03339 - Swamp Angel, Charleston, S.C.
"We're building a pulpit on which a Swamp Angel will preach."
In August 1863, U.S. Col. Edward W. Serrell built a battery on top of a salt marsh in Charleston Harbor, S.C.
It was an engineering feat accomplished by driving pilings into the mud, with sandbags atop of a platform of grillage to support the cannon.
The hurried construction was hard labor, in intense heat, under Rebel fire. It took the weight of thirty men to drive each piling down into the mud.
A two to four-foot-wide and seventeen-hundred-yard plank road was built. Along the slippery boards the 7th New Hampshire would fall into the marsh while carrying 13,000 sandbags during the hour trip.
The 7th referred to the project as the Marsh Croaker, Mud Lark, and Serrell's Folly. Another soldier felt differently.
The “Swamp Angel” was an 8-inch 200-pdr Parrott rifle gun weighing 16,300-pounds.
To fire a shell to reach the over five miles to Charleston, Serrell estimated the cannon needed to be elevated to an angle never used before by a large Parrott gun and would require loading 20 pounds of powder instead of the usual 16.
A compass reading had been taken of the target and chalked in that position. It was the first known use of a compass reading in firing an artillery piece.
Furthermore, when considering the Parrott’s reputation for bursting, the whole endeavor could be considered an artillery and construction experiment.