Our current $500 preservation pledge is for ongoing maintenance for the cannons at Charleston
Members of the ACWRTUK can propose projects for preservation both in the US and the UK. Peter Barratt recently visited Charleston and during his time there he met up with Rick Hatcher, an old friend of the RT. In discussion with Rick, Peter discover the Adopt-A-Cannon project that is currently raising funds.
Fort Sumter National Monument has the best collection of Civil War era siege and garrison guns in the National Park Service.The guns are displayed at Fort Sumter and also at Fort Moultrie, a unit of Fort Sumter National Monument. There are 34 guns in all. Thirty-two cannon ranging size from 24 pounders to 15-inch Rodman Pattern Columbiads, and two are seacoast mortars, a 10-inch and a 13-inch.
Included among them are seven very rare Confederate guns. Three were made by the Confederacy - a 7-inch triple banned Brooke Rifle, and two 10-inch Confederate Columbiads. Four smoothbores were later rifled and banded - two 10-inch Columbiads, an 8-inch Columbiad, and a 42-pdounder. Of note is the 7-inch Brooke Rifle, only three were made and the only known survivor is on display at Fort Moultrie.
Among the Union guns are a rare 10-inch (300-pounder) Parrott and eleven 6.4-inch (100-pounder) Parrotts. The 6.4 inch Parrotts and iron carriages are still in the casemates at Fort Sumter, where they were placed in 1873. This is the largest collection of this model Parrott still mounted in position for almost 145 years.
All of the 34 cast iron guns have been exposed to windblown sand, rain, and intense humidity, major storms including hurricanes, as well as heat and cold. Some of the barrels have been exposed to the elements for almost 60 years and others over 150 years. Their only protection against this harsh outdoor marine environment has been a protective coat of black paint, it is believed that some have up to 12 coats.
A few years ago Fort Sumter National Monument obtained funds from the National Park Service for cleaning and conserving these rare and historic pieces of artillery. Fort Sumter contracted with Clemson University Restoration Institute to implement the project. The Institute is also responsible for the conservation of the H. L. Hunley submarine and has conserved other historic iron artifacts including two British 32-pounders from the CSS Alabama.
The process used was developed by WLCC. Using a high pressure washer, water is heated to176.6 Celsius (350° Fahrenheit) and is sprayed on the gun at 3,000 PSI. This removes the layers of paint and corrosion. It also, desalinates the iron, removing salts that had penetrated the metal over the decades of exposure in the harsh marine environment. Then a protective coating of epoxy and polyurethane was applied. In several cases markings have been revealed providing date of manufacture, barrel weight, and other historical data that was previously unknown.
However, the funding provided by the National Park Service, an agency of the US Department of the Interior, is inadequate to complete the project. The Fort Sumter - Fort Moultrie Historical Trust, an organization composed of private citizens, to support the two historic forts, created Adopt-A-Cannon Program to help complete conservation of these rare and historic guns.
The first phase of the conservation project has been completed through the help of fund raising efforts of the Trust. Some funding has been provided for the second phase of the project, but once again it falls short of the amount needed. The work will begin in 2016 and concentrates on the eleven 6.4 Parrotts and carriages at Fort Sumter.
The Trust is currently raising funds so this phase to complete the conservation of these rare historic pieces of artillery that help tell the story of one of the defining times in American History – the Civil War.
Peter has asked that the ACWRTUK contribute $500, the maximum that we allow for individual projects towards the project. The Committee will consider this and report back to the next meeting. Any member who wishes to object may submit it via email to the Secretary.