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Author Topic: Churchill 10 & 20 pounder Parrotts  (Read 304 times)

Woodenhead

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Churchill 10 & 20 pounder Parrotts
« on: July 10, 2021, 12:20:25 PM »
A good relic hunting friend of mine, a serious water hunter who also searches the land, brought his most recent shell find to me late last year. It came from the river near Racoon Ford, VA. I wanted to yell "Eureka" when I held its prominent sleeved body. I had been looking for this distinctive 10 pounder pattern for decades since I photo'ed Mac Mason's shell collection at Pete George's during the late 1980s. Mac had a matching 20 pounder CS Parrott he dug in the Richmond area. It was clearly a pattern and not just some kind of oddball variant. With copper sabots on both, I knew they were made in the deep South. Remember, Col. Broun wrote to Raines at Augusta in 1864 that all Virginia Parrotts had wrought iron sabots.

And so, I began looking for the likely source and all the evidence points toward Churchill & Co. at Selma Alabama. Churchill was contracted to cast 50,000 projectiles during August of 1862. That same month, Samson & Pae made the first of this new sleeved pattern in Richmond. (I have previously shown my marked "S & P" sleeved 10 pounder on this site.) Again, these were not variants, all the Richmond foundries switched to the sleeved pattern at this time. All of those with the recessed bases represent the efforts of the different foundries to replicate this sleeved design. By the end of 1862, the official design had reverted to the original smooth-sided pattern. Churchill must have received this sleeved pattern at the time of their contract and began making them in 10, 20, & 30 pounder size when they finally got the iron they needed from Col Wright in Atlanta during March 1863. It wasn't unusual for the Deep South foundries to be out of the loop with the latest pattern changes in Richmond. Curchill signed a new production contract with the Richmond authorities in August 1863 and I assume this was when they switched to making smooth-sided Parrotts.

What we have here is an 1862 design, made during 1863 and fired in 1864. After the artillery expenditures at Gettysburg, the Richmond authorities are on record begging the Deep South foundries to send all the rifled field projectiles they can spare. Selma, which handled all of Churchill's output, must have received this plea. These are not common shells. If my theory holds water, then a few of these must have been found at western sites like Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, Knoxville and the like. The CS bunker uncovered at Port Republic (see their museum photos) had a number of these apparently identical 20 pounders among its many shells.

I think I've identified their later smooth-sided pattern. I'll expound upon that later.

Woodenhead

Selma Hunter

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Re: Churchill 10 & 20 pounder Parrotts
« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2021, 09:52:36 AM »
FWIW,

C. B. Churchill operated first at Natchez, then Corinth, MS then finally in Columbiana, AL during the war.  Columbiana is about 65 miles or so north of Selma on the Alabama & Tennessee Rivers RR line which ran from Selma to Blue Mountain (approximately Anniston).  Just for the record.

CarlS

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Re: Churchill 10 & 20 pounder Parrotts
« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2021, 11:04:08 PM »
Those 20-lbers look very similar to the "Grand Gulf" reads most of which are of course famously found at Grand Gulf, MS which is just below Vicksburg.  My Grand Gulf Read doesn't have that prominent sleeve look at the top though they are rebated at bottom above the sabot like these.
Best,
Carl