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Post Info TOPIC: U.S. Civil War Armored Steam Carriage


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U.S. Civil War Armored Steam Carriage
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I have read a bit on the technological developments of the U.S. Civil War, chief among them the improvements to the Ironclad Warship.

In B.T. Whites book Tanks & AFVs 1900-1918, there is a brief mention of a U.S. Civil War AFV:

"Probably the first armoured fighting vehicle - by modern definition - to be built was in 1861 by Charles S. Dickinson, a Confederate supporter of the American Civil War, and consisted of a cannon mounted on a partly armored steam carriage. This pioneer vehicle was captured by the Federal forces before it could be tried out in action."

Anyone have any photos, drawings, or any other information?

Thanks in advance!

---Vil.


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Legend

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It was discussed at some length near the bottom of this page:


http://www.activeboard.com/forum.spark?forumID=63528&p=3&topicID=6254889&commentPage=1


Look out for references to Winans as well (he of the cigar-ships fame), as he was involved apart from Dickinson. Centurion, who did a fair bit of research, drew an impression - look for one of his posts with a jpeg attachment called 'steam.jpg'.


The carriage was not self-propelled, however - it was a steam cannon (a weird steam-powered rotating 'gun' using centrifugal force to fire shot) mounted on an armoured horse-drawn carriage.



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I've already posted some drawings on this Forum somewhere including what I think is your Confederate weapon. Dickenson I think financed it but it was built under a different name - it was a steam powered (not propelled) gun  - horse drawn. I also posted a drawing based on a Union desuign for a steam powered armoured vehicle. Have a hunt. If I've time I'll try and locate them myself this evening

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Legend

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As far as I recall, Dickinson patented it (but did he design it? Or did he only finance it, as Centurion noted, but paid for the patent under his name too?), Winans built it, but it's more often to be found under the name of the Winans Steam Gun (or Cannon). There's a good page here with a repro of a contemporary newspaper article:


http://www.sonofthesouth.net/leefoundation/civil-war/1861/may/winans-steam-gun.htm


Vilkata, Centurion's drawing of the Union design (not built) that he mentioned above is also on the thread I linked to earlier - you'll have to go through all the posts and look at all the attachments to find it.



-- Edited by Roger Todd at 11:18, 2006-08-16

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The gun was patented by Dickinson, but built ca. 1860 in Boston.  Winans name got attached to it in the aftermath of the April 19, 1861 riot between Union troops and a pro-Confederate mob.  Winans & Company was a producer of steam locomotives up until the late 1850s.  Had one of the largest locomotive works in the country. After the riot, they turned to making pikes and shot at the order of the Baltimore City authorities. The gun passed through their shop, and was noted in the press as being from their machine shop... and the name stuck.


Most of the conventional account of the gun is mythology ...  the idea of it being an early tank, Winans as inventor or builder, it being self-propelled, being built in Baltimore, etc.


It was a steam driven centrifugal gun (as opposed to other "steam guns" that used the expansion of steam in various fashion to propell shells - the Perkins Gun being the most well known).


Centurion - would love to hear about your research on the gun - am about to self-publish a history of it ..  secondmdus@att.net


 


 


 


 



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There seems to have been a confabulation of two entirely seperate ideas/prototypes. A design for a steam powered Gatling armed armoured car was submitted to the Federal authorities. I have seen some very speculative and totaly unsupported claims that a prototype was actually built but I have very strong doubts about this. And then there was the steam gun labled Winans that was actually built. It was most definitely horse drawn and was to be upplied to the Confederates but captured by the Union army when being delivered. It was emplaced as a bridge guardian somewhere. I have written about both in seperate items somewhere on this forum.


A steam powered machine gun did see some military service. Ross Winans a Baltimore industrialist with known Confederate sympathies produced a steam gun based on patents belonging to a Mr Dickinson. It appears to have operated on a cetripetal system rather than direct steam presure on the projectiles.This gun was taken into Confederate army service.The gun together with a boiler was mounted on a four wheel (horse drawn) carriage and protected by an armoured semi conical shield. It was en route from Baltimore to the Confederates at Harpers Ferry when it was captured  by a unit of the Massachusetts Volunteers. The gun was then used to protect the Washington Junction viaduct on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad – effectively being treated as another bridge gun. How effective it would have been in open combat is a moot point, bullet hitting the pressurised boiler would have had a spectacular effect.



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Legend

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This is what the steam armoured car would have looked like.

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Legend

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Centurion wrote:


This is what the steam armoured car would have looked like.


That looks very similar to the "tank" designed by Leonardo da Vinci.

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Mark Hansen wrote:



Centurion wrote:


This is what the steam armoured car would have looked like.


That looks very similar to the "tank" designed by Leonardo da Vinci.




Maybe but unless Leonardo (or his Pratchetian alter ego Leonard of Quirm) had invented a time machine then he didn't provide this one. I took my drawing from  a copy of some rather crude sketches submitted to Washington during the Civil war.


Incidentally I once read a 1960s SF short story called 'Quit zooming them hands around' about a Union Lt, an ex Harvard physicist who creates a time machine and takes a raiding party forward in time to the Smithsonian to fetch back a weapon that will break the stalemate before Richmond. Dismissing a large metal object with lots of wheels on plates and a long pipe sticking out as just some sort of water tank he brings back the Wright Flyer. The whole scheme fails as  they fuel it with General Grant's own personal sipping whiskey which proves to be much too strong. I wish I could remember who wrote it.



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Am not familiar with the Gatling related device.

To repeat, the gun attributed to Winans was not invented nor built by him, though widely attributed to him - in period sources it is labled a centrifugal gun, although centripedal is a more correct description.   It was armored and steam powered, but to be drawn into action by horses.

 The gun was built by inventor Charles Dickinson in Boston - was in Baltimore for demonstrations to attract govt interest.  After the Baltimore Riots it was seized by city authoriities, who took it to Winans for a check of its machinery prior to displaying it in public. 

The gun is linked in many published sources to Winans because, it was assumed to be his creation when it came out of his shop.  It had in fact been noticed in local press accounts prior to the riot (the city council had witnessed a test of it at Dickinson's house) but in the confusion of events, these accounts were forgotten.

Once the city was done with it, they returned it to Winans for some repairs, then gave back to Dickinson who tried to sneak it out of town to the Confederacy.  It was captured by Federal troops, taken to Relay and posted by a railroad bridge for a while, then shipped north as a trophy.

See my blog at www.strangengines.wordpress.com for a short history of the gun.

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Resurrecting this ancient thread, I just found a model of the Winans-Dickinson (or Dickerson, according to the auctioneers)  Steam Cannon sold at auction in 2009 for nearly $3000! Appears to be 'period', with speculation that it was a patent model:

http://www.cowanauctions.com/auctions/item.aspx?ItemId=70383



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Just seen, the previous "anonymous" comment which has been pending approval nigh on 5 years - with link strangengines.wordpress.com/.



-- Edited by Rectalgia on Sunday 7th of July 2013 05:51:05 PM

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