The Artilleryman Magazine Fall 2013 Issue

The Fall 2013 edition of the Artilleryman is out this month. Featured articles with Civil War interest include:

  • Analysis by Steven W. Knott of two photos showing Wiard Rifles on Morris Island.  In the Summer issue, he provided an excellent history of the Wiard rifles.  Knott is filling in some much needed detail to the history of these rare guns.
  • A look at the “Swamp Angel,” with the history of this famous gun.  David Martin adds more details than I did in my post on the same topic earlier this year.
  • Gettysburg Battle 150th – four pages of artillery in action during this summer’s sesquicentennial of that three day battle.
  • Photo gallery of night artillery fire on the New Market battlefield.

Non-Civil War related articles:

  • A look at a Revolutionary War era British Traveling Carriage built by Dr. Bruce Anderson for his 6-pdr field gun from the early 1700s.  Anderson used John Muller’s Treatise as a guide to reconstruct the carriage.
  • “Victorious Artilery Sergeant” – Chris Espenshade provides a study of Sergeant James Keating, a British artillerist who directed artillery in the battles of Prairie du Chien and Credit Island during the War of 1812.
  • A museum review of Southsea Castle, in Portsmouth, England.  The old seacoast fort features artillery dating back to 1544, with quite a number of English weapons in use at the time of the American Civil War.
  • Offering timeless lessons on the subject of safety around the guns, accounts from 1825-26 about cannon accidents.

Book reviews in this issue include:

  • “In the Limber Chest’ reviewed by Peter Frandsen.  This work is a compilation of Civil War era drill manuals, with modern safety practices overlaid.  I’m planning to purchasing a copy myself based on the review.

Editor Kathryn Jorgensen provides a selection of artillery new in the “A Little Roar” section in the opening pages of the magazine.  Civil War artillery related news includes restoration of 30-pdr Confederate Parrotts at Marietta, Ohio and 3-inch Ordnance Rifles in Williamsport, Maryland.  A letter to the editor continues the discussion about unfixed ammunition used in rifled guns during the Civil War.

Another issue with good reads from The Artilleryman.

The Wiard Guns on Morris Island: More field guns on the second parallel

In the earlier post, I pointed out that looking at the details in this photo showing Napoleon guns on the second parallel on Morris Island:


We see this:


And this (full size so you can pick out the details):


Notice the maneuvering handspike on the lower left. Those details show up on the right hand side of this photo:


Here’s another view of that ammunition chest:


The accouterments hanging on the earthworks in front of the wheel:


Having established the Wiards position on the second parallel as just to the left of the Napoleons, let’s look at the guns themselves. A great study of the Wiard Guns and their advanced, if non-standard, carriages.


For those unfamiliar, the trail of the carriage meets the axle below and not on top as with a standard Army field carriage. The placement of the trunnions on a high, arching cheek allowed for greater elevation – up to 35°. The rear sight hangs from a seat on the back of the breech.

The crew is loading the other gun in the pair. From this angle, we also see the wedges, a feature that counteracted shrinkage of the wooden wheel.


The gun crew wears an assortment of hats. According to the photo caption, these fellows were part of Lieutenant Paul Berchmire’s Battery F, 3rd New York Light Artillery. Aside from the hats, there’s a bit of contrast among those men.


Some look like they have yet to shave for the first time. Others seem to have avoided razors for years.

However, I’d point out my placement of these two photographs stands at odds with this photograph:


The right pair of howitzers seen here occupy positions used by those Wiard guns in the photo above. See, again, the cut from Major Thomas Brooks’ map, focusing on the “How. Battery” in front of Battery Brown:


But I think we are looking at the same section of the second parallel, but at different times. Brooks’ journal entry for August 6, 1863 provides a clue:

Made repairs in defensive howitzer battery on the right of second parallel. Two Wiard field guns now in position there have proven very destructive to platforms and embrasures; more so than any field guns which have come under my observation.

Perhaps some of the debris seen in the howitzer battery photo was the result of those “destructive” Wiards.


At any rate, if my figuring is correct, when the engineers first established the second parallel, two Napoleons and two Wiards anchored the line on the right. Later the Napoleons went to positions further to the left, as indicated on Brooks’ map. The Wiards likewise moved to the left, with one going on the far side of Battery Kearny. That Wiard gun position had embrasures for firing on both Battery Wagner and Battery Gregg – an arrangement not seen in the Wiard gun photo above.

So three photos. Two taken early in the siege. One taken later. All of the same general area.

Photo credits: Hagley Museum and Library collection of Haas & Peale photographs, ID Number 71MSS918_021.tif, 71MSS918_014.tif, and 71MSS918_020.tif.

(Citation from OR Series I, Volume 28, Part I, Serial 46, page 282.)

Napoleons in the Second Parallel on Morris Island

There are a several other photos taken on Morris Island during the summer of 1863 which I’ll give mention. Some of these show the “rear area,” in particular the ordnance yard and camps. Others show Batteries Wagner and Gregg after Federal occupation. I’ll get to those in due time.

However, I should, from a chronological standpoint, discuss a couple of photos taken in the second parallel showing the use of field artillery on the line. We’ve already looked at a photo of the howitzer battery. In addition to those four howitzers, and the two placed out in the surf battery, between two and four 12-pdr Napoleon guns and two 3.67-inch Wiard rifles bolstered the defense of the second parallel.

A photo of two Napoleons shows what I think is the two gun position drawn on Major Thomas Brooks’ siege map:


Brooks called out two locations in the second parallel with the annotation “Napoleon in barbette.” Those appear to be single gun positions. But on the far right of the line, in front of the Requa position on the surf battery on Brooks’ map, is a two gun position:


For a brief time in late August, the howitzers from the surf battery were relocated there. I think the photo shows those two guns, and those two guns are Napoleons at an early time in the evolution of the parallel. Looking to the background of the photo, the position overlooked the beach. And directly in front of the battery are branches of trees, which may be parts of the abatis laid there.

The Napoleons were part of Battery B, 3rd New York Light Artillery under Captain James Ashcroft. As with many of the photographs of batteries on Morris Island, the photographers appear to have captured an “action” scene. The crew is loading the gun on the right.


And we know that Napoleon was produced by Ames, Alger, or Revere, since there is both a hausse seat and a baseplate.

Better view of those fittings on the gun to the left. Notice also the blade sight on the muzzle. The crew ran out the lanyard for this gun. They were, one might guess, ready to fire the gun for the photographer. But wait a minute…


… firing through the sandbags? OK, set this one aside as a posed photograph. Give some credit, however, as Sullivan’s Island is visible in the background. The photographer was indeed on the front lines, even if a quiet salient of that line.

Elsewhere in the photo were several empty boxes and other debris. The blur leaves no visible markings to determine the purpose of these boxes.


Half concealed on the left is an ammunition chest.


To the far left of the photo is the wheel of some other vehicle.


The hub and axle are not that of another Napoleon. And it is not a limber. It is a non-regulation wheel. I think you’ve seen one like it before:

Matching the wheel and the ammunition chest brings us to this photo:


So we’ll look at that photo next.

Photo credits: Hagley Museum and Library collection of Haas & Peale photographs, ID Number 71MSS918_021.tif and 71MSS918_014.tif. Library of Congress, reproduction number LC-DIG-cwpb-03639.