Fortification… Thursday: “Every point of the parapet should be guarded”

With Christmas falling on Friday, I’ll move the regular cycle of posting up a day… you get Fortification Thursday.

Let us close out the “lesson” on simple “intrenchments”, or basic field fortifications, by looking at the last passages from Mahan’s chapter on the subject:

The defense of enclosed works demands that every point of the parapet should be guarded, at the moment of assault, either by cannon or musketry. The troops may be drawn up for the defense either in one, two, or three ranks; and there should, moreover, be a reserve proportioned to the importance attached to the work.  The free interior space, denominated by the terre-parade plein, should be sufficiently great to lodge the troops, with the cannon and its accessories, and will therefore depend on the nature of the defense….

This paragraph takes us back to Mahan’s principles for the defense.  However, in the earlier lessons, Mahan had not discussed the interior structures at length.  Here he cites a feature by name – the terre-parade plein – and gives a requirement for that feature.  Goes to reason that important places, which would require large reserves, would thus need a large interior parade.

Mahan then began to provide some practical application of this advice:

Each man will occupy one yard, linear measure, along the interior crest, and each cannon from five to six yards.  The space requisite to lodge each man is one and a half square yards; and about sixty square yards should be allowed for each gun.

Think of that “frontage” as applied to Mahan’s rule of thumb about fort dimensions. So a thirty yard flank would need 30 men … or five or six cannon… or a combination of those.  Multiply that allocation against the similar sized opposite flank, then add in the manpower needed on the faces and curtain.  Very quickly we have need of a full strength company plus a battery of artillery (at least) to defend a single side of a bastion fort.  So project that math further… four sides, plus a need for reserve.  You see how we ring up the requirement for a full strength regiment plus three or four batteries of artillery.

Well… on the other side of the coin, at least there would be plenty of hands around to do the digging.

Mahan continued with details of the arrangements, and immediately brought up another interior structure for discussion:

Besides this space an allowance must be made for the traverses, which are mounds of earth thrown up in the work to cover an outlet, to screen the troops from a reverse, or an enfilading fire, &c.; and for powder magazines, when they are not placed in the traverses.  The area occupied by a traverse will depend on its dimensions, and cannot be fixed beforehand; that allowed for a magazine for three or four cannon may be estimated at fifteen or twenty square yards.

The traverse will be the focus of another post in time.  But for the moment, consider that Mahan basically instructed us to “bolt on” the traverse after building the fort.  Though he indicated a rough size for planning.

But wait… he said fifteen to twenty square yards for 3 to 4 guns.  Earlier he indicated we needed to factor in sixty square yards for the individual guns.  So for a four gun battery, we’d need 260 square yards.  A six gun battery (say holding back two guns for reserve), would need 380 to 400 square yards. And our math determining how many muskets and cannon were needed for a standard-size, by-the-book Mahan-approved fort was pointing to four of those batteries.  Better figure on at least 1500 square yards just to have space for the artillery… between a quarter and a third of an acre.  And that is just the artillery.  So if you have a fort that really needs to be defended properly, better plan on having a lot of space to dress out that fort.

Hold on… recall we have a preference for 250 yard exterior faces…. or a 62,500 yards square box in which to put the fort (including those areas that would lay outside the structures, mind you!).  Sounds like one would have ample space.  But when you subtract the area that lay outside the faces, flanks, and curtains; factor in the space that the works themselves will take up; and then figure on a regiment of infantry plus all those guns… well one has to work hard to avoid running out of space!  The engineer’s work was not simply drawing polygons on paper.

The last paragraph in this chapter provides the “soundbyte” for the philosophy of the defense:

As a field fort must rely entirely on its own strength, it should be constructed with such care that the enemy will be forced to abandon an attempt to storm it, and be obliged to resort to the method of regular approaches used in the attack of permanent works.  To effect this, all the ground around the fort, within the range of cannon, should offer no shelter to the enemy from its fire; the ditches should be flanked throughout; and the relief be so great as to preclude any attempt at scaling the work.

You see, if employed successfully by the defender, the fort would buy time for the defender.  That time would allow the defender to adjust to meet the attacker, or at least exact a toll upon him.

Apply this to one of the many episodes from the Civil War.  I think immediately of Morris Island.  After the Federals failed to carry Battery Wagner with a direct assault, they were “obliged” to lay a “regular approach” across a narrow beach in order to gain the Confederate works.  And that bought the Confederates a significant amount of time – in which they re-positioned forces (heavy cannon) out of Fort Sumter and to other locations in the harbor.  The Confederates could not stop the capture of Morris Island, but they could – and did – exact a toll for that prize.  Such was a “by the book” utilization of a field fortification… even if the fort itself were to fall.

(Citation from Dennis Hart Mahan, A Treatise on Field Fortifications, New York: John Wiley, 1852, page 16-7.)

For the holidays, lets each rehabilitate some Civil War general… I call Schimmelfennig!

This being the season of giving, I ask what have we given back to the Civil War field of study?  We all “take” from our studies – reading primary and secondary sources, walking the battlefields, and receiving knowledge all around.   But what do we give back in return?  How this season we “clean up” some corner of Civil War study that need be straightened or otherwise put in order?

Consider… Throughout the Sesquicentennial discussions we heard about some major figures from the Civil War being “rehabilitated” by historians.  Most notable is George B. McClellan.  We even heard mention of Joe Hooker.  Though I still lean towards strict twelve step process for Little Mac… someone skipped a few steps with McClellan in my opinion.  This is not a new notion for historians.  During the Centennial, US Grant was “rehabilitated” to some degree, mostly by that magical prose from Bruce Catton.  William T. Sherman was moved but a few shades to the good side of Lucifer himself.  Though we really should recognize the work of British admirers decades earlier, who sort of threw a mirror in our American faces.  However of late Grant is being “un-rehabilitated” back to a mere mortal.

What I have in mind is straight forward and altruistic – pick a figure due “historical rehabilitation.”  Name any figure from the Civil War – general, politician, or other.  Pick a poor figure.  Someone you think has not gotten a fair shake through the historians’ collective pens. Then offer up a few paragraphs explaining why this figure is worth a second look.  Think about it… are there any persons who are completely nonredeemable?  Totally incompetent? Without any merit?  Well… maybe there are some.  But I’d submit that to be a small number within the larger sample set.  Besides, even H. Judson Kilpatrick, Alfred Pleasonton, and Franz Sigel had good days to speak of!

I’ll make the first offering.  This is my target for rehabilitation:

Alexander Schimmelfennig.  Like most, my introduction to Schimmelfennig was the butt end of many jokes about “hiding with the hogs” at Gettysburg.  Schimmelfennig’s stay at the Henry Garlach house has come to epitomize the failings and faults of the Eleventh Corps in the battle.

Over the years, I’ve learned not to add an extra n, making his name an active present tense verb, to Schimmelfennig. Though you might find more than a few cases where I’ve slipped and not corrected.  Furthermore, I’ve come to recognize my characterization of Schimmelfennig’s actions were but one of many collective misunderstandings (being kind… maybe collective ignorance?) about the actions at Gettysburg.  Indeed, our myopic view of that battle has caused no short list of misconceptions.  Schimmelfennig is one of many receiving short treatment, and outright insult, due to the intellectual white elephant, named Gettysburg, stuck to history’s charge.

Let us first be fair about Schimmelfennig at Gettysburg.  Certainly his July 1, 1863 on the field is not fodder for any great story about military prowess and proficiency.  Though it was not an example of bumbling incompetence.  Why was he in the Garlach back yard to start with?  Well it was because, unlike many of his peers and superiors, he was not emulating General Gates’ flight from Camden in search of “high ground” south of town.

And in the two years that followed that stay in the shed, Schimmelfennig demonstrated he was indeed a very capable field commander… in the oft overlooked Department of the South.  I’ve chronicled those activities during the Sesquicentennial… and will mention a few key points here.   Schimmelfennig first went to the department as part of Brigadier-General George Gordon’s 1st Division, Eleventh Corps, sent as reinforcements in late July 1863. The Brigadier-General led a successful demonstration in February 1864 on John’s Island; assumed responsibility for the front against Charleston through the spring and early summer 1864, directing several bombardments of Fort Sumter, and mounting demonstrations to aid the main operations elsewhere;  And played an important role in Foster’s July 1864 “demonstration” that nearly broke through to Charleston.   After returning from leave (recovering from malaria), Schimmelfennig was in command of the forces that captured Charleston on February 18, 1865.

Schimmelfennig readily adapted to situations and was innovative.  He successfully used of Hales rockets in an assault role and urged the troops to use rudimentary camouflage to disguise their activities.  To the many USCT regiments in his command, he offered fair and complementary leadership, advocating for pay equality.  The naval officers working with him, particularly Rear Admiral John Dahlgren, considered Schimmelfennig the better of the Army generals to work with at Charleston.

And we should remember, as if a name like Schimmelfennig would allow us to forget, that the general was not American-born.  Thus he faced much of the institutional bias within the Federal officer corps.  Schimmelfennig, a Prussian, was a veteran of the revolutions and wars of 1848.  Pulling on our historian sensibilities, Schimmelfennig was a bit of a military historian himself, providing context to the conflicts between Russia and Turkey in the years leading up to the Crimean War.

Oh, and I should add, Schimmelfennig “pioneered” the use of petrochemicals to ward off mosquitoes…. Um… by smearing kerosene over his exposed skin while on duty at Folly and Morris Islands.  Not exactly DEET, but you know.  Fine… he was a bit far short of a renaissance man.

At any rate, you get my point – Schimmelfennig’s service is done a dis-service by overly emphasizing those three days in July 1863… or even after weighing in his (and the Eleventh Corps) performance at Chancellorsville months before.  Maybe he was not among Grant’s Generals depicted in Balling’s painting, but Schimmelfennig served with distinction during the war.  He is at least deserving of more consideration than “a brigade commander at Gettysburg.”

That’s my proposed target for rehabilitation.  What’s yours?  And why?

Summary Statement: December 31, 1862 – Minnesota’s and Maryland’s batteries

For this installment on the Summary Statements, we’ll double up.  Minnesota and Maryland fit together, right?  Well they were stacked up in the summary this way.

0051_Snip_Dec62_MN_MD_1

Minnesota provided three light batteries to the war effort.These were numbered batteries, and not considered part of a state regiment of artillery (there was a heavy artillery regiment, but does not factor in this reporting period).  But only two of those were in service at the reporting time in December 1862.  Of those two batteries, we have some question marks regarding their returns:

  • 1st Battery:  Shown at Vicksburg, Mississippi. Lieutenant William Z. Clayton’s battery boasted two 12-pdr field howitzers and two 6-pdr (3.67-inch) bronze rifles.  However, the battery was not at Vicksburg (nor would be for some months into the future).  Clayton’s battery was part of the Left Wing, Thirteenth Corps.  The battery was on the Northern Mississippi Campaign that season and moved from Corinth to Memphis before catching a boat ride down river to Lake Providence, Louisiana.  Given the received date of February 27 (1863), I suppose “opposite Vicksburg” might be the location given for the report.
  • 2nd Battery: Listed at Chattanooga, Tennessee with four 6-pdr field guns and two 12-pdr field howitzers.  Again we see a problem with location!  The Army of the Cumberland, which Captain William Hotchkiss’s 2nd Minnesota Battery was part of, might have wanted to be in Chattanooga.  But we know instead they were rather busy at Stones River at the end of December 1862.  So we look at the date of receipt – April 15, 1864, a time when the battery was indeed around Chattanooga.  This battery supported First Division, Right Wing, Fourteenth Corps at Stones River.  The battery fired 500 rounds in the battle, lost 13 horses, and reported 11 casualties in the battle.

Now let us turn to the Maryland batteries.  There were three in service at the reporting time, two of which provided returns:

  • Battery A:  No report.  This battery was in First Division, Sixth Corps, Army of the Potomac and camped opposite Fredericksburg at the close of 1862.  The battery was armed with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.
  • Battery B: At White Oak Church, Virginia with four 3-inch Ordnance Rifles. The battery was with 2nd Division, Sixth Corps.
  • Baltimore Independent Battery: At Baltimore with one 6-pdr field gun and six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles. This battery was on duty in western Maryland (Maryland Heights, in particular) at the time.

Hopefully all question marks are settled for those five batteries (from two states) in consideration here.

For smoothbore ammuniton:

0053_Snip_Dec62_MN_MD_1

  • 1st Minnesota: 12-pdr field howitzer – 92 shell, 104 case, and 130 canister.
  • 2nd Minnesota: 6-pdr field gun – 266 shot, 288 case, and 71 canister.  12-pdr field howitzer – 160 case and 25 canister.
  • Baltimore Battery: 6-pdr field gun – 150 case and 150 canister.

I like it.  A “clean” data set with little to remark about!

Moving to the rifled projectiles, first the Hotchkiss types:

0053_Snip_Dec62_MN_MD_2

Of those reporting (and remember one of the Maryland batteries was lacking here):

  • 1st Minnesota:  Watch the calibers here…. for the 12-pdr Wiard (3.67-inch bore) – 74 Hotchkiss shot, 96 shell, and 12 bullet shell (case).  Recall this caliber matched to the converted 6-pdr rifles, which differed in bore size from true James rifles.  Just an interesting note for artillery students here – Hotchkiss projectiles, designed for Wiard rifles, used in 6-pdr bronze rifles.  Got it?
  • Battery B, Maryland:  150 shell and 370 bullet shell (case) Hotckiss for 3-inch rifles.
  • Baltimore Battery: 150 canister and 736 bullet shell (case) for 3-inch rifles.

None of the reporting batteries indicated quantities of Dyer, Parrott, or James on hand.  Moving over to the Schenkl columns:

0054_Snip_Dec62_MN_MD_1

Only the Maryland batteries:

  • Battery B, Maryland:  179 Schenkl 3-inch shells.
  • Baltimore Battery:  584 Schenkl 3-inch shells.

And on the far right we see 1st Minnesota had 126 of Tatham’s 3.67-inch canister for those rifled 6-pdrs.

As for small arms:

0054_Snip_Dec62_MN_MD_2

  • 1st Minnesota: 11 Navy revolvers and 13 cavalry sabers.
  • 2nd Minnesota: 8 Navy revolvers and 25 cavalry sabers.
  • Battery B, Maryland: 14 Army revolvers and 113 cavalry sabers.
  • Baltimore Battery: 20 Army revolvers and 30 horse artillery sabers.

Lots of edged weapons there with Battery B.

Other than the issues with the Minnesota batteries reported location, and the interesting use of projectiles for those rifled 6-pdrs, no surprises and few question marks with these batteries.

Long Arms and Revolvers: Interpreting the Small Arms Columns on Summary Statements

As I step through these summary statements, I tend to spend the most time thinking about the small arms columns.  Normally, as you can tell by this blog’s focus, I’m not a small arms researcher.  Not that I’m not interested.  Just that cannons take up more of my precious research resources.  However, as mentioned last week, the figures in those columns sometimes give indicators as to the battery’s utilization in the combat zone.

Perhaps it should be enough to simply consider the number of small arms by loose categories – long arms, pistols, and edged weapons.  But that’s contrary to my nature.  When I see those printed column headers, it tells me the clerks in Washington were particular about their bean counting for some reason.  Furthermore, the written headers on the blank columns are equally interesting.  Thus I look for their definition of those column headers.  So consider one of the snips with those small arms columns:

0038_Snip_Dec62_2ILL_3

This snip covers the 2nd Regiment Light Artillery of Illinois.  I select this as it provides a good example of the variety of column headers.

In the center of the column headers (to the right of the Regiment column and the red cut line) is a heading for “Muskets and Rifles.”  For the December 1862 summaries, we see those as informally defined and written in as needed.  Unfortunately we don’t know what type, among the multitude of types used by the Federals, of carbine that Battery I, 2nd Illinois had on hand.  But they had four of them.  (And a shout out here – Phil Spaugy, the National Commander of North-South Skirmish Association and a blogger about many things related to the Civil War and Ohio, has been very helpful interpreting the “chicken scratch” that is written in many of those columns.)

Summaries from later in the war have formally printed column headers, seen here with the 1st quarter 1864 (March):

0493HeaderSA

Still, there are some scratch outs and inked in changes to interpret.  But we see Ballards, Burnsides, Maynards, Sharps, and Spencers along with musketoons, Springfields, and Enfields.  However, I would point out that like the cannon columns, we must take any data entries in these small arms columns with a grain of salt.  With more formality came less flexibility, and one might say less precision.  If a unit were armed with some other type of weapon – say a Henry rifle or Smith’s carbine – then where is there room?    Not on the formatted summary sheets.  So the door was open to all sorts of “clerical magic.”

Looking to the right of the long arms, we see the familiar pistol columns.  In the 1862 form, there were three columns – percussion and two revolver types.  The former occasionally had a written addition such as “dragoon.”  The later had various written declarations referring to the caliber.  Early in the 1862 set, we’ve seen “.44” and “.37”.  That latter number most likely referred to the ball diameter of the smaller of the two standard calibers.  Later in the 1862 set, those are simplified to “Army” and “Navy” calibers.

And this is where we can start talking about specific pistol models.  I’ll avoid a lengthy dissertation on the already well known history of Mr. Colt’s patent revolver (and prepare for the lengthy comments from Colt enthusiasts!). The story began with the Colt-Paterson revolvers in .36-caliber acquired by the military in the 1840s.  For the larger caliber, most pistol aficionados will identify the Walker-Colts of 1847, the Colt Dragoons of 1848 and 1849 as .44-caliber weapons.  These fired a 136 grain lead ball or 212 grain ogive (pointed bullet) projectile that was slightly larger than barrel diameter (some will round that up to .45-caliber, while the 1862 Ordnance Manual indicated .46-inch diameter).  The powder charge behind those projectiles was 58 grains (ball) or 50 grains (ogive).

Those six (or five if you are safe) cylinders filled with powder and ball added to the rather hefty weight of over four pounds for a “hand” gun.  The Colt went through numerous refinements and improvements in the decade leading up to the Civil War.  One of the chief refinements was weight reduction.  One means of reducing the pistol’s weight, which first applied to the civilian market, was to adopt a smaller caliber projectile.  For the military customer, this surfaced as the Model 1851 Navy Revolver:

This .36-caliber pistol fired a 78 grain ball with 25 grains of powder, or a 145 grain bullet with 17 grains of powder.  So with just ammunition weight alone, a savings of almost 50% right off the top.  At 14 inches long, around two inches shorter overall compared to the Dragoons, and incorporating more refinements, the Navy weighed but 2.6 pounds.

However, Colt didn’t stop the improvements.  In 1860, the evolution produced two new revolvers for military customers.  First came the Model 1860 Army Revolver in the original .44-caliber.

Again, I’m giving the “short version” of the story here and will avoid discussion of the variations within a thirteen year production run of this particular model.  The Model 1860 fired a 136 grain ball, 155 grain bullet, or 216 grain bullet, with a reduced powder charge (39, 26, and 30 grains of powder, respectively).  However, the Model 1860 was about the same size and weight as the smaller caliber Model 1851.  The main point with respect to the summaries is that .44-caliber was by 1862 synonymous with “Army”.

The other “new” Colt was given the designation Model 1861 Navy and produced in .36-caliber.  The smaller Colt was but 13 inches long and weighed a few ounces less than the larger caliber Model 1860.   The main point here, respecting our discussion of summary reports, is the “Navy” was .36-caliber.

As with the Army, these Model 1861 revolvers had a very long production and service life.  And an interesting, entertaining role in American history to say the least.  As with the discussions soldiers and law enforcement have over handguns today, the choice between “Army” and “Navy” boiled down to handiness and firepower… both qualities somewhat perceived vs. actual.

But… lets not get locked on Colts.  There were a dizzy array of vendors and patents offering handguns for military purchase (or private purchase by military personnel) during the Civil War.  But for my purposes today, let us simplify that back to the calibers mentioned in the summaries – “Army” and “Navy.”  In that case, we run into the second-most widely recognized revolver of the war – the Remington:

The Remington came in several calibers, but specific to military contracts came the .36-caliber Navy and .44-caliber Army.  Likewise, other pistol makes were classified by the “Army” and “Navy” calibers.  So we see references to Savage Model 1861 Navy, the Whitney Navy revolver, or Starr Army and Navy models.  Not to mention the “Pocket” of .31-caliber, often picked up as private purchase.

The point here, in reference to those column headers, is that “Army” or “Navy” revolver did not necessarily mean Colt.  For the 1864 version of the table, there were separate columns for Colt and Remington, but nothing for those makes.  As with the long arms, I would not propose that every artillery battery was exclusively armed with Colt or Remington revolvers at that time. Rather those were the only columns the clerks were allowed to work with.

We might argue over relative merits of makes and models, single-action and double-action, and other particulars.  And I’m sure there is someone out there clinging to their LaMatt revolver fantasies.  But from a functional point of view, let us narrow this down to the two basic calibers – Army and Navy – for consideration of logistics.  And even then we are splitting hairs a bit.

I’ll follow this up in a few days with a discussion of the types of edged weapons mentioned on the summaries.  Not as glamorous as the cavalry’s application of the sabers, their inclusion on the list warrants at least a mention here.

Fortification Friday: “The dimensions of the exterior side must vary with the relief.”

Over the last couple of installments, we’ve looked at the geometry of a bastion fort.  A point to drive home, which hopefully readers have taken home, is the way the exterior side is somewhat the foundation for all planning.  The orientation and placement of that line governs almost all other particulars of the fort.  And a refresher… this is the exterior side of a bastion fort:

BuildingBastionPt1

Recall this is the first line drawn when planning out layout of the bastion fort.  Likewise, when resolving the defects of that type of fort, the exterior side serves as a governing factor.  The engineer could not exceed the space defined by the exterior sides, and he had to defend every corner of that defined space.

In his instruction, Mahan distilled the somewhat abstract principles surrounding bastion forts to derive some realistic planning guides that students might apply to the field.  In the case of the exterior side, Mahan offered a “rule of thumb” about the length of such a line… along with justification and a basis for refinement:

The exterior sides of the bastion fort should not exceed 250 yards, nor be less than 125 yards, otherwise the flanking arrangements will be imperfect. With a relief of 24 feet, which is the greatest that, in most cases, can be given to field works, and an exterior side of 250 yards, the ditch of the curtain will be perfectly swept by the fire of the flanks, the lines of defense will be nearly 180 yards, a length which admits of good defense, and the flanks will be nearly 30 yards.  With a relief of 14 feet, the least that will present a tolerable obstacle to an assault, and an exterior side of 125 yards, the ditch of the curtain will be well flanked, the flanks will be nearly 20 yards in length, and the faces between 30 and 40 yards. Between these limits, the dimensions of the exterior side must vary with the relief.

We sometimes go to the conclusion the range of musketry governed the dimensions of the fort.  The true nature of that relationship was a “sort of.”  Certainly the dimensions of the line of defense, offered here by Mahan as 180 yards, should be within the effective range of musketry.  But, at the same time, as Mahan describes, it is the geometrical rational which imposed the 250 yard exterior side, from which the 180 yard line of defense is produced.  I submit the answer here is that both musketry range and geometrical rules were equally in play.

The main thrust of this paragraph, however, is how topographic variations … that is relief… was an important factor when setting the exterior side.  We see that Mahan recommended, for the bastion fort, a variation of 24 to 14 feet in elevation.  And he gives ample justification.  Too much relief, and the guns on the parapet cannot cover the ground in front of the ditch properly.  Too little and the works offer no obstacle to the attacker.

So if you wanted to place a fort, you’d want to have terrain with some undulation up to around 14 feet.  Right?  Well what if you are building a fort out at … say…. Morris Island in 1863?  Not a whole lot of elevation variation in that beach front property. And what elevation there is tends to be temporary and much dependent upon the wind-blown sands.  The solution there, as witnessed with detailed plans from Battery Wagner, was to dig deeper and pile higher.  Though there was a limit to how deep one could dig there on the beach, meaning more was “piled higher.”  this gave Battery Wagner’s parapet about a 12 to 15 foot height above the ditch.  It also meant that work’s plan differed significantly from a classic bastion fort – both to provide the required coverage and address any faults to the layout.

How about the other extreme?  Say building a fort on top of Maryland Heights?  The side of that mountain drops off far more than 24 feet within 200 yards.  However, it was clear the attacker was not going to vault up that steep slope.  The exterior side that directed the layout of Stone Fort was that which lay across the plateau on top of the Heights.  Accordingly, we should assess the layout of that work – a redoubt with two bastions – based on that assessment of the threat.

Military science often devolves back to some basic common sense.  In this case, one lays out a fort in reference to the most likely enemy line of attack.  From that, one places the most cumbersome obstacles and clearest fields of fire so as to deter the attack in the first place. However, like so much that is common sense, practical application of something so simple often introduces more complexities than a simple set of rules can address.  That, of course, is why one would have to “plan” these fortifications.

(Citation from Dennis Hart Mahan, A Treatise on Field Fortifications, New York: John Wiley, 1852, pages 15-6.)

Summary Statement: December 31, 1862 – Michigan Batteries

During the Civil War, the state of Michigan mustered fourteen light artillery batteries. Of that set, only ten were organized at the time of the December 1862 report.   According to many official reports and returns, the first twelve were lettered batteries within the 1st Regiment Light Michigan Artillery (i.e. Battery A, 1st Michigan; Battery B, 1st Michigan, etc).  But other references cite these as numbered batteries (i.e. 1st Michigan Battery, 2nd Michigan Battery, etc).  As Dyer’s recognizes the first twelve as lettered batteries within a regiment of light artillery, I’m normally inclined to use such designations.  However, the summary statement for December 1862 lists these batteries by number.  So for this post I’ll translate from the listed designation to the other designation.

I said ten batteries, right?  Well we have ten and a detachment to discuss:

0051_Snip_Dec62_MI_1

We see all but the first two were diligent and filed their returns as required… all received by the fall of 1863.  Let me fill in the few blanks regarding battery assignments:

  • Battery A (1st Battery): No return.  Was assigned to the Army of the Cumberland’s Center Wing (1st Division) and at Stones River in December 1862. Lieutenant George Van Pelt’s battery rendered good service that day, firing 697 rounds.
  • Battery B (2nd Battery): No return. This battery was still smarting from losses sustained on April 6, 1862 … you know, first day at Shiloh.  A surviving section was attached to Battery C, 1st Missouri Light Artillery (Mann’s Battery).  And the reorganized, freshly recruited sections were in transit to west Tennessee that December.
  • Battery C (3rd Battery): Corinth, Mississippi.  One 12-pdr field howitzer and three 10-pdr Parrotts.  Assigned to the cumbersome 13th Corps at the time.
  • Battery D (4th Battery): Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Two 12-pdr field howitzers, two 10-pdr Parrotts, and two James 3.80-inch rifles.  Assigned to the Third Division, Center Wing, Army of the Cumberland, Captain Josiah Church’s battery expended 170 rounds in the battle of Stones River.
  • Battery E (5th Battery): At Nashville, Tennessee with four 6-pdr field guns. This battery was on garrison duty.
  • Battery F (6th Battery): Munfordsville, Kentucky. Two 6-pdr field guns and two 10-pdr Parrotts.  Records show that one section (type of guns unknown) was at Munfordsville under Lieutenant L.F. Hale.  Another section was at Bowling Green under Lieutenant D.B. Paddock.
  • Battery G (7th Battery):  Carrollton, Louisiana.  Six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  Carrollton was the battery’s location in September 1863, when the report was received in Washington.  In December 1862, this battery was with Sherman’s ill-fated Chickasaw Bayou expedition.
  • Battery H (8th Battery): No location indicated.  Two 12-pdr field howitzers, two 6-pdr (3.67-inch) rifles, and two James (3.80-inch) rifles.  This battery was in transit down the Mississippi River to Memphis, where it would join the 13th Corps.
  • Battery I (9th Battery): Washington, D.C.  Six 3-inch rifles.  This battery was assigned to the defenses of Washington. It would later become part of the Army of the Potomac’s Horse Artillery.
  • Battery K (10th Battery): Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Two 12-pdr field howitzers and four 3-inch steel rifles. Was preparing for a posting to the defenses of Washington. Captain John Schuetz commanded this battery through the war.
  • Finch’s Section: Lexington, Kentucky. Two 12-pdr field howitzers.  Lieutenant A. J. Finch (18th Michigan Infantry, if my research is correct) commanded this section in the “Army of Kentucky” or District of Central Kentucky.

A fair allocation of the Michigan artillerists, weighted as one might expect to the Western Theater.

Turning to the ammunition, first the smoothbore reported:

0053_Snip_Dec62_MI_1

By battery from those reporting:

  • Battery C: 30 shell, 80 case, and 25 canister for 12-pdr field howitzer.
  • Battery D: 100 shell, 50 case, and 40 canister in 12-pdr field howitzer.
  • Battery E: 316 shot, 257 case, and 277 canister for 6-pdr field guns.
  • Battery H: 240 shell and 63 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • Battery K: 156 shell, 204 case, and 43 canister for 12-pdr field howitzer.
  • Finch’s Section: 96 shell, 96 case, and 64 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.

Rifled projectile listings start with Hotchkiss:

0053_Snip_Dec62_MI_2

We see those for:

  • Battery G: 302 3-inch canister of the Hotchkiss type.
  • Battery H: 281 shot and 130 percussion shell of the Hotchkiss type for 3.80-inch James rifles.
  • Battery I: 108 canister, 75 percussion shell, and 200 fuse shells of Hotchkiss type for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery K: 96 canister, 165 percussion shell, 165 fuse shell, and 390 bolts of Hotickiss patent for 3-inch rifles.

Moving over to the James, Parrott, and Schenkle types:

0054_Snip_Dec62_MI_1

  • Battery C: 40 shell and 382 case Parrott-patent for 10-pdr Parrott.  And then 57 Schenkle shot for 10-pdr Parrott.
  • Battery D: 30 case Parrott-type for 10-pdr Parrotts.
  • Battery H: 97 James-type for 3.80-inch rifles.

Continuing with Schenkle projectiles on the second page:

0054_Snip_Dec62_MI_2

  • Battery C: 126 Schenkle canister for 10-pdr Parrott.
  • Battery D: 150 Schenkle shell for 10-pdr Parrott and 265 Schenkle shell for James 3.80-inch rifles.

Added to the end columns we see Battery H had 186 canister of 3.67-inch and 41 canister of 3.80-inch, both quantities of Tatham’s type.

And finally, the small arms reported by the Michigan batteries:

0054_Snip_Dec62_MI_3

  • Battery C:  Seven cavalry sabers.
  • Battery D: 20 cavalry sabers.
  • Battery E: 10 horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery G: 16 Army revolvers, 8 cavalry sabers, and 6 horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery H: 50 cavalry sabers.
  • Battery I: 161 Army revolvers and 33 horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery K: 20 Army revolvers and 167 horse artillery sabers.
  • Finch’s section: Four cavalry sabers.

Clearly those Michigan troops in Washington, or destined to be posted to Washington, got the lion’s share of the pistols and edged weapons.

Need a speaker for your group? Have presentation… will travel

Although a blog is a good place to showcase one’s strong suit, I do a terrible job at self-promotion.  I generally avoid self-pitches, figuring the content should do the loudest speaking on that line.  But, seeing this is the time of year folks are arranging speakers and presenters for Civil War Roundtables and other venues, I’d remind readers of the topics I can cover.

Some of the topics I’ve spoken on in the past:

  • The Battle of Belmont
  • The Battle of Island No. 10
  • Reduction of Fort Pulaski
  • The Signal Corps in the Atlanta Campaign
  • Sherman’s March to the Sea – with Emphasis on Fort McAllister
  • Civil War Artillery – most any aspect you may wish to discuss
  • The march of the Army of the Potomac through Loudoun in June 1863, including the Edwards Ferry Crossing
  • The long siege of Charleston, South Carolina, in particular the campaign on Morris Island in 1863.

Add to that list some of the topics I’ve worked up presentations for in the last five years (which readers have seen as I blogged through the sesquicentennial):

  • Sherman’s Carolinas Campaign
  • 1864 Winter Encampment of the Army of the Potomac – particularly the signal operations
  • Price’s 1864 Raid into Missouri
  • The Battle of Pea Ridge
  • The Civil War along the Georgia Coast
  • Naval battles of Memphis and Plum Run Bend
  • Siege and reduction of Fort Sumter – story of three great bombardments… and a lot of smaller ones!
  • July 1864 … and Foster’s demonstration that almost captured Charleston.
  • Raids along the Georgia coast in the summer of 1864
  • Potter’s Raid out of Georgetown, SC in 1865

Yes, I like to venture onto many lesser-traveled paths.  Many of these topics take us beyond just the raw military history into discussions about political factors and the course of emancipation… more than the standard “steak and potatoes” talks and some spicy fare mixed in.

So if you are looking for a speaker for your group that will offer more than some reiteration of what you alredy know about Gettysburg, put me on your list!