Rockets of Company G
So, after reading Part 1, you may be asking yourself, I wonder if there is anyone who has examples of these unique weapons used by the 74th in its assault on Charleston? There is – Rocket Man Doug has a passion for the rockets used in the Civil War and has amassed a remarkable collection of reproductions of these weapons.
Doug with “his boys.”
The Hale Launcher is on the left and above the first rocket
(Note to self – don’t make Doug mad!)
Again, here is a close up of the Hale Rocket launcher used by the 74th. The first picture shows the rocket launcher tube (left) without the resister. The resister allows the rocket to gain speed, thereby range, before the rocket forces the resister out of its way. The picture on the right is of the launcher with the resister in place and ready for action. Note the rather simple tripod form – this might have played a bit role in the problem associated with rocket accuracy. While a strong triangle is formed, one has to wonder if the pressure of the spinning rocket might create a level of “wobble” in the platform at launch time.
Pictures courtesy of Doug! Thanks for sharing Doug.
This is from an e-mail Bret sent Doug and I:
Based on the information I have been able to unearth, the Rocket Battery (formerly Company G, 74th Pennsylvania) used both tube and trough launchers and the 1855-1858 2.5" and 3.5" rockets. I have read particularly good descriptions of the rockets that were used. The larger rockets and tube launchers were used mostly from a fixed battery position on Dixon's Island, whereas the smaller rockets and trough launchers were used on expeditions (usually a pair operating as a section). The latter were also used to arm "rocket boats," basically surf boats equipped with a trough launcher on the bow (used to engage Confederate boats). The reason for this type of tactical usage was simply a matter of weight: the 3.5" rockets and launchers were difficult to move and employ over the marshy terrain, and were too large to be used effectively from the surf boats. But the 3.5" rockets appear to have been generally more effective because of their range and better accuracy -- not that they actually ever hit anything, but because they had a tendency to scare the living daylights out of the Confederate horses. They weren't terribly effective in a counter battery role (because while the trajectory may have been spot on, once a rocket hit the ground it would careen off in an unpredictable direction), but since the Union troops couldn't move artillery over the marsh, they were the only direct fire support weapon available to the Union infantry -- and as long as the Confederate artillery was trying to engage the rocketeers, they weren't firing canister at the infantry. The Rocket Battery was also used to train the rocketeers of the 41st and 127th New York. Captain Jacob Jungblut was the commander and my GGGGrandfather 1LT Joseph Neumeyer was the deputy commander of the Rocket Battery, which operated independently of the 74th Pennsylvania and under the direct orders of General Schimmelfennig.