The Port Hudson Witness Sawyer Rifled 6-pounder Cannon

Ole Miss

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The Port Hudson Witness Sawyer 6-pounder Rifled cast steel cannon was a weapon ahead of its time. It was the first cast steel rifled cannon accepted by the US government. Sylvanus Sawyer was a visionary inventor who’s weapon was quickly incorporated into the James and Parrot rifles.
Regards
David
1554840779088.png


There are only 2 known examples of the 3.67” 6-pounder Sawyer Rifles, one being in private hands, serial #13 and the other is located in the Grand Army of the Republic Memorial in Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis, MN serial #16. I have the dimensions of serial #16 are as listed below:

Trunions 3/8” diam 2 1/4” length
Rimbase 9 1/2” apart
Muzzle Diameter 6 9/16”
Chase Diameter 7 1/16” Ahead of Reinforce
Chase Length 37 1/2”
Reinforce 9 1/4” Front End 9 3/16” Rear End 29” Length of Reinforce between 2 diametersr

Rifling is a 6 groove right hand twist, lands wider than grooves, grooves being 1/8" deep which are 2 to 3 times deeper than other rifles.*

This is the auction information on the Port Hudson witness Sawyer

VERY RARE CIVIL WAR SAWYER CANNON, ONE OF ONLY 2 SURVIVORS.
SN 13. Rifled 6-pounder, 3.67″ Sawyer cannon saw service in the western theatre of war. The most famous battery was Captain Pythagoras Holcomb, 2nd Vermont’s six 6-pounder Sawyer rifles which saw major action at Port Hudson, Louisiana where many unique lead-covered Sawyer projectiles are found. These cannons were made of cast steel, most likely by Putnam Machine Company, of Fitchburg, Mass. Sylvanus and Addison Sawyer made at least 3 cal. of projectiles and guns of which there are only two known. This gun is registry “No. 13”; and the only other example is in a memorial, which is registry “No. 16”. This is only privately owned example. Hazlett, Olmstead & Parks in their definitive text Field Artillery Weapons of the Civil War list other survivor as registry number “16” and is at Lakeview Cemetery, Minneapolis in memorial to fallen Union soldiers. This is no doubt the rarest of all Civil War-used Union field guns that would fit on a standard No. 1 carriage. Cannon has total length of 78-1/2″ with weight as noted 872 pounds. PROVENANCE: New York estate. CONDITION: Very good overall. Gold painted with iron patina, well defined rifled pitted bore. Three drilled holes rear of vent for sighting bracket which is still found on No. 16. Left trunnion marked with 872 which is the weight. It will be interesting to see if any other markings will be found after the paint is removed. 52758-1 JS (30,000-40,000) – Lot 1319*

*Field Artillery Weapons of the Civil War By James C Hazlett, Edwin Olmstead, M. Hume Parks
^https://www.morphyauctions.com/jamesdjulia/item/52758-1-397/
 

redbob

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The problem with the Sawyers was with their shells, they were encased in a thick lead covering which absorbed the explosion when the shell detonated, preventing the round from fragmenting properly and the thick lead tended to foul the bore of the guns. Today the majority of Sawyer shells held by collectors in this size seem to have come from this battery and this location. Photo by Harry Ridgeway.
A1141A (2).jpg
 
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Ole Miss

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Found a NY Times paper dealing with testing of the Sawyer Rifled Cannon
Regards
David

THE TRIAL OF SAWYER'S RIFLED CANNON.*

FORTRESS MONROE, Va., Monday, June 17, 1861.
Recent events have drawn attention, with great point, to the proper combination of the regular and volunteer forces. It is clear that a reform is needed in this important matter, and that it should be made so as to be permanent. Intelligent officers of the volunteer portions of the army are becoming more and more impressed with the fact that they need and must have the experience of the regulars. This can be secured and its results obtained without any invidious distinctions. SCOTT and TAYLOR proved this in Mexico. They always named the volunteers, both officers and men, in the same reports that made honorable mention of the regulars. The volunteer officers must, of course, be expected to have great attachments for and great confidence in their immediate commands. But in all general movements they must and will prefer general officers to take the lead. The evidence of the truth of this position is becoming clearer everyday. It cannot be doubted that the result will be lastingly beneficial to the Union cause. The principal leaders of the Confederate troops-the men most active in the actual field -- are those who have been successful officers of the United States Army. They have not lost their skill and efficiency. They have but transferred them from the banker of the Union to that of secession. These men must be met and conquered by others of equal experience and valor, and of a better morale because having a better cause.
Let the discussion of this subject begin, then, and go on vigorously. The result cannot but be good.
An exhibition of the Sawyer projectile toot place yesterday at the Rip Raps. Your correspondent had the honor of being one of the party invited to witness the performance of the gun, in the presence of Major-Gen. BUTLER, Col. DE RUSSEY, of the Ordnance Department; Major MYERS, the originator of the system of signal flags; Mr. SAWYER, the inventor of the projectile; Mr. LATHROP, of Penn.; E.R. JEWETT, of the Buffalo Commercial Advertiser; Col. BARTLETT, of New-York, and other gentlemen.
The gun was brought from New-York recently in the Coatzacoalcos, in connection with the Naval Brigade. It was placed on the unfinished fortification at the Rip Raps, known as Fort Calhoun, which commands the shore up and down in the direction of Sewell's Point. Here it was proposed to test the projectile, and learn the exact range and location of the secession batteries. The gun was fired eleven times, with the following arrangements and results. The charge was about 5 1/2 pounds; the aim was as high as 45°, and as low as 15°. The nearest distance hit was 2,380 yards; the greatest distance hit was 4,800 yards; this carried the shell into the water of Hampton Roads, over and beyond Sewell's Point!
First fire -- Elevation 22°, landed 4,600 yards from the gun and exploded.
Second -- Elevation 23°. Shell went over the woods on the Point into the water. No explosion heard.
Third -- Elevation 18°. Landed inside the beach, at 4,300 yards. Exploded.
Fourth -- Elevation 21°. Went over Sewell's Point. No report.
Fifth -- Elevation 20°. Went over the Point with an explosion.
Sixth -- Elevation 16°. Struck a little short of the shore -- perhaps 100 yards. Sent up a high jet of water.
Seventh -- Elevation the same. Struck on the field a short distance below the Point. Exploded. Distance 4,300 yards.
Eighth -- Elevation 16°. Struck and exploded on the beach.
Ninth -- Elevation 19°. Went into the, woods. No explosion.
Tenth -- Elevation 25°. Went clean over the Point into the water beyond. No report heard.
Eleventh -- Elevation 18°. Landed on the sand cliff of the Point, producing a great impression, and exploding fearfully. Distance 4,800 yards.
The shell weighed, charged, 48 pounds. The shot weighs 53 pounds.
During the firing there was evidently some surprise and excitement on "De Ole Varginny Shoa." People about there didn't seem to understand it; couldn't tell who threw the first brick, nor where it came from. "A man on horseback," perhaps, as Mrs. Partington would say, the 'dentical one the romancers JAMES and CUSHING both saw -- appeared suddenly on this side of Sewell's Point, riding violently along to where the shell struck, accompanied by a soldier with his musket. It was evident there was something in the wind besides smoke, and something else in the sand besides clams. Whizz! came another shell, and horseman and soldier withdrew at "double quick." The shot struck near where there were signs of a secession flag and a tent. The trees flew as the shell exploded, revealing the tent, or shed, or house, to considerable advantage.
A little after sundown the Union party returned to Fortress Monroe. That Sewell's Point can be hit from Fort Calhoun is now au fait accompli. That Sawyer's projectile can do it is now equally patent. It will undoubtedly soon be tested again, when your correspondent will be "thereto see."
NEPTUNE.
*https://www.nytimes.com/1861/06/19/archives/the-trial-of-sawyers-rifled-cannon.html
 

Ole Miss

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Here is some info regarding Sawyer Shells
Regards
David
Federal Sawyer
DIAMETER: 3.61 inches (3.83 across flanges)
GUN: 6-pounder Sawyer rifle, 3.67-inch caliber
LENGTH: 7 5/16 inches
WEIGHT: 12 pounds 4 ounces
CONSTRUCTION: Shell
SABOT: Iron flanges covered with lead jacket
FUZING: Sawyer percussion

367SawyerShell.jpg
Sylvanus Sawyer patented this shell and fuze system on November 13, 1855, patent #13,799. Sawyer shells had poor battlefield performance because the lead jacket expanded when the shell burst, thereby absorbing the shock and not allowing the iron projectile body to fragment properly. This Sawyer pattern has six iron flanges under the lead covering that correspond with the rifling of the cannon bore. The patent date is stamped on the flat base. Stamped on the nose near the fuze is "11 1/2". This information was needed so that the factory worker would know how many ounces (11 1/2 ounces) of bursting charge to load inside the projectile. Most of the specimens recovered were fired by Holcomb's Vermont Battery during the Siege of Port Hudson, Louisiana. Go here for more information about the "11 1/2" stamping.
367SawyerNose.jpg


SawyerPatentDate.jpg




Sawyer Projectile
"What are the numbers stamped on the nose?"

The Sawyer projectile was patented by Sylvanus Sawyer of Fitchburg, Massachusetts on November 13, 1855. There are two sub-patterns of this projectile. Sub-pattern I has 6 flanges on the lead that covers the projectile. Sub-pattern II has no flanges and smooth sides covered with a thin sheet of brass to prevent the lead from fouling the bore of the cannon. The patent date "Patented Nov. 13, 1855" is nearly always seen stamped into the lead base on the projectile body. Also stamped on the projectile near the nose is a number that was thought to be the weight of the projectile. This number is located only on the nose of Sawyer shells and never on the solid bolts. I found two different letters located in the National Archives written by ordnance officers that stated that the number on the nose of the Sawyer shell determines the amount of bursting charge in ounces that the shell is to be filled at the Arsenal. Found stamped on the nose of the Sawyer shell projectiles are as follows: 3" caliber Sub-pattern II, no visible numbers available on the few recovered specimens, 3.4" Sub-pattern II stamped "14" with the Sawyer combination fuze, 3.67" Sub-pattern I, flanged, stamped "11 1/2" with the Sawyer percussion fuzed shell, 3.67" Sub-pattern II stamped "14 1/2" with the Sawyer combination fuzed shell, 4.2-inch Sub-pattern I, flanged, no stampings, 5.2" Sub-pattern I, flanged, stamped "27" with the Sawyer percussion fuze, and 5.86" Sub-pattern I, flanged, stamped "40" with the Sawyer percussion fuze. To see a Sawyer combination fuze click here.
http://www.civilwarartillery.com/projectiles/rifled/IIIA119.htm
 

redbob

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Found a NY Times paper dealing with testing of the Sawyer Rifled Cannon
Regards
David

THE TRIAL OF SAWYER'S RIFLED CANNON.*

FORTRESS MONROE, Va., Monday, June 17, 1861.
Recent events have drawn attention, with great point, to the proper combination of the regular and volunteer forces. It is clear that a reform is needed in this important matter, and that it should be made so as to be permanent. Intelligent officers of the volunteer portions of the army are becoming more and more impressed with the fact that they need and must have the experience of the regulars. This can be secured and its results obtained without any invidious distinctions. SCOTT and TAYLOR proved this in Mexico. They always named the volunteers, both officers and men, in the same reports that made honorable mention of the regulars. The volunteer officers must, of course, be expected to have great attachments for and great confidence in their immediate commands. But in all general movements they must and will prefer general officers to take the lead. The evidence of the truth of this position is becoming clearer everyday. It cannot be doubted that the result will be lastingly beneficial to the Union cause. The principal leaders of the Confederate troops-the men most active in the actual field -- are those who have been successful officers of the United States Army. They have not lost their skill and efficiency. They have but transferred them from the banker of the Union to that of secession. These men must be met and conquered by others of equal experience and valor, and of a better morale because having a better cause.
Let the discussion of this subject begin, then, and go on vigorously. The result cannot but be good.
An exhibition of the Sawyer projectile toot place yesterday at the Rip Raps. Your correspondent had the honor of being one of the party invited to witness the performance of the gun, in the presence of Major-Gen. BUTLER, Col. DE RUSSEY, of the Ordnance Department; Major MYERS, the originator of the system of signal flags; Mr. SAWYER, the inventor of the projectile; Mr. LATHROP, of Penn.; E.R. JEWETT, of the Buffalo Commercial Advertiser; Col. BARTLETT, of New-York, and other gentlemen.
The gun was brought from New-York recently in the Coatzacoalcos, in connection with the Naval Brigade. It was placed on the unfinished fortification at the Rip Raps, known as Fort Calhoun, which commands the shore up and down in the direction of Sewell's Point. Here it was proposed to test the projectile, and learn the exact range and location of the secession batteries. The gun was fired eleven times, with the following arrangements and results. The charge was about 5 1/2 pounds; the aim was as high as 45°, and as low as 15°. The nearest distance hit was 2,380 yards; the greatest distance hit was 4,800 yards; this carried the shell into the water of Hampton Roads, over and beyond Sewell's Point!
First fire -- Elevation 22°, landed 4,600 yards from the gun and exploded.
Second -- Elevation 23°. Shell went over the woods on the Point into the water. No explosion heard.
Third -- Elevation 18°. Landed inside the beach, at 4,300 yards. Exploded.
Fourth -- Elevation 21°. Went over Sewell's Point. No report.
Fifth -- Elevation 20°. Went over the Point with an explosion.
Sixth -- Elevation 16°. Struck a little short of the shore -- perhaps 100 yards. Sent up a high jet of water.
Seventh -- Elevation the same. Struck on the field a short distance below the Point. Exploded. Distance 4,300 yards.
Eighth -- Elevation 16°. Struck and exploded on the beach.
Ninth -- Elevation 19°. Went into the, woods. No explosion.
Tenth -- Elevation 25°. Went clean over the Point into the water beyond. No report heard.
Eleventh -- Elevation 18°. Landed on the sand cliff of the Point, producing a great impression, and exploding fearfully. Distance 4,800 yards.
The shell weighed, charged, 48 pounds. The shot weighs 53 pounds.
During the firing there was evidently some surprise and excitement on "De Ole Varginny Shoa." People about there didn't seem to understand it; couldn't tell who threw the first brick, nor where it came from. "A man on horseback," perhaps, as Mrs. Partington would say, the 'dentical one the romancers JAMES and CUSHING both saw -- appeared suddenly on this side of Sewell's Point, riding violently along to where the shell struck, accompanied by a soldier with his musket. It was evident there was something in the wind besides smoke, and something else in the sand besides clams. Whizz! came another shell, and horseman and soldier withdrew at "double quick." The shot struck near where there were signs of a secession flag and a tent. The trees flew as the shell exploded, revealing the tent, or shed, or house, to considerable advantage.
A little after sundown the Union party returned to Fortress Monroe. That Sewell's Point can be hit from Fort Calhoun is now au fait accompli. That Sawyer's projectile can do it is now equally patent. It will undoubtedly soon be tested again, when your correspondent will be "thereto see."
NEPTUNE.
*https://www.nytimes.com/1861/06/19/archives/the-trial-of-sawyers-rifled-cannon.html
He also developed a 9 pound rifle, a 3.67" rifle, a 3" rifle, a 30# 4.62" rifle, a 5" rifle and a 24# 5.82" rifle along with shells, case shot, bolts and canister rounds for the above.
 

Ole Miss

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The canister is a rare duck, if you ever wish to handle some Sawyers ; it can probably be arranged.
Thank you for the generous offer as just looking at it was a thrill as the witness cannon was within a few hundred yards where it was placed during the Port Hudson siege.
Regards
David
 

redbob

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Thank you for the generous offer as just looking at it was a thrill as the witness cannon was within a few hundred yards where it was placed during the Port Hudson siege.
Regards
David
Anytime that you are over my way, just give me a shout and we might even be able to rope in @ucvrelics.com .
 

Ole Miss

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Sounds great! The Travel Committee Chairwoman, who graciously approved my request to attend the Baton Rouge CWRT Symposium, is of the opinion that I have exceeded my budget for this quarter. Perhaps by May or June I may be able to make this trip, maybe even combine it with a visit to the Alabama CWRT Meeting!!!!
Thank you so much for the gracious offer as I would love to meet you and @ucvrelics.
Reagrds
David
 

redbob

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Sounds great! The Travel Committee Chairwoman, who graciously approved my request to attend the Baton Rouge CWRT Symposium, is of the opinion that I have exceeded my budget for this quarter. Perhaps by May or June I may be able to make this trip, maybe even combine it with a visit to the Alabama CWRT Meeting!!!!
Thank you so much for the gracious offer as I would love to meet you and @ucvrelics.
Reagrds
David
That sounds like a plan and just say the word, I'm like Delta, I'm ready when you are.
 

jpotts53

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Baton Rouge, LA
The Port Gibson Witness Sawyer 6-pounder Rifled cast steel cannon was a weapon ahead of its time. It was the first cast steel rifled cannon accepted by the US government. Sylvanus Sawyer was a visionary inventor who’s weapon was quickly incorporated into the James and Parrot rifles.
Regards
David
View attachment 301787

There are only 2 known examples of the 3.67” 6-pounder Sawyer Rifles, one being in private hands, serial #13 and the other is located in the Grand Army of the Republic Memorial in Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis, MN serial #16. I have the dimensions of serial #16 are as listed below:

Trunions 3/8” diam 2 1/4” length
Rimbase 9 1/2” apart
Muzzle Diameter 6 9/16”
Chase Diameter 7 1/16” Ahead of Reinforce
Chase Length 37 1/2”
Reinforce 9 1/4” Front End 9 3/16” Rear End 29” Length of Reinforce between 2 diametersr

Rifling is a 6 groove right hand twist, lands wider than grooves, grooves being 1/8" deep which are 2 to 3 times deeper than other rifles.*

This is the auction information on the Port Gibson witness Sawyer

VERY RARE CIVIL WAR SAWYER CANNON, ONE OF ONLY 2 SURVIVORS.
SN 13. Rifled 6-pounder, 3.67″ Sawyer cannon saw service in the western theatre of war. The most famous battery was Captain Pythagoras Holcomb, 2nd Vermont’s six 6-pounder Sawyer rifles which saw major action at Port Hudson, Louisiana where many unique lead-covered Sawyer projectiles are found. These cannons were made of cast steel, most likely by Putnam Machine Company, of Fitchburg, Mass. Sylvanus and Addison Sawyer made at least 3 cal. of projectiles and guns of which there are only two known. This gun is registry “No. 13”; and the only other example is in a memorial, which is registry “No. 16”. This is only privately owned example. Hazlett, Olmstead & Parks in their definitive text Field Artillery Weapons of the Civil War list other survivor as registry number “16” and is at Lakeview Cemetery, Minneapolis in memorial to fallen Union soldiers. This is no doubt the rarest of all Civil War-used Union field guns that would fit on a standard No. 1 carriage. Cannon has total length of 78-1/2″ with weight as noted 872 pounds. PROVENANCE: New York estate. CONDITION: Very good overall. Gold painted with iron patina, well defined rifled pitted bore. Three drilled holes rear of vent for sighting bracket which is still found on No. 16. Left trunnion marked with 872 which is the weight. It will be interesting to see if any other markings will be found after the paint is removed. 52758-1 JS (30,000-40,000) – Lot 1319*

*Field Artillery Weapons of the Civil War By James C Hazlett, Edwin Olmstead, M. Hume Parks
^https://www.morphyauctions.com/jamesdjulia/item/52758-1-397/
The location was Port Hudson at the Collier house which was a hospital during the siege. This was reconditioned and is a beautiful piece. My Great Uncles were in the 2nd Vermont.
 

bayouace

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Did some searching, but cannot find where "Port Gibson" in the name comes from. Did the cannon do something spectacular at the Battle of Port Gibson? Thanks.
 

bdtex

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The Port Gibson Witness Sawyer 6-pounder Rifled cast steel cannon was a weapon ahead of its time. It was the first cast steel rifled cannon accepted by the US government. Sylvanus Sawyer was a visionary inventor who’s weapon was quickly incorporated into the James and Parrot rifles.
Regards
David
View attachment 301787

There are only 2 known examples of the 3.67” 6-pounder Sawyer Rifles, one being in private hands, serial #13 and the other is located in the Grand Army of the Republic Memorial in Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis, MN serial #16. I have the dimensions of serial #16 are as listed below:

Trunions 3/8” diam 2 1/4” length
Rimbase 9 1/2” apart
Muzzle Diameter 6 9/16”
Chase Diameter 7 1/16” Ahead of Reinforce
Chase Length 37 1/2”
Reinforce 9 1/4” Front End 9 3/16” Rear End 29” Length of Reinforce between 2 diametersr

Rifling is a 6 groove right hand twist, lands wider than grooves, grooves being 1/8" deep which are 2 to 3 times deeper than other rifles.*

This is the auction information on the Port Gibson witness Sawyer

VERY RARE CIVIL WAR SAWYER CANNON, ONE OF ONLY 2 SURVIVORS.
SN 13. Rifled 6-pounder, 3.67″ Sawyer cannon saw service in the western theatre of war. The most famous battery was Captain Pythagoras Holcomb, 2nd Vermont’s six 6-pounder Sawyer rifles which saw major action at Port Hudson, Louisiana where many unique lead-covered Sawyer projectiles are found. These cannons were made of cast steel, most likely by Putnam Machine Company, of Fitchburg, Mass. Sylvanus and Addison Sawyer made at least 3 cal. of projectiles and guns of which there are only two known. This gun is registry “No. 13”; and the only other example is in a memorial, which is registry “No. 16”. This is only privately owned example. Hazlett, Olmstead & Parks in their definitive text Field Artillery Weapons of the Civil War list other survivor as registry number “16” and is at Lakeview Cemetery, Minneapolis in memorial to fallen Union soldiers. This is no doubt the rarest of all Civil War-used Union field guns that would fit on a standard No. 1 carriage. Cannon has total length of 78-1/2″ with weight as noted 872 pounds. PROVENANCE: New York estate. CONDITION: Very good overall. Gold painted with iron patina, well defined rifled pitted bore. Three drilled holes rear of vent for sighting bracket which is still found on No. 16. Left trunnion marked with 872 which is the weight. It will be interesting to see if any other markings will be found after the paint is removed. 52758-1 JS (30,000-40,000) – Lot 1319*

*Field Artillery Weapons of the Civil War By James C Hazlett, Edwin Olmstead, M. Hume Parks
^https://www.morphyauctions.com/jamesdjulia/item/52758-1-397/
Just now noticing this but you meant to say "Port Hudson" didn't you? I can fix that.
 
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