Tag Archives: Tredegar

Fort Johnston Photo Analysis, Part II: 10-inch Confederate Columbiad and Fort Sumter

On Friday I opened this series by placing five photos of Fort Johnson, overlooking Charleston harbor, in context with surveys conducted at the end of the war.


There are five more photos I will bring up later.  And those look at the fort from the interior.  For now, let me focus on the exterior photos looking across the water battery.  Best start with the first, or FJ-1 on my chart above.


The obvious eye-catcher is the 10-inch Confederate Columbiad in the foreground.  Great study of the columbiad as mounted in barbette.


As mentioned in the earlier post, you can see the damage done by Confederate axes in order to render the weapon at least temporarily out of service.  Zooming in, you can see individual hacks on the wood:


The rear of the columbiad offers a view of the elevating mechanism.  Note the base for the rear sight on the knob.


Lots of implements around the position.  Some broken but most in good condition.  Apparently the Confederates, having no need for 10-inch Columbiad implements, just left them behind with the gun.

Unfortunately, the only markings visible from this angle are those on the left trunnion:


That gives the date of manufacture as 1862 or 1863.  Not much help as Tredegar and Bellona Foundries produced many guns of this type during those years.

But there may be a way to identify the weapon, if among surviving pieces.  Notice the rough line just in front of the point of taper, at the rear of the reinforce.  Also notice a rough line in front of the sight mass and trunnions.


J.R. Anderson’s preference to leave the guns un-turned with rough exteriors may aid us 150 years later.  There is a 10-inch Columbiad across the bay in the Confederate section of Magnolia Cemetery which has a similar set of rough lines:

Charleston 4 May 10 210

This is Tredegar foundry number 1678, cast on October 13, 1862.  The lines are indicative of casting seams, where parts of the cast met.  Guns using the same molding pattern would exhibit similar lines.  So this is not definitive, but tentative.  Just raises the possibility of finding a surviving gun in the wartime photos.

Looking beyond to the other guns (which we’ll discuss in turn), we also see the berm that was Fort Johnson’s rampart:


You can see the texture here in great detail.  Almost to the point that layers of sod can be counted.  We lose something here with the black and white photo.  This appears to us as a bland, but sharp, earthwork.  But was the grass green in April 1865?

Other implements stand in front of the fort’s walls.  This is a siege limber. Likely used with the 8-inch siege howitzer further up in the photo.


In front of the columbiad is a cannister round.  Notice the rivets up the side:


Other debris is hard to identify.  Is that an auger laying out on the sand?


Or just a section of rope?

Further up the line, there are another couple of canister rounds placed in front of the fort:


We’ll get to the 8-inch howitzer later on, as it appears for better study in FJ3.  For now, let’s consider those three posts in the waters beyond:


There is a break in that line of posts about mid way through the distance to Fort Sumter. Then a couple more:


During the long siege of Fort Sumter, the Confederates ran a telegraph line to the fort.  But most sources indicate that was submerged.  Aside from possible ranging points or navigation aids, perhaps these were used to anchor the submerged telegraph line.

This side of Fort Sumter was one unfamiliar to the Federals in the spring of 1865:


Most of their observations came from the side fronting Morris Island and the breaching batteries.  This profile indicates how effective those batteries were.  The old dock, which extended from the gorge wall, is just a dike extending from the ruins.  The new dock, built by the Confederates, extends from the harbor face wall, on the left of this snip.  You can make out the lighthouse, which had been erected by the Federals shortly after the fall of Charleston.

The mechanics of the photography come into play here a bit.  We see several blurs that were vessels in motion.  Not focused enough to make out any details, other than the masts of the vessel on the right of the fort.


Yes… it’s water… and constantly in motion.  So for the time of exposure, all we have is a level plain over the waters between the forts.  We don’t know if the waters were choppy or placid that day.  But we do see a thin white line extending across the photo.  Reminds me of the foamy channel of water that forms as the tide is running out.

As with all these photos, there are a wealth of details as we zoom down.  For many decades, we could see these photos in books but not examine those details very well.  Now, thanks to digitization of the original negative, we can see these photos for all their blemishes and treasures.

I’ll continue this set with more detailed examinations of the photos of Fort Johnson.

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.

Gettysburg 069

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.

Putting the punch in the Long Arm of Lee: Tredegar rearms the ANV

Back in February I presented a thread discussing the reforms and re-equipping of the Army of Northern Virginia in January-February 1863. One of those posts included a discussion of the guns delivered by Tredegar that February. As I related in that post, Tredegar delivered only sixteen field pieces that month. And at that rate, the Army of Northern Virginia (ANV) might have the required number of modern guns by September (and don’t even mention the western armies!). Forgive me with not updating this thread at the appropriate sesquicentennial time… better late than never.

The slow response of Tredegar to support the Confederate buildup in those critical winter months was in part due to a lack of resources. As mentioned back in December, the manufacturer lacked certain raw materials needed to cast bronze guns. And to get around this shortage, the Army of Northern Virginia turned in obsolete 6-pdrs guns, James rifles, and some 12-pdr howitzers. These were then turned into 12-pdr light field guns, or as we like to call them – Napoleons.

However the lag time in the production cycle must be considered. I don’t think it possible to accurately estimate the time between a battery’s turn in and the receipt back of the gunmetal in the form of a Napoleon. However, records show the field batteries didn’t start turning in 6-pdrs in large numbers until February. That, I would contend, led to an abundance of deliveries in March.

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So in March, Tredegar delivered twenty-four 12-pdr Napoleons, three 12-pdr mountain howitzers, and two 20-pdr Parrotts. A total of twenty-six full size field pieces. A 60% bump in deliveries from the previous month.

And for April?

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Three 10-pdr Parrotts, one more 20-pdr Parrott, and ten 12-pdr Napoleons. The second line down indicates a single 10-pdr Mullane Gun, which I would interpret as one of the Tredegar 3-inch iron rifles, without the band. Oh, and two more of those 12-pdr mountain howitzers for the fans of the little cannons. So overall numbers dropped again, to fourteen.

Still that was a total of 56 field guns in the ninety days prior to Chancellorsville. If that rate might be sustained, by the end of summer Tredegar might well rearm not only the ANV but at least one of the field armies in the west. (Oh, and if the Federals might cooperate by just not going on the offensive for several months…)

But there is one problem with the type of guns received. Most of these were bronze Napoleons. Continued production of those depended upon exchanges of older field guns. Tredegar cast six Napoleons that April and seven more in May. Then production picked up in June to sixteen.

While 12-pdr Napoleons were better than the older Model 1841 light field weapons, the ANV required a mix of smoothbores and rifles in order to compete with the Federals. And I’d stress iron rifles, as the bronze variety had not held up to field service. Yet on the eve of the Chancellorsville campaign, Brigadier-General William Pendleton lamented that only three 10-pdr Parrotts had arrived. Why the holdup of iron guns?

In Ironmaker to the Confederacy, historian Charles Dew attributes some of the problem to supply of iron from the Cloverdale furnaces in Botetourt County. Specifically he cited terrible weather in late January 1863 which left the roads impassable and the furnace out of charcoal. (Remind me again the dates for the “Mud March”….) The shortage affected not only the re-equipping of the ANV, but also plans to reinforce Mobile, Wilmington, Vicksburg, and, as I’ve also detailed, Charleston. And this also set back the Navy’s plans for ironclads.

Of course, with the victory at Chancellorsville, the Confederates brought in fourteen “battlefield acquisitions,” which I’ll get into in a post next week. That was balanced against the loss of eight guns on Marye’s Heights. Not a good exchange rate.

The Confederacy had to depend upon Tredegar even more through the spring of 1863. But another event would occur in May to further set back Tredegar’s production.

150 years ago: “…we have an insufficient number of guns.”

In report to Richmond on this day (April 18) in 1863 Lieutenant-General John C. Pemberton, wrote frankly about the status of his defense of Vicksburg:

Jackson, April 18, 1863.
President Jefferson Davis:
The passage of batteries at Vicksburg by a large number of enemy’s vessels on night of [16th] shows conclusively that we have an insufficient number of guns. There are so many points to be defended at this time–Vicksburg, Grand Gulf, Port Hudson, Snyder’s Mill, and Fort Pemberton–that I have only twenty-eight guns at Vicksburg. Of these, two are smooth-bore 32s, two 24s, one 30-pounder Parrott, one Whitworth, and one 10.inch mortar. Vicksburg and Port Hudson, and if possible Grand Gulf, ought to be greatly strengthened in guns. I have also sent 4,000 men from Port Hudson to General Johnston. The enemy has eleven armed vessels between Vicksburg and Port Hudson. A large supply of ammunition and projectiles should be constantly forwarded.
J. G. Pemberton

The “passage of batteries” mentioned in Pemberton’s report were the gunboats and transports of Admiral David Dixon Porter, which ran past Vicksburg on the nights of April 16 and 17.

There are some interesting similarities between the situation at Vicksburg and that at Charleston (which I have been sawing over the last several months). First off is the shortage of heavy guns. Richmond forwarded some guns to fill the need. But not enough. Just as with the Charleston defenses, it’s possible to trace some of the guns used at Vicksburg back through receipts to J.R. Anderson & Company (Tredegar Foundry). For instance, in March 1863, Tredegar a couple of large guns to Jackson, Mississippi. Those guns were among the deliveries tallied on a March 1863 receipt for Tredegar deliveries:

Page 697d

This section of the receipt is for items shipped to “Gen. J.C. Pemberton, Jackson, Miss”. The first two items are 10-inch Columbiad number 1772 and 7-inch “Banded & Rifle Gun” number 1731, or in other words – a Brooke. These guns were cast in February 26 and January 6, 1863, respectively. The Tredegar gun book lists the rifle as an army type, presumably with a ratchet breech. Neither of these guns are known to survive today. So the receipt is all we have to work with here. Notice that Tredegar sent along carriages, sights, and other implements for these guns.

So was that Brooke in use when the Federals ran past the batteries?

Well, likely not. On April 17, Pemberton complained to Colonel Josiah Gorgas, Confederate Chief of Ordnance, that, “The Brooke gun arrived here yesterday without a solitary projectile. Where am I to get them?” The following day Pemberton followed with a sharply worded message:

If ammunition for the three 9-inch guns is not sent with them, they will be useless to me. Have heard nothing from you of bolts for the Brooke gun now here. Without bolts it had as well been left in Richmond. I have no coal, and am unable to get any.

So, for all practical purposes, Pemberton had a 15,000 pound rifled paperweight. And he feared having three more of the 9-inch, 9,000 pound variety delivered in the next few weeks.

This brings us to a second similarity to the situation at Charleston – shortage of ammunition. On April 17, Major-General Carter L. Stevenson wrote that “Our ammunition for heavy guns is nearly exhausted. We have some en route from Mobile and Selma. Please send some one to hurry it on.”

To hedge bets, on April 19, Pemberton sent a request to Mr. J.O. Stevens, running a foundry in Jackson, Mississippi, to:

… cast in the shortest possible time, working day and night, one hundred solid bolts – diameter, 6.95; weight, 128- and would urge on you the utmost energy, as the need for these projectiles is very great.

A bit of background, Stevens supplied ordnance from field artillery calibers up to 8-inch. So the firm had some experience, at least. However, I’ve not run across positive proof that Stevens delivered the desired rifle projectiles.

Just as at Charleston, a critical shortage of guns and projectiles factored into the situation. Beauregard could lean on Eason & Brothers for projectiles. Pemberton had to rely upon Stevens. But both commanders had to wait for Richmond to send heavy guns.

(Citations from OR, Series I, Volume 24, Serial 38, pages 756, 759, 760, 766, and 767.)

One of Beauregard’s Columbiads recovered from the ocean floor?

I’ve written some in the past about the remarkable find of the steamer Philadelphia. (And note, this is not the gunboat USS Philadelphia which plied the waters around Charleston during the war.) Some time after the Civil War the steamer left Charleston with a load of scrap metal, including several heavy artillery pieces of Confederate vintage. The Philadelphia never made it out of South Carolina waters and sank off the coast. Recently Rufus Perdue discovered the wreck and began recovery of some 25 cannons (!).

I mentioned a Bellonia 10-inch columbiad donated to the South Carolina Military Museum in that earlier post. Recently another of the cannons, this one a Tredegar columbiad of the same caliber, showed up in the news. Earlier this month, WMBF News of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina ran a story about cannons found in recent years, featuring both the Philadelphia cannons and relics from the CSS Pee Dee. Regarding the columbiads, the article notes:

Mr. Rufus Perdue was fishing for grouper off the coast of McClennanville when he discovered the sunken USS Philadelphia. The ship sank under the weight of cannons decommissioned from Charleston after the Civil War, being transported north.

“This is one of about 25 cannons,” Perdue said. “They were shipped out of Charleston at the end of Reconstruction.”

Mr. Perdue unearthed those cannons, which he now proudly displays outside his Murrells Inlet home.

I can’t embed the video from the article here, but please give it a look. I mean really take a look at around the 1:34 mark:


The four digit number on the muzzle stands out in white. Is that 1676? 1678? 1873? Any of those numbers match the Tredegar Gun Book entries for 10-inch columbiads. The first two are of interest to the discussion of Charleston’s defenses in March 1863.

Foundry numbers 1676 and 1678 appear on a receipt list from November 1862. According to the receipt, number 1676 was sent to Cumberland Gap (yes, up in the mountains).

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I’ll have to research a bit to determine if the gun ever got there, and if not where it was redirected.

But number 1678, paired with 1681, were bound for Charleston.

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Keep in mind this table from the Charleston board, which shows three 10-inch columbiads delivered to the First Military District in November of that year.


The J.R. Anderson receipt accounts for all three of the November columbiads – number 1672 delivered by the foundry on November 5 along with the two mentioned above. The receipt also accounts for 10-inch columbiad number 1687 delivered at Richmond in the last days of the month, the forwarded to Charleston in December.

But… if the number is 1873, then it was cast in July 1863 and was a later arrival at Charleston. Either way, the recovered columbiad was likely a participant in the long siege of Charleston.