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The Siege of Petersburg being an event of the American Civil War 1860 to 1865.
It’s actually occured to me that you really don’t want crazies getting their hands on those: one could easily be used to strike at a government building or political rally or something: with a range of about 2½ miles & being quite compact it could quite easily be sequestered a good distance from the target amongst some bushes or something … and even set-off by remote control.
But then … you can’t exactly just bung one in the back of a motor-car; & the locations of the extant ones are well-known^† ; and nor could you get an inside-operator in a steel-foundry to just cast one off-hand – the casting of one of those would be a major event.
† On the other hand, the text does say that the fate of the dictator itself is unknown!
I wonder what the range was and the weight and type of shell
Civil War seacoast mortars were very large mortars used defensively in fixed fortifications and in coast and river defense. They were also used in siege operations and occasionally in other offensive endeavors. The largest mortar in the Federal arsenal was the 13 inch seacoast mortar, so named for the size of the weapon’s bore. Perhaps the most famous individual 13 inch mortar was one used at the Siege of Petersburg, Virginia in the summer of 1864. Union soldiers gave this weapon the nickname “The Dictator”.
Cast in a foundry in Pittsburgh, the Dictator weighed in at 17,120 pounds. Thirteen inch mortars were difficult to move due to their size and were transported by ships and by rail. At Petersburg, the Dictator was placed on a specially reinforced railroad flatcar and run along a spur line of the City Point and Petersburg Railroad into various firing positions. The flatcar also served as a firing platform.
The Dictator used gunpowder charges of 14 to 20 pounds to fire a 200 pound shell. The range of the mortar was 4235 yards when fired at a 45 degree angle of elevation, although one round is reported to have gone over 4750 yards. The flatcar recoiled 10 to 12 feet when the mortar was fired.
The Dictator was served by Company G of the 1st Connecticut Heavy Artillery Regiment and it went into action for the first time on July 9th. The Dictator lobbed shells into the city of Petersburg, but its primary target was a Confederate artillery battery across the Appomattox River called the Chesterfield Battery. “This 13 inch mortar was used principally against what was known as the ‘Chesterfield Battery,’ which from the left bank of [the] river, completely enfiladed our batteries on the right; all our direct fire seemed to have no effect. From this mortar was the only fire that seemed to hold the battery in check” wrote the regimental historian of the 1st Connecticut.
An extract from the text at this website.
Thanks for this and your informative follow up.