Because the South had balls

And they weren’t shy about using them, either:

The three lethal Civil War-era cannons pulled from the Confederate gunboat CSS Pee Dee were loaded for action when they were recovered.

That was maybe the biggest surprise for the conservators who confirmed the ship was ready to fight when it was scuttled in 1865 in the Pee Dee River near Florence as Union troops closed in.

The cannons, recovered in 2015, were restored and preserved in a four-year effort by the Warren Lasch Conservation Center in North Charleston. They will be placed on exhibit outside the Veterans Affairs building in Florence at a date yet to be announced.

“Wait a minute. Why haven’t I heard about this mighty vessel?”

The ship might have been one of the South’s greatest weapons had it ever seen action. But it was finished in the desperate days of the Confederacy as the war drew to a close. While the Pee Dee likely never saw action, its guns had been powdered and primed. Conservators knew this because when they turned the key on a brass fuse it fizzed like a soda.

A 9-pound ball was loaded into the single Dahlgren cannon. The two Brooke cannons were loaded with forged grapeshot the size of billiard balls instead of the large, bullet-like shells they had been rifled to fire.

The neat, or un-neat, thing about grapeshot is that individual projectiles spread out after firing.

The Pee Dee was about 150 feet long and carried a crew of 90, plus that Dahlgren cannon, which bore “U. S. Navy” indicia, indicating it had been taken from a Union vessel.

1 comment

  1. McGehee »

    31 May 2019 · 8:40 am

    A cannon firing grapeshot is a shotgun writ really really big.

    I once put loose dichondra seeds — tiny and spherical — down an air rifle’s muzzle and shot them at an unwary housefly on a stray piece of scrap wood.

    The wood was abraded and the smear that was left was mostly green from the seeds, but partly not. From the fly. So, the effect definitely scales.

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