The Quaker Guns

frontrank2

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I have a letter, passed down through my family, written by my gr-gr granduncle, Henry Shildt of the 6th Wisc. Inf. It was written in March of 1862, " near Centreville, Va." He mentions of the Federal Army's march into Northern Virginia. He also mentions the famous Quaker Guns ( but he doesn't call them by that name ) which were logs painted black and placed into breastworks to look like artillery. Sometimes an actual field piece was mixed in with them to keep the Yankees on their toes. :unsure:

quakerguns.jpg

quakerguns2.jpg
 

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Patrick H

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These are really interesting photos. This appears to have been an enormous fortification, or maybe it's just a trick of the camera lenses of the era. Thanks for posting!
 

DaveBrt

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These are really interesting photos. This appears to have been an enormous fortification, or maybe it's just a trick of the camera lenses of the era. Thanks for posting!
The position was on a slight hill. The encampment for the entire army was in the center with rifle pits connecting a "fort" on each corner of the camp.
 

frontrank2

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After looking over my Uncle's letter, I would like to add that he mentions that stovepipes were also used as quaker guns in addition to the painted logs. :sneaky: These are his actual words:
" This was a very strongly fortified place, forts and breastworks everywhere. The place I learned is called Manassas Junction, a railroad is going through here, a great many winter quarters have been built here for the rebel soldiers, wooden cannons and stovepipes looking terrible through the embrasures of the forts."
 

AndyHall

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Magruder made extensive use of Quaker guns in his defenses along the Texas coast, going to the trouble of having the real guns shifted around at night to fire from different locations during the day, to keep the observers aboard blockading ships guessing.

There are two anecdotes about times when the ruse didn't quite work as planned -- once, when a couple of Confederate soldiers were observed hefting a gun tube off the sand, onto their shoulders and walking away with it, and another time, after a winter storm, when a blockading ship observed a shiny black cannon barrel floating past them in the Gulf of Mexico.
 
(If @Mark F. Jenkins will forgive me for stepping on his toes...)

@civilwarincolor did an amazing job on this image!

image.jpeg


I've said it before - but the absolute best part of this image isn't the 'cannoneer' with a sense of humor - it's that someone actually took the time to relief cut the vent field!!!

My favorite usage of Quaker Guns would have to have been by Canby at Fort Craig - probably a major factor alluded to by Sibley on May 4th, 1862 when he reported:

"The reconnaisance proved the futility of assaulting the fort in front with our own light metal, and that our only hope of success was to force the enemy to an open-field fight."

And of course, this Quaker piece at Port Hudson was pretty impressive:

image.jpeg


 

Mike Serpa

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After looking over my Uncle's letter, I would like to add that he mentions that stovepipes were also used as quaker guns in addition to the painted logs. :sneaky: These are his actual words:
" This was a very strongly fortified place, forts and breastworks everywhere. The place I learned is called Manassas Junction, a railroad is going through here, a great many winter quarters have been built here for the rebel soldiers, wooden cannons and stovepipes looking terrible through the embrasures of the forts."
Adam Rankin "Stovepipe" Johnson (February 6, 1834 – October 20, 1922) was an antebellum Westernfrontiersman and later an officer in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War.
Permanently blinded during a skirmish in 1864, Johnson in 1887 founded the town of Marble Falls, Texas, which became known as "the blind man's town."
In July 1862, in his Newburgh Raid, Johnson captured the town of Newburgh, Indiana, bluffing its sizable Union militiaforce into surrendering with only twelve of his men and two joints of a stovepipe mounted on the running gear of an abandoned wagon to form a Quaker cannon. His capture of the first Northern city to fall to the Confederates made the news even in Europe, and Johnson's men thereafter nicknamed him "Stovepipe".
 

civilwarincolor

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@civilwarincolor did an amazing job on this image!

View attachment 96638
Glad that you enjoyed the image. I actually spent about two years on the image trying to figure a way to get the branches not too look like one big brown mess. I would spend some time on it, then leave and come back a month later. Finally after doing this for a couple of years I decided to focus on the leaves and make them different colors. While it is most likely that the leaves would have just turned brown and died on the tree I thought it helped bring out some interest if they had fall colors and some variety.

If you would like to read other stories of Quaker Guns be sure to check out the "Through the Lens" column of the May issue of "Civil War News" which will be on the stands or in the mail at the end of April. As I am married to the columnist, I have had the chance to read it already. It covers the use of Quaker Guns by both sides - military and civilians as well as actual Quakers! For more you will have to read the column...
 

67th Tigers

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I have a letter, passed down through my family, written by my gr-gr granduncle, Henry Shildt of the 6th Wisc. Inf. It was written in March of 1862, " near Centreville, Va." He mentions of the Federal Army's march into Northern Virginia. He also mentions the famous Quaker Guns ( but he doesn't call them by that name ) which were logs painted black and placed into breastworks to look like artillery. Sometimes an actual field piece was mixed in with them to keep the Yankees on their toes. :unsure:
The gun positions originally held guns. When McClellan ordered Hooker to move onto the lower Potomac with a view to an amphibious crossing Johnston was forced to move some guns from Centreville to the Potomac batteries. They placed logs in the now empty gun pits which patrols from the Federal Army discovered immediately in January and reported it.
 

MissREP

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I'm in the wrong state--I was told so.
How wonderful to actually have a letter like that!!

The photos are interesting--now I know what the set-up looked like from inside the lines! :smile: (And how practical--don't bother stripping the bark off the inner portions...)
 


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