Summary Statement, 1st Quarter, 1863 – Iowa’s light artillery

The next state’s batteries listed in the first quarter, 1863 summaries was Iowa.  Yes, we have Iowa following Illinois and Indiana saved for the next set of pages.  The clerks at the Ordnance Department were not concerned with alphabetical order.  They wanted to maximize space utilization on the form.  After all there was a war on and must have been some paper shortage, right?

So that makes short work for us in this installment, just three batteries and a ‘stores on hand’ line to consider:

0100_1_Snip_Iowa All three batteries, and the referenced cavalry regiment, served in the lower Mississippi Valley that winter as Federals angled to capture Vicksburg:

  • 1st Iowa Battery: At Sherman’s Landing, Louisiana with four 6-pdr field guns and two 12-pdr field howitzers. Sherman’s Landing was near Young’s Point, where the battery supported First Division, Fifteenth Corps.  Captain Henry H. Griffiths commanded.
  • 2nd Iowa Battery: Reporting from Young’s Point, Louisiana with two 6-pdr field guns and two 12-pdr field howitzers. Lieutenant Joseph R. Reed commanded this battery, part of the Eighth Division, Sixteenth Corps.
  • 3rd Iowa Battery: At Helena, Arkansas with four 6-pdr field guns and two 12-pdr field howitzers. Captain Mortimer M. Hayden commanded this battery.  It was assigned on paper to the “new” Thirteenth Corps, but operated as part of the District of Eastern Arkansas out of Helena.
  • 4th Iowa Cavalry: Stores in charge, no guns tallied on the summary.  We’ll look at this entry in detail later.  The regiment served under Lieutenant-Colonel Simeon D. Swan during the winter, mostly operating around Helena.

So three batteries, all reporting a mix of 6-pdr field guns and 12-pdr howitzers.  We can make short work of this, right?

0102_1_Snip_Iowa

Smoothbore ammunition reported by battery:

  • 1st Iowa: 400 shot, 320 case, and 80 canister for 6-pdr field gun;  120 shell, 160 case, and 42 canister for 12-pdr field howitzer.
  • 2nd Iowa: 142 shot 160 case, and 111 canister for 6-pdr field gun; 120 shell, 120 case, and 74 canister for 12-pdr field howitzer.
  • 3rd Iowa: 375 shot, 299 case, and 85 canister for 6-pdr field gun;  95 shell, 66 case, and 32 canister for 12-pdr field howitzer.

I would point out the 1st Iowa’s quantities are the same as reported the previous quarter.  The other two reflect changes of ordnance on hand.

As expected, there were no quantities of rifled projectiles on hand.  I’ve posted the snips to prove it (here, here, and here).

So we turn to the small arms:

0103_3_Snip_Iowa

And find just nine sabers on hand:

  • 1st Iowa: Five cavalry sabers.
  • 2nd Iowa:  Four cavalry sabers.

A short discussion for those three batteries – ten 6-pdr guns and six 12-pdr howitzers along with well stocked ammunition chests and a handful of sabers.

But what of the 4th Cavalry line?  What “stores” did they have on hand?  Looking through the implements and equipment pages, there are three each – tar bucket, gunner’s haversack, gunner’s pincers, two wheel harnesses, lanyards, piercing wires, and tube punches.  So we might gather there were, or at least were at some time, three guns assigned.  And one more line item offers another clue – the regiment reported three 2.6-inch Wiard sponges.  As noted before, the ordnance clerks would sometime tally equipment associated with Woodruff guns under the 2.6-inch Wiard columns (or in some cases the “repeating gun” columns, to add to their inconsistencies).  And if we look to the regimental history, we get some conformation:

On the 8th of March [1863], a detachment of two hundred and fifty men of the Fourth Iowa, commanded by Major Spearman, forming part of a column under Major Walker, of the Fifth Kansas Cavalry… had a skirmish with the rebels at Big Creek, about ten miles west of Helena.  The creek was impassable, and the enemy were on the opposite side. Private Benoni F. Kellogg, of L, a popular soldier was killed, but no one else was struck.  Kellogg’s comrades, unwilling to leave his body, lashed it to one of the “Woodruff” guns, and so brought it into camp, where they buried it with honors.

A Woodruff gun used as an ambulance… some might argue that was the best possible utilization of the diminutive cannon.  But, let us be kind.  The regimental history continues to describe the guns and explain how the troopers used them:

The Woodruff guns were three small iron pieces, throwing a two-pound solid shot, which about this time in some way came into the hands of the regiment. They were placed in charge of Private “Cy” Washburn, of B, who had a few men detailed to assist him.  They were of no value, and were generally voted a nuisance.  They were never known to hit anything, and never served any useful purpose, except in promoting cheerfulness in the regiment. The men were never tired of making jokes and teasing Washburn about them; but he was proud of his artillery, and thirsted for an opportunity to justify its existence.  When the regiment left Helena he was not permitted to take it along with him; but he pined for a gun, and in the Vicksburg campaign he was given a small brass piece, captured at Jackson, upon which he organized another “battery” and considered himself handsomely promoted. An opportunity for glory came suddenly one fine day, but before it could be fully achieved the unfeeling rebels carried off Washburn, battery and all.

Poor Washburn.  I am certain readers can sympathize with this eager artillerist diligently working to enlighten the wooden-heads of the mounted arm as to the value of artillery.  Yet, when given a chance to demonstrate on the field of battle, his opportunity foiled.

But we do have some clean evidence to support speculations.  The regimental history mentions three Woodruffs.  We see indications of three “sets” of equipment with the regiment.  And we know the guns were employed in March 1863… though not in the manner designed for. Regardless, such fills in some blanks left on the summaries.

(Citations from William Forse Scott, The Story of a Cavalry Regiment: The Career of the Fourth Iowa Veteran Volunteers from Kansas to Georgia, 1861-1865, New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1893, page 62.)

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