Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 70,000 items cover five hundred years of American history, from Columbus’s 1493 letter describing the New World to soldiers’ letters from World War II and Vietnam. Explore primary sources, visit exhibitions in person or online, or bring your class on a field trip.

Semmes, Paul Jones (1815-1863) [Contract with Robert P. Parrott to buy 16 rifle cannons for Georgia]

High-resolution images are available to schools and libraries via subscription to American History, 1493-1943. Check to see if your school or library already has a subscription. Or click here for more information. You may also order a pdf of the image from us here.

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC00474 Author/Creator: Semmes, Paul Jones (1815-1863) Place Written: s.l. Type: Autograph manuscript Date: 19 December 1860 Pagination: 11 p. : docket ; 32 x 20 cm.

Summary of Content: Unsigned copy, written on one side. Contract to buy cannons, guns, and ammunition from Colt, Dupont, Ames, etc. to prepare Georgia for war. Semmes acted as agent for Georgia in preparation for the Civil War. Docket in Semmes' hand. "... This Contract made and entered into... That the said Robert P. Parrat hereby covenants and agrees to manufacture furnish and deliver on board Steamer in the Port of New York and bound for Savannah Georgia suitably prepared and packed for safe transportation within sixty days from the date just above written... (16) Sixteen Rifle Cannons..." New York was a center for arms deals by Southern states in preparation for secession. Semmes, a Georgia banker and plantation owner, was serving as agent for Georgia as that state prepared for Civil War. Parrott was the inventor of a superior rifled cannon known as the "Parrott Gun." Two dockets; one on verso of page six, the other on the last page.

Background Information: Even before a single state had seceded from the Union, the State of Georgia negotiated a contract with a New York rifleworks company to supply the state with armaments. Paul ...Jones Semmes, who signed this contract, was a Georgia banker and plantation owner who served as a brigadier general in the Confederate army. He led Georgia troops at the battle of Gettysburg, where he received a wound from which he died in the retreat to Virginia. Semmes made the contract with Robert Parrott, who invented a superior rifled cannon known as the "Parrott Gun."See More

Full Transcript: This Contract made and entered into this nineteenth day of December 1860 between Paul J. Semmes, Agent for the State of Georgia...and Robert P. Parrott...That the said Robert P. ...Parratt hereby covenants and agrees to manufacture furnish and deliver... (16) Sixteen rifle Cannons of 3.3 in (3 3/10 in) Calibre and of (1000) one thousand pound weight each.... Also (3500) Three thousand five hundred 'Dyer' solid shot of ten (10) pounds weight when finished. Also (4000) Four thousand 'Dyer' Cannon Shrapnel shot.... Also (500) Five hundred Canister Shot of the ordinary kind.... Also, One Hundred thousand (100,000) pounds of lead....See More

People: Semmes, Paul Jones, 1815-1863
Parrott, R. P. (Robert Parker)., 1804-1877

Historical Era: Civil War and Reconstruction, 1861-1877

Subjects: ContractWeaponryArtilleryFinanceConfederate General or LeaderConfederate States of AmericaMilitary HistoryCivil War

Sub Era: The Failure of Compromise

Order a Copy Citation Guidelines for Online Resources