worked well. Friction clamps were used on the Parrott carriages to lessen the recoil, which was sufficient without them to take the carriage of the chassis.
The working of the 8-inch gun is much facilitated by the use of roller handspikes to raise the rear part of the carriage from the rail when running the piece in battery. The want of them imposed much additional labor upon our men in working the guns.
The two 80-pounder Whitworth guns in the naval battery, though not under my supervision, came under my observation.
These guns opened fire with shell, but it was found necessary to abandon their use entirely, in consequence of their repeated and constant premature explosions, which greatly endangered our troops in the advance trenches, and of the probable injury it would do the guns. Solid shot was then used exclusively. There appeared to be much difficulty experienced at times in loading these guns by the projectile wedging when part way down. It could then be rammed home only by heavy blows of a handspike or by attaching a powerful purchase. They were very unsatisfactory in point of accuracy, shooting very wild, seldom hitting Fort Sumter at a distance of 3,980 yards. In comparison with the 8-inch Parrotts in the same battery, the fell far short in accuracy, and subsequently one of them became disabled by the gun apparently sliding through the re-enforce to the rear. A displacement of nearly an inch took place, closing the vent completely. The other being considered unsafe after this, further use of it was discontinued.
I append to this report a statement of the number of Parrott guns which have burst, with a brief description of the peculiarities of fracture exhibited in each case.
This number, being so great, naturally excites attention, and has raised grave doubts as to the durability of the gun, and, therefore, a question as to its practical usefulness, notwithstanding its great power.
Without entering into this question, for which I am in no manner prepared, I may note those points which have come to my observation in the service of the piece, and which I believe have had no inconsiderable influence in the bursting of these guns.
The proper service of these heavy rifled guns is everything, and to secure it in the field, where firing takes place over parapets and through embrasures, with sand and dirt constantly flying about, will always be a matter of difficulty.
The simple matter of springing to prevent the admission of sand and dirt in the bore rises to much importance.
The serious evil that may arise from the presence of sand in the grooves when the projectile has taken the rifle in passing out is well understood.
The material of our field works upon Morris Island was dry, hard, flinty sand, which, in a windy day, was constantly blowing about, and at time to such an extent did it fill the air that it was a most severe annoyance to officers and men. On such occasions, it was almost impossible to keep the pieces free from it; and at all times the sponge and reamer staves, moist from the hands of the men, striking the sides and soles of the embrasures, would carry in no inconsiderable quantity. No doubt this difficulty was an extreme one with us in the position of our batteries, and I am of the opinion that it entered to some considerable extent, as an element causing the destruction of the guns which have burst lately, though by no means sufficient in itself.