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Table of Contents
   Blakely Rifles
   Siege Howitzers
   Seacoast Howitzers and Columbiads
   Mortars

Blakely Rifles

Mostly imported by the Confederacy during the Civil War, the documented use of Blakely rifles is fragmentary. Many Blakely types have no weight markings; so this data is provided only when known. Blakely had no production facilities and contracted with others to produce his rifles, and these firms are noted when known. This may account for the many variations found. The late Capt. Adrian Caruana, having done extensive research on Blakely and his rifles, suggested that any rifle not specifically including a "Blakely" marking is not one. We nevertheless include such rifles in this listing where most people will expect to find them. In his 1968 book, Artillery and Ammunition of the Civil War, Warren Ripley assigned type numbers to surviving Blakely rifles in an effort to simplify their recognition and to bring order to the confusion surrounding their many variations. Those assigned types are retained here.

2.9-inch Blakely rifle, Type 10. Total length, 36.45 inches; maker, unknown; rifling, 6-groove sawtooth, right-hand twist; weight, 197 pounds (per scale); known survivors, 3, one of which is marked "BLAKELEY(sic)/LONDON." Little is known of these except for the presence of the survivors.

2.9-inch Blakely rifle, Type 11. Total length, 60.75 inches; maker, Vavasseur; known survivors, 2. The two known survivors were recovered in 1974 from the wreck of the blockade-runner Georgiana outside Charleston harbor. Markings include "BLAKELY'S PATENT" and indicate they were made by Vavasseur of London in 1862.

3.5-inch (12-pounder) Blakely rifle, Type 2. Total length, 58 inches; rifling, 7-groove flat, right-hand twist; weight, 600 pounds (per scale); markings include "BLAKELY'S PATENT" and indicate they were made by Fawcett, Preston & Co. of Liverpool in 1861; known survivors, 10. Two survivors previously designated Type 5 are actually Type 2 with collars covering defects ahead of the trunnion band.

3.5-inch Blakely rifle, Type 2, once designated as Type 5. Note the 6-inch wide collar forward of the trunnion band that covers a defect in the tube. Thus, two survivors like this one are actually repaired Type 2 Blakelys.

3.5-inch (12-pounder) Blakely rifle, Type 3. Total length, 60.34 inches; rifling, 6-groove sawtooth, right-hand twist; known survivor, 1; markings include "BLAKELY'S PATENT" and indicate manufacture by Forrester & Co. of Liverpool in 1862.

3.5-inch (12-pounder) Blakely rifle, Type 4. Total length, 66 inches; rifling, 6-groove sawtooth, right-hand twist; markings include "BLAKELY'S PATENT" and indicate they were made by Fawcett, Preston & Co. of Liverpool in 1861 and 1862; known survivors, 4, of which one has been converted to a "mortar" that Warren Ripley designated as Type 12.

3.5-inch (12-pounder) Blakely rifle, Type 6. Total length, 67.15 inches; rifling, 7-groove flat, right-hand twist; known survivors, 3; maker, Fawcett, Preston & Co. of Liverpool in 1861 (no marking for Blakely). This would probably be more accurately described as a 3.5-inch Fawcett, Preston rifle.

3.75-inch (16-pounder) Blakely rifle, Type 1. Total length, 83 inches; rifling, 6-groove with right-hand twist; markings of the single known survivor are shown below. This is one of the most historical, and most frequently misidentified, Blakelys in the United States. Two holes near the vent clearly indicate the former presence of a descriptive plaque, evidently the one detailing the gift of this rifle to the people of South Carolina by a citizen resident abroad to commemorate the succession of South Carolina from the Union on 20 December 1860. While most sources identify this rifle as having a 3.5-inch bore, a bore plug gauge revealed its land diameter is exactly 3.75 inches. A 20 January 1864 Selma Arsenal list of propellant charges specifies charges identical to those for the 3.8-in James rifle. This is the Galena Blakely that Robinson's Battery obtained in 1865.  See also the entry on the Famous Guns page.

Markings on breech of 3.75-inch Blakely rifle, Type 1

4-inch (18-pounder) Blakely rifle, Type 7. Total length, 83 inches; rifling 6-groove with right-hand twist; known survivors, 3; maker, Fawcett, Preston & Co. of Liverpool in 1862 (no marking for Blakely). This would probably be more accurately described as a 4-inch Fawcett, Preston rifle.

4-inch (18-pounder) Blakely navy rifle. Total length, 89.5 inches; rifling 6-groove with right-hand twist; known survivors, 3; maker, Fawcett, Preston & Co. of Liverpool in 1862 (no marking for Blakely). Marked identically to the Type 7 above, this would probably be more accurately described as a 4-inch Fawcett, Preston navy rifle.

4.5-inch (20-pounder) Blakely siege/navy rifle. Total length, 96 inches; rifling, 7-groove with right-hand twist; known survivors, 3; markings include "BLAKELY'S PATENT" and manufacture by Fawcett, Preston & Co. in 1861.

4.5-inch (20-pounder) Blakely rifle. Details, such as length, weight and rifling, of this rifle are unknown. Its envelope is similar to the 3.5-inch Type 3 above, and it trunnion markings include readable portions of "BLAKELY'S PATENT."

7-inch (120-pounder) Blakely navy rifle. Total length, 119.5 inches; rifling, 9-groove with right-hand twist; known survivors, 2; markings include "BLAKELY'S PATENT" and manufacture by Fawcett, Preston & Co. in 1861.

7.5-inch Blakely navy rifle. Total length, 124 inches; rifling, 12-groove Scott with right-hand twist; known survivors, 2 (including "Widow Blakely" below); markings include "BLAKELY'S PATENT." These tubes were British 42-pounders of 57 hundred-weight manufactured by Low Moore of Bradford, Yorkshire, and later banded, reamed and rifled.

The "Widow Blakely". A 7.5-inch Blakely navy rifled described above, it served in the defenses of Vicksburg. One of its own shells burst inside the tube during action against Union gunboats on 22 May 1863. The burst muzzle was trimmed back, reducing the overall length to 100 inches, and the rifle continued in service during the remainder of the siege. See also the entry on the Famous Weapons page.

9-inch Blakely seacoast rifle. Total length is unknown inasmuch as the original barrel, salvaged for scrap, is represented by a piece of pipe. Markings include "BLAKELY'S PATENT" and manufacture by Fawcett, Preston & Co. in 1864. This is one of four of these rifles, and four similar smoothbores, intercepted at Liverpool where they had been delivered for Confederate ships.

12.75-inch Blakely seacoast rifle. Total length and weight are unknown. Rifling is four-groove Scott with right-hand twist. Two of these rifles and their carriages were delivered at Wilmington NC in August 1863 for installation at Fort Fisher. Before they could be mounted, General Beauregard requisitioned them for the defense of Charleston SC. Unfamiliar with the characteristics and purpose of an air chamber, the Confederates burst one tube at the first fire. When John Mercer Brooke deduced the air chamber's purpose, the second tube was properly loaded and served at Frazier's Wharf while the first tube was repaired. Both were later blown up to prevent capture. The breech of the first rifle and the chase of the second are pictured here.

Siege Howitzers

24-pounder flank howitzer, Model of 1844. Total length, 69 inches; weight, 1480 pounds; total production, 577 from 1846 to 1864; known survivors, 269. These howitzers were essentially an iron copy of the 24-pounder bronze field howitzer, Model of 1841, without handles. The howitzer pictured is mounted on a restored upper flank carriage. It was among the first 300 cast by Cyrus Alger & Co. from 1846-49. It differs slightly from the final 277 made by Alger and six other foundries in that it has a 1.06-inch wide chase ring whose rear edge is located 7.0 inches behind the muzzle face. Those made after 1849 have an 0.8-inch wide chase ring whose rear edge is located 5.5 inches behind the muzzle face. All have a cylindrical 12-pounder chamber.

24-pounder Confederate flank howitzer. Total length, 69 inches; weight, 1504 pounds; total production, 9 by Tredegar Foundry in 1861 & 1862; known survivors, 4. Tredegar foundry numbers 1218, 1219, 1220 & 1221 were cast together on 27 May 1861. All four were shipped to Fort Morgan AL on 22 July 1861. Amazingly, all four survive at three locations. The surface of this tube exhibits the cost- and time-saving as-cast surface utilized by Tredegar for most cannon they cast during the Civil War.

24-pounder Confederate flank/siege howitzer. Total length, approximately 68 inches; weight, unknown; total production, unknown but small. This unmarked howitzer was recovered from CSS Georgia where it served on the forward spar deck. It is unmarked but is known to have been cast at the Savannah foundry of Alvin N. Miller. Its rimbase separation is such that it could have been originally cast as a flank howitzer.

8-inch siege howitzer, Model of 1840. Total length, 61.5 inches; weight, 2600 pounds; total production, 50 by Columbia, Fort Pitt, Tredegar and West Point foundries from 1841 to 1862; known survivors, 17. Chamber is cylindrical 12-pounder. From 8 August 1861 through 26 February 1862, Tredegar Foundry cast 24 8-inch siege howitzers presumed to be of this pattern. Two of them, known to have been utilized to defend the southern approaches to Charleston SC, survive at Washington Navy Yard. One is battered beyond readability of any markings; the other lacks the usual markings and has only a small "62" on upper muzzle face.

8-inch siege howitzer, Model of 1861. Total length, 60 inches; weight, 2550 pounds. Total production, 171 by Cyrus Alger and Fort Pitt Foundry 1862-65; known survivors, 82. The cylindrical chamber of the Model of 1840 was abandoned for this model in favor of the same stretched hemispheroidal bore bottom used in the Model of 1861 8-inch mortar.

Seacoast Howitzers and Columbiads

This hybrid page, which includes both howitzers (chambered) and guns (not chambered), is necessary because the development of these models of cannon in the first half of the nineteenth century does not readily fit the accepted categories. The need for a relatively large, long-range piece, particularly for firing shell, eventually resulted in the creation of the model 1839 seacoast howitzer. Beginning in 1844, these guns began to be called columbiads, and that term was still applied to the 1857 models, even though the chamber had been eliminated from the design. It is to be regretted that the term "columbiad" has been so loosely used as to apply to any large piece of ordnance.

8-inch seacoast howitzer, Model of 1839. Nominal length (from muzzle face to rear of reinforcing band), 98 inches; weight, 5,850 pounds; total production, 59; known survivors, 2. This pattern, and all 8-inch and 10-inch Models of 1840, 1842, and 1844, have chambers and were to fire spherical shell only.

10-inch heavy experimental seacoast howitzer, Pattern 1839. Nominal length, 104.75 inches; weight, unknown but estimated at approximately 15,000 pounds; total production, 3; known survivor, 1

8-inch seacoast howitzer, Model of 1840. Nominal length, 98 inches; weight, 5,800 pounds; total production, 64; known survivors, 10. Differs from the above 8-inch Model of 1839 only in having a 0.82 inch smaller diameter muzzle swell.

10-inch seacoast howitzer, Model of 1840. Nominal length, 112 inches; weight, 9,500 pounds; total production, 10; known survivor, 1

10-inch heavy seacoast howitzer, Model of 1842. Nominal length, 114 inches; weight, 14,290 pounds; total production, 7; known survivor, 1. There were 13 slimmer 8-inch heavy seacoast howitzers, Model of 1842, produced for which we have found no survivor or reproducible photograph. It had the same 114-inch nominal length as the 10-inch model pictured here and an average weight of 8,517 pounds.

8-inch Columbiad, Model of 1844. Nominal length, 119 inches; weight, 9,200 pounds; total production, 315; known survivors, 21. While designated a "columbiad," this model has a chamber and was classified as a seacoast howitzer, firing shell only.

10-inch Columbiad, Model of 1844. Nominal length, 120 inches; weight, 15,400 pounds; total production, 159; known survivors, 14. Like the 8-inch immediately above, it is a seacoast howitzer and fired shell only.

10-inch Columbiad, Model of 1844; banded, rifled and trunnions replaced by Confederates. Nominal length, 118 inches; rifling, 15 grooves with right-hand twist; original weight is marked as 15,210 pounds, but weight after conversion is unknown. Already missing one trunnion, both were replaced by bronze trunnions on a bronze trunnion ring by J.M. Eason & Bro. at Charleston SC in 1863. The method of attaching the trunnion ring is unique among surviving Civil War cannon. The original chamber was undoubtedly bored out prior to rifling.

8-inch New Columbiad Gun, Model of 1857. Nominal length, 116 inches; weight, 9,100 pounds; total production, 94; known survivors, 2. Unlike the Models of 1839, 1840, 1842 and 1844 above, this model does not have a chamber and is classified as a gun. It is the last 8-inch "columbiad" developed prior to the introduction of the Rodman seacoast gun.

10-inch New Columbiad Gun, Model of 1857. Nominal length, 118 inches; weight, 15,000 pounds; total production, 7; This photo was scanned from an old postcard as there is no known survivor. Like the 8-inch above, this model is classified as a gun. It is the last 10-inch "columbiad" developed prior to the introduction of the Rodman seacoast gun.

8-inch Confederate New Columbiad Gun, similar to Model of 1857. Tredegar Foundry made 11 of these guns for the State of Georgia, and this only known survivor is so marked ("GA"). Three others were made by Tredegar for the Confederate army prior to the change to the smoother exterior shape cast on and after 1 June 1861 (see "Confederate Columbiads" on the Rodman page [in progress]). Evidently old patterns were modified to utilize a knob instead of the elevating ratchets specified on those made earlier for U.S. Army Ordnance.

8-inch Confederate Navy Columbiad Gun. Dimensions of this tube are close to those of the Model of 1857 above. The trunnions have been replaced by a crude trunnion band, and the muzzle swell has been roughly chipped away.

Mortars

Mortars, whether chambered or not, are a very simple form of ordnance, intended for lobbing heavy projectiles at a high elevation, typically referred to as "indirect" or "plunging" fire. Their mobility is limited, except for the Coehorn, the smallest member of the family, which could be carried by two to four men.

12-pounder wooden mortar Made of oak and iron bands, mortars like this one were used at Petersburg to fire 12-pounder shell at Confederate positions prior to the availability of a sufficient number of 24-pounder Coehorn mortars.

24-pounder bronze Coehorn mortar, Model of 1838. Total length, 16.32 inches; weight, 164 pounds; total production, 279; known survivors, 100.

24-pounder iron Confederate Coehorn mortar Total length, unknown, but approximately 18 inches; weight, unknown but estimated at approximately 165 pounds; total production, 49 by Tredegar, 9 by Selma, unknown quantity by an unspecified foundry in Mobile AL; known survivors, 5. Tredegar Foundry also made 26 of a smaller 12-pounder version, but there is no known survivor.

8-inch siege mortar, Model of 1840. Total length, 22.5 inches; weight, 925 pounds; total production, 41; known survivors, 5.

8-inch siege mortar, Model of 1861. Total length, 23.25 inches; weight, 1,050 pounds; total production, 170; known survivors, 94.

10-inch siege mortar, circa 1807. Total length, 31.25 inches; weight, unknown; total production, unknown quantity by Henry Foxall; known survivors, 2.

10-inch siege mortar, Model of 1840. Total length, 28.0 inches; weight, 1,800 pounds; total production, 98; known survivors, 16.

10-inch siege mortar, Model of 1861. Total length, 29.25 inches; weight, 1,900 pounds; total production, 150; known survivors, 53.

10-inch seacoast mortar, circa 1807. Total length, 45.625-inches; weight, 3,860 pounds; total production, unknown quantity by Henry Foxall; known survivor, 1. The single known survivor at Fort Sumter may be that which fired the first shot of the Civil War.

10-inch seacoast mortar, Model of 1840. Total length, 46.0 inches; weight, 5,575 pounds; total production, 33; known survivors, 5. Two very similar larger versions of this mortar were cast with a total length of 53.0 inches. One was bored 12 inches and weighed 11,582 pounds; the other was bored 13 inches and weighed 11,502 pounds. Neither is known to survive nor has a reproducible photo been located.

10-inch seacoast mortar, Model of 1861. Total length, 49.25 inches; weight, 7,300 pounds; total production, 8; known survivors, 2.

13-inch seacoast and Navy mortar, Model of 1861. Total length, 56.5 inches; weight, 17,250 pounds; total production, 162; known survivors, 27. The the most well-known specimen of this class was the Dictator.

16-inch bronze stone mortar, Model of 1839. Total length, 31 inches; weight, 1,515 pounds; total production, 2; known survivor, 1.

Replica 13-inch seacoast mortar, Model of 1861, owned by Paulson Brothers Ordnance, firing at Fort McCoy, WI. Note shell in flight at top of photo, and the muzzle flash.