The Confederate capital, Richmond, was one of the primary ordnance manufacturing locations within the South. The most prolific manufacturer of edged weapons was the firm of Boyle, Gamble and Company (which was also known as Boyle, Gamble and McFee) which operated there throughout most of the war. The firm made swords copied from Federal models, swords of its own design, and also embellished captured swords or blades.
1 Boyle, Gamble and Company staff and field officer's sword.
2 Boyle, Gamble and Company staff and field officer's sword
3 Mitchell & Tyler staff and field officer's sword
4 Boyle, Gamble and Company staff and field officer's sword
5 Boyle, Gamble and Company foot officer's sword, variant
6 Boyle, Gamble and Company foot officer's sword
7 Boyle. Gamble and Company foot officer's sword
8 Boyle. Gamble and Company deluxe
staff and field officer's sword
9 Boyle, Gamble and Company foot officer's sword
10 Model 1850 U.S. staff and field officer's sword, with blade etched by Boyle, Gamble and Company
11 Boyle, Gamble and MacFee foot officer's sword
12 Belt with two-piece interlocking State of Virginia seal plate, belonging to Brig Gen. John B Floyd
13 Belt with two-piece "CS' plate accompanying item 6
14 Boyle. Gamble and MacFee naval officer's sword
There were clearly greater opportunities and more money available in the North for presentation swords, but that does not mean that the practice was entirely abandoned in the South, as these swords show.
1 Presentation grade sword of Maj. William Norbonne Starke, presented to him by the men of Co. E, Louisiana Infantry Regt., 1861
2 Silver spurs given to Li Gen. Ambrose Powell Hill
3 Silk sash of Brig Gen Nathan George Evans
4 Cased sword presented to Evans by
South Carolina, when he was a captain in the Federal Army
5 Prewar non-regulation militia staff and field officer s sword of Brig. Gen Patrick Theodore Moore
6 Cased Model 1852 U.S. naval officer's sword with two scabbards, presented to Lieutenant Robert B Pegram by the state of Virginia
7 Cased silver spurs engraved to Colonel Robert A. Crawford
8 Snuff box of Ma|. Gen. Sterling Price
9 Presentation grade sword given to Ma) Gen Sterling Price by the ladies of New Orleans
10 Maj Gen Price's gold medal, presented by the St. Louis Grays
While the North seems to have been quite adventurous with its hand-grenades and tried out new designs of tail and fuzes, the Confederates appear to have stuck mostly to the tried-and-tested spherical grenade. This may well have been because they simply did not have the time or resources for experimental programs. A copy of the
Federal Ketcham grenade was I
produced under the name "Rains I
Grenade" (1) which had a split I
wooden tail and paper flights, but it I
also had a cloth streamer, intended to I
give stability in flight. The other 1
advanced design was the "Adams I
hand-grenade" with a similar body 1
and fuze to the Rains grenade, but I with a paper streamer for stability.
Confederate Rains hand-grenade Of the same basic design as the Federal Army's Ketcham 51b (2.27kg) hand-grenade, but with a modified plunger head and light cloth streamer
2 Confederate spherical hand-grenade
3 Confederate Rains hand-grenade variant with paper streamer-type tail
4 Confederate spherical hand-grenade
6 Confederate spherical hand-grenade
It is a curious characteristic that many weapons inventors become so bound up with their inventions, and suffer from such an overwhelming desire to see it in use, that they will even sell it (or allowed it to be sold) to their enemies. Thus it was with this very odd weapon which was the brainchild of General Origen Vandenburgh of the New York State Militia. Having failed to sell it in the United States he went to England in 1860, where the weapon was put into production by Robinson and Cottam, in London.
Vandenburgh failed to sell it to the British forces and somehow at least one copy was sold to the Confederates, although whether this was with, or without, the inventor's knowledge is not known. J
This particular casting contains eighty-five individual 0.5in (12.7mm) barrels, each of which had to be ' loaded in turn until complete when J the breech was closed and tightened by means of the massive handles, J thus creating an air-tight seal with the weapon's firing-chamber. All the barrels were then fired simultaneously by means of a
percussion cap located in the center of the breech block. (It should be noted that, at first sight, it appears that the Vandenburgh operated like a machine-gun, with the barrels being fired in turn by the rotating handles This is not so; all barrels fired together, like a scatter-gun, and the handles were solely for closing the breech.)
Excellent artillery collections may be viewed at the West Point Museum, N.Y., Gettysburg and Petersburg National Military Parks, and the Washington Navy Yard in the District of Columbia.
1 View of the muzzle of the Vandenburgh Volley Gun, showing its multiple barrels In this particular example, the eighty-five rifled barrels are of 50 caliber
2 Breech view of the Volley Gun, showing the handles of its screw breech mechanism. When tightened, the screw forced the breech holding the individual loaded rounds into an air-tight seal with the weapon's firing chamber. Note the large metal lugs at 12 o'clock and 6 o'clock, which limited the travel of the handles All the barrels were fired simultaneously by means of the percussion cap, which can be seen located in the center of the breech handles continued I
3 Side view of the brass, breech-loading Volley Gun, showing the large gun-sight on the top of the barrel, and the breech secured in position This particular weapon was made by Robinson and Cottam, London, and is marked 85 No. 4. the first number presumably referring to the number of barrels, the second to the individual's place in the production run The gun is only 36 inches (91cm) long, but weighs 400 pounds (181kgl It was captured by Union cavalry near Salisbury, North Carolina, in April, 1865
Imported English ordnance was «
I among the finest in the Confederate arsenal, with those from Armstrong and Whitworth being considered to be the most modern types, having exceptional range and accuracy. This large garrison piece, officially designated an "Armstrong 8-inch Iron Rifle," was made in 1864 in England and shipped to the Confederacy, its transport managing to evade the U.S. Navy's blockade. With a caliber of 8 inches (203mm), the weapon itself weighed 15,7371b (7.87 US tons |7,138kg|), which did not include the wheeled barbette carriage, which was designed to provide easy traverse and a controlled recoil when the rifle was fired.
The piece was one of those arming Fort Fisher, the fortress protecting Wilmington, North Carolina, which by late 1864 was the last major port still open to the Confederacy. An initial assault by Federal forces during December 24-
25, 1864, ended in failure, but a second attempt was begun on January 13, 1865, led by Admiral David D. Porter and General Alfred lerry A massive naval bombardment from over 600 guns from fifty-nine warships heralded a land assault by 8,000 Federal troops, which cut the Fort off from Wilmington and any possible chance of relief from 6,000 Confederates under the command of General Braxton Bragg, who had been sent to the area in October
1864. Faced with continued bombardment and attacks from two sides, the fort's commander, Colonel William Fisher, surrendered his garrison of 1,900 men on January 15,
Captured trophies such as this large Armstrong rifle may be seen at West Point. The Washington Navy Yard, and Forts Sumter and Moultrie at Charleston, S.C , also have captured English ordnance.
Was this article helpful?