Civil War Cookstove Produced For Fort Larned
(Click On Any Picture For Detailed Image)

The U.S.S. Cairo was sunk by an electrically fired torpedo on the Yazoo River at the Siege of Vicksburg on December 12, 1862.  The torpedo was a five gallon jug of black powder tethered just below the surface of the water, and connected by a switch to a galvanic battery on the shore of the river.

When the Cairo was raised 102 years later, the shop was found to carry a cookstove weighing over a half ton to feed her crew of 170 men.  As raised, the stove was wrecked, missing many parts.  Surviving cast iron name-plates identified the stove as a product of the S.H. Burton Company, of Cincinnati -- a Southern Belle No. 5, J Van's Pattern.

In 1982, The Indiana company South Bend Replicas, Inc., whose usual business is reproducing antique artillery, was commissioned to make a non-functioning copy of the stove for static display in the Mississippi River Museum in Memphis.  In 1995 the project was repeated, only the second stove had to be fully functional for use in the living history program at Fort Larned, Kansas.

In January of 1996, with internal cast and wrought parts made in accordance with fragmentary and trace evidence on the stored original at Vicksburg, the working reproduction was proofed behind the SBR shop in a snowstorm.

Having successfully prepared three turkey breasts, a ham, beans, and attendant garnishments for a Saturday night gathering of about 25 SBR shop associates and neighbors, the perfectly working unit was forwarded the following week to Fort Larned.

The Civil War Courier
April 1996


Above: At Troeger sheet metal shop, craftsman Jim Kimberly replicates 1/8" boilerplate body for assembly with castings at SBR shop to reproduce Burton/Van Southern Belle cookstove of about 1862.  Stove went into use in living history program at Fort Larned National History Site.  A third one was built in 1999 for Fort Delaware.
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