Brooklyn in Kings County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
13-inch Seacoast Mortar, Pattern 1861
W.W. Blackford, a Confederate Engineer.
Developed in an age of massive innovation in ordnance technology, the 13-inch seacoast mortar became one of the most formidable weapons used during the Civil War. Records indicate that a battery of four mortars was once stationed here at Fort Hamilton – keeping the Narrows (the main waterway into New York City and where the Verrazano Bridge now spans) protected from an enemy attack. Although no battle ever took place in New York City during the Civil War, the fortifications and their arsenal of weapons were ready for use by Union forces. 13-inch mortars of the same pattern were also positioned at Fort Richmond and Fort Tompkins across the Narrows in Staten Island, making it very difficult for enemy ships to sail into the city.
The mortar that stands here is mounted on an accurate reproduction steel carriage made from the original 1861 plans. Emplaced on fixed wooden platforms in battery pits, these mortars were able to launch projectiles in a high elevating arc. The impact of their explosive shells caused considerable damage and proved to be highly effective in many battles throughout the Civil War. For years, this artifact was buried muzzle down in the ground at Fort McNair in Washington
“Old veterans never forget the noise those missiles made as they went up and down like an excited bird, their shrieks becoming shriller and shriller, as the time to explode approached.”
Unknown Georgia infantryman
Erected by Harbor Defense Museum, New York City.
Location. 40° 36.583′ N, 74° 1.958′ W. Marker is in Brooklyn, New York, in Kings County. Marker is at the intersection of Sterling Drive and Pence Street, on the left when traveling west on Sterling Drive. Click for map. Marker is on the grounds of Fort Hamilton, near the Fort Hamilton Officers’ Club. Marker is in this post office area: Brooklyn NY 11218, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. On July 4, 1776 (here, next to this marker); Spanish 24-Pounder (within shouting distance of this marker); Fort Hamilton (within shouting distance of this marker); Fort Hamilton Officers’ Club (within shouting distance of this marker); June 1975 (within shouting distance of this M1857 12 Pounder Napoleon (within shouting distance of this marker); The Caponier (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Projectiles for U.S. 20-inch Rodman Gun (about 600 feet away). Click for a list of all markers in Brooklyn.
More about this marker. The marker features an old photograph of “Union soldiers pos[ing] with a battery of 13-inch seacoast mortars at Yorktown, VA during the Civil War. (Library of Congress)” The bottom left of the marker contains an 1892 sketch of Fort Hamilton’s coastal defense batteries. It includes a map of Fort Hamilton and its mortar battery, and indicates “[T]he location where a battery of four 13-inch mortars once stood on Fort Hamilton from the Civil War up until the end of the nineteenth century.” Appearing at the bottom right of the marker are the:
Specifications for 13-Inch Seacoast Mortar, Pattern 1861
Manufacturer Fort Pitt Foundry
Date produced February 27th, 1862
Material Cast Iron
Weight of the piece 17,186 pounds
Crew 5 men
Weight of mortar shell 204 pounds
Maximum powder charge 20 pounds
Maximum range 2 miles
Total produced 162
Surviving examples 27
Categories. • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 3,062 times since then and 10 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.