Tag Archives: Tredegar

Guns of the CSS Atlanta: Part 2 – 7 inch Brooke Rifles

Moving up a caliber from yesterday’s post, now let’s look at the bow and stern guns of the CSS Atlanta.  At the time of capture, the Confederate ironclad mounted a 7-inch Single Banded Brooke Rifle in each position.  On the bow was number 1740 from Tredegar:

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7inch Single Banded Brooke – #1740

On the stern was Tredegar number 1652.

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7-inch Single Banded Brooke – Tredegar #1652

Just as with the 6.4-inch Brookes, the 7-inch rifles conformed to the Brooke form.  Tredegar stamped the foundry number on the upper muzzle face.

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Muzzle Face of #1652

The bore received seven groove Brooke style rifling.

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Bore of 7-inch Brooke.

The sight arrangements were the same as for the smaller guns.  Notice the two holes where screws fixed the front sight onto the sight mass.

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Sight Mass of 7-inch Brooke

The trunnions bear the stamp of “P” for proofed along with the initials of the inspector  – Alexander M. DeBree.

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Trunnion markings for #1740

Aside from being larger than the 6.4-inch rifle, the breech and bands have differences to mention. Notice the band fitted around the gun just in front of the start of the breech face, leaving a flat section between the band and the rear sight mass.

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Breech and band profile

Also note the radial lines on the band.  As with all Brookes, these bands are butt welded onto the gun.

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View over the Breech

Markings on the band include “T.F.” for Tredegar Foundry and “15162” for the weight. And that is the weight with the band… more on that in a minute.

After capture, the US Navy added two new sets of marks. First a trophy number stamp. In the case of number 1740, that trophy number is 4.

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Trophy number stamp

The other mark is a bragging inscription on the breech:

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Inscription on the Breech

On the left – “Brooke’s 7in Rifle (Rebel imitation of Parrott) from Rebel Ram Atlanta.”   We can dispute the inaccuracy of that statement, for sure.  And while we are at it, we might even contest that written on the other side – “Captured by US Monitor Weehawken Commodore John Rodgers.”  The USS Nahant was there too, just she didn’t fire a shot.

Now there is a small, perhaps trivial, detail with the Atlanta‘s 7-inch guns.  When first outfitted, she was issued Tredegar numbers 1641 and 1652.  As seen from the photos above, 1652 was captured with the ironclad.  But what of 1641?  Some defect prompted Commander Richard Page, in command of the Savannah naval station, to call for a replacement in May 1863.  As you might guess, the replacement was number 1740.  Correspondence between Richmond and Savannah called out the guns by foundry number. The only question is what the defect was.

A tally sheet from Tredegar indicates the sale of a 7-inch Brooke with foundry number 1740.  Notice the weight recorded – 14,425 pounds.  That is before banding.  Recall from above the total weight was 15,162 pounds.

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A 7-inch Brooke Rifle cost $2,308 unbanded, with the cost of rifling and banding at $1,082.50.  That is in Confederate 1863 dollars.

Mr. A.W. Small escorted the 7-inch rifle to Savannah.

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The gun, and escort, arrived in Savannah on May 22.  So number 1740 went onto the CSS Atlanta, with 1641 going to the docks.  Not one to waste a cannon, no matter how defective or old, General P.G.T. Beauregard secured the weapon for use at Charleston.  At the end of the war, number 1641 was among those captured by Federal troops on Sullivan’s Island.  And today that gun is in the West Point trophy collection.

Guns of the CSS Atlanta: Part 1 – 6.4 inch Brooke Rifles

Back when this blog was “young” I posted about the CSS Atlanta and her guns at the Washington Navy Yard.  Time to revisit that topic and provide a bit more about the rebel ironclad.

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The CSS Atlanta’s guns – all in a row

Let me start with a walk around of the 6.4-inch Brooke guns that comprised the ship’s armament.  There are two 6.4-inch Brookes in the set.  These Brookes are singled-banded and match all the standard factors seen on Brooke Rifles. Tredegar foundry number 1610 was the starboard side gun on the CSS Atlanta:

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6.4-inch Brooke – Tredegar #1610

And Tredegar number 1587 was the port side gun:

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6.4-inch Brooke – Tredegar #1587

The foundry numbers appear on the top of the muzzle face (and can faintly be seen on the top of the breeching jaws).

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Muzzle face of 6.4-inch #1610

The rifling pattern shows seven grooves.  In a few places you can still see the ever slight lands of the Brooke-type rifling.

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Bore of 6.4-inch Brooke Rifle

Looking down the muzzle of #1587, two of the three sight arrangements come into view.  There is a hole for a muzzle sight blade.  Further back, over the trunnions, is a block for a sight.

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Front view of #1587

Note also the flared rimbases in the view above.  The trunnions are just over 7 inches long, and just over 7 inches in diameter.  Those dimensions are perhaps the left over vestige of the IX-inch Dahlgren gun pattern used in the earliest Brooke Rifles.  The trunnion marks are “J.R.A. & Co // T.F.” on the right and “1862” on the left.

Looking from the breech, there is another feature alluding to the Dahlgren design – the rear sight base.

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Band and rear sight base of Brooke 6.4-inch Rifle

The band is thirty inches long.  At the base of the band is the weight stamp – 9110 pounds in the case of #1587, 9120 pounds for #1610.

Here’s a better view of the band and breech in profile:

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Breech profile and Band

Notice the angles of the rear sight base and the hemispherical contours of the breech.  The blade type breeching jaws also come from the Dahlgren patterns.

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Breeching jaws and socket for elevating screw

These two guns are the only surviving single-banded 6.4-inch Brookes, from at least eleven produced.  These two guns were cast in June 1862.  In October they were shipped to Savannah.  They were joined by two 7-inch Brooke rifles the following month.  One of those two sits beside the 6.4-inch guns at the Washington Navy Yard’s Willard Park today.

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Four guns from the CSS Atlanta

But wait there are TWO 7-inch Brookes there.  And all four guns came from the CSS Atlanta, right?  Well there were actually three 7-inch Brookes shipped to Savannah for the ironclad.  In my next post on this subject, I’ll sort through the reason that three such guns are associated with that Confederate ironclad, though only two were captured with it.

A 10pdr Parrott Rifle from Macon? Well maybe

A couple years back when discussing the Regarded Parrott rifles, I mentioned Macon Arsenal as another source for Confederate Parrotts.  As I said then, I’ve never seen a “confirmed” Macon 10-pdr.  But every visit to Chancellorsville I give one particular gun extra scrutiny hoping it might give away some clues.

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10-pdr Parrott Rifle, possibly from Macon Arsenal

Recall Macon Arsenal was among the facilities built by the Confederate government during the war.  In that case, the nucleus of the arsenal was a rented shop.  Although Macon’s biggest production runs were 12-pdr Napoleons, the cannon foundry produced at least a dozen 10-pdr Parrotts.  Of that lot, the registry of surviving guns lists two that are around today.  One is in private hands.  The other is tentatively identified as the gun pictured above.

The Parrott rifle in question appears a closer match to early Federal 10-pdrs (2.9-inch) than the Tredegar guns.  There is a noticeable “step” in front of the trunnions, much like early Federal guns.

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Step in front of the trunnions

Notice the casting seams running dorsally down the gun.  As I’ve mentioned before, this is often seen on Confederate guns where the foundry kept machining to a minimum.

The rimbases are squared, as was the fashion with both early Federal and Tredegar Parrotts.

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Trunnions and rimbases

The trunnions themselves are badly weathered.

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Trunnion face

There’s little hope gathering markings off those trunnion faces.  Nor from the breech face.

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Breech face

Damage flattened the underside of the knob.  Certainly something to be expected from a century and a half of handling.

The band exhibits lateral lines, suggesting but welding as was done with the Tredegar Parrotts.

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Profile of the Band and Breech

However, the band is shorter than those seen on Tredegar Parrotts, by nearly two inches.  There’s no bevel at the front of the band.   However there is a raised section at the front of the band, which seems to indicate the surface under the band is likewise raised.

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Raised section under the band

The muzzle has a swell, again not unlike Federal Parrotts.

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Muzzle profile

Of course early Tredegar Parrotts had similar muzzle swells.

But what about the muzzle face?  Any markings that might suggest the origin of this piece?

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Muzzle face

I’ve looked this muzzle face over in different lighting conditions, always looking for traces or hints of stamps or markings.  The most I’ve ever seen clearly is a “2” at the top of the muzzle face.

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Number 2 on muzzle face

That photo was taken in the early morning light, with the dew providing moisture to highlight the dents, dings, and number.

Notice also the three groove rifling.  That rifling extends into the bore but is worn down.

The best I can offer is that “2” is similar in font and size to that used on Macon 12-pdr Napoleons.  For example number 28 at Gettysburg.

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Close up of “No. 28″ stamp on Macon Napoleon

Of course, all that might prove is that a couple of foundries used the same type of dies when stamping the guns.

Several factors, particularly the lack of machining, point to a Confederate origin.  The “2” is the only other clue there.  Much smaller than those seen on Federal Parrotts.  Still, pending a readable marking or some paper trail on the gun, I’ll still say “maybe” from Macon.