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 Posted: Sat Jul 27th, 2013 06:43 pm
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Hellcat
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The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Series 1 - Volume 28 (Part I), pages 33 - (http://ebooks.library.cornell.edu/cgi/t/text/pageviewer-idx?c=moawar;cc=moawar;q1=Greek%20fire;rgn=full%20text;idno=waro0046;didno=waro0046;view=image;seq=0051):

Greek fire.

160. Th composition of Short's solidified Greek fire, the only incendiary material called Greek fire which we attempted to use, I am unable to give.

Captain Mordecai reports as follows upon it :

It was furnished in tin tubes, closed at one end, about 3 inches long and 3 1/4 inches in diameter. These tubes were covered with one layer of paper, such as is commonly used for cartridges. The paper was folded down over the ends of the tube, that part covering the open end having upon it a priming powder of coal-tar.

The directions for using this fie were furnished from the manufactory, and were as follows: "As many of the cases containing the composition must be dropped into the shell, with as much powder as can possibly be shaken among them." After the failure of shell filled in this manner to give satisfactory results, Mr. Short visited Morris Island. He altered the manner of filling the shell, putting several inches of powder in before inserting the cases. He also covered some cases with several thicknesses of thick cartridge paper, and others with several layers of muslin.

Into all the shell filled by him, powder was first placed.

To the best of my knowledge, the only cases in which shell were fired containing the solidified Greek, fire are enumerated below:

(see table on page 34)

The solidified Greek fire in intensity of heat is surpassed by common port fire used in artillery.


I'm not certain as I'm having to go way back to page 3 to find a name, but I believe this is a part of General Gilmore's General Report of operations in the Charleston area. It's interesting to see a description of one way in which Geek fire was used. As well as to see that there was actually more than one compound known as Greek fire. In my first Greek fire appears to be a liquid of some kind and the book quotations show some possible ways to use it, which lead to my speculations on how it was used. But here it is specified that the only substance called Greek fire that was used in and around Charleston was a solidified substance. Makes some sense, I suppose, less fear of the substance being poured out.

Was it a solid solid or more a gelatinous solid? That is would it have been more of a chemical slurry that hardened inside the tube so if it were somehow removed from the tube it would look like a core sample of dirt, or ice, or tree ring, or something like that. Or was it more a gelatinous substance a bit like jello, something far more solid than water but still fluid enough to show a bit of jiggle to it when shaken. I'd kinda lean towards a gelatinous solid. There were other kinds of incendiary shells, what would make Greek fire shells so special if the Greek fire was a solid solid? A gelatinous solid would seem a bit more like napalm, have the shell burst and spray this burning "liquid" all over a large area. However....:

At 10.40 p. m. on of the batteries upon Cumming's Point opened with three guns upon the city, and after firing 10 shells, ceased at 11 p. m. Only two of the shells failed to explode. One, which struck in Broad street, in front of Mansion House, exploded, and a roll of combustible matter about 3 inches in length and 1 inch in diameter burned on the pavement for about two minutes with a steady white flame. This was doubtless a specimen of the much talked of Greek fire.

This is a Confederate report, from who I can't say as I wasn't too ambitious to find the name of the individual filing the report, and appears on page 178 (http://ebooks.library.cornell.edu/cgi/t/text/pageviewer-idx?c=moawar;cc=moawar;q1=Greek%20fire;rgn=full%20text;idno=waro0046;didno=waro0046;view=image;seq=0196)

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