Bullet and Shell Civil War Projectiles Forum

Relic Discussion => Artillery => Topic started by: CarlS on June 18, 2021, 11:56:06 PM

Title: Unfinished Reads
Post by: CarlS on June 18, 2021, 11:56:06 PM
I added something to my collection I thought I'd share with everyone.   I've had an unfinished Read shell in my collection for a number of years having bought it from one of our forum members.  It is like the example shown on page 263 of the 1993 D&G artillery book. On it you can see the sprues on the shell's bourrelet and sabot from the casting.  They are still there since the shell was never put on a lathe to be cleaned up and cut down to size.  They are really neat and tell a good story as these were undoubtedly cast at a foundry somewhere and sent to Atlanta to be 'finished' so they could become an instrument of war.  I'm sure many of you have seen these around as a big handful was found in the 'well' in Atlanta in about 1988 if I recall correctly.

But what is new and I wanted to share is that I encountered a similar projectile that I bought.  It is not a shell but a bolt.  I had never seen or heard of an unfinished bolt before.  What makes it extra cool is that it is from the Alabama River at Selma where it was undoubtedly intended to be finished before the tides of war forced it to be thrown in the river.  You might recognize this bolt as having the same look as the large handful of Read bolts commonly referred to as Snyder's Bluff bolts since so many come from there though they are also found at other sites on occasion.  This round also has the sprues on the sabot (as you can see) and the bourrelet.

Since they are unfinished both have very thick sabots and very prominent bourrelets.  When finished the bourrelets would have much less relief above the shell surface.  The sabot would be a good bit thinner being lathed on the inside and outside so it could take the rifling. 
Title: Re: Unfinished Reads
Post by: redbob on June 22, 2021, 01:34:51 PM
Here's two what I assume to be unfinished Reads, the one on the left is a "Wishing Well" shell and the one on the right is supposedly an unfinished bolt blank reportedly recovered from the ruins of the Tredegar Iron Works after the war.
Title: Re: Unfinished Reads
Post by: CarlS on June 23, 2021, 10:56:37 AM
Thanks for sharing!  The one on the right looks like the group of shells found in Atlanta group.  Was it the Atlanta "Wishing Well"?  Is the one on the left a solid shot?  I've never seen an unfinished smooth Read before.  What does the base look like?
Title: Re: Unfinished Reads
Post by: redbob on June 23, 2021, 12:35:28 PM
Yes, the shell is one of the Atlanta "Wishing Well" rounds and the blank is for a bolt. The base is dished with a dimple in the middle (note, it looks much larger than it should since it is much closer to the camera than the other round-my bad). I asked a machine shop worker if the blank could be turned down to match the 3" Selma Bolt that I was comparing it to and he said yes and that the waste materials would have just been recycled.
Title: Re: Unfinished Reads
Post by: CarlS on June 23, 2021, 03:52:52 PM
Thanks for the pics.  I have always liked that finished pointed nose bolt.   

Here are the measurements of those two unfinished shells I have.  They would be turned down to about 2.95" to fit the 3-inch Ordnance rifle they were made for.  So the bolt will have nearly a quarter of an inch removed from the bourrelets and sabot while the shell about 1/8".  That helps explain the design using bourrelets as it greatly reduced the amount of lathe work to size the projectiles.
Title: Re: Unfinished Reads
Post by: CarlS on July 14, 2021, 11:22:57 PM
RelicRunner loaned me his example of the  smooth sided Read also found in an unfinished state in the Atlanta dumping.  It is shown here next to the bourreleted example.  The shell  body measures 2.89" while the sabot is about 3.04" in diameter on average.  So the body is right at bore size (2.9") while the sabot needs a good bit removed to get to the right size.  Note there is no lathe lug.
Title: Re: Unfinished Reads
Post by: relicrunner on July 20, 2021, 08:20:02 AM
also appears to me that the fuze hole needs to be finished....could be finished for for wood adapter or threaded copper adapter
Title: Re: Unfinished Reads
Post by: CarlS on July 25, 2021, 09:27:22 PM
On my shell (one  with bourrelets) the fuse hole is not tapered so I suspect would have been destined to be threaded.  I don't recall with yours (tall smooth sided round).  Is it tapered?
Title: Re: Unfinished Reads
Post by: Woodenhead on July 27, 2021, 07:02:26 PM
I am directing this primarily to Carl's initial posting. In my search for who might have cast those unfinished Reads, I believe they came from Brooks & Gaynor or Churchill & Co. Both foundries began the war supplying Memphis, then moved to Columbus, Miss., after the Shiloh defeat, and ended up at Selma by 1863. Records show both made thousands of 3 inch Read bolts. The Georgia foundries were not making 3 inch bolts. No one in Virginia was making 3 inch bolts. By 1864, CS Regulations banned all use of 3 inch bolts. Some were being produced in Mobile and Montgomery during 1863, but they had the die-struck copper sabots as was intended and set up by Dr. Read himself. All of the 3 inch Read bolts dug in Virginia (I have examined about 25 examples) are of the latter style (i.e., die-struck sabot). In addition, there is no question about Selma being a primary supplier of Vicksburg and all the forts along the Mississippi. Pictured below are three Brooks & Gaynor invoices confirming their large-scale production of 3 inch Read bolts. The last document below confirms that sometimes they shipped them directly to the forts which I assume was done in a hurry and might have skipped the final finishing process. Maybe their incorrect sizing explains why so many were left behind at Snyder's Bluff. It was no typical of the Confederates to abandon ammunition. In a little while I'll post some Churchill invoices confirming their production of 3 inch Read bolts.