|Colonel Michael Corcoran in a Washington Fort: and his officers of the 69th New York, in Fort Corcoran, 1861 Erect on the parapet is the tall, soldierly figure of Colonel Michael Corcoran of the Sixty-ninth New York, who was subsequently captured and chosen by lot to meet the same fate as Walter W. Smith, prizemaster of the Southern schooner Enchantress, taken prisoner, July 22, 1861, and tried for piracy. Neither was executed. The men pictured in their shirt-sleeves, and the heavy shadows cast by the glaring sun, indicate that the time is summer. The soldier with the empty sleeve has evidently suffered a minor injury, and is carrying his arm inside his coat. Several of the officers peer over the parapet, watching for the approach of danger. The first forts located in the defenses south of the Potomac were Fort Runyon, at the land end of the approach of Long Bridge, and Fort Corcoran, covering the approach to the aqueduct. On the night of May 23, 1861, three columns of Federal soldiers crossed the Potomac, one by the aqueduct, one by Long Bridge, and one by water to Alexandria. The smooth-bore guns in the armament of Fort Corcoran were two 8-inch howitzers en barbette. The rifled guns consisted of three 3-inch Parrotts en embrasure. The term “en barbette” refers to the placing of a gun so that the muzzle projected over a wall. “En embrasure” indicates a cannon in an opening in the fortification with no protection in front of it. The gun around which the officers above are grouped is an 8-inch sea-coast howitzer. These guns were of iron, and were used principally to flank the ditches of permanent works. They fired especially grapeshot for this purpose. The howitzer is a cannon employed to throw large projectiles with comparatively small charges of powder. It is shorter and lighter than most guns of the same caliber. The chief advantage was in the fact that it could produce at short ranges a greater effect, due to its ability to throw hollow projectiles with bursting charges and case shot. The weight of this gun was about 3,000 pounds, and the usual charge was about four pounds of powder. It is mounted on a wooden carriage. Before it lies a pile of grape-shot.|
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.