View single post by Hellcat
 Posted: Mon Jul 29th, 2013 05:50 am
 PM  Quote  Reply  Full Topic 
Root Beer Lover

Joined: Tue Nov 15th, 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 830

  back to top

Yup, it's me again. Had been hoping when I started this that I wouldn't be the only one posting in it. At lest now I can hope folks are finding some of what I have posted interesting. Not my theories, that is, but the quotes, particularly those from the official records. I don't know, I mean right now this is kinda fascinating me, as is probably clear from my being the one to keep posting. I mean typically what kinds of weapons do most people think about when they think about the war? Greek fire seems to be a more unusual weapon, something that many may not even put much thought towards. And so far my posts have largely been to confirm it's use as I'm still looking through trying to find more of what exactly it was. And so far I've posted some material that seems to suggest there were at least two types of Greek fire used, a liquid type as Headley described it in my first post and a solid type that Federal forces were placing in artillery shells. Garrison's Schemes and Plots does give us two of the active ingredients in what was used in the NYC plot, as was posted in the first post, which jives with what Kennedy said about emptying a bottle of phosphorus on the floor at Barnum's museum. But it's still not entirely what was Greek fire. I'm not expecting a huge list of ingredients, but wouldn't phosphorus be a solid and hydrogen sulfide a gas. I mean why did Headley describe the mixture as looking like water, what else was there to it? And what was solidified Greek fire, was it a horse of a different color altogether from what was used in the NYC plot or was it also dependent on phosphorus and hydrogen sulfide while having other ingredients that leaned more towards a solid than a liquid? Also were these the only types of Greek fire used in the war or were there other types?

Anyway, on to my next post. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion. ; Series II - Volume 1: Statistical Data of Union and Confederate Ships; Muster Roles of Confederate Government Vessels; Letters of Marque and Reprisals; Confederate Department Investigations, pages 521and 522. This appears to be notes of a Confederate investigation of the Navy Department. I'm not exactly sure who the committee members were, I'll get to that after the quotation. This is from September 19, 1862 questioning a Lt. Beverly Kennon:

FRIDAY, September 19, 1862

The committee met at half past 9 o'clock.

Present: Messrs. Clay (chairman), Lyons, Maxwell, Foote, Boyce, Semmes, Peyton, and Barksdale.

Lieutenant BEVERLEY KENNON was called and sworn.

Mr. SEMMES. You were a lieutenant in the Navy?

Lieutenant KENNON. Yes, sir.

Mr. SEMMES. When were you assigned to New Orleans

Lieutenant KENNON. On the 25th of July, 1861.

Mr. SEMMES. What was the duty to which you were assigned?

Lieutenant KENNON. A week after I arrived there, I was assigned to the ordnance department; that was about the 1st of August.

Mr. SEMMES. What was the condition of things with regard to the ordnance at the time you arrived there, and what did you undertake to do?

Lieutenant KENNON. There was nothing there in the way of ordnance. There was no preparation made for the making or manufacturing of anything to my knowledge.

Mr. SEMMES. What did you undertake to do?

Lieutenant KENNON. I undertook to fit out the ordnance, and I did it. There was note a cartridge bag furnished to the McRae. I commenced by making cartridge bags for her, and from that time I found I had everything to do. I commenced with light ordnance. I had to make the models for all the sabots, shell and shell shot, and, in fact, everything that is used in a navy ordnance. I also had shells made for muskets and Mississippi rifles, as well as hand grenades, filled with guncotton and Greek fire. I had also made what are termed liquid shells for rifles and other guns. These I invented myself, together with the rockets. These things they stopped me from making on account of the expense of getting them up. I don't know that any of the muskets shells were made after I left New Orleans. I know that some of the hand grenades, some of the liquid shells, and the primers which I made there were furnished to the Army. I furnished thousands of munitions of different kinds to the Arm. Different kinds of shells which I ordered to be made were also furnished them. These were shells that I was subsequently prevented from making. I found when I afterwards returned to New Orleans that only the 13-inch shells they had were those made by me in August and used at Fort Jackson. I had no assistance at that time and, of course, that made the duty doubly onerous upon me. Everything being scattered throughout the city, I was compelled to move constantly about to different points to see that all was going on well. Sometimes officers would come from the lake for supplies and sometimes from the river, and I had to attend to all. The Government, however, ordered me away, because of the heavy expenditures I had incurred. I was ordered to a subordinate capacity---that of second lieutenant---when my juniors were left in command of other ships---men who were not even lieutenants, and that because I had taken on my own shoulders the responsibility to spend all this money in New Orleans. I knew if I allowed myself to be tied down by the rules of the office, I never would have done anything. I told the commodore, if he authorized me, I would take the responsibility of doing what I thought was necessary; and I did it. For this the Secretary condemned me. When I returned to New Orleans some four months after I left they cast just one gun of the number that I had ordered some six months previous. One was cast there, and then all stopped. The Government became displeased because I purchased block tin at 25 cents that was afterwards sold at about $5. I also bought flannel at from 30 to 40 cents a yard that was afterwards at from $2 to $2.50. I got zinc at about 20 cents for making powder tanks. This zinc went up afterwards to 68 and 87 cents. I mentioned these things to let you see my reason for purchasing so many articles at that time. At first, when I made the contract for guns the hire of laborers was very much less than it was afterwards. I had guns made then for 11 cents a pound. The Government had subsequently to pay 13 cents. he first contract was made in August, soon after I went to New Orleans.

Ok, first on the committee. Mr. Semmes had interested me when I first saw the name. My first thought was possibly Ralph Semmes, but the dates don't fit. CSS Alabama was somewhere near the Azores September 19, 1862. He's probably Thomas Jenkins Semmes, Louisiana Senator in Confederate Congress. In fact this reads like a Congressional committee hearing so that probably means Lyons is Virginia Representative James Lyons, Clay is Alabama Senator Clement Claiborne Clay, Maxwell is Florida Senator Augustus Emmet Maxwell, Foote is Tennessee Representative Henry Stuart Foote, Boyce is South Carolina Representative William Waters Boyce, Barksdale is Mississippi Representative Ethelbert Barksdale, and Peyton is Missouri Senator Robert Ludwell Yates Peyton. Lt. Kennon is the Lt. Beverly Kennon who served as the commander of the CSS Governor Moore. If you continue reading the investigation he admits to being placed in command of the Governor Moore on page 524

Of interest here concerning the Greek fire is that Kennon discusses making grenades filled with guncotton and Greek Fire. In 1861. So far we've seen Confederate agents using bottles of it in the NYC plot and Federal forces using shells filled with it at Vicksburg and Charleston. We don't know what the Confederate agents used in St Louis, likely also bottles of the substance. But this is the first mention of it being used in hand grenades. And it shows that someone was attending on producing it for the Confederate military. Though based on the testimony it would seem to suggest these hand grenades might never have been produced. What we don't see is the type of Greek fire. Even so, it is interesting that as early as 1861 at least one side had someone who was already attending it to be used in fighting the war effort even if it maybe never made it to the field in this form.

 Close Window