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Author Topic: Great Add To My Collection  (Read 1240 times)

CarlS

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Great Add To My Collection
« on: December 23, 2018, 11:12:15 PM »
Through a number of good fortunes I was able to line up the purchase of a really rare shell at the summer Richmond Show.  I was counting down the days to go to the show for all the normal show reasons (friends, relics, etc.) but I would also be brought a Read bolt for the Parrott rifle.  These are so rare I've not seen one before that I recall other than the one in the P&G book.  The pictures I had been sent showed it to be in pretty good condition but you never know until you see it in your hand.  But then, a couple days before the show, a family issue prevented me from attending the show.  I thought I had missed out on it until Mike, the good friend that he is, offered to take care of the deal for me.  So it ended up working out and I'm very happy to have it in my collection.

I wanted to post it back when I got it but it needed cleaned badly.  The seller had coated it with rust converter and only done the basic cleaning on it.  So I figured I'd clean it and then post it.  But life being busy as it is delayed that quite a while.  Actually I had run it through electrolysis a couple months ago but never took the time to do the detail cleaning and coating.  But this past week I took care of that and here we are.

While there are other Read bolts out there they tend to be rather short and weigh less at 7 to 9 pounds.  But this bolt is a hefty 12+ pounds and undoubtedly made for the Parrott rifle (10 lber; 2.9").    This round is described on page 240 of the 1993 D&G book.   Col. Biemeck discusses it on the bottom of page 844 of Vol III in his incredible series of books but he seems to not have seen one and includes it due to the P&G book having a picture of one.  The one P&G pictures is from Montgomery, AL and the text states "all of the few known" have come from Montgomery, AL so mine very well did too though it came with no provenance.   Hopefully Pete and/or Col. Biemeck will see this and possibly shed some more light on it.  Also perhaps the great shell man Steve in Birmingham will have some experience with these that he can share since they seem to come from over his way.  And of course WoodenHead might have some research that Pete and he have dug up on these somewhere along the way.   I'd love to learn more.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2018, 11:23:42 PM by CarlS »
Best,
Carl

CarlS

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Re: Great Add To My Collection
« Reply #1 on: December 23, 2018, 11:19:36 PM »
Also, here is a view of the bottom and sabot.  Of note the P&G book only mentions an iron sabot.  This one is cast of copper; I checked with a magnet.  Both the one in the P&G book and my copper one are stamped for 3 lands-n-grooves.  I'm not sure I've ever seen a copper sabot stamped like that.  Also of note the copper is quite porous with lots of small air bubbles in it as you can see in the image below.  The iron of the shell body is like that as well.  It appears to have been fired but I'm not sure of that.  It does show very strong rifling and if fired it must have been a rather new gun.  The base shows a faint lathe dimple.
Best,
Carl

redbob

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Re: Great Add To My Collection
« Reply #2 on: December 24, 2018, 08:58:51 AM »
A great find, a welcome addition to any collection and a most informative post. I'm looking forward to hearing more about it.

R. J. in LA

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Re: Great Add To My Collection
« Reply #3 on: December 24, 2018, 11:23:20 AM »
Congratulations Carl on a great find indeed and an excellent preservation job!!

Steve Phillips

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Re: Great Add To My Collection
« Reply #4 on: December 24, 2018, 11:47:17 AM »
I don't have a bolt like this. Congratulations, it appears to be pre-engraved like some of the Selma made projectiles are. I guess you mean D&G book.

svedra

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Re: Great Add To My Collection
« Reply #5 on: December 24, 2018, 02:18:33 PM »
Thanks for sharing!

alwion

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Re: Great Add To My Collection
« Reply #6 on: December 24, 2018, 03:53:02 PM »
neat

Lt12pdr

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Re: Great Add To My Collection
« Reply #7 on: December 24, 2018, 05:23:22 PM »
Nice !

CarlS

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Re: Great Add To My Collection
« Reply #8 on: December 24, 2018, 07:43:48 PM »
Steve: Good catch. Sorry about that.  I used to have Procter and Gamble for an account and am very used to saying and typing P&G even after a bunch of years.  So P&G = D&G.
Best,
Carl

rommack

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Re: Great Add To My Collection
« Reply #9 on: December 25, 2018, 08:12:15 AM »
Wow !  What a great shell Carl, Congrats

CarlS

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Re: Great Add To My Collection
« Reply #10 on: December 25, 2018, 09:38:55 PM »
Has anyone ever seen a sabot like this made of copper with pre-stamped rifling?  Ive only seen this done with iron.  Brooke did have a plate sabot that was pre-engraved and bolted to the bottom.  But this is a ring sabot the shell is cast around. 
Best,
Carl

Woodenhead

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Re: Great Add To My Collection
« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2019, 11:47:39 AM »
Carl, thanks for posting that excellent Read-Parrott bolt. It helps fill in some blanks I had with regards to the CS use of copper sabots on their Parrott projectiles. A few years ago, Pete G. and I practically came to blows over his labeling all CS Parrott projectiles as "Read-Parrotts." But Carl, this shell of yours deserves that label more than any other of the hundreds I have examined and photographed. I believe its mold pattern and sabot die were actually designed and possibly produced for a Deep South foundry (I suspect Skates of Mobile - see the documents below) by Dr. Read himself during 1862. At that time, the Alabama and Mississippi foundries were making many rifled bolts to accompany their shells (see below). It has Read's distinctive raised base knob - an essential part of his original 1856 patent and its function was clearly described. It forced the initial propellant charge into the high band sabot causing lateral pressure to ensure it took the rifling grooves. You will find the same "Read knob" in the bottoms of the many bourelled Reads of various calibers (including his 24 pdr. and 32 pounder rifled projectiles) made early in the war in accordance with his patterns. In Virginia, we find it associated with the numerous 3 inch Read bolts fired at Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. These had been sent north with other fuses and projectiles at the urgent request of the Richmond  Arsenal.

Carl, are you absolutely sure it was made for a 2.9 inch Parrott and not a 3 inch. As far as I can tell, there were no 2.9 inch guns in the Deep South until late 1862. However, you will see in the Skates invoice below they were making 2.9 inch Parrott shells and bolts during the winter of 1862-63. So, it might date from that period. We know for certain that Dr. Read set up the Skates production line with his patterns. Read was a civilian ordnance agent operating out of Mobile. Despite a February 1862 directive from Richmond to produce only Mullanes in all calibers, Skates continued to make the excellent Reads with the copper cup. Also, documented below is the fact that Skates produced around five Parrott Rifles for the state of Alabama. That would explain the recovery of your projectile around Montgomery.

Look at the first document below written by Dr. Read in Jan. 1862. He mentioned having been asked to supply ammunition for the "iron Parrott guns." In the Deep South, Dr. Read was the projectile expert. Sadly, his excellent work was disregarded by the authorities in Richmond. During 1861, all Read projectiles (heavy and field) were supposed to have wrought iron sabots. At the end of the year, Dr. Read announced a switch to all copper sabots. The iron wore out the bores too quickly and did not take the rifling as well. Therefore, beginning in early 1862, a genuine "Read-Parrott" should have had a copper sabot, a fact that was understood in Alabama but ignored by Richmond. Even the Yankee, Robert Parrott, who called his Parrott ammunition "Read shells," switched to a copper ring sabot before long. This explains the large scale use of copper sabots by some of the Deep South foundries.

I now have a better grasp of a confusing mix of copper-saboted Read-Parrotts dug in Virginia. Many different styles have come from the Gettysburg and Cold Harbor battlefields. Some sabots were cast, others die-struck. The iron shell bodies varied too much to be from a single arsenal or foundry. Still, I thought they all came from Augusta which received special permission from Richmond in March 1863 (letter posted previously) to use copper sabots of their own design and ridged interiors (not in their Parrotts) on all rifled field projectiles and the shipment of their ammo to VA is recorded. Now I realize that many copper-saboted Read- Parrott were received in 1863 and 1864 from CS foundries in Alabama and maybe Mississippi along with the well known sphericals with letter "G" stamped and the beautiful 3 inch Read bolts.

Take a look at the page from Lee's Thunderbolts, below, showing a Read-Parrott dug at Winchester, but probably made in Alabama, using Dr. Read's actual sabot-stamping dies. Note the low convex top and two holes for molten iron to pass thru and secure the sabot. Two holes were recommended by Dr. Read or "notches" in the edge of the central opening of the copper cup. (See the first letter below) When you have 3 holes, it was produced by the Augusta Arsenal during 1863-64 when it tried to recreate Read's initial patterns to improve the performance of the CS field ammo. Like Dr. Read's early-war designs, Richmond ignored the cutting-edge research and production occurring at Augusta under Cols. Raines and Girardey. But it provides us with evidence that can help identify the makers and production time period of many excavated examples of there fascinating rusted iron objects.

So Carl, to sum up all of this rattle trap, you have an actual Read-Parrott bolt likely made in Alabama by Skates for the state of Alabama. If it is 2.9 inch, then it was made around late 1862 or early 1863 when the first 2.9 inch guns arrived from Virginia. If 3 inch, it was made during 1862 in accordance with patterns supplied by Dr. Read in person.

Woodenhead

Steve Phillips

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Re: Great Add To My Collection
« Reply #12 on: January 12, 2019, 02:44:50 PM »
Woodenhead, I wish you would come visit me for a couple days. I'm not a good researcher like you are and I would like to spend some time with you and have you look at the Selma stuff that I have. You have a standing invitation.

CarlS

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Re: Great Add To My Collection
« Reply #13 on: January 14, 2019, 06:47:51 AM »
Woodenhead:   Sorry for delay in replying.  The days just arent as long as they used to be and I cant seem to find the time to do everything too often.  >:(  Thanks for the great reply and super information. I will certainly keep this with my projectile.  I have some more info to add to this when I get a chance hopefully tonight.  If you get a chance the visit to Steves is an amazing experience. If you can make the Marietta Show this year you wont be far away. 
Best,
Carl

Woodenhead

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Re: Great Add To My Collection
« Reply #14 on: January 16, 2019, 02:51:07 PM »
Steve - I have the fondest memories of my last visit to your great collection accompanied by the late great Chuck Jones. Who else in the world has found a CS shotgun bayonet? I hope by this year's Marietta Show I can handle the long trip down south. It is slow going right now.

I've included four invoices from Churchill & Co. from your neighborhood because they were using Read's copper cups with their Parrott ammunition and big Reads. I could not understand why this was going on in early 1864 when the South had lost its primary source of copper in southeast Tennessee. Why not employ wrought iron which was plentiful in the vicinity? It was clearly intentional. After seeing Carl's fine Read-Parrott bolt, I understand that using copper on their Parrott ammo was regulation in Alabama ever since Dr. Read set up the first production lines in the state. In Richmond, the foundries stuck to iron sabots because they were essentially copying the work of Robert Parrott in New York. So, despite notification from Dr. Read that he had abandoned iron in favor of copper/brass at the start of 1862, VA almost entirely stayed with wrought iron thru 1865. They ignored Read while ordnance authorities in Read's home state listened to him. That helps explains why there was very little production of the terrible Mullane (but beautiful, of course) shells despite orders from the Richmond Arsenal for all Southern arsenals to adopt the copper disc. Deep South foundries choose to make Read shot and shell instead. So, when Churchill & Co. asked around for the correct patterns for their Parrotts in early 1863, they were instructed to employ Read's copper cup. That was the regulation sabot.

Below are four instructive invoices showing Churchill's production. There are many more. In 1862, the firm operated around Columbus, Miss., supplying the Briarfield Arsenal. In early 1863, they moved to Columbiana, AL, and sent their shells to Selma to be finished and distributed. I believe that many of their copper-saboted Read-Parrotts found their was to Virginia. I believe many of the Port Gibson 20 and 30 pounder Parrotts were made by them. Note on the 3rd invoice below, they charged for lacquering their shells. Note on the last invoice they are charging different prices for brass and copper sabots. I recall years ago Pete George identified some of those dug in VA as having brass sabots instead of the usual copper.

Woodenhead