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Author Topic: Lathed Atlanta Reads  (Read 710 times)

CarlS

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Lathed Atlanta Reads
« on: October 11, 2020, 10:03:01 PM »
I (and some others) got an email from Nick P. about an Atlanta Read he had that he thought we might be interested in.  It turns out I had an even nicer one already but it did make me look at them a little closer.  It was a 2.9" smooth Read with the copper sabot that has been lathed down.  This was presumable a 2nd version of the earlier ones that had that thick brittle copper sabot that typically shattered on being fired.   Below are the two example I have that show the new thinner lathed copper sabot but also show the lower portion of the shell lathed.  The lathing is only about 1/32" deep so can't imagine what its function might be.  Anyone know any information on this lathing or have any good guesses?  The first with the white writing is like the one Nick had.  The 2nd is similar but is a side loader, has the copper fuse and has a rifling stamped wrought iron sabot.  Ok, not that similar but both have the shallow lathing.   ;D  Both have lathe dimples of course.

Side note that might be of interest, my side loader has rust because it is only coated with wax.  It was cleaned and coated with nothing but Bri-Wax long ago.  I had loaned it to a museum and the heat was turned off at night.  Then in the AM the heat was turned back on.  The room warmed up faster than the shell and so it sweated.  >:(  My shells there that had polyurethane had no issues.  Most of the waxed ones did.  Only a little effort to clean it up but haven't found the time.
Best,
Carl

Woodenhead

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Re: Lathed Atlanta Reads
« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2020, 12:16:51 AM »
Carl, I don't believe there was any relation between those two Read Parrott shells. The one with the wood fuze plug - where was it dug. Atlanta Campaign? The switch to wooden plugs in the Deep South occurred later than in Virginia (April 1864). What makes that an Atlanta shell. Why not Augusta, Macon or any of the other nearby arsenals that were supplying lots of Read-Parrotts to the Army of Tennessee at that time? Its shallow band of lathing looks like a finishers mistake. Served no purpose.

The other Read-Parrott with the wrought iron sabot is one of the less common styles found in Virginia. It dates from a different time - late 1862. The gap at the bottom was not a finisher's mistake but part of a new sleeved pattern introduced by the Richmond Arsenal during the summer of 1862. I have pages made up of identical shells and I believe I know who made them. I'll post them following your reply.

If it is not too much trouble, Carl, would you mind posting a photo of side-by-side base views so I can compare with other shells I have photographed.

Woodenhead

CarlS

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Re: Lathed Atlanta Reads
« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2020, 06:38:29 AM »
Woodenhead,

I agree that it looks like a finishers mistake.  I even mentioned that to RelicRunner.  But the 1993 Dickey and George book shows this type shell on page 250 and it has that same lathed area.  That's what made me say that perhaps it is purposeful as well as the fact that I had two examples in my own collection.  I don't have a recovery location for that shell.  It is an Atlanta Read only in name as on page 250 it calls it an "Atlanta Works" Long Read due to the unfinished examples found when grading in Atlanta. 

I'll get more pictures this evening after work.
Best,
Carl

emike123

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Re: Lathed Atlanta Reads
« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2020, 01:40:03 PM »
I have heard several theories over the years as to why this area of lathin was done to the bottom of Read shells.  One idea that stuck with me was that this line served to arrest the base chipping that was a problem for Reads.  With this, they would only crack to the top of the lathed area. 

Not sure if that idea holds up to the scrutiny of others here on the forum, but I thought I'd throw it out in response to Carl's question in the first post in the thread.

CarlS

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Re: Lathed Atlanta Reads
« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2020, 09:50:13 PM »
Here are the pics of the bases and noses for good measure.  Both have thin flat bottoms with a lathe dimple.  The side loader must have had some of the sprue sticking up in the center as you can see where it was ground flat to accept the lathe dimple.  The stamped wrought iron sabot on the side loader sure looks like the one on a Read-Parrott.

I personally don't see how the lathed area would help any with chipping in this case given how shallow it is on both shells.  It is hard to tell from the pics but it is very shallow.  You can see it much better than you can feel it.
Best,
Carl

Woodenhead

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Re: Lathed Atlanta Reads
« Reply #5 on: October 14, 2020, 02:47:55 AM »
It appears your two Read-Parrotts were made about two years apart. I'm only just now learning about your wood fuzed Atlanta Read-Parrott, but I have been studying that side-loader pattern for some time. It is not a common Virginia pattern. They are primarily found around Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville and the Rappahannock River Fords. I believe it was a style made by Tredegar primarily during the second half of 1862. A new official design had been prescribed by the Richmond Arsenal during the summer of 1862 (see the last page below) and Samson & Pae made an exact copy of that improved design which replaced the smooth-sided Read-Parrott. S&P had the most skilled workforce of any of the Richmond foundries. Many trained Europeans. When Cmdr. Brooke wanted a difficult new pattern made like the mill-based bolt, he turned to Samson & Pae. The first three shells below were Tredegar's version of this new "sleeved" pattern. It has the same indented base but they didn't bother to reduce the nose as S & P did. The first of this style were probably made in August 1862. That corresponds with Tredegar's production of its last 3 inch Rifle shells - the flush-bolt Mullanes with copper fuze plugs. Tredegar would soon halt production of 10 pounder Read-Parrotts which helps explain their rarity. The day before Pete George dug seven of the rarest side-loaders including several of this pattern at Bank's Ford, I dug one with a recessed bottom and a wood fuze plug which shows the switch to this new design predated the use of copper fuze plugs during the summer of 1862. Note that one of the side-loaders below has the flange of its fuze set into the shell body. That reinforces the dating of this pattern because it is obvious that practice to seat the McEvoy fuze igniter lasted only a couple of weeks during late 1862. We know this from the similarly fuzed Reads.

I could be wrong with my attribution but I'm fairly certain Tredegar was responsible for the first three shell seen below. Why?

1) No lathe key. [dog, knob, or whatever] On all the shells, big and small, that I have reason to believe Tredegar made, I have never seen a lathe key on the ogive. No key slots in their cone-shaped mandrells. This includes about 20,000 3 inch Archers, 4,000 3.35 Archers for the rifled 4 pounders, 13,000 Mullanes and the Bormann-fuzed 10 pounders from early war sites.
2) The quality of the wrought iron sabots is very good. Tredegar had the best rolling mill in the South. The competing foundries usually had to hammer their iron into shape. Tredegar did not share.
3) It is obvious that these first three shells have swedged sabots. It would make sense for Tredegar to be the first to employ that superior method. Look at the final S & P shell below for an example of the hammered and hand-punched sabot. Sometime in early 1863, the other foundries adopted the swedging technique. This is backed up by documents and excavated examples. By that time, Tredegar had completely stopped the production of 10 pounders and they made no more for the Army for the remainder of the war.

I will have more to say about your other Read-Parrott.

Woodenhead

Woodenhead

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Re: Lathed Atlanta Reads
« Reply #6 on: October 15, 2020, 02:35:36 AM »
About that "Atlanta Works" Read-Parrott, I question whether any of the foundries associated with the Atlanta Arsenal was making any Read-Parrotts. If a pile of Reads happened to be bulldozed up near Gettysburg, would they then be known as "Gettysburg Reads"? There is so much research available now that was not so easy to find when Tom and Pete put the big red book together. I haven't found any evidence that Atlanta was making 10 pounders. Has anyone else? Because I do have documentation of Augusta sending more than 1,000 with copper sabots - and while the city was besieged, Macon was sending 100 or more per day (copper sabots) - and Columbus sent a limited number. Prior to the start of the Atlanta Campaign, the Salisbury Arsenal in NC was tasked with supplying all the field artillery projectiles needed by Polk's Corps, i.e., iron sabots on 10 & 20 pounder Parrotts just like those dug around Petersburg. I strongly suspect your 10 pounder, pictured above, was among the thousands sent from Macon, and the lathing flaws were due to their great hurry to rush them to the front. Remember that 10 pounder with the miscast nose? I think it came from the same source. Production values were very low.
 The use of a wooden fuze plug likely dates its production from the summer of 1864. The sabot is an important clue. It is the style Augusta adopted in early 1864 similar to their new high-band Read sabots. Macon copied Augusta's sabot design. This is important to me because both Augusta and Macon sent many hundreds of 10 pounders to Virginia during early 1864. I'm trying to figure out who made what.
The two shells I show below are examples I photographed of items dug in the Western Theater or Deep South with recessed areas on the bearing surfaces. I am almost positive the first was a lubrication groove while the second was the sleeved pattern adopted during the summer of 1862.
Woodenhead

CarlS

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Re: Lathed Atlanta Reads
« Reply #7 on: October 16, 2020, 01:41:13 AM »
Here is another one I have.  Unfortunately I don't have any provenance on it.  Condition is superb as you can see.   It has a nearly flat base knob within the copper ring sabot and is fitted with the CS copper time fuse.  The fuse has a slight gap under it indicating it might have had a leather washer.  Just above the sabot is a very short recessed area where it was lathed down presumably as part of the sabot lathing.  Also note the mark where a short lathe lug was removed. 
Best,
Carl

Woodenhead

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Re: Lathed Atlanta Reads
« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2020, 04:37:34 AM »
Carl - the last 10 pounder you posted has a wrought iron sabot, right? Do you know where it came from?

Below are three projectiles dug in Virginia like the "Atlanta Works" shell you posted at the start of this thread. Again, is there any evidence that Atlanta was making any 10 pounders? I believe the nice example you show was an Augusta Arsenal 10 pounder. After Augusta sent a quantity to Virginia in early 1864, they limited themselves to supplying the Army of Tennessee for the Atlanta Campaign. Invoices and other records suggest they sent a couple of thousand. Augusta was the only arsenal I'm aware of in the Deep South that was allowed to experiment with their field ammunition. The wood fuze plug in your "Atlanta Works" Parrott would match the late spring or summer of 1864 date when the copper plugs were abandoned in Georgia. Note the base knobs are nearly identical on yours and the three I show below.
 
Woodenhead

CarlS

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Re: Lathed Atlanta Reads
« Reply #9 on: October 20, 2020, 12:18:50 AM »
Woodenhead,

Sorry for delay in replying.  I've been busy getting ready for the show along with cleaning and flushing some shells to deliver to Gettysburg.  Really great info.  Thanks for taking the time to share.

Yes, it does have an iron sabot.  I confirmed it with a magnet.  I have no provenance on it.

I guess I'm going to ask a dumb or embarrassing question:  Did they actually cast any shells at the Atlanta Works?  Or did they serve as a central arsenal to collect shells made at Augusta, Macon, etc. and send them to the armies in the field?  As I live in the area I know I should know that answer but I don't.
« Last Edit: October 20, 2020, 12:27:33 AM by CarlS »
Best,
Carl

Selma Hunter

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Re: Lathed Atlanta Reads
« Reply #10 on: October 20, 2020, 12:30:45 PM »
Carl et al,

As most of you know I am no expert on projectiles but your question, Carl, prompts me to respond as follows.  As best I can tell from my personal experience researching the subject most projectiles were manufactured wholly or in part by contractors.  Civilian companies contracted to manufacture various products for the government.  The pattern is repeated throughout the Trans-Chattahoochee & for the purposes of this posting I am including Atlanta in this group.  Take a look at the Gullatt invoice in this image.   Further in this regard I am looking at a letter dated February 6, 1862 from John Reed to the Prescott & Cummings firm in Columbus, Mississippi ordering 1,000 32lbr Reed shot & 1,500 shells made to Reed's specifications incorporating the famed copper/brass cup sabot.  Further exposing my lack of knowledge on the topic I am convinced that the vast majority of CS ordnance was produced by private contractors.  Tredegar, technically, was a "contractor" although the lines between Anderson & the government were heavily blurred as compared to others.  Charlotte made large projectiles and carriages, etc. and as I recall the Atlanta works also made carriages. 

I leave it to you experts to sort out my errors and omissions!

Travel Safe all.


Woodenhead

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Re: Lathed Atlanta Reads
« Reply #11 on: October 20, 2020, 03:00:36 PM »
Carl - about that 10 pounder you posted. It has a few noteworthy features that suggest when and by whom it was made. The first thing that attracted my attention was it short thick wrought iron sabot. This was the exact sabot introduced by Broun in early 1864 when he tried to upgrade the traditional smooth-sided design of the 10 pounders with the "Tredegar Read" (Tredegar did not make any at this time) with large and small bourreletts. It was not pre-rifled or swedged and Pete George agrees, it was the worst wartime sabot developed by the CS Ordnance authorities. They quickly returned to the smooth-sided pattern with some foundries continuing to employ that terrible sabot. This would be around April/May 1864. That's what you have. A similar Read-Parrott is the first item pictured below. Your shell is further identified and dated by its use of a copper fuze plug. It puts your shell production into a fairly narrow period of April/May because by May 1864 the rifled field artillery projectiles in VA had switched to wooden plugs. Maybe Samson & Pae, one of the only foundries that made their on fuzes, kept up the practice a little longer? Also the spanner holes in the flange appear to go all the was thru. Only S & P made these fuze plugs. Maybe not all, but there are many documented examples. Also, there's the deep-cut lathing typical of S & P products although this is not 100% depending upon ground action. Your shell is in very good condition.

So, you have a Samson & Pae 10 pounder made during April or May 1864. Probably was dug at Cold Harbor or shortly before. 

Woodenhead

CarlS

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Re: Lathed Atlanta Reads
« Reply #12 on: October 21, 2020, 12:20:55 AM »
Woodenhead:  You underestimate your knowledge.  I tip my hat to people like yourself who have a knack for finding all these details and tying them together to tell the history.  For that I thank you.  What you have contributed in the areas of artillery, buckles, canteens, etc. is nothing  short of amazing.

So that makes perfect sense regarding the manufacturing.  It would also explain why there are so many variances in Reads, archers, etc.  They just don't look like they were made by the same place.

Excellent info on my Read.  I don't recall seeing another with that nose profile though I'm sure I have at some point.  However, the fuse spanner holes do not go through the fuse.  They are deep but not through.  I searched for markings but no luck.  The lathing is quite crisp on it which I really like.

Many thanks.
Best,
Carl