Hot Shot and Wooden Ships

Hot Shot and Wooden Ships (HM11FW)

Location: Richmond, VA 23237
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Country: United States of America
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N 37° 25.316', W 77° 25.324'

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It was the end of an era: the advent of the ironclad made traditional wooden-hulled warships obsolete. Despite this, the Confederates used a centuries-old device here: the hot-shot furnace. Inside the furnace, solid shot were heated red-hot. Clay wads of wet hay were then inserted between the powder and the ball to keep the heat from igniting the powder prematurely. When fired at a wooden ship, the sizzling missile could set the vessel ablaze.

The photographers who visited Drewry's Bluff in 1865 found the quaint little hot-shot furnace irresistible, and made at least three different views of it. Not surprisingly, the furnace here was never used in battle. This incredible image was taken from where you now stand.

"Furnaces for heating shot are erected at the forts on the sea-coast. These furnaces hold sixty or more shot. The shot being placed, and the furnace cold, it requires one hour and fifteen minutes to heat them to a red heat....Small charges should be used in hot shot firing, varying from one-fourth to one-sixth of the weight of the ball. Balls fired with small velocities split the wood in a manner which is favorable to its burning...."
U.S. Army Heavy Artillery Manual, 1851
HM NumberHM11FW
Year Placed2011
Placed ByRichmond National Battlefield Park
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Thursday, October 23rd, 2014 at 3:55pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 285673 N 4144434
Decimal Degrees37.42193333, -77.42206667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 37° 25.316', W 77° 25.324'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds37° 25' 18.96" N, 77° 25' 19.44" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)804
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 7600 Fort Darling Rd, Richmond VA 23237, US
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