Discussion RARE Confederate Artillery Letter Transcription Help Needed

ucvrelics

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This letter was written in April 1864. Early in 1864, many of the regiments operating in Mississippi was turned over to the command of General Polk. This included Buckner Battery that was part of the cavalry division under the command of General James R. Chalmers. There is a table of General Polk's artillery in the OR's. Below is one that is dated Nov 1863.

View attachment 392588
Included in this List is the Williams Gun of Buckner Battery. The point being that General Polk was aware of this rare cannon. There is another list that describes the cannon as a "1.5625-inch" Williams Gun. The above only states a "10-ounce" cannon.

The other interesting piece in this letter is toward the end where he describes he is working on a new design of a 2.25 inch caliber. I have read where some have said D. R. Williams designed a "2-lb" version of the Williams Gun but no one had presented any documentation for this. Maybe it was built but never got past the testing phase.
The letter was written to Gen. Ruggles, So where was Ruggles at that time
 

ucvrelics

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But wait, there's more!

Two years later, the very same Theodore Allen writes -

1) Forty years after the war and the sound of the projectiles still haunt him.
The first shots went over our heads just high enough to miss even the tallest men in the regiment, but it was not the firing of the cannon which got on every man's nerves. It was the dreadful, fear-engendering noise that · "thing" just overhead produced which fairly took every man's breath away. We did not know, nor could we imagine what we had run up against, and with the continued rain of iron just overhead every man threw himself on the ground in the high grass. While we were hugging the ground this infernal battery fairly filled the air with a ceaseless rain of about two hundred shots a minute, but worst of all was the horrible noise produced by the "things," whatever they might be, going overhead. You, my readers, have no doubt heard the singing of a nail when it is thrown swiftly through the air. The noise produced by the missiles thrown at us was just such a noise multiplied ten thousand times and then some more. We concluded that the enemy had some new fangled machine for throwing railroad spikes at us. We could hear the missiles approaching, then overhead, and they continued to screech as they passed far to the rear. Screech is hardly the word to describe this sort of a wail of a lost soul (if anyone ever heard the wail of a lost soul) that greeted our ears as we clung to the bosom of Mother Earth.

2) The George below linked to the father David via FindAGrave https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/93685583/george-w-williams
"In 1880-81 I became acquainted with Capt. George W. Williams, Deputy Clerk of the Virginia Senate, who had served in Gen. John H. Morgan's Kentucky Cavalry Command during the war. In swapping reminiscences, I mentioned our little gun at Seven Pines and he informed me that his father was the inventor."

3) I think the tactical details are worth nothing, if only for the wargamers
Captain Schoolfield, who commanded this battery, is still living, he being an attorney at law at Iuka, Illinois. He tells me that these breechloading cannon were mounted on light carriages, each being hauled by one horse, in shafts, the driver using two buggy lines, sitting on the ammunition box. It required only three men to handle the gun; one to cap it, one to place the cartridge in the breech and the third man to sight it and to turn the crank which discharged it. The guns weighed about 275 pounds each, and were made at the Tredegar Iron Works, Richmond, Virginia. Each gun with its carriage and ammunition box weighed about 1000 pounds. The carriage had four wheels, the gun on the hind wheels and the ammunition-box on the front. When in action the gun and the hind wheels were detached and the front wheels with the horse and driver sent to the rear, the box of ammunition having been detached from the carriage and placed beside the gun.

While only one horse in shafts was used to each gun, Captain Schoolfield says that two horses with a heavier carriage would have made the battery much more effective.

Each gun could be fired about forty (40) times per minute. It could not, of course, be sighted when fired so rapidly. Each gun was provided with a small crank which it was the duty of the man who sighted the gun to turn, one-half revolution throwing the breech out and the other half sending it back into the gun and at the same time discharging it. The gun was about six feet long, carried a one-pound ball and had a range of about one mile. Captain Schoolfield, commander of the battery regarded it as a most effective arm at the time, though too light in metal, and sometimes when being actively worked the breech would expand and would not return to its place, and an unpleasant wait was required to permit the gun to cool off a little.


p.440 onwards​

Military Service Institution of the United States Journal, Volume 44​

January, March & May 1909
Great Info Thanks.
 

DixieRifles

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So where was Ruggles at that time
Good question. I will have to check. I thought he was placed in an administrative staff position this late in the War.

After the fall of Vicksburg, Ruggles and Chalmers were trying to recruit new regiments to protect Mississippi’s bread basket.
 

ucvrelics

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Good question. I will have to check. I thought he was placed in an administrative staff position this late in the War.

After the fall of Vicksburg, Ruggles and Chalmers were trying to recruit new regiments to protect Mississippi’s bread basket.
According to the letter he was still in command somewhere.
 

ucvrelics

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What if the Confederate Artillery Captain was not D R Williams (1808 - 1875) but his son R.S. Williams.
The Fold3 records on both D R & R S are separate records. R S's records really start in mid 1863 and D R's stop about that time so I believe that he took over the artillery battery from his father.
 

DixieRifles

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Well now, isn't this nifty?
I bought a Williams Gun and figures made by Britains Toy Soldiers. The label on the box calls it "Williams Machine Gun".

WGun_Britian.JPG
 

DixieRifles

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@Story
I took a closer look at the scale model you posted and it has two interesting details.
(A) A central beam supporting the gun without the use of Cheek Pieces.
Most replica cannons are mounted just like all the other cannons.
(B) "Sway bars" from each side of the main beam to the axle probably to stabilize the axle/beam joint. My Britain figure has a very strange design with a wide base connected to the axles.
(C) Elevation screw under the rear hand grip. This is how I made my 1/6 scale model. Again, replica cannons have the elevation screw very close to the trunnion.

Thanks for posting the link.
 

Story

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