Summary Statement: December 31, 1862 – Maine’s Batteries

The next listing in the fourth quarter, 1862 summaries is Maine.  The Pine Tree State provided seven field batteries and one heavy artillery regiment for the Federal armies during the war.  The 18th Maine Infantry became the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery in early January 1863, and remained part of the Washington defenses.  That unit did not report any field artillery and thus falls outside the scope of our study.  Of the light batteries, only the first six were formed as of December 1862.  Maine numbered its batteries, although letter designations are often seen in reports and other documents.  I’ll stay with the Ordnance Department’s convention today and call the batteries by their numbers.

Counting reports for the quarter, we see the men from Maine were somewhat negligent, as only two of the field batteries provided returns.  In addition, the 9th Maine Infantry provided a return for artillery in their charge:

0051_Snip_Dec62_ME_1

Let me attempt to fill in some of the blanks here:

  • 1st Battery: No report. The battery was part of the Department of the Gulf at this time and at Thibodeauxville, Louisiana.  Later in the winter, official reports indicated the battery had four 6-pdr rifled guns and three 12-pdr howitzers.
  • 2nd Battery: At Camp Barry, Washington, D.C. with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  The indicated date of report was December 14, 1862.  This stands at odds with official reports that have Captain James Hall’s battery in action at Fredericksburg supporting the First Corps, Army of the Potomac!
  • 3rd Battery: No report. This battery had an unconventional history.  Through the fall of 1862, the 3rd Battery served as pontooneers.  When reassigned to the Defenses of Washington, the battery was at first attached to the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery.  It is possible the mention of the 2nd Battery (above) at Camp Barry refers instead to the 3rd Battery.
  • 4th Battery: No report. This battery was detached from the Third Corps, Army of the Potomac and posted to Harpers Ferry.  Captain O’Neil Robinson’s battery had six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.
  • 5th Battery: No location given.  Armed with six 12-pdr Napoleons.  This battery was with the First Corps (outside Fredericksburg) in December 1862.
  • 6th Battery: No report.  The battery supported the Twelfth Corps at this time and was posted to Dumfries, Virginia.  Captain Freeman McGilvery’s battery had last reported (September) a mix of Napoleons and Ordnance Rifles.
  • 9th Infantry:  Fernandina, Florida with one 24-pdr field howitzer and one 10-pdr Parrott. The annotation indicates this was a section in Company F of the regiment.  The howitzer may have been captured from Confederate forces.

Given the scant reports recorded, we have very little in the way of projectiles on hand to deliberate on:

0053_Snip_Dec62_ME_1

The 5th Battery had 355 shot, 111 shell, 272 case, and 96 canister for its 12-pdr Napoleons. And down in Florida, the 9th Maine Infantry reported 29 shells, 48 case, and 20 canister for that big 24-pdr howitzer.

On to rifled projectiles, for the Hotchkiss patent types:

0053_Snip_Dec62_ME_2

The 2nd Battery had 20 canister and 100 fuse shells for the 3-inch rifles.

For Parrott projectiles, we go back to Florida:

0054_Snip_Dec62_ME_1

The 9th Infantry had 30 shells, 34 case, and 30 canister for its lone 10-pdr Parrott.

No other projectiles mentioned in the summary for the Maine batteries.  So on to the small arms:

0054_Snip_Dec62_ME_2

Just three lines to review:

  • 2nd Battery: 17 Army revolvers and 16 cavalry sabers.
  • 5th Battery: 16 Army revolvers and 17 cavalry sabers.
  • 9th Infantry: 74 muskets of .69-caliber, 15 Army revolvers, 15 cavalry sabers, and two horse artillery sabers.

I suspect the entry for the 9th Maine Infantry included all the small arms assigned to Company F of the regiment. I would further note that the 9th Maine would go on to serve, the following summer and fall, on Morris Island. There, as did many of the infantry units, the Maine soldiers did their turns tending the heavy siege artillery.  This is somewhat a counter-point to the point I made yesterday about artillery serving as infantry or cavalry.  In this case we see infantry pressed into service with the big cannons.

7 thoughts on “Summary Statement: December 31, 1862 – Maine’s Batteries

  1. “The 18th Maine Infantry became the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery in early January 1863 ….” Was it common to shift and infantry unit to artillery, and do you have any data on how this was received by the men who were moved from one branch of service to another? I suppose it would have been better to have been moved from infantry to artillery than vice versa.

    • In the case of the 18th Maine, they were part of the Washington defenses, and for all practical purposes had been manning the large garrison guns for some time. The unit designation change simply reflected the reality of their service role. Later, in the spring of 1864, the 1st Maine Heavy was one of the “heavies” taken out of Washington and used as infantry. The regiment suffered a very high casualty rate during the Overland and Petersburg Campaigns – cited as sustaining the highest loss of any regiment during the war. That said, from reading veterans’ remarks made after the war, there was some bragging rights to having served through those bloody days. I would not want to generalize and say how the transition from infantry to artillery then back to infantry was received, as it appeared to be more an individual opinion.

      • I have seen a handful of regiments referred to as having suffered the highest losses or the highest casualty rate of any during the war.

        I suppose that it would be difficult to say just who had it worst – whether it was based on total losses or percentage, totals deaths or total casualties. Any way you slice it, it must have been something else for those who made it through.

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