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9-inch Dahlgrens (2)

            Register No. 841

            Register No. 843


                        According to Wayne Stark, expert on Civil War heavy ordnance, the details of these two guns’ service are lacking, but in all probability, they were made at Tredegar Iron Works in late 1856 or early 1857. They were probably rejected by the US Navy inspector at that time, and for some reason held at the foundry, perhaps in hopes that they would be accepted by a different inspector at a later date, as sometimes happened. These guns would have then been captured when the Confederacy took over Tredegar in 1861. What can be said about these guns with certainty is that neither one of them came from either the USS Indianola or USS Harriet Lane – despite Union claims that they were guns captured from those vessels. These guns could fire a 72 ½ pound shell nearly two miles. Required a crew of 17. These were the fort’s best guns.


Rifled 32-pounder, Model 1829 Seacoast Gun (1)


            Register No. 289. Rifled and banded by Confederacy. Currently on display at Washington Navy Yard.


     Was originally positioned in the northeast corner of the fort, but was moved to the water battery before the capture of the fort. Was the only gun in the water battery able to be turned around and fired on the attackers. Maps indicate it was mounted by itself in the northernmost of the 3 water batteries. Although it was a 32-pounder, the banding and rifling would have allowed it to shoot an 80 pound projectile. Unfortunately for the Confederates, a gun matching the description of this one (banded and rifled 32-pounder) was used against the Union ironclad Indianola in 1863, and was fired point-blank into her armor – resulting in a dent in the armor about 1/8 inch deep, approximately the thickness of a dime. This would seem to indicate that the gun would not have been especially effective against the ironclads it would have been fighting.

32-pounders, smoothbore (3)

           Register No. 226

           Register No. 227

32-pounders, 33 cwt. Very little recorded on these guns. Probably manufactured in 1847. They were delivered to St. Louis after their capture, and sold in May 1870. As there was no record of the number of times they had been fired, and the Navy had an excess of cannons at that time anyway, they were disposed of. Stark supposes that these guns were among the 1,198 heavy guns, of which 959 were 32-pounders, captured by the Confederates at the Gosport Navy Yard on 21 April 1861.

            Register No. 598

32-pounder Navy gun of 60 cwt, Gradual Increase. The last guns of this type were made in 1828. Cast at John Mason’s Columbia Foundry (Georgetown, Washington DC). Was listed in inventory at Gosport Navy Yard in 1849, at which time it was already obsolete. No record of disposal. Either sold at auction after the war, or possibly even dumped in the river.

Fort Guns

6-pounders (2)

           Both in fort on the hill. Both burst at fort on night of March 16, 1864. A fragment of the breech of one of these guns shows a thicker than expected amount of metal for a 6-pounder, indicating an older gun. The bursting of these guns caused casualties among the US troops, including two deaths, and resulted in an extreme contempt among men of the 81st and 95th Illinois for several months for General A. J. Smith, the man they held responsible for the detonation of the guns so near to the US encampment.

24-pounders (2)

           These guns were in the fort on the hill at the time of the capture. According to Captain King, they were being mounted on platforms even as the Union troops were surrounding the fort. They were put aboard the steamer Blackhawk (Porter’s flagship), along with a good supply of ammunition, after capture. As there were no particular identifying marks noted, there is no record of their final disposal.

Artillery at Fort DeRussy

            When Fort DeRussy was captured by Federal forces on March 14, 1864, there were ten pieces of artillery present at the fort. Six of the largest guns were in batteries on the river (the Water Batteries) and the other four guns were in the fort on the hill.

            Prior to the battle, one of the 9-inch Dahlgrens and the rifled 32-pounder were located in the fort, facing toward the river. General Walker had these two guns moved down to the water battery, as they were two of his best guns, and “The fire from guns of whatever caliber at vessels in motion is extremely uncertain at distances greater than 200 or 300 yards, especially with inexperienced gunners. The most effective guns should therefore, I think, be placed in the water battery. Where they now are not more than 1 shot out of 10 would be accurately aimed; even if the gunners could see the enemy’s vessel, which they cannot do until the river has risen from 12 to 15 feet above its present stage, whereas, with a rise of 3 or 4 feet, the enemy’s most formidable ironclads can ascend the river to Alexandria.

“Until the water in the river has reached almost its maximum height the only really effective guns for the defense of the river cannot be used at all. I therefore recommend that the 9-inch and 32-pounder (rifled) be removed as soon as possible to the water battery . . .” {Official Records, Vol 34, part 2, p. 894}

Water Battery Guns


The Water Battery consisted of three gun positions. Two of these positions (the outboard two) had guns mounted en barbette. The center position was a casemated battery protected by thick oak walls covered with railroad iron. The barbette batteries provided a greater field of fire, while the iron casemate provided greater protection.