Thursday, February 5, 2009

Water Battery

On Valentine's Day 1862 the Union navy tried to do to Fort Donelson what they had done a week earlier to Fort Henry, reduce it by bombardment. This time though the fort was better situated and the Confederate guns won the day. Grant would have to find another way to capture the fort and its garrison.

The park has done a good job of recreating the battery with a full complement of guns. There were eight 32 pounders on wooden carriages and one 10 inch Columbiad on a metal carriage. The Columbiad's pivot point is in the center of the carriage while the wooden carriages pivoted at the front. Not a particularly important fact but something I found interesting.

As you can see one time I was there as they did work on the guns of the battery.

I put this picture in so you could see how little the Union gunboats had to shoot at. I'm sure it was hellish to load the guns during the bombardment but there is also plenty of cover for the men.


markerhunter said...

Nick, regarding the front pintle vs. center pivot carriages, it seems the later was developed mostly for the large Columbiads (as seen here). I've only seen them used for the 8-inch and larger guns, or for the larger Parrott rifles. The center pivot probably offered the ability to use the large, expensive weapons for both seaward and landward defense. Also the center pivot design was more resistant to the stresses of firing.

The front pintle carriage was cheaper, and best suited for the guns used strictly on a specific facing of the fortification.

The "blooper" for the display at Fort Donelson is the wrought iron center pivot carriage. Those were not approved until 1859, and were not in widespread use until mid-war. Confederate carriages were almost always wood. Maybe this depicts a gun mounted during the Federal occupation?


Ward Weems said...

Sorry to be a few years late in commenting, however a Columbiad was taken to the Ripley, Tennessee square that had been in the 1861-1862 Fort Pillow river batteries. It was a center pintle mount, but was, indeed, a metal carriage.