Rebel bounty: Captured guns at Chickamauga

As the sun rose on September 21, 1863, the Confederates in the Army of Tennessee experienced a rare experience – possession of a battlefield following a clear victory.  Taking inventory of the debris of the battle, Confederate ordnance officers found a substantial amount of artillery equipment – on paper enough cannons to equip over six batteries.

In his report of the battle, Colonel James Barnett detailed the loss of 39 cannons and carriages.  By type these were:

  • Six 3-inch rifles
  • Seven 10-pdr Parrotts
  • Four 12-pdr Napoleons
  • Nine James rifles
  • Six 6-pdr field guns
  • Six 12-pdr field howitzers
  • One 12-pdr mountain howitzer

In addition, Barnett recorded the loss of 13 limbers, 30 caissons, and one battery wagon.  Oh, and thousands of rounds of ammunition.

On the other side of the line, Captain O.T. Gibbs, ordnance officer for the Army of Tennessee, recorded a different quantity and breakdown in his statement of stores received at Ringold, Georgia:

  • Six 3-inch rifles
  • Two 12-pdr Napoleons
  • Eleven James rifles
  • Eight 6-pdr field guns
  • Fifteen 12-pdr field howitzers
  • Seven 12-pdr mountain howitzers
  • Two 24-pdr howitzers

Fifty-one total.  The reason for the discrepancy?  Gibbs tallied the weapons received by his office, including old, worn out, or simply disfavored weapons.  Gibbs also appears to have included in his list guns captured by Federals on the field, then recaptured by the Confederates, and turned in for repairs.  Furthermore, in several cases, the batteries helped themselves to Federal guns and turned in their old weapons to the ordnance depot. (And in at least one case, a battery ‘horded’ a field howitzer without letting the ordnance officers know about it.) In short, Gibbs’ list is far from definitive for the tally of captured guns.  Although it does offer a wealth of details about those guns.

The numbers are interesting on both sides.  Looking first to Barnett’s tally, I consider three types to be “top notch” favored weapons of the Civil War – 3-inch Ordnance Rifles, 10-pdr Parrotts, and 12-pdr Napoleons.  The Federals gave up only seventeen of those.  Or enough for four four-gun batteries (or three six-gun batteries).  The remainder of the lost guns were of less favored types.

Many would return to action in the spring in a different guise – melted down by the Confederate foundries into 12-pdr Napoleons.  Gibbs’ inventory reads like a “who’s who” of ordnance manufacture, with vendors, both north and south, represented:

6-pounder bronze gun, with carriage and limber, made at Greenwood’s,  Cincinnati, Ohio. 1861….

12-pounder howitzer, with carriage and limber, Saint Louis, Mo., Marshall  &Co., 1862….

12-pounder bronze howitzer, with carriage, damaged, A. B. R. & Bro., Vicksburg, Miss….

3-inch iron rifled gun, with carriage and limber, Rome, Ga., Noble &  Bro.. 1862….

12-pounder bronze howitzer and carriage, J. Clark, New Orleans….

A substantial number of weapons turned in to the depot included early war Tredegar products:

12-pounder iron howitzer, with carriage. J. R. & Co., 1861

12-pounder iron howitzer, with carriage. J. R. & Co., 1862

3-inch rifled gun, with carriage, No. 1480, J. R. & Co

The foundry number of the 3-inch rifle matches one invoiced in May 1862:

Page 380b

Although the receipt does not indicate, other weapons cast around that time were iron.  So it leads to the logical inference that #1480 was an iron 3-inch rifle. We might also presume that, just as in the eastern theater, the iron 3-inch rifle and iron 12-pdrs had fallen into disfavor among the gunners of the western theater.  So these were selected for return to the ordnance depot when nice new Yankee cannon were in hand.

With Gibbs’ tally, only three of the “top notch” guns were turned in to the ordnance depot – two Napoleons and one 3-inch Ordnance Rifle.  Two of the Napoleons captured on the field were immediately incorporated into Battery D, 9th Georgia Artillery (Captain Tyler M. Peeples), who turned in the two 24-pdr howitzers seen in Gibbs’ report.   All the Parrott rifles and five of the 3-inch Ordnance Rifles were put to immediate use.  The one 3-inch Ordnance Rifle received at Ringold had the detailed listing of:

3-inch steel rifled gun, U.S., No. 86, P.A. & Co., 817 pounds.

That gun is still around, but on another field.

Gettysburg 199

Where would that be?  Don’t click on the photo… no cheating!

Gettysburg 203

This gun stands today on Hancock Avenue at Gettysburg, representing Battery H, 3rd Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery.

Gettysburg 205

Practically a world away from the woods of Northern Georgia.  I’ve long wondered if a swap arrangement might be appropriate.  But then again, every time I pass the gun at Gettysburg, I pause to recall that the war was not ONLY fought for three days in July 1863.

(Barnett’s and Gibbs’ reports are from OR, Series I, Volume 30, Part I, Serial 50, pages 237-9, Part II, Serial 51, pages 40-43.)

One thought on “Rebel bounty: Captured guns at Chickamauga

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.