A journal following the history, design, construction and operation of Bernard Kempinski's O Scale model railroad depicting the U. S. Military Railroad (USMRR) Aquia-Falmouth line in 1863, and other model railroad projects.
©Bernard Kempinski All text and images, except as noted, on this blog are copyrighted by the author and may not be used without permission.

August 2, 2022

The Lee-Brooke Rail Gun

In November and December 2012 I built a model of the Lee-Brooke Gun. Since the time I wrote about my build, I have received several requests for more information about this gun.  I decided to consolidate my notes into one blog post to make reference easier.

This was the first ever railroad artillery piece. It had several names including the Land Merrimack or Dry Land Merrimack. Now I call it the Lee-Brooke gun based on Dr David Schneider's research. I have written about my model of this gun in several blog posts. 

Lee-Brooke Railway Gun

Below are the plans that Edwin Alexander published in his book on Civil War railroads. The plans are pretty good, but you may need to adjust some of the details of the front glacis based on inspection of the actual photos of the gun.  He did get the scale wrong. The wheels are about 28 inches in diameter, not the 33 inches he used in his drawing.  But the overall proportions are correct. So just scale it so that the wheels are 28 inches.

Also, his caption states the the gun is a Parrott. That is not correct. It is a 32 pound Brooke Banded Rifle. That was a fairly rare cannon but a few survived. There is one at the Washington Navy Yard. It was captured at Fort DeRussey in Louisiana. See http://www.fortderussy.org/artillery.html for more info. If  you look at the photo at the bottom of this post you can see that the muzzle of the gun has a swell and moldings. 

I did visit the US Navy Yard in Washington, DC to measure a surviving copy of the rail gun. I used those notes to build my model. Alas, the notes with my measurements were lost or thrown out since I recall they got oil stains and grease on them when I was making the model.  I decided to measure the model and reverse the measurements so that others can use them in constructing their models. See below. Note that the cascabel of the gun at the Navy Yard is slightly different than the gun used in the railroad gun. 

The carriage of the gun is also a unique design that I could not find used anywhere else. This is my interpretation of it. 

Here is a view without the side armor

I also suggest you get a copy of Dr David H Schneider's article in Civil War Times, Feb 2011 for a more thorough description of the railroad gun's provenance. 

Note that the muzzle of the gun is not smooth like most Brooke naval guns but has a swell and muzzle moldings.

Animated gif from stereoscopic photos