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[94] upon it, yet tasked as it was to produce artillery of all calibres; especially field-artillery, we could but slowly answer the appeals made with equal vehemence from Pensacola, Yorktown, Charleston and New Orleans.

About the close of 1863, Major Huse sent in two Blakely rifles of about thirteen-inch calibre, splendid looking, superbly mounted, and of fearful cost! 10,000 for the two in England, with fifty rounds each. Charleston claimed them on their arrival at Wilmington, and I was glad to strengthen General Beauregard's hands. Unfortunately one of them cracked in some trial firing, with comparatively weak charges. The full charge which was never reached, was fifty pounds of powder, and a solid rifle-shell, of say 450 pounds. These guns were built up of a wrought iron cylinder, closed at the breach with a brass-screw plug, some thirty-inch long and chambered to seven inches. This cylinder had three successive jackets, each shorter than its predecessor, so that from muzzle to breech the thickness of the gun increased by steps of about three and a-half inches. The object of the seven-inch chamber in the brass plug was to afford an air or gas space which would diminish the strain on the gun. Such was the theory. General Ripley, however, cut down the big cartridge bags of ten or eleven inch in diameter, so as to introduce the charge into the brass chamber. This not being over three inches thick, cracked, and the crack, I believe, extended into the cylinder. On a report of the facts direct from Charleston to Captain Blakeley, he attributed the bursting to the high elevation given, though the highest, I think had been only about 150; an impotent conclusion for a scientific artillerist to reach. The fact of the introduction of the charge into the air space may have been omitted in the narrative to him, and thus he may have been drawn into this helpless conclusion. I never saw the drawings of the gun until after the report of the accident. Captain Brooke, Chief of Ordnance of the Navy, with me then looked over the drawings and evolved the design of the air-chamber. After this the gun was fired, and with moderate elevations attained fair, but not remarkable ranges, as I was advised. The cracked gun was skillfully repaired at Charleston, and restored to a reliable condition.

Just before the war closed the Tredegar Works had cast its first twelve-inch gun, after the method of Rodman—cast on a hollow core with water kept flowing in and out of it to cool the castings from the inside. This method of cooling has been found to give a marked increase of strength, and greater hardness and consequent smoothness to the finished bore.

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