Friday, June 3, 2016

Howitzer that produced carnage, endured vandalism now at Georgia's Pickett's Mill

(Georgia State Parks)

An artillery piece is back at the Georgia battlefield where it is believed to have been used in a deadly barrage on attacking Federal troops.

A 12-pound howitzer that was part of Confederate Capt. Thomas Key’s battery is on display in the visitor center at Pickett’s Mill Battlefield Historic Site. The park northwest of Atlanta this weekend is commemorating the 152nd anniversary of the Atlanta Campaign battle.

The bronze gun -- on loan from the Atlanta History Center  -- has a postwar history about as interesting as its service during the Civil War.

The 780-pound barrel was sent after the war to the site of Fort Walker in Atlanta’s Grant Park. The park was home to the Cyclorama, the huge mural that is being moved to the Atlanta History Center in the Buckhead neighborhood.

(Wikipedia Commons, public domain)

The howitzer, which was spiked and vandalized over the years (hacksaw marks, broken cascabel, large dents), has been restored by the history center and sits on a reproduction carriage. It was cast in Boston by Cyrus Alger & Co. in 1851 for the Arkansas Military Institute. The number 9 is stamped on its muzzle face and the cannon is marked with an eagle and globe.

According to a 2010 article in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Alger cannon No. 9 was stolen decades ago, presumably from Grant Park, and turned up in Spalding County, Ga.

Capt. Thomas Key
Capt. Key and his Arkansas four-gun battery played a large part in the Confederate victory at Pickett’s Mill on May 27, 1864. Maj. Gen. Patrick Cleburne ordered Key to place two guns to the right oblique to enfilade a ravine.

Federal troops under Brig. Gen. William Hazen charged uphill in their futile attempt to take the top of a ridge. Key’s howitzers were ready for them.

“They shot solid shot and canister. And that was 48 balls per (canister) round,” said Stephen Briggs, interim director at Pickett’s Mill. The battery fired 182 rounds of spherical case and canister in two hours, he said.

The Federal army suffered 1,600 casualties at the battle, compared to 500 for the South.

For this weekend, the park will have a 3-inch ordnance rifle on the white trail. The park has a reproduction of the 12-pound howitzer and will set it in the approximate location of where Key’s battery wreaked havoc. Briggs hopes an individual may bring a second howitzer reproduction piece.

There will be artillery demonstrations, tours of the well-preserved battle area and living historians to interpret what happened.

Stephen Briggs with the howitzer during its move

The programming schedule includes:

Friday, June 3, 2 p.m.: Historian and author Michael Schaffer discusses the Atlanta Campaign

Saturday, June 4, 10 a.m.: Michael Schaffer discusses the Civil War in Georgia.  He will lead tours in the afternoon.

Saturday, 11 a.m.: Historian and author Stephen Davis lectures on “taking another look at John Bell Hood: What we've learned since the centennial”

Saturday, 1 p.m.: Brad Butkovich, historian and author of "The Battle of Pickett's Mill: Along the Dead Line," will discuss his book and lead a tour following the lecture.

Sunday, June 5, 11 a.m.: Historian and author Gould B. Hagler will show and discuss photos of Confederate monuments, focusing on their purpose and significant physical characteristics.

Admission is $3 for children and $5.50 for adults. Pickett’s Mill Battlefield is located at 4432 Mount Tabor Church Road in Paulding County. For more information, visit this website or call 770-443-7850.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting short history lesson there. I always think the Howitzers are not discussed much compared to the Napoleons, Parrots, etc...