View single post by Hellcat
 Posted: Sun Jul 28th, 2013 02:30 am
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Root Beer Lover

Joined: Tue Nov 15th, 2005
Location: USA
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Ok, I have found the Mr. Short mentioned in the 5th post. It's a Levi Short. In Official records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion. ; Series I - Volume 25: Naval Forces on Western Waters (May 18, 1863 - February 29, 1864) Short writes to David Dixon Porter concerning the use of solidified Greek fire. Included in his letter a enclosure from Porter to Henry Augustus Wise, then Acting Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance (his full title at this time was Assistant Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance and Hydrography,, he became the chief of the bureau in 1864).From pages 517 and 518:

Letter from Levi E. Short to Rear-Admiral Porter, U. S. Navy, regarding Greek fire.

PHILADELPHIA, October 26, 1863

DEAR SIR: Allow me to return you my thank for your report upon the small quantity of Greek fire which the Ordnance Bureau directed me to ship you a larger amount, but Commander H. A. Wise said to me a few days since they would have any order filled that you might send your requisition for.

I should be pleased to send you any amount you may think you will require, with promptness. Since your trial of Greek fire on Vicksburg it has gained considerable notoriety at Charleston and I have received an order [for[ 400 gross for the Department of the South, and it is being put on board o gunboats that are now leaving the navy yards, so I think [the] Government is fully satisfied of its utility.

I am, your obedient servant,


Rear-Admiral D. D. Porter.


Solidified Greek fire.---Rear-Admiral D. D. Porter's official report.

Flagship Black Hawk, off Vicksburg, July 13, 1863.

SIR: I have had but little opportunity to try Mr. Short's Greek fire, but what I have seem of it proves its excellence. I only had a small quantity, and used it against Vicksburg, setting the town on fire in three places in one night, burning up a considerable quantity of stores, and the houses burned to the ground. I see no reason why it should not burn up a ship instantly; the fire I very intense. It is perfectly safe, put up in shell or tin cases, and I recommend it to be sent on shipboard in shells filled with it and powder together. When the shells burst in the air, large flakes of fire descend, and, falling on the houses, must set them on fire. I set fire to some pieces of the composition and then covered it up with wet sand, but it burned to the end without being injured.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Acting Rear-Admiral, Commanding Mississippi Squadron.

Commander Henry A. Wise,
Acting Chief of Bureau of Ordnance.

Directions for using Greek fire in shells of any size.

First put into the shell about the quarter of the bursting charge, then drop on top of the powder as many of the Greek-fire cases as will easily slide down the inside of the shell; when full, fill up with powder as long as you can jar it down with a mallet, then screw in the fuze, plug with white lead, and oil and fix the fuze firmly to it's place, and your shell will be sure to fill its mission.

Patentee and Proprietor.


Ok so in the 5th post we have what I said I believe to be a part of the General Reports of General Gilmore which discusses how solidified Greek fire was supposed to be used. I did question what solidified Greek fire was and stated I though it would probably be more useful as a gelatinous solid rather than as a solid solid. But I also posted a Confederate report that confirmed a solid solid as the person reporting on the Greek fire states it's a roll of combustible material 3" long by 1" in diameter. Porter's report here further seems to emphasize the solid solid nature of solidified Greek fire and gives a description of how it worked in shells not seen in the 5th post. That of an air burst which released "large flakes of fire." We also have two Confederate cities where Greek fire was used as a part of the Federal war effort, Charleston and Vicksburg.

Porter gives us something that seems to fit description I've read that claim the Greek fire of antiquity could burn on the water and nothing could put it out. Porter says he tested this solidified Greek fire by setting fire to some of it then covering it with wet sand. But it appears as if it continued to burn despite being covered in wet sand.

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