The majority of artillery batteries employed by Federal forces during the Civil War were volunteer formations from the states. Indeed, with the initial call for troops, there were more volunteer artillery batteries than needed. Because the states were responsible for organizing and in some cases equipping these batteries, there were many variations – organization, training, equipage, and others. Most of the “workable” variations were flushed out by the end of 1862. As I’ve discussed before, senior artillerists focused on organization and training as early as the summer of 1861. But the Federals were stuck with some of these variations, for better or worse.
From the administrative perspective, the naming of units is perhaps the most annoying to the researcher. Some states conformed to the same conventions as the regulars – regiments with lettered batteries. Others simply went with an ordinal number for each battery (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.). Some states, New York for instance, used both. There were separate regimental systems for “light” and “heavy” artillery. And… and… some states just seemed to adopt a “whatever” approach. Thus the volunteer batteries were often cited by different names in reports. Add to the confusion the practice of calling the battery by the commander’s name (or mustering officer’s name) in the field. Makes one glad the alternate designations section appears in each OR volume.
That aside, there were also interesting variations with the equipment used by these volunteer batteries. We’ll see more hand-written column headers as we proceed. And those lead to some interesting research trails to say the least.
That preface out of the way, let us look at summary statements, alphabetically by state. The first being from the states of Connecticut, California, and Delaware… Um… did I say alphabetical? I guess the ordnance clerks winged it:
Over to the far right, we see a written column – “Siege Gun 1861, 4.5 in bore, …..” I don’t know what the last line in that nomenclature is, but know that the weapon cited was one of my favorite – the 4.5-inch rifle.
So let’s break down the list starting with Connecticut. Note the first two are the “light” batteries for field duty (see above about the different regimental systems here… more confusion for the light readers!). The third is a battery from the “heavies” assigned for field duty:
- 1st Battery, Connecticut Field [Light] Artillery – Beaufort, South Carolina with two 12-pdr field howitzers and six 3.80-inch James rifles. The 1st Battery was assigned to the Department of the South.
- 2nd Battery, Connecticut Field [Light] Artillery – Occoquan, Virginia with two 12-pdr field howitzers and four 3.80-inch James rifles. Officially part of the Military District of Washington, the 2nd Battery was assigned to duty at Wolf Run Shoals.
- Battery B, 1st Connecticut Heavy Artillery – Falmouth, Virginia with four 4.5-inch siege rifles. This battery was assigned to the Artillery Reserve, Army of the Potomac.
And of course that last battery’s duty is well known. I will venture to guess you’ve seen those guns before:
No mention in the summary of Battery M, 1st Connecticut Heavy, which was also assigned to the reserves at this time. The two batteries were for all intents combined during their service in the field.
Moving out to California, one line is offered. But it is not for a battery, but rather for 3rd California Volunteer Infantry having “stores in charge” that included two 6-pdr field guns and two 12-pdr mountain howitzers. These were at Camp Douglas, Utah. Keep in mind that the 3rd US Artillery had men assigned out west without artillery. Yet we have the 3rd California Infantry with artillery without artillerists. Go figure.
The last in this set that I’ve carved out of the summary is designated 1st Battery Delaware Artillery, Field. That battery was sometimes known as Nield’s Independent Artillery, for it’s commander Benjamin Nields. At the reporting date, it was stationed at Camp Barry in the District of Columbia. They reported two 12-pdr field howitzers and four 3-inch steel rifles. Wait… 3-inch steel rifles? Perhaps some of those Singer, Nimick, and Company rifles? Or one of the even more “exotic” weapons of more experimental nature? I doubt either to be the case. Looking forward a bit, a June 1864 report from the Official Records, when the battery was assigned to the Department of the Gulf, indicated four 3-inch Ordnance Rifles and two 12-pdr Napoleons:
Yes, enough time transpired between the two data points that guns may have changed out. But I would submit it is more likely the wrong column was used in the summary due to a mistake at some point in the data gathering.
We’ve seen a lot of interesting entries from the first page of the summary. The ammunition pages offer a few more. However the smoothbore entries are as one might expect:
- 1st Connecticut Light: 12-pdr field howitzer projectiles – 142 shells, 254 case, and 72 canister.
- 2nd Connecticut Light: 12-pdr field howitzer – 120 shells, 160 case, and 31 canister.
- 3rd California Infantry: 6-pdr field gun projectiles – 112 shot, 106 case, and 112 canister; 12-pdr mountain howitzer – 144 shell, 120 case, and 144 canister.
- 1st Delaware: 12-pdr field howitzer – 26 shell, 54 case, and 20 canister.
For the rifled projectiles, we start with Hotchkiss patent:
- 1st Connecticut Light: 6-pdr 3.80-inch projectiles – 120 Hotchkiss percussion shell, 120 Hotchkiss fuse shell, and 518 Hotchkiss bullet shell (case).
- 2nd Connecticut Light: 6-pdr 3.80-inch – 70 Hotchkiss fuse shell and Hotchkiss 168 bullet shell (case).
- 1st Delaware: 3-inch projectiles – 77 Hotchkiss canister and 340 Hotchkiss bullet shell (case).
Note the quantities for the 1st Connecticut.
As with yesterday’s discussion with the Parrott projectiles, keep in mind that different inventors modified their projectiles to fit in their competitor’s cannons. Here we see Hotchkiss projectiles that fit into the James rifles. More Hotchkiss patent and the James Patent on the next page:
- 1st Connecticut Light: 6-pdr 3.80-inch – 200 Hotchkiss canister and 235 James canister.
- 2nd Connecticut Light: 6-pdr 3.80-inch – 50 (or 80?) Hotchkiss canister.
And rounding out the rifled projectiles, those of the Schenkl patent:
- 1st Connecticut Light: 6-pdr 3.80-inch – 1,078 Schenkl shells.
- 2nd Connecticut Light: 6-pdr 3.80-inch – 316 Schenkl shells.
- 1st Delaware: 3-inch – 94 Schenkl shells.
Notice the variety of patent-types within the two Connecticut batteries. Recall that mixing such types caused problems in the field.
And of course the quantities. All told the 1st Connecticut Light had 2271 projectiles. Their friends in the 2nd had but 604 (or 634, if I misread the one line). At some point I will pull the numbers and make observations about the “load-out” for a battery, circa December 1862. I suspect the 1st Connecticut will break the bell curve.
Last note about the projectiles – there are no entries for 4.5-inch to cover the heavy Connecticut battery. So we are left not quantifying how well stocked (or not) those guns on the Rappahannock really were.
And finally, the small arms:
The handwritten column headers deserve some clarification. From left to right, I read these as “Carbine”, “Springfield, Cal .58”, and <something> “Cal .58”. Your guess is as good as mine about the third column. It will come into play with the next installment, as for now there were no entries there for Connecticut, California, or Delaware. Also note, further to the right, that the revolver calibers are replaced with “Army” and “Navy” :
- 1st Connecticut Light: 135 Navy revolvers, 13 cavalry sabers, 46 horse artillery sabers, and 86 foot artillery sabers.
- 2nd Connecticut Light: 20 Navy revolvers, 122 horse artillery sabers.
- 1st Delaware: 24 Army revolvers and 142 horse artillery sabers.
No entries for the California infantry, presuming those small arms were carried against a regimental return elsewhere.
Again, roll the numbers around. Nearly every man in the 2nd Connecticut and 1st Delaware had their own swords, though pistols were in shorter supply. However, the 1st Connecticut, stationed in South Carolina, must have issued a revolver and sword for every man!