Artillery tubes dedicated at Hanover Junction
All photos courtesy of York County Civil War buff and webmaster Randy Drais.
A local reenactment group, including members of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW), provides the honor guard for the dedication ceremonies held this past Saturday May 9 at Hanover Junction, Pennsylvania. The crowd had gathered to participate in or watch the formal dedication of four vintage Civil War artillery tubes, which have found a new home at the Hanover Junction rail stop, a popular stopping place on the York Heritage Rail Trail bicycle path.
These four tubes were originally mounted on carriages and placed at each corner of the impressive Civil War monument in Penn Common in downtown York (on the site of the old U.S. Army Hospital where thousands of Gettysburg’s wounded were taken for long-term treatment). The tubes were taken down in the 21st century and placed in storage.
Through the efforts of the local SUVCW and Ivan E. Frantz, Jr. (shown speaking in the first photos), the tubes were refurbished and again put on public display, this time at historic Hanover Junction.
Military records of the service of individual artillery tubes are sketchy at best, so it is virtually impossible to trace which batteries these guns were assigned or what battles in which they may have participated. One of the tubes, a 3″ ordnance rifle, carries the inscription #8.
The inscription on the muzzle includes the letters PIC, for the Phoenixville Iron Company, a prolific foundry near Philadelphia that provided a substantial number of rifled gun tubes to the U.S. Army during the Civil War. In 1855, the foundry began producing 6# smoothbore artillery pieces known as Griffen Guns for the inventor, John Griffen. Hundreds were turned out before production shifted in 1861 to other Griffen designs. Daniel Reeves, owner of the company at the time, invested considerable capital in equipment and processes to modernize the factory and make it one of America’s leading producers of iron and steel.
During the Civil War, the factory churned out over 1,000 Griffen-designed 3″ Ordnance Rifles, giving it the largest market share of the over 1,400 pieces eventually used by the Army. The wrought iron barrels weighed 820 pounds and were produced using the company’s unique rolling process, making them extremely durable and highly resistant to bursting, a problem that plagued many of Phoenixville’s smaller competitors that used cast iron gun tubes. At its peak, the factory was producing 50 3″ Ordnance Rifles a week.
Many of the Phoenixville-produced rifled guns are still extant in private collections, municipal parks, and at battlefields across the country. A number are on the Gettysburg Battlefield, as well as in other locations in Pennsylvania. They are easily recognizable by the inscription ”’PIC”’ stamped on the muzzle of the gun tube (for Phoenix Iron Company). Phil Cole, a Licensed Battlefield Guide at Gettysburg and artillery author, has identified and located all 62 of the PIC tubes on the battlefield.
(The latter text on the foundry is from an entry I wrote for Wikipedia a few years ago).