|“Dictator” --the traveling mortar in front of Petersburg, 1864 This is the 13-inch mortar, a 200-pound exploding shell from which threw a Confederate field-piece and its carriage above its parapet, at a range of nearly two miles. The 17,000 pounds of this mortar made it difficult to move, so it was mounted on an ordinary railroad-car strengthened by additional beams, and plated on top with iron. This engine of destruction was run down on the Petersburg & City Point Railroad to a point near the Union lines, where a curve in the track made it easy to change the direction of the fire. The recoil from a charge of fourteen pounds of powder shifted the mortar less than two feet on the car, which moved a dozen feet on the track. Even the full charge of twenty pounds of powder could be used without damage to the axles of the car. This mortar, whose shell would crush and explode any ordinary field-magazine, terrorized the Confederate gunners, and succeeded in silencing their enfilading batteries on Chesterfield Heights. The activities of this great war machine were directed by Colonel H. L. Abbot, of the First Connecticut Heavy Artillery. Other photographs of it, with officers and men, are shown on pages 186 and 187, Volume III.|
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