Plate 75. Mortar Dictator

Description
Text and photograph from Gardner's Photographic Sketchbook of the War, Vol. II. Negative by David Knox, text and positive by Alexander Gardner.
This monster mortar, cast by Mr. Charles Knapp, at his celebrated iron works in Pittsburg, Pa., was used for a short time in the summer of 1864, during the siege operations in front of Petersburg. Owing to its immense weight, 17,120 pounds, it was transported from City Point on a railway truck along the City Point and Petersburg Railroad, to a point in the ravine in rear of what is now generally known as Battery No.5, near the Jordan House, a side track from the main road being constructed especially for the purpose of moving it. The position selected from which to fire it, was admirably concealed from the ever-vigilant eye of the enemy. The truck was so strong and substantially built as to answer as a platform for the mortar.
The Dictator is a 13-inch mortar, firing a shell weighing two hundred pounds, with a charge of twenty pounds of powder. At an angle of elevation of forty-five degrees the range is set down in the Ordnance Manual at 4,325 yards; but, if it is true that the shell thrown by it reached Centre Hill, in Petersburg, as the writer was informed by a very reliable gentleman of that city, then it must have been carried at least 2.7 miles, or 4,752 yards. The bursting of the shell was described as terrific, an immense crater being formed in the ground where it fell, and earth, stones, and sod being scattered in every direction, much to the consternation of the inhabitants of the place.
Location
Currently not on view
date made
1864-10
maker
Gardner, Alexander
place made
United States: Virginia, Petersburg
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 17.2509 cm x 22.5425 cm; 6 13/16 in x 8 7/8 in
ID Number
1986.0711.0283.25
accession number
1986.0711
catalog number
1986.0711.0283.25
related event
Civil War
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Photographic History
Gardner's Sketchbook
Military
Photography
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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