150 years ago: Jackson in need of more guns

Earlier this month, I mentioned the reorganization within the artillery service of the Army of Northern Virginia. As part of Brigadier-General William N. Pendleton’s ongoing work to improve the artillery arm, Lieutenant Edmond P. Dandridge provided a detailed report of the state of Second Corps artillery on February 20, 1863. Dandridge’s inspections provide a snapshot in time of the state of the “Long arm of Lee” – or at least a good portion of it.

Dandridge tallied ninety-five guns in Jackson’s corps. I’ve summarized that in this table:


Not listed here are three 6-pdrs from Caskie’s Battery which had just been turned in for melting into Napoleons. Also not tallied in the table is one 3-inch rifle from Brown’s Battery, being repaired.

Dandridge’s description of the guns was not uniform. I’ve placed all 3-inch rifles in one column for simplicity. But Dandridge mentioned “Richmond rifles”, “steel rifles” (likely Federal Ordnance Rifles), “Dahlgren rifles” and “B & A rifles.” Although of the same caliber, not all were equal. Likewise there were iron and bronze 12-pdr howitzers along with some navy pattern howitzers. Indeed, Dandridge’s irregular nomenclature only served to highlight the mixed and matched armament of Jackson’s batteries. Dement’s was the closest to a full uniform battery with four Napoleons.

But too few of Jackson’s batteries had even two full sections. They averaged 3.3 guns per battery. Pendleton wanted 116 guns in Second Corps. But Jackson had only 95, not counting four sent to Richmond for repairs or melting into better weapons.

Dandridge also inventoried and inspected the rolling stock, equipment, animals, and personnel in each battery. To best present the numbers, allow me to break those out in separate posts. The point I would draw here is the varied, if not disparate, arming of Jackson’s batteries, particularly compared to what the Army of the Potomac had on the north side of the Rappahannock. Too many 6-pdr guns and 12-pdr howitzers supporting “old blue light” even at that late point in the war. Tredegar was, even as Dandridge inspected the guns and gunners, working hard to make up the difference.

(Numbers for the table derived from Dandridge’s report, OR, Serial I, Volume 25, Part II, Serial 40, pages 634-8.)