And for the last post in the series discussing William Barry and the artillery organization in Army of the Potomac’s early days, I turn to the last point in Barry’s report of September 1862 – inspections.
In order to best shape the artillery army supporting the Army of the Potomac, Barry proposed, “That personal inspections, as frequent as the nature of circumstances would permit, should be made by me, to be assured of the strict observance of the established organization and drill and of the special regulations and orders issued from time to time under the authority of the commanding general, and to note the progressive improvement of the officers and enlisted men of the volunteer batteries, and the actual fitness for field service of the whole, both regular and volunteer.” (OR, Series I, Volume 5, Serial 5, p. 67)
I would not expect an old regular army officer to suggest otherwise! While loathed by the inspected, as Barry related, inspections serve to enforce uniformity and standardization, while providing valuable feedback to the commander of troops.
Notice that Barry’s objective included charting the improvement of the volunteer batteries. But he intended to hold the regulars to the same standards. All batteries, regardless of origin, were expected to reach the same level of performance.
These inspections also positioned Barry (and those who followed him, i.e. Henry Hunt) as THE artillery authority in the army formation. Some would consider this common sense. But often in military organizations commanders, particularly at middle levels, will hold higher regard for their staff over that of the parent command. Barry’s inspections formed a relationship between the army, corps, and division chiefs of artillery, outside of the formal chain of command.
After several points about the equipment, ammunition, training and organization, we conclude noting how the standards were enforced. Some authors have stated the Army of the Potomac’s cavalry came of age in the early summer of 1863. I’ll table discussions about the ascendency of the army’s infantry for now, simply suggesting that was never complete. But the artillery arm supporting the Army of the Potomac became a major factor on the battlefield by the Seven Days and never relinquished the lead over its opponents. The emergency of the artillery in the Eastern Theater had much to do with the nine recommendations put forward by William Barry.