||Last Updated: May 25, 2012 - 11:33:55 AM
One of the best write-ups about Civil War guns to me is found in the book “Pictographic History of the Civil War.” Here is a picture of the biggest gun in the world; 15 inch, at Fort Monroe, Virginia. It was cast at Pittsburgh, Pa. by Knapp, Rudd and Company and was 190 inches in length, weighed about 117,000 lbs. It was fired only four times during the war. It was fired again four times in March, 1867 with 125, 150, 175, and 200 pounds of powder, the projectile attaining a maximum range of 8,001 yards. It was almost impossible to get a target that would withstand the shot and leave anything to show what had happened.
There was a Rodman smooth bore gun in Port Royal, South Carolina which was mounted on a wooden carriage made of selected oak, beech, ash, hickory, cypress or other durable and resting wood. The gun was placed on a pivot and its wheels on a circular track allowing it to be traversed.
McClellan at Yorktown had 353 guns, smaller of course; some are pictured in the above book.
There was a Napoleon gun— a twelve-inch, smooth bore. During four years of war, it had been carefully oiled, its yawning muzzle had been swabbed out with care and a case put over it to keep it from rusting in bad weather.
In the case of larger guns, the muzzles were stopped up with tampions.
The French 12 pounder, bronze field gun was made by Le Freres in Paris. They weighed 1,200 pounds and fired a projectile weighing 25-1/4 pounds with a charge of 2-1/2 pounds of powder.
The Napoleon 12 pounder cannon was named after Napoleon. Most barrels were made of iron. They were used by the North and South. It was designed to fire shot, shell, case shot and canister. It could send a shell 1,619 yards with devastating accuracy. This type was used at Petersburg. Joshua Winters in 1863, wrote a poem to his sister, Anne, titled, “The Song of the Shell.” Replicas are made and sold from twenty dollars on up. The 12-pound Napoleon was the most popular of the war gun. They were produced in at least six variations, most of which had straight muzzles. Four iron Confederate Napoleons produced by Tredegar Iron Works, at Richmond, Virginia, have been identified out of 125 cast.
Some guns were made in France and were light enough to be moved and heavy enough to destroy field fortifications almost a mile away. By the mid 1863 nearly forty per cent of all field artillery of each side were Napoleons. The Union had over a thousand and the South over six hundred. Again, replicas can be purchased.
The Whitworth Canon was a 12 pounder, imported from England and used by North and South; but really only the South used it in the Civil War. It was a breechloader. It was extremely accurate and fired a shell beyond 2,800 yards. It was unpopular because it had many problems.
The best book to me about the guns of war is the one first mentioned and where I got most of this material.
One of the interesting items of the Civil War is trains. We think of them today as speeders across America, with dinners served and air conditioning.
In my newest collection of excellent Civil war books, the one “Photographic History of the Civil War,” in various volumes. Is a best buy for all, are articles about trains, with lots of pictures. I remember my mother telling me about coming to Pa. in 1903 on a train, which had wooden cars, Holy Cow! Think of the changes.
In one of the volumes of these series is an article or articles which have trains, and one states, The Confederate Cavalry made life a burden for the U.S. Military railroad construction corps in the vicinity of Washington, D.C. The picture of the engine “Commodore” is there, and it had been derailed.
Another article, In April, 1862, J.J. Andrews was a spy in General Buell’s employment and proposed seizing a locomotive on the western and Atlantic Railroad at some point below Chattanooga and running it back to that place and cutting telegraph wires and burning bridges on the way. There were 22 men who volunteered to do it. April 12th the train they were on stopped at Big Shanty Station for breakfast. The bridge burners were in citizens’ clothes, detached the locomotive and three box cars and started for Chattanooga but after about a hundred miles their fuel was exhausted and they were captured. Andrews was a spy and hanged at Atlanta, July 7, 1862. The others were confined at different places and seven were executed as spies. Of the 14 survivors, eight escaped from prison and of these six reached Union lines. Six were removed to Richmond and exchanged in 1863.
Another articles tell of High Bridge over the Appomattox where the south side railroad crosses the river on piers sixty feet high. Hancock’s second corps arrived on the south bank just after the confederates had blown up the redoubt that formed the bridge head, and set fire to the bridge itself. The bridge was saved with the loss of four spans at the north end by Col. Livermore, whose party put out the fire to the bridge itself while Confederate skirmishers were fighting under their feet.
The Atlanta depot, a very beautiful, huge brick building was destroyed probably about Sept. 17,1864 during Sherman’s March to the Sea. The railroad station was second in importance only to the buildings and institutions of the Confederate government itself, as a subject for elimination.
The Federals were not the first to use a gun mounted on railroad trucks. In the defense of Richmond during the Seven Days’ and at the attack on Savage’s Station, the Confederates had mounted a field piece on a flat car and it did severe damage to the Federal camps. It was propelled by manpower, No puffing locomotives betrayed its whereabouts. It was iron-plated, backed by massive beams. From the picture it must have weighed tons, yet the men could move it as above stated.
The 17,000 pound mortar (gun) “Dictator” was run on a flat car along the bank of the Appomattox. It was manned and served before Petersburg, July 9-31, 1864 by Company G, 1st Conn. Artillery. When its charge of 14 lbs. of powder was first fired, the car broke under the shock, but a second car was strengthened by additional beams, tied strongly by iron roads and covered with iron plating and during the siege it fired 45 rounds, 19 of which were fired during the battle of the Crater. The balls it shot are shown in the picture, bigger than basketball — it must have taken at least three to four men to load them. There were nine men of a committee who controlled the actions of this great mortar, strong to say the least. Some shots went much farther than expected and exploded within the town limits. The roar of the explosion carried consternation to all within hearing.
Capt. A.J. Russell, a photographer for the railroad in 1864 took pictures of engines stored in Washington to prevent their falling into rebel hands in case of a raid on Alexandria.
Pope had left the Orange and Alexandria Railroad uncovered and Jackson pushed a large force under Gen. Ewell forward across the Bull Run Mountains. The night of Aug. 26, 1863, Ewell’s forces captured Manassas Junction, while four miles above the Confederate Cavalry fell upon an empty railroad train returning from the transfer of Federal troops. The train was destroyed.
Some of the Southern trains were Galveston, a Confederate cotton clad, completed late in 1862, 32 pounder on a barbette carriage, armor, breastwork of 500 lb. cotton bales. It was employed Jan. 1, 1863 in a gunfight exchange with the Federal gunboat USS Harriet Lane, at around 300 yards range at Galveston, Texas. The Jacksonville Confederate Cottonblad Rail Battery, of 1863, 30 lb. Parrott rifle, breastwork of 500 lb. cotton bales. Commander Lieut. Drury Rambo (crew of 14) used in several skirmishes near Jacksonville Feb. 20, 1864 and had a minor part in battle at Olustee.
There was an armored car of 1861, used on Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Baltimore Railroad to guard against raiders and bridge burners, pushed by a standard railroad engine.
These three articles are from the internet and put there by firstmdus and comcast.net. That is all the info. I could find.
© Copyright 2012 by Mifflinburg Telegraph Weekly Newspaper
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