Union and Confederate Views on Guncotton

in Vulcan
Restricted Access
Get Access to Full Text
Rent on DeepDyve

Have an Access Token?



Enter your access token to activate and access content online.

Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token.



Help

Have Institutional Access?



Access content through your institution. Any other coaching guidance?



Connect

This essay investigates why guncotton was not commonly used by both sides of the American Civil War, despite it being a more powerful explosive than the standard explosive (gunpowder/black powder). The question hitherto has not been fully answered; it is proposed that both sides did realize its superiority yet chose different modes of action. The Union army tested the material in America, but chose the British course of action, to wait until the material, with its known instability, was improved. The Confederate navy was willing to take the risk and looked in mid-1864 for large amounts in Europe for use in certain types of sea and river mines (“torpedoes”). Large quantities did arrive, but were too late to be used. The types of torpedoes to be employed with guncotton are not known but it is estimated that the material was intended for those types where gunpowder limited their effectiveness.

Union and Confederate Views on Guncotton

in Vulcan

Sections

References

aigo [Adjutant and Inspector General’s Office Richmond va]. 1864. Special Orders No. 133 8 June. In War Dept. et al. 1880–1901 ser. 1 vol. 36 part 2 882–83.

Anonymous. 1863. “Improved Projectiles, Maxims on Union Culture, and More.” Scientific American n.s. 8 no. 14 (4 April): 20910.

Anonymous. 1863. “The British Association, Newcastle-on-Tyne 1863—Austrian Gun Cotton.” Journal of the Society of Arts 25 Sept. 71518.

Anonymous. 1864. “Baron von Lenk’s Gun Cotton Patented in This Country.” Scientific American n.s. 11 no. 2 (9 July): 18.

Anonymous. 1867. “Southern Troops Use Gun Cotton.” Scientific American16 no. 8: 203 as cited in Norman 1988.

Anonymous. 1869. “Gun-Cotton vs. GunpowderThe Queenslander24 April: 3.

BarnesJohn S.1868. Submarine Warfare: Offensive and Defensive. New York: G.P. Putnam & Sons.

BellJack. 2003. Civil War Heavy Explosive Ordnance: A Guide to Large Artillery Projectiles Torpedoes and Mines. Denton: University of North Texas Press.

BullochCmdr. JamesD.1864. Letter to Secretary of the Navy Stephen Mallory In nwro 1894–1922 ser. 2 vol. 2 69798.

Confederate Congress Joint Special Committee. 1862–1863. “Investigation of Navy Department” 4 Sept. 1862–24 March 1863. In nwro 1894–1922 431809.

Cooper Adjustant and Inspector General S. 1864. Letter to Maj. Gen. D.H. Maury 10 May. In War Dept. et al. 1880–1901 ser. 1 vol. 36 part 2 988.

CrowleyR.O.1898. “The Confederate Torpedo Service.” Century Magazine56 (June): 290301.

CurtisWilliam S.2006. “Unorthodox British Technology at the Confederate Gunpowder Works, Augusta Georgia, 1862–1865.” In Gunpowder Explosives and the State: A Technological History ed. BuchananBrenda J.23947. Aldershot and Burlington, vt: Ashgate.

DavidsonHunter. 1876. “Electrical Torpedoes as a System of Defence.” Southern Historical Society Papers2 no.1 (July): 16.

Dyer Brig. Gen. Alexander Brydie. 1864. Letter to Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton 22 Sept. 1864. In War Dept. et al. 1880–1901 ser. 3 vol. 4 799–804.

HolleyI.B.Jr.1953/1983. Ideas and Weapons: Exploitation of the Aerial Weapon by the United States during World War i: A Study in the Relationship of Technological Advance Military Doctrine and the Development of Weapons. Washington dc: Office of Air Force History. Reprint of 1953 edition.

HutchinsonC.S. ed. 1866. Papers on Subjects Connected with the Duties of the Corps of Royal Engineers Contributed by Officers of The Royal Engineers n.s. 15.

KochanMichael P. and WidemanJohn C.. 2012. Civil War Torpedoes: The History of Improvised Explosive Devices in the War Between the States. 2nd ed. Paoli, pa: Keystone Press.

Mallory Secretary of the Navy Stephen. 1864a. Letter to Cmdr. James D. Bulloch 16 April. In nwro 1894–1922 ser. 2 vol. 2 627–28.

Mallory Secretary of the Navy Stephen. 1864b. Letter to Cmdr. Matthew Fontaine Maury 18 June. In Maury Correspondence 1864 indexed pages 3576–78.

Mallory Secretary of the Navy Stephen. 1864c. Letter to Cmdr. James D. Bulloch 20 June. In nwro 1894–1922 ser. 2 vol. 2 673–76.

MauryCmdr. FontaineMatthew. 1862. Letter to Secretary of the Navy Stephen R. Mallory 19 June. nwro 1894–1922 ser. 1 vol. 7 54446.

MauryMatthew Fontaine. Correspondence. Library of Congress Washington, dc.

NormanSandra Lee. 1988. “Guncotton to Smokeless Powder: The Development of Nitrocellulose as a Military Explosive, 1845–1929.” Ph.D. diss. Brown University, Providence, ri.

NormanSandra Lee. 2013. Private correspondence. Sept 16.

nwro [Naval War Records Office]. 1894–1922. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of Rebellion. 2 series 30 vols. Washington: Government Printing Office.

RainsGabriel J.1874/2011. “Torpedo Book.” 1874 ms. Edited by SchillerHerbert M.. In Schiller 2011 1392.

RainsGeorge Washington. 1882. History of the Confederate Powder Works. Address Delivered by Invitation before the Confederate Survivors’ Association at its Fourth Annual Meeting on Memorial Day April 26th 1882. Augusta, ga: Chronicle & Constitutionalist Print.

SchillerHerbert. M. ed. 2011. Confederate Torpedoes; Two Illustrated 19th Century Works with New Appendices and Photographs. Jefferson, nc: McFarland.

StotherdMaj.R.H.1872. Notes on Torpedoes Offensive and Defensive. Washington, dc: Government Printing Office.

DeptWar. et al. 1880–1901. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. 128 vols. Washington, dc: Government Printing Office.

WidemanJohn C.2013a. Private communication 28 Sept.

WidemanJohn C.2013b. Private communication 3 Oct.

WilliamsFrances Leigh. 1963. Mathew Fontaine Maury: Scientist at SeaNew Brunswick, nj: Rutgers University Press.

WintjesJorit. 2015. ‘“Five of These Will Conquer Any Ironclad’: The Spar Torpedo Boat in the American Civil War.” In Astride Two Ages: Technology and the American Civil War ed. HackerBarton C.. Washington, dc: Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press, in press.

WoltersTimothy S. 2008. “Electric Torpedoes in the Confederacy: Reconciling Conflicting Histories.” Journal of Military History72 no. 3 (July): 75583.

Information

Content Metrics

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 43 43 12
Full Text Views 83 83 57
PDF Downloads 6 6 2
EPUB Downloads 0 0 0