.  But by April 23, Ripley reported 18,351 present for duty.  But this was a temporary increase in strength.

Although not engaged in any major fighting, the troops were far from idle. In the weeks after the April 7 attack, Beauregard feared a Federal landing at Bull’s Bay might expose the flanks of Sullivan’s Island.  One brigade shifted to Christ Church Parrish in response.  At the same time, Beauregard ordered Brigadier General S.R. Gist to occupy Black Island, behind Morris Island, with field artillery (see the map above for location).  Fear was that Federals might occupy that island and take in flank both the Morris Island defenses and Secessionville (Fort Lamar).  But to fortify these points the Confederates needed time and labor.  As mentioned before, they were coming up short on the later.

By the first days of May, troops were departing Charleston for other threatened sectors.  Among those departing were the brigades of Brigadier-Generals S.R. Gist and W.H.T. Walker. Pressed to send Brigadier-General Nathan Evan’s Brigade on top of that, Beauregard argued with some success to retain at least 13,000 troops in front of Charleston (both 1st and 2nd Military Districts).

Reflecting on the situation and the results of the April 7th engagement, Beauregard offered advice to Colonel John Forsyth, responsible for the defenses at Mobile Bay:

I place great reliance, however, on three things – heavy guns, Rains torpedoes, and, in deep water, rope obstructions.  I have also introduced here Lee’s (one of my officers) spar torpedoes, attached to row-boats, which ought to be used in flotillas on all our large rivers.

In the days after the attack, Beauregard had followed his own advice.  He temporarily held up some heavy guns, including Brooke rifles, moving by rail to Savannah.  But unable to retain those, he looked about for other options.  One was to modify more of the heavy smoothbores into rifled guns – particularly the 8-inch columbiads which had little effect on the ironclads – in a manner similar to the 42-pdrs.  This program eventually expanded to 10-inch columbiads.  But the process took time.  None of the guns would appear in the harbor defenses until mid-summer at the earliest.

The number of rifled guns in Beauregard’s entire command as of the end of April was 113, as indicated on an April 24 report:

RifledGunsApril24

The majority of rifled guns were field artillery, and an odd assortment at that (Wiards, Blakelys, Parrotts, James, and Whitworths).  The converted 42-, 32- and 24-pdrs were marginal at best. Of the Brookes, three of those from the report were earmarked for the CSS Atlanta at Savannah.

But the Charleston defenders would receive, as the spoils from the victory on April 7, two additional heavy guns.  With the USS Keokuk sunk in shallow waters (see the blue mark just to the lower right of the map), Confederate engineers deemed it possible to salvage the ship’s XI-inch Dahlgrens.  That work took place between mid-April and the first week of May.  As result, Beauregard added the heaviest guns in all of the South to his defenses. (I promise more details on that operation in posts to follow.)

While working the wreck, the Confederates needed to support the salvage crew from any Federal interference.  At least twice during the salvage, Confederate ironclads moved up to cover the operation.  On April 20, the CSS Chicora exchanged shots with the Federals.  Guns on Morris Island also covered the operation, particularly a Whitworth field gun.  Although of light caliber, the gun could fire a solid bolt accurately to extreme ranges.  Beauregard wanted a second gun of this type, but was denied.

With respect to torpedoes, after the ironclad attack the Confederates wanted to determine the reason for the “big torpedo” failure.  As related earlier, the determination was excess cable played out during the laying of that weapon, thus rendering it incapable of firing.  That issue identified, the defenders soon placed more of the large torpedoes.

But Beauregard was most interested in employing the spar torpedoes.  Writing to Adjutant General Samuel Cooper in Richmond, he lamented that, “The work on the marine torpedo ram is at a stand-still for want of material and money.”  The funding for the project was expended and more was needed. While the Confederate navy provided some materials, much of the needed iron-plating went to the ironclads then under production in Charleston.  Pressing the point, Beauregard added:

Meantime the great value of the invention has been demonstrated so as to secure general conviction, and Captain Tucker, commanding Confederate States naval forces afloat on this station, declares unhesitatingly that this one machine of war, if finished, would be more effective  as a means of defense and offense than nearly all the iron-clads here afloat and building, a fact of which I am and have been fully assured.  Had it been finished and afloat when the enemy’s iron-clads entered this harbor several weeks ago but few of them probably would have escaped.

In early May, Confederates in Charleston received reports of “400-500 tons of iron mailing plates” in Nassau.  Circulars went out offering up to $1,500 per ton to blockade runners transporting the iron.  Beauregard went to the extreme measure of denying cotton to any runner who refused to carry the iron.

During the lull through the end of April, Confederates angled for an opportunity to mount a row-boat spar torpedo attack on the Federal vessels anchored in the Stono River near Folly Island. But these efforts came to naught.  Naval crews sent to Charleston in anticipation of capturing a monitor were soon sent back to Richmond.

As April closed, both sides maintained a stalemate outside Charleston.  Yet as both sides shouldered for leverage on the coastline, particular points gained prominence for future operations.  Folly Island would be the toe-hold needed to secure Morris Island.  Morris Island would thence become the key to reducing Fort Sumter.  Beauregard’s spar torpedoes would indeed succeed in damaging the Federal ships outside the harbor.   And the stationary torpedoes would keep the fleet out of the harbor.  The stalemate in April was but a brief respite before the next round of operations.  There would be few such respites in the next two years of war as Charleston became a very active theater.

(Citations and table from OR, Series I, Volume 14, Serial 20, pages 906, 917, and 927.)

How many guns did Charleston need? : Points one and two from Beauregard’s board

The board of generals assembled at Charleston in mid-March 1863 began their deliberations by reviewing the first two points of their charter:

  • Amount and description of heavy ordnance deficient or necessary for the efficient defense of the harbor.
  • The number and character of heavy ordnance called for and supplied since 1st June, 1862.

The board, consisting of Brigadier-Generals Roswell Ripley, S.R. Gist, and James Trapier, were well familiar with the guns and requisitions. Ripley and Gist were the district commanders of Charleston and James Island, respectively. Trapier held the post of “sub-district” commander under Ripley, in charge of the Sullivan’s Island defenses. In the report, the board put focus on the failure of the boom originally intended to span the harbor entrance and the weapons required to make good on that failure:

Much dependence was placed upon a chain and boom obstruction then being constructed by the order of that officer, which it was hoped and believed would successfully detain an attacking fleet under the fire of the heavy forts at the mouth of the harbor. About the 1st of October it was demonstrated that the chain and boom, upon which much labor had been expended, would prove a failure, and a communication from the chief of artillery to the Ordnance Department at Richmond, approved and indorsed by the commanding general, was forwarded, calling for fifty-one guns— 10-inch columbiads. … The number of guns which it was understood were to have been furnished under requisitions from Major-General Pemberton was ten 10-inch columbiads which, added to the requisitions last mentioned for the inner harbor, would include sixty-one 10-inch columbiads, with their ammunition, exclusive of a number of 10-inch seacoast mortars.

So the defenders needed sixty-one 10-inch columbiads. This number derives from adding the ten ordered by General John Pemberton during his tenure as commander to the fifty-one that Beauregard ordered after the boom turned out a failure.

While the board clearly preferred the 10-inch columbiads (though didn’t say as much), the report went on to discuss other weapons received for the defense of Charleston:

From the records of the ordnance officer of the First Military District it appears that since the 1st of June, 1862, there have been received seventeen. 10-inch columbiads, two 42-pounder banded and rifled guns, two 7-inch banded Brooke guns, two 12-pounder banded and rifled gun, and eight 10-inch sea-coast mortars. Considering that the 42-pounder banded and rifled and the 7-inch guns are equivalent to a 10-inch columbiad when they may be in certain positions, it appears that of the principal requisitions sent in there remains a deficiency of thirty-eight 10-inch columbiads still unfurnished. In addition to the guns received one 3-inch Whitworth and two 18-pounder Blakely guns have been received from importation. These and the 12-pounder rifled and banded are, however useful, not to be depended on for positive defense against such an attack as is contemplated.

So let me “pick” at those who swear by the Brooke rifles. The Confederate generals rated the 7-inch Brooke (oh, and the old 42-pdrs they banded and rifled) as only equal to the columbiads when in “certain positions.” I know… combat experience would change that tune!

In addition to the shortage of 10-inch caliber guns, the board looked to larger guns to further secure the harbor:

A strong additional security to this harbor would be a few guns of such caliber as it is believed the enemy will bring to the attack. Authority had been obtained some three months since to have one or more 15-inch guns cast at the Charleston Arsenal works. It is believed that most of the iron has been procured and that most of the appliances have been furnished, but from some untoward disagreement between the superintending mechanics and the ordnance officers the progress of the work has been delayed, if not indefinitely postponed. It will be be well, in the opinion of the board, that the work should be pressed forward as rapidly as may be, and that at least three guns of that caliber be furnished as soon as possible.

Yes you read that correctly – a Confederate 15-inch gun. But this is where the military needs exceeded the manufacturing capability. As seen with the long, deliberate development of the Rodman guns (and I am at fault here for not providing a similar narrative of the contemporary Dahlgren guns), such caliber weapons required advanced manufacturing techniques. The Charleston Arsenal could not just drop metal into a mold and expect the product to perform to standard. So I believe the ordnance officers were right to hold off investing precious gun metal into such an endeavor.

Before closing the discussion of the board’s response to points one and two, let me offer one of the attachments to the report:

heavyOrd

The table lists, by date, the quantity and type of weapons supplied to Charleston. With the dates in hand, one can easily reference Tredegar receipts from the period. Looking to Tredegar records from September 1862, a long sheet of received ordnance mentions at least five pieces of heavy ordnance sent to Charleston. Tredegar delivered a 10-inch columbiad on September 20 (presumably the date Tredegar loaded the gun for shipment). Here’s the entry for that columbiad and its equipment:

Page 504b

A 10-inch columbiad, with the foundry number 1664, weighing 13,360 pounds, at a cost of $1068.80 – Confederate dollars that is. Tredegar also provided a carriage, hand spikes, priming wires, sponge, rammer, worm, and sights along with the big gun. All “sent to Charleston” that September.

So where is that gun today?

Well, Tredegar number 1664 has not moved far from it’s wartime post.

Fort Moultrie 3 May 2010 495

The gun occupies a center pintle barbette carriage at Fort Moultrie. It represents the “Confederate period” in the fort’s displays of seacoast artillery through the ages. Anecdotal evidence places the gun at Fort Moultrie at the end of the war. Post war it occupied a position over one of the fort’s access gates on a pedestal. When the National Park Service took over the fort, they remounted it on display – likely close to its wartime station.

The muzzle is too far over the fort wall for me to offer a good (and safely acquired) photo of the stampings. So the trunnion stamps will have to do for now.

Fort Moultrie 3 May 2010 499

At least ten other guns from Tredegar receipts match up with deliveries (give or take a few days) on the table provided with the Charleston board’s report. Several of those weapons are still at Charleston today. If only these “witnesses” of iron could speak to us about the battles fought at the mouth of Charleston harbor.

(Citations from OR, Series I, Volume 14, Serial 20, pages 829-833.)

150 Years Ago: Improving the James Island Forts defending Charleston

I’m a little behind on the exact sesquicentennial timing, so please forgive me being a few days off.  On March 3, 1863, Brigadier-General States Rights Gist – a Confederate who’s parents left no doubt as to their political leanings – filed a report on the defenses of James Island.

English: Photo of Confederate General States R...
Brig.Gen. S.R. Gist

Gist had recently returned to Charleston and had assumed command of forces on James Island and in Saint Andrew’s Parish.  Gist’s command covered the area south and southwest of Charleston, which was for all practical purposes the “right flank” of the city’s defense.  Consider the Charleston theater of operation:

SCCoast1a

To the northeast of the harbor, the barrier islands offered a few channels, but none leading deep inshore.  While this was a non-topographical map, the limited road network depicted alludes to the wide, impassable marshes.

On the other hand, to the south and southeast, Federal gunboats could, and often did, navigate up the Stono River (… at their own peril of course).  The network of islands that included James Island offered high ground, roads and causeways leading right to the inner harbor.  And just north of the island, within easy reach, was the vital Charleston & Savannah Railroad.

CharlestonDefGilmore1a

For the Federals, James Island offered a passageway to the birthplace of secession.  For the Confederate defenders, the island was a critical salient.  In June 1862, the Confederates thwarted an early attempt on James Island with a victory in the battle of Secessionville.  Not resting on a victory, the defenders expanded and improved the defenses.  However, after a September inspection tour, General P.G.T. Beauregard described the works as “not very properly arranged and located” and he directed additional work.

Upon receiving command of the sector on February 12, 1863, Gist began inspecting the defenses with an aim to complete the desired improvements.  His March 3 report indicated that the defenses were “not altogether in fighting condition in consequence of the want of necessary ordnance and ordnance stores…” From that overall assessment, Gist provided a detailed examination of the key defenses of his command.

JamesIslandDef2

On the harbor side of the island, Fort Johnson, Battery Glover, and Battery Means covered the South Channel and mouth of the Ashley River.  The armament of Fort Johnson included two 10-inch columbiads, a rifled 32-pdr gun, two 32-pdr smoothbores, and a 10-inch mortar.  Gist wanted to relocate the later guns, of little use against ironclads, to other points in the defenses.  In their place he requested more rifled guns.   Battery Glover contained a rifled 32-pdr and three smoothbore 32-pdrs, with an 8-inch shell gun waiting for a carriage.  Gist wanted to send the shell gun to Fort Lamar, in exchange for a rifled 24-pdr.  Battery Means, with only a pair of 8-inch shell guns, could only cover the entrance to Wappoo Creek (which provided passage between the Stono and Ashley Rivers).

The James Island Line (labeled “East James Island Line” on my map) consisted of a three mile front with “six redoubts, five redans, and one lunette.”   Defenders  manned 18 to 20 guns along that line.  The works lacked magazines and in some places ramps and firing platforms.  Engineers had already repositioned the works away from earlier infantry cremaillere lines.  But not all those old works were demolished, and obstructed the new lines.  Gist wanted the old lines cleared, completion of the artillery positions, and additional firing platforms for any reinforcing field artillery.

In front of that East James Line, Battery Reed with two 24-pdr siege guns covered the bridge to Secessionville and Light House Creek.  Gist felt that, although low in elevation, this work was an important link supporting the outer line.  He desired expansion to connect with the East James Line and to allow a couple more field pieces.

Charleston 4 May 10 251
Inside Fort Lamar Today

Fort (or Battery) Lamar was the main defense of Secessionville.  Earlier reports indicated the fort had two 8-inch guns, one rifled 32-pdr, six smoothbore 32-pdrs, two rifled 24-pdrs, and two 10-inch mortars.  Gist tallied thirteen guns without noting the particulars.  Construction on the fort was nearing completion, which would make it, in Gist’s estimate, “impregnable if defended by a proper garrison….”  To the north of Secessionville, a new two gun battery covered the bridge to the main island.  On Bridge Neck, infantry lines with provisioning for three field artillery pieces, also defended the bridge (some accounts refer to this as a causeway).

East of Secessionville and Fort Lamar, the Cross-Roads Line covered three roads providing access into James Island.  Gist had originally placed this line of works in an earlier tour of duty.  The 1,200 yard line was designed to block patrols and delay any force in strength.  The line consisted of hedge-rows, infantry entrenchments and field artillery firing positions.

Fort Pemberton anchored the defensive line to the Stono River.  The fort had fifteen guns and could handle ten more if reinforced.  Earlier reports stated the fort included two 10-inch columbiads, two 8-inch guns, two 42-pdr guns, two rifled 32-pdrs, four 32-pdr smoothbores, two 18-pdr guns, and two rifled 12-prs.  This appeared sufficient to keep gunboats at distance.  But Gist suggested an additional flanking exterior battery for a better angle down the river.

Behind Fort Pemberton, the West James Island Line was the last link in the chain of fortifications.  Gist described the works as “a continuous redan line” indicating the presence of several strong points along the 2,600 yard front.  Like the east line, the west side contained light artillery.

One important improvement, although not a fortification, suggested by Gist was placing a signal station behind the West James Island Line.  Not only would that improve communications across the island and to Charleston, but would also allow observation of potential landing sites along the Stono River.  You see, signal stations were not all about signals back in those days.  Gist also directed his engineers to construct better bridges and passages between James Island and Saint Andrew’s Parrish to the north.  This would allow for covered and concealed movement of troops to threatened positions.

Gist estimated the remaining work required “600 hands for six or eight weeks,” but he only had 130 (more on this in a later post).  Overall the military force on James Island included 1,735 artillerymen, 5,100 infantry, and 2,500 reserves.  Armament included 75 guns and three mortars.  Gist desired 120 guns.

Closing his report, Gist looked beyond James Island for the ultimate solution:

I will indulge the hope that the advance line of defense may be speedily re-established upon Cole’s Island and the Stono once again freed from Yankee gunboats.  This would of necessity reduce the garrison required for its defense to at least one-third the number at present called for.

But, as we know from the perspective of 150 years later, that ship had already sailed.  Cole’s Island, along with the marshes behind Folly and Morris Islands, were soon to be within the Federal advanced picket lines.  This prompted more improvements and additions to the works.  But the James Island defenses would serve their intended purpose.  The defenses of James Island held the Federals at bay until 1865.  As seen from the photo of Fort Lamar above, a few of these works stand today.

(Gist’s report appears in OR, Series I, Volume 14, Serial 20, pages 804-808.)