The Swamp Angel


Forum Host
Oct 10, 2012
Mt. Jackson, Va
In July 1863, Union forces Major General Quincy Gillmore’s Army of the South landed on Morris Island outside Charleston, South Carolina. Gillmore’s objective was to take control of Charleston Harbor and eventually, Charleston itself. Charleston and vicinity was heavily defended, including Battery Wagner on Morris Island, artillery emplacements on James and Sullivan’s Islands, and Fort Sumter in the harbor. After two unsuccessful attempts to capture Battery Wagner, Gilmore changed tactics and opted to abandon assaults in favor of siege tactics. He chose to use long range rifled heavy artillery to reduce Fort Sumter. Gilmore carefully scouted various locations and found one about 7900 yards from Charleston that appeared to be suitable for building a battery capable of holding a large rifled gun. With assistance from the 7th New Hampshire Infantry, the engineers went to work. To construct the battery’s parapet, pilings were driven into the mud, and a platform of log crossbeams was attached to the pilings. This platform was covered with 13,000 sand bags hand carried across a 1700 foot wooden causeway by the men of the 7th New Hampshire. After completing the parapet, a wooden platform was constructed for the gun itself that was detached from the parapet. The two sections essentially floated on the surface of the marsh. On August 17th, an eight inch Parrot rifle and carriage weighing about 24,000 pounds was successfully transported to the site and mounted in place in what was called the Marsh Battery. It was a remarkable engineering accomplishment under difficult conditions. The men named the huge gun the “Swamp Angel”. At 1:30 A.M. on August 22nd, the Swamp Angel opened fire on Charleston. In all, 16 shells were fired into the city in the early morning hours; some were conventional artillery shells, and some contained an incendiary mixture called Greek Fire. On the evening of the 23rd, the Swamp Angel resumed shelling Charleston with the Greek Fire incendiary shells. Six of these shells exploded in the gun, weakening it. When the gun crew fired the 20th shot of the evening, the breech exploded, opening a large gap in the gun tube, and throwing the gun onto the parapet. After 36 shots, the Swamp Angel was finished.

Morris Island Battery Landscape_0.jpg


Lieutenant General
- ★★★ -
Managing Member & Webmaster
Apr 1, 1999
Martinsburg, WV
Library of Congress
[Morris Island, South Carolina. Battery Brown. Burst Gun]
Ah, Battery Brown, so that's not actually Swamp Angel, that's a different 200 lb. Parrott, one that fired on Sumter if I remember correctly. I think there is even speculation that one of the photos attributed to the recovery of Swamp Angel's broken breach may actually have come from this gun.

Ok, that clears my confusion up!