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The Lincoln Gun on the Beach, Old Point Comfort, Virginia

Object Number: 
1945.580.46
Date: 
July 5, 1862
Medium: 
Graphite and black ink wash on paper squared for transfer
Dimensions: 
Overall: 7 x 8 3/8 in. (17.8 x 21.3 cm)
Inscriptions: 
Inscribed at upper right in graphite: "2 cal(?) / Hogan[?]"; verso inscribed along upper edge in graphite: "The Lincoln Gun -- lately mounted on the beach at Old Point Comfort, Va."
Description: 
Civil War Drawings Collection. Engraved for Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, 5 July 1862 (352-3:XIV):220; with the title "The 'Lincoln Gun' at Fortress Monroe." In 1844 Lieut. Thomas Jackson Rodman, a young Ordnance officer only three years out of the military academy, began a series of experiments to overcome the principal difficulty in casting extremely large iron cannon, that actually set a maximum size limit for iron artillery pieces. Over a period of years, Rodman devised a theory and outlined a plan to cast cannon around hollow cores, to be cooled from the inside, rather than externally, by a stream of running water. This would cause the cooling metal to contract toward the bore and increase the density of the metal where it was most needed. The rate of cooling could be controlled by regulating the temperature and rate of flow of the water. Completely satisfied by Rodman's results, in 1860 the War Department authorized the casting of a 15-inch smoothbore Columbiad, a gun bigger than anything the world had ever seen. The first 15-inch gun, "The Lincoln Gun", was made under Rodman's personal supervision at the Fort Pitt Foundry, was sent to Fortress Monroe, Va., where it was tested in March 1861 and became a model for the many Rodman guns which followed. The new gun proved a great success, although its huge size and weight, 49,000 pounds for the barrel alone, made it practical only for fixed positions in forts or permanent batteries.
Credit Line: 
James B. Wilbur Fund
Provenance: 
John T. Kavanaugh Collection, Rutherford, New Jersey, 1945
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.
Creative: Tronvig Group