Looking for more from Sean McLachlan? He also hangs out on the Midlist Writer blog, where he talks about writing, adventure travel, caving, and everything else he gets up to. He also reproduces all the posts from Civil War Horror, so drop on by!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Civil War Photo Friday: Union mortar boat

This ugly little vessel is a mortar boat. Used primarily by the Union navy, they were armored rafts carrying a heavy mortar. As the siege of the Confederate stronghold of Vicksburg got underway 150 years ago this week, many of these vessels were towed up the Mississippi River and used to bombard the fortified city.

Mortars are handy in that they provide indirect fire. Instead of shooting directly at a target like regular artillery, they launch their projectiles at an arc, so they can hit targets behind hills and other obstructions.

In my sequel to A Fine Likeness, one of these mortar boats makes an appearance. Captain Allen Addison of the Union navy, and son of the protagonist in the first book, is at the siege of Vicksburg in his gunboat the USS Essex watching a group of mortar boats do their thing, when an incoming rebel shell gives him a nasty surprise. . .

. . .but you'll have to read about that later. I still have about 15,000 words to go before the book is done.

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.


  1. Keep writing!
    Being able to launch over an obstacle is a plus.

  2. Sean, I saw this and immediately thought of you. If you are able to download Kindle books from Amazon USA, Stackpole has a weekend sale with two history books for free. One is "True Crime in the Civil War: Cases of Murder, Treason, Counterfeiting, Massacre, Plunder & Abuse", by Tobin T. Buhk.


    I hope you can get it. I already downloaded my copy today.


  3. What an interesting blog. I'm adding this to my favorites.


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