Monday, September 2, 2013


There's an interesting story behind this shell and its companions. Way back in the early sixties a local Vicksburg relic hunter (a good friend of mine) noticed the tang (if that's the correct word) of what he assumed was an old farm implement projecting from the Big Black River near the site of the old town of Bridgeport, Mississippi. Later, he regretted his error, for the "tang" was a part of an artillery caisson that had fallen from the bridge at that location as Sherman's troops were galloping toward Vicksburg after the Battle of Champion Hill. Another person (I assume a relic-hunter) came along later and pulled the caisson, along with its load of 3" Confederate shells, from the river. If you're wondering why the Union troops were pulling a caisson loaded with Confederate munitions... The caisson had been left behind by the Confederates after the battle; Sherman's men knew they could fire the shells in their own 3" rifles, so they took them along. However, the caisson was lost when it fell from the Bridgeport bridge.

In the ensuing years some of the shells were sold or given to collectors, but at some point most of them were given or sold to the Grand Gulf museum, where they resided for many years - until some unscrupulous scoundrel absconded with all that remained. The shell pictured is a great example of the group. A portion of the wood sabot and the center bolt remain, and the protrusions from the cast iron to the brass portion of the sabot are evident.

Years later, as I was hunting the artillery emplacement of the First Missouri Light Artillery in south Vicksburg I dug one of these shells that had been fired by Confederate troops; Sherman obviously didn't capture them all!

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