Military History Books
by Harold A. Skaarup   www.SilverHawkAuthor.com   
 
Artillery, Tanks and AFVs in the USA: Maine (Part IV), Fort Knox

Artillery, Tanks and Armoured Fighting Vehicles in Maine (Part IV)

Fort Knox

Data current to 11 Dec 2019.

One of the aims of this website is to locate, identify and document every historical piece of artillery and all armoured fighting vehicles preserved in New England.  Many contributors have assisted in the hunt for these tangible pieces of our military history and the list you see here is constantly being revised as new finds are discovered and the data is updated.  The photos have come from various contributors, but the author likes to "ground truth" the reports, so a good number of the photos are by the author unless otherwise credited.  Any errors found here are by the author.   It often happens that military monuments that are relatively mobile, have been moved for restoration or scrapped, sometimes they are repainted with different markings and serial numbers, or they are replaced with a different piece of kit.  For those reasons, any additions, deletions, corrections or amendments that you may be able to add to this list of Artillery and AFVs in New England would be most welcome and may be e-mailed to the author at hskaarup@rogers.com.  The primary aim is preserve our military history and to keep the record accurate. 

Prospect, Fort Knox

 (Author Photos, 5 Oct 2018)

Fort Knox, now Fort Knox State Park or Fort Knox State Historic Site, located on the western bank of the Penobscot River near the town of Prospect, Maine, about 5 miles (8.0 km) from the mouth of the river.

Built between 1844 and 1869, it was the first fort in Maine built of granite (instead of wood).  It is named after Major General Henry Knox, the first U.S. Secretary of War and Commander of Artillery during the American Revolutionary War, who at the end of his life lived not far away in Thomaston.  The fort was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1970, as a virtually intact example of a mid-19th century granite coastal fortification.

Diagram of Fort Knox.  (Fort Knox Visitors Guide Photo)

Local memory of the humiliation of Maine at the hands of the British during the American Revolution and again during the War of 1812 contributed to subsequent anti-British feeling in Eastern Maine.  The Penobscot Expedition of 1779 aimed to force the British from Castine, but ended in a debacle.  The Americans lost 43 ships and suffered approximately 500 casualties.  Then in autumn 1814, during the War of 1812, a British naval force and soldiers sailed up the Penobscot and defeated an outnumbered American force in the Battle of Hampden.  The British followed their victory by looting both Hampden and Bangor.  The American defeat contributed to the post-war movement for Maine's statehood, which occurred in 1820, as Massachusetts had failed to protect the region.

The Aroostook War of 1838-1839 revived anti-British feeling and concern over the vulnerability of the region to another attack like that of 1814.  Also, Penobscot and Bangor were a major source of shipbuilding lumber.  The response was the inclusion of the Penobscot in the Third System of coastal fortifications, and the construction of Fort Knox, a large, expensive, granite fort at the mouth of the Penobscot River.  The fort had two batteries facing the river, each equipped with a furnace to heat cannonballs sufficiently that they could ignite wooden ships if the ball lodged in the vessel. These furnaces became obsolete with the adoption of ironclads.

 (John Stanton Photo)

 (Leonard G. Photo)

10-inch Rodman Gun, (Columbiad, 10-inch, smoothbore, seacoast, Model 1861), weight 14,980-lbs, showing elevation ratchets used in earliest guns. The ratchet post to set and retain the elevation is missing.  The gun is mounted on a long iron wheeled gun carriage.

Rodman guns were a series of American Civil War–era Columbiads designed by Union artilleryman Thomas Jackson Rodman (1815–1871). The guns were designed to fire both shot and shell.  These heavy guns were intended to be mounted in seacoast fortifications.  They were built in 8-inch, 10-inch, 13-inch, 15-inch, and 20-inch bore.  Other than size, the guns were all nearly identical in design, with a curving bottle shape, large flat cascabels and with ratchets or sockets for the elevating mechanism.  Rodman guns were true guns that did not have a howitzer-like powder chamber, as did many earlier Columbiads. Rodman guns differed from all previous artillery because they were hollow cast, a new technology that Rodman developed that resulted in cast iron guns that were much stronger than their predecessors.  They were all smoothbore guns designed to fire spherical shot and shell, primarily against ships.

The guns were elevated and depressed by means of a lever called the elevating bar. The point of this lever fits into ratchets on the earliest guns cast, or sockets on the later guns. The fulcrum, called the ratchet post, fit on the rear transom of the upper carriage. The ratchet post was cast iron and had several notches for adjusting the position of the elevating bar. Rodman guns were placed in seacoast fortifications around the United States. It took 8 men to load and fire a 10-inch Rodman gun, and 12 men for a 15-inch Rodman gun. Over 140 Rodman guns survive today and they may be seen at coastal fortifications around the USA.  (Wikipedia)

 

 (Author Photos, 5 Oct 2018)

8-inch Rodman Gun (Columbiad, 8-inch, smoothbore, seacoast, Model 1844), Serial No. 85, 16, 160 lbs, S.B.F. 1879 on the muzle, converted rifle, resting on a pair of stone blocks at the entrance to the Fort Knox site.

 

 (Author Photos, 5 Oct 2018)

10-inch Rodman Gun, Serial No. corroded, weight 14, 885 lbs, ---PA, Fort ---, 1865 with two stars on the muzzle, mounted on an iron traversing carriage inside the fort.

 (Author Photo)

It took eight gunners to serve a 10-inch Rodman Gun, as per this diagram from the Fort.

15-inch Rodman Gun, (Columbiad, 15-inch, smoothbore, seacoast, Model 1861), mounted on a center-pintle barbette carriage, "the Lincoln Gun", at Fort Monroe, Virginia.  (Library of Congress Photo)

 

 

 (Author Photos, 5 Oct 2018)

15-inch Rodman Gun, (Columbiad, 15-inch, smoothbore, seacoast, Model 1861), Serial No. 85, C.A. & Co., 49,362 lbs, J.G.B. 1865 on the muzzle, unmounted, laying on its left side on wood blocks, B Battery, Northeast Corner of the forward fortress gun emplacements.

 

 (Author Photos, 5 Oct 2018)

15-inch Rodman Gun, (Columbiad, 15-inch, smoothbore, seacoast, Model 1861), Serial No. 83, C.A. & Co., 49,554 lbs, J.G.B. 1865 on the muzzle, mounted on an iron rotating gun carriage, C Battery, Southeast Corner of the forward fortress gun emplacements.

 (Author Photo, 5 Oct 2018)

 This view shows the elevation ratchets with the ratchet post in place which was used to set and retain the elevation of this 15-inch gun.

 

 (Author Photos, 5 Oct 2018)

Cast-iron 24-pounder M1844 smoothbore muzzle-loading Siege and Garrison Howitzer, Serial No. 52, S.C.L.S. McM & Co, 1864, 1,494 lbs on the muzzle, mounted on a traversing wood gun carriage.  These guns were used to cover blind approaches and moats around masonry fortifications, specifically the flanks of the walls, thereby earning the nick-name “Flank Howitzer”. Facing South, No. 1 of 3.

 (Author Photos, 5 Oct 2018)

Cast-iron 24-pounder M1844 smoothbore muzzle-loading Siege and Garrison Howitzer, Serial No. 58, S.C.L.S. McM & Co, 1864, 1,496 lbs on the muzzle, mounted on a traversing wood gun carriage.  Facing North, No. 2 of 3.

 (Author Photos, 5 Oct 2018)

Cast-iron 24-pounder M1844 smoothbore muzzle-loading Siege and Garrison Howitzer, Serial No. 51, S.C.L.S. McM & Co, 1864, 1,495 lbs on the muzzle, mounted on a traversing wood gun carriage.  Facing North, No. 3 of 3.