A more serious matter was the premature explosion of shells, of which so many have occurred in our late firing.
The shock produced by an explosion of a shell within a gun cannot but tend rapidly to destroy it; indeed, in instances which have come under my personal observation, I am confident it was the direct and immediate cause.
In one instance of the bursting of a 100-pounder where the breech had been blown from the re-enforce, I found the base of shell in the gun. The shell had prematurely exploded, leaving the base in the gun. It had taken the grooves, and was left perpendicular to the axis of the piece and some inches to the rear of its first position, showing that the last force acting upon it was from the explosion of the powder in the shell.
These two cases, the presence of considerable quantities of sand, and the premature explosions of shell, may account for the failure of the 100-pounder in our late firing. The sudden giving way of so many before reaching 300 rounds, when they had attained 1,000 to 1,200 in our first firing, would appear to indicate that some cause existed in the latter that did not in the former, and these two difficulties undoubtedly have existed to a much greater degree in our firing since the 26th of October than they did before.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JOHN. W. TURNER,
Brigadier-General, Chief of Artillery.
Major General Q. A. GILLMORE.
Statement of the number of Parrott guns which burst.
Num Date. Cali- Elevation Greates Average Numb Num
ber ber of when gun t elevatio er ber
gun. burst elevati n at of of
on at which roun pre
which the ds mat
the gun piece the ure
had was gun exp
ever fired. had los
been been ion
fired. fire s
1863. deg.sec. deg.sec deg.sec.
1 August 8-inch 31 30 31 30 31 30 35 10
2 August 8-inch 2 00 10 00 7 6 193 3
3 August 8-inch 11 55 12 00 11 45 354 ...
4 August 8-inch 11 00 11 00 11 00 599 5
5 August 100- 9 45 9 45 9 45 439 39
6 Sept. 5 8-inch 1 50 10 30 4 50 222 5
7 Sept.27 8-inch 12 00 12 10 12 05 230 Se-
1 The fracture took place about 1 inch in rear of vent,
perpendicular to axis of piece, the breech being blown
out of the re-enforce; no injury to re-enforce. The gun
was thrown forward on to the parapet.
2 Same as above, only the gun was not disturbed from its
position on the carriage.
3 Same as above; gun thrown forward on to parapet.
4 A fracture simply, without breaking the gun apart;
commencing under re-enforce, and coming out forward
about 2 inches on right and below the highest point of
metal, and extending in curve forward and down to rim-
base of right thrunnions.
5 The breech of the gun and forward to trunnions broke in
several fragments. The re-enforce divided in two
nearly equal pieces, separating longitudinally.
6 Breech blown from re-enforce, same as 8-inch guns on
24th, 25th, and 26th.
7 Re-enforce band blown apart. The breech above a
horizontal plane through the axis and forward plane
though the axis and forward to trunnions blow off,
separating in two or three fragments.