Tell me more! Faux Blakelys, the Hebe incident Fawcett, Preston 18-pounder Rifle.

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Re reading an article about the a tube recovered from North Carolina's Roanoke River in front of Fort Branch. The article indicates that the 18-pounder in question is similar to Blakelys but has no markings and does not resemble "real" Blakely's "because the are missing reinforcing sleeve or bands, in addition to having a rather large trunnion ring."

So what is a Blakely type VII? Why would Fawcett, Preston make a similar 18-pounder but not use the reinforcing sleeve and band, as well as a "rather larger trunnion ring"? I thought Fawcett, Preston was making contract Blakelys and usually marked "Blakley Patent"?

I will admit the article is a bit too technical for me. However, the article stated that the records of Fort Branch do not contain any references to Blakely 18-pounders.
 

CivilWarTalk

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Those could be the 14-lb. James Rifles Type III, by the Ames Mfr Company. They look very similar to the Blakely's I made a similar mis-identification. If you examine the guns you'll see they have the same James square rifling, not hook slant like a Blakely, and they are shaped just like the Type II James Rifle, with the addition of the trunnion ring. Also the rear sight mouting holes match the James Rifle sight exactly.

1581568345092.png


14-pdr. James Rifle - Type III
Made by Ames Manufacturing Company, Chicopee, Massachusetts
Cast in 1863, Weight about 930 lbs.
At the intersection of Hamburg-Purdy Road and Eastern Corinth Road
Shiloh NMP, ©Ole Miss, 2019
I got permission from Ole Miss to use this photo for an upcoming article, I think it will be okay to use it here to help with the explanation!
 

CivilWarTalk

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For comparison, here is a Blakely Type 6 from the Gettysburg Cyclorama Building way back when...

1581590809904.png

This has a 3.5 inch bore, and is classified a 12 pounder.

Also, it’s worth mentioning that the Iron James Rifle Type III in the post above has very light engraving, such that was only revealed when the Park Service stripped all the paint off the gun. In addition, It’s bore is 3.8 inches in diameter, which might lead to the “18 pdr.” designation given at first discovery.
 
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CivilWarTalk

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Okay, I finally found an article, not sure if it's the one you referenced, but I got a look at the cannon you are referring to, it's not a James Rifle, it's got a 4-inch bore. This one is marked "Fawcett-Preston & Co., Liverpool, 1862" but NOT marked Blakely Patent.

You can see the article here in the Artilleryman Magazine of Spring 2017, Page 18.

 

CivilWarTalk

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Now that I've also fully read the article, from the sounds of it, these are "generic" Blakely pattern guns, so perhaps the foundry had a falling out with Blakely, but decided to continue producing guns?

The original ID with a "rather large trunnion ring" threw me, because I see no such ring on this gun, unless they are referring to the Rimbase, but that's not visible in my photo. So I have no idea what that part of the ID is about, or where it came from.

They are saying this gun has 6 hook slant rifle grooves with RH Rifle Twist, so that sounds like it follows the Blakely pattern. Also, this gun has a sister as well as there is evidence of there being 6 guns total delivered from England, so a very interesting gun, one I wasn't really up on. This gun ALSO has the typical "Ordnance Rifle" shape to it, albeit a bit bigger.

Not sure what else to add to this, I don't have anything else, but I enjoyed doing the research.
 

LHR Lead

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Now that I've also fully read the article, from the sounds of it, these are "generic" Blakely pattern guns, so perhaps the foundry had a falling out with Blakely, but decided to continue producing guns?

The original ID with a "rather large trunnion ring" threw me, because I see no such ring on this gun, unless they are referring to the Rimbase, but that's not visible in my photo. So I have no idea what that part of the ID is about, or where it came from.

They are saying this gun has 6 hook slant rifle grooves with RH Rifle Twist, so that sounds like it follows the Blakely pattern. Also, this gun has a sister as well as there is evidence of there being 6 guns total delivered from England, so a very interesting gun, one I wasn't really up on. This gun ALSO has the typical "Ordnance Rifle" shape to it, albeit a bit bigger.

Not sure what else to add to this, I don't have anything else, but I enjoyed doing the research.
"The Big Guns" by Olmstead, Stark, and Tucker lists the Fawcett-Prestons as having "Ripley type 7" rifling. I cant find any description of the "Ripley" system.
 
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CivilWarTalk

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"The Big Guns" by Olmstead, Stark, and Tucker lists the Fawcett-Prestons as having "Ripley type 7" rifling. I cant find any description of the "Ripley" system.
If you didn't already know, Warren Ripley was the author of Artillery and Ammunition of the Civil War, one of the first major books to look at the subject of Civil War Artillery in hard detail. The problem at the time was, much of what was know today was uncategorized then, so Ripley just made up classifications as best he could with the information he collected over many years of research. Most of it was spot on, but there were some weird guns like this one that nobody really knew about, or what their history was.

Anyway, I'm not sure why they would list this gun as having "Ripley Type 7" rifling, except that the gun most resembled a Blakely, and at the time there were 6 known types plus this one that sorta looked like a blakely in "most respects, so it was mis-catergorized as a Blakely Type 7. It's really a gun derived from the Blakely "pattern", or in layman's terms, a "Generic Blakely" as opposed to the "Name Brand".

For the rifling part, I don't know why they would describe it that way, Ripley himself called the rifling on that specific gun "6 lands and grooves in typical Blakely hook-slant fashion".
 

LHR Lead

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If you didn't already know, Warren Ripley was the author of Artillery and Ammunition of the Civil War, one of the first major books to look at the subject of Civil War Artillery in hard detail. The problem at the time was, much of what was know today was uncategorized then, so Ripley just made up classifications as best he could with the information he collected over many years of research. Most of it was spot on, but there were some weird guns like this one that nobody really knew about, or what their history was.

Anyway, I'm not sure why they would list this gun as having "Ripley Type 7" rifling, except that the gun most resembled a Blakely, and at the time there were 6 known types plus this one that sorta looked like a blakely in "most respects, so it was mis-catergorized as a Blakely Type 7. It's really a gun derived from the Blakely "pattern", or in layman's terms, a "Generic Blakely" as opposed to the "Name Brand".

For the rifling part, I don't know why they would describe it that way, Ripley himself called the rifling on that specific gun "6 lands and grooves in typical Blakely hook-slant fashion".
Thanks. Broke out my copy and trying to learn. So many books, so little time...
 
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