Cannon Carriages Replaced
Contact: Sandy Pusey, (843) 883-3123 x 16
At Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie, the National Park Service has one of the best examples of Civil War era heavy cannons in existence. Currently two of these guns, a rifled and banded 42-pounder at Fort Sumter and a rifled and banded 8-inch Columbiad at Fort Moultrie, are resting on wooden timbers. Some time ago the carriages on which the cast iron cannon barrels were mounted became deteriorated and unsafe, and were dismantled. A lack of funding and staff has prevented the National Park Service from replacing those carriages – until now.
Thanks to a partnership between a number of private organizations, dedicated volunteers and the park staff, both of these gun carriages are about to be replaced. A brand new carriage for the 42-pounder rifled and banded cannon at Fort Sumter was constructed by the cooperation of the School of Building Arts, Timber Framers Guild, Virginia Military Institute, The Citadel, College of Charleston, and Clemson Architecture Center. At Fort Moultrie, National Park Service staff and volunteers worked to reconstruct a carriage for the rifled and banded 8-inch Columbiad cannon.
During the week of April 2-6, the final work on these projects will be completed. The carriages will be assembled and the cannons mounted. Nine additional cannons and carriages at both forts will be painted as well. Over 5,900 hours, the equivalent of $94,695 in labor, will have been donated to the National Park Service to construct the carriages, mount the cannons, and paint all eleven cannons and carriages.
“We’ve known for years that this work needed to be done,” said Fort Sumter National Monument Superintendent John Tucker. “With the number of staff that the park can afford, it just was not possible. We owe everyone who contributed to these projects a debt of gratitude. Having those guns back in place will be a real improvement to Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie.”
The Virginia Military Institute, Timber Framers Guild, and volunteers also have reconstructed the Fort Moultrie gin pole exhibit. The exhibit demonstrates how cannon barrels were lifted onto their carriages in the mid-19th century using block and tackle with large timbers. This exhibit was dismantled in 1989 after being severely damaged during Hurricane Hugo. The gin pole exhibit also will be placed at Fort Moultrie during the week of April 2-6. Mr. Al Anderson, of Timber Works of Interest, is building a reproduction gun carriage for the Mountain Howitzer at Fort Sumter.
Other Partners and Contributors:
The Timber Shop
Savannah Wood Preserving Co., Inc.
Eric and Janson Cox
American Steel Fabricators, Inc.
Sullivan’s Island Fire Department
Did You Know?
The first shot of the American Civil War didn't hit anything. It was a 10-inch mortar shell, fired from Fort Johnson, that exploded above Fort Sumter as a signal for Confederate artillery to open fire on the Union-held fort. Fort Sumter National Monument, SC