Fortification Friday: Wheeler and the evolution of interior arrangements during and post-war

I’ve mentioned on several occasions how the lessons on fortifications, used to teach cadets, demonstrate the evolution of doctrine from pre-war thinking into the post-war era.  We see some of this evolution when comparing pre-war and post-war versions of Mahan’s treatise.  But where the changes really come into play is when comparing Wheeler’s  1880 textbook.

An example of these changes is how Wheeler chose to relate details of interior arrangements.  Even when classifying these arrangements, Wheeler offered a shift, sometimes subtle, change of focus.  Recall Mahan’s pre-war text described the classes of interior arrangements as such:

The class of constructions required for the above purposes, are batteries; powder magazines; traverses; shelters; enclosures for gorges and outlets; interior safety-redoubt, or keep; and bridges of communication.

Somewhat brief, and from there Mahan proceeded to detail how batteries were placed on the parapet… with emphasis on the employment of artillery.

Wheeler offered a similar set of classifications, but abstracted those a bit with a mind to functional requirements:

Classes. – The earth work for the parapet being completed, and the revetments of the interior slope constructed, attention is then paid to the interior of the work.  Certain arrangements have to be made in the interior, to add to the efficiency of the defense, and to provide for the comfort of the troops who have to occupy the work.  These interior arrangements are divided into classes, according to the object to be attained by them.

The divisions may be classified as follows:

  1. The arrangements of, and along a parapet, intended to add to the efficiency of the defense;

  2. The arrangements within the area enclosed by the parapet, to shelter the men and matèriel from the fire of the enemy;

  3. The arrangements made to allow egress and ingress of the troops; including those made to guard the outlets against surprise; and

  4. The arrangements which may be made to provide for the comfort and welfare of the garrison when occupying the interior of the work for some time.

While Mahan named specific structures that would be constructed within the interior, Wheeler’s classifications come across is more so proper doctrine.  In other words, Wheeler put the reason before the task.  Such is a more formal approach to doctrine, as opposed to simply providing a list of structures, and  their specifications, to be used.

And with that approach, abstracted from naming particular types of structures, Wheeler was able to identify some of the needs, beyond the basics, of a garrison occupying a fortification.  You know… like those “comfort and welfare” things he mentions.  But not to be overlooked, shelter from enemy fire and ease of entry or exit.  These were all things Mahan addressed, but gave limited treatment. Did Mahan simply not care about the troops?  No.  But Mahan’s text was rooted in some pre-war concepts which, though we have discussed before, should be repeated for clarity.

Mahan’s instruction about fortification borrowed heavily from the European experience.  It was a textbook on field fortifications which would complement other instruction relying heavily, as is often the case with military science, on the “last war.”  Many scholars have debated the influence of Antoine-Henri Jomini on Civil War generalship.  But I don’t think we can dispute a “what would Napoleon do?” approach prevailed.

That in mind, the military minds came to make several operational assumptions.  With respect to fortifications, the assumption was two types would be employed.  Fixed, permanent fortifications were constructed to defend vital areas.  For the Americans, these were most often seacoast fortifications, as most potential adversaries would need to gain lodgement at some port (the exception, prior to the 1840s, being the northern border, but even there the great lakes presented a seacoast-like need).

The other form of defense assumed was temporary or field fortifications for use by an army on campaign.  And those were intended to work within the tactical framework handed down by the European experience on the Napoleonic battlefield.  These fortifications were employed to protect important areas related to the army’s campaign objectives.  And those objectives were subject to change.  The design of the works was more so to deter direct attack.  In that way the temporary works would deter direct attack, requiring a deliberate effort (i.e. a siege or other significant commitment of resources).  The temporary fortification was not designed for prolonged occupation or lengthy defense.  Above all, the temporary fortification was always a function of the campaign being undertaken at that moment in time.

The American experience, even before the war, offered a slight twist to the paradigm.  With a significant commitment to the frontier, structures such as blockhouses became important.  Yet the US Army did not give much instruction to that part.  In my opinion there were two significant reasons for this.  First, perhaps foremost, the methods for establishing frontier garrisons were judged as intuitive.  Mahan’s “Outpost” manual covered some of this.  Secondly, much of the responsibility for these frontier garrisons was given to territorial, state, or local authorities.  In short, it was not a major mission in the broader sense.  Rather, the US Army was supposed to give Congress detailed plans for defending the coast.  Those commitments out west were not the “big show”.

Civil War experience demonstrated the “two types of forts” assumption to be incorrect, to say the least.  Operational requirements demonstrated there was a third type which fell directly between the chairs.  That being a semi-permanent fortifications which were not directly tied to ongoing campaigns.  The best example of that would be the Washington defenses.  Lesser so the Richmond defenses, but of course those became the focus of a campaign later in the war.  Other examples, which we’ve mentioned in relation to blockhouses, were those works constructed to protect communications and supply lines. All of which supported the army in the field, but were not a direct function of that army’s operation… i.e. the campaign.   And as a function of those requirements, the engineers had to address other needs within the fortifications, to include “comfort and welfare.”

What I like about the passage from Wheeler enumerating the classes of interior arrangements is that he removed a lot of the Napoleonic baggage from the discussion.  Sure, forts were still built in the manner employed in the first quarter of the 19th century.  Men used shovels to dig, then pile the earth.  Fortifications still required parapets and ditches to be effective means of resistance.  The “physics” of the matter did not change, other perhaps than the need for additional thickness to resist rifled projectiles.  But it was the requirement those fortifications were filling that shifted over time.   That’s what I see reflected in the approach Wheeler gave to these particulars.

(Citations from Dennis Hart Mahan, A Treatise on Field Fortifications, New York: John Wiley, 1852, pages 51-2; Junius B. Wheeler, The Elements of Field Fortifications, New York: D. Van Nostrand, 1882, page 114. )

Fort Sumter photos after the fire – Intro to a series

Back during the sesquicentennial period, the “home stretch” from January to April 2015 offered a formidable challenge as I blogged through anniversary events (and attended quite a few).  There were simply too many things that I felt deserved attention.  In that rush of postings, several events did not get full, detailed, and deserving treatment.

One of those was the flag raising at Fort Sumter on April 14, 1865.  Reflecting those busy sesqui days, I posted twice that 150th anniversary … while preparing to head into D.C. to attend events at Ford’s Theater that evening.  So while I did get off a sesquicentennial post about Fort Sumter that day, it was somewhat short… and not to my satisfaction.  I had stacked up material for several posts with the intent of “walking around” Fort Sumter using wartime photographs, much as was done earlier for Morris Island and later for Fort Johnston.  But sesquicentennial buzz turned to post-sesquicentennial cool-down…. well … I shouldn’t make excuses… I just got a bit lazy!

So let’s go back and have another look at April 14, 1865:

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This is one of a set of photos taken inside Fort Sumter of the flag raising ceremonies. Let me label this one “FSC1” for “Fort Sumter Ceremony #1.”  Being more of a “fort and cannon” type, I’m not overly excited about naming names and identifying celebrities there.  Other bloggers did some of that during the sesquicentennial, so I’ll just refer you over their way.

To me, these photos of the ceremony are the “gateway” into a look back in time.  From these we can see what Fort Sumter looked like in that moment.  And using that view, we can start pinpointing structures and features which do not exist today  – that is the temporary structures erected just for the ceremony and remains left behind by the Confederates.

There are two important sets of paper documentation which should be used to unlock the information in these photos.  The first is a survey of the fort made by Federal engineers shortly after its recapture.  We have, on file with the Library of Congress, high resolution copies of the draft survey:

FortSumterFeb18_65_draft

And the final product, included with Brigadier-General Quincy Gilmore’s report:

FortSumter65_2

While I like using the latter, as it renders well, there is unfortunately a binding seam right down the middle.  Please don’t let that distract.   The former, the draft survey, is also useful as it calls out details not carried over to the final.  And there are several other diagrams and scrap views that are included with the set.  Overall, these provide us a very detailed examination of Fort Sumter, as it existed in February 1865.  There were some alterations made by the Federals between that survey and April.  But those were minimal.  Those changes were generally of two types.  Some of these were functional repairs, such as restoring the lighthouse (which was really just a light mark…) and placing the flagpole.  Other changes were temporary, as part of the ceremony preparation.  And those changes are readily apparent when comparing the survey with the photos.

As you probably noticed, we have two plans and several elevations to work with here.  Mahan would be happy.  It is the plan in the center that is most applicable to photo analysis, as it is the “as seen from above” view, as opposed to a cut-away layer:

Feb18_65_SnipB

Again, that pesky seam right down the side!  Note the “star and line” running out from the center.  That’s a north seeking arrow.

The second major set of documentation we need to consult is from the 20th century.  In 1933 the National Park Service established the Historic American Building Survey (HABS) with the mission to “…document achievements in architecture, engineering, and landscape design in the United States and its territories through a comprehensive range of building types, engineering technologies, and landscapes….”  And that collection of documents, photos, and other materials is also in the Library of Congress’ online resources.  Among the buildings surveyed was Fort Sumter (and, to be proper, this was not just one survey… but an ongoing project which continues to gather information about the structure).

As anyone who has visited Fort Sumter is quick to point out, the fort changed significantly between 1865 and 1933.  The most visible change occurred in the 1890s when the Army decided Fort Sumter was still an important post for the defense of Charleston. So Battery Huger went up in the middle of that historic fort.  The HABS captured those changes in detail, allowing us easy comparison back to the 1865 survey.  Furthermore, the HABS survey then allows us to pinpoint where something was at in relation to what the fort looks like today.

One of the HABS survey diagrams which is most useful, as it lines up with the 1865 survey well, is the “roof” plan:

HABS SC,10-CHAR.V,3

Here we have a stylistic compass rose on the upper right, allowing orientation.

All well and good, you say, but with all those people in the way in the ceremony photos, we don’t get a nice, clean view of the fort’s structures.  Well, here’s the key to unlock the door:

02320a

We mostly see this photo mentioned because of the presence of another photographer (yea… paparazzi of 1865!) on the other side of Fort Sumter.  But this gives us a look across the parade ground of Fort Sumter without all the ceremony clutter.   Let me call this one “Fort Sumter 1” or in short hand “FS1″The “keys” here are the berm or crest to the left of frame; a set of gabions on the parapet; the stairs to the right of that entrance; and the chimney-like structure in the foreground.  Let’s circle those in red on FS1:

02320aLocator1

Using those, we can start matching to the 1865 survey:

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Let’s zoom in on one of those red circles as it will give us a very precise idea as to the camera’s location. This is the chimney area on the survey:

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What we see in the photo is a column of bricks.  What we see on the survey is a small square.  However, if we look to the middle of that snip, we see an elevation runs through that portion of the fort, along the line E-F.  Here’s that elevation:

Feb18_65_SnipElevationEF

So… yes… those are chimneys.  And we have a photo of that section of the fort taken in the spring of 1865:

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A great photo with all sorts of things to talk about.  But for now let’s just call it a supporting exhibit.  We’ll walk through this photo later. If we can pinpoint which chimney is in the foreground of FS1, then we have a pretty good idea of where the camera was located.  Given the spacing of the chimneys, and more importantly the “curve” of the gabion line to the side of the chimney in FS1, I think we are looking for the left-most in the photo above.  If we go with that, here’s how the photo lines up with the 1865 survey:

FS1Locator

In other words, the photographer was on the south-east wall, atop the bombproofs.  The camera was oriented to the west.  We can then account for the passageway to the Confederate docks, the crest on the west corner, and other features.  And… if we take that over to the HABS diagram we can start talking about where to stand today:

FS1LocatorHABS So the camera was somewhere around about the top of the stairways on the east corner of the fort. Near abouts there: Ft Sumter 3 May 2010 267

Suffice to say, the view from that point today is obscured by Battery Huger. But the flagpoles are in view:

Ft Sumter 3 May 2010 268

Now that we know where the camera was pointed, we can start picking out key features that will appear in other photos.  So… follow this down to that big hunk of iron in the middle of the parade ground, circled in yellow:

02320aLocator2

On closer examination….

FS1Snip1

A Confederate Columbiad. The long trunnions, paired with the mushroom cascabel, gives this away. I count eight ratchets, leading to a tentative identification as a 10-inch Columbiad. There were certainly plenty of those around Charleston in 1865. And there are a few still there today. Might we be seeing a cataloged survivor? And we see that Columbiad in several other photos of the fort’s interior.

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And…

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Sort of hard to move a 13,500 pound cannon, even for a ceremonial flag raising.
That cannon didn’t just have a “front row seat”… it WAS a front row seat.  In some of the ceremony photos, we can see a break in the crowd where that columbiad sat.  Certainly an appropriate trophy to display at a ceremony marking the victory at Fort Sumter.

Summary Statement, 2nd Quarter, 1863 – Second Illinois Artillery Regiment

As we continue with the summaries through the second quarter of 1863, a pattern emerges with respect to the equipment issued to batteries serving in the east.  We might even narrow that down to just the batteries serving with the Army of the Potomac and Washington Defenses.  Those tend to be armed with just one caliber and type of weapon.  And that type tends to be one of the important three – 12-pdr Napoleon, 3-inch Ordnance Rifles, or 10-pdr Parrott.  Likewise, the ammunition reported tends to be predictable, with Hotchkiss and Parrott the preferred rifled projectiles.

But when we look at those batteries outside that set, particularly out to the western theater, uniformity is thrown away for sake of availability.  More so for the projectiles issued for use.  We’ve seen some of this with the First Illinois Artillery Regiment.  Now another dose as we look to the Second Illinois:

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Of twelve batteries listed, the clerks recorded nine returns.  And of those nine, six reported James rifles and one reported the “odd cousins” – rifled 6-pdrs.

  • Battery A:  No report. The battery marched with Fourteenth (or First, after reconciliation) Division, Thirteenth Corps.  Captain Peter Davidson was in command, but during the Vicksburg Campaign Lieutenant Frank B. Fenton lead the battery.
  • Battery B: No report, but with an annotation of “siege”. No cannon reported. Captain Fletcher H. Chapman commanded.  The battery was part of the Sixteenth Corps, and assigned to the District of Corinth.
  • Battery C: Reported at At Fort Donelson, Tennessee with four 3.80-inch James Rifles.  Aside from garrisoning the fort, Captain James P. Flood’s battery also performed escort duties, assigned to the Third Division, Reserve Corps, Army of the Cumberland.
  • Battery D: Indicated at Memphis, Tennessee with four 3.80-inch James Rifles. Captain Charles S. Cooper remained in command of this battery, assigned to First Division, Sixteenth Corps, covering Memphis at the time.
  • Battery E: Reported at Carrollton, Louisiana with three 6-pdr field guns and one 12-pdr field howitzer.  The location is “as of date of receipt” for September 1863.  In June 1863, Lieutenant George L. Nipsel’s battery was with Fourth Division, Sixteenth Corps, which was detached for duty in the Vicksburg siege lines.
  • Battery F: Indicated at Natchez, Mississippi with two 6-pdr field guns and two 12-pdr field howitzers.  Another “as of receipt” location.  In this case, the battery was assigned to Sixth Division, Seventeenth Corps, with Captain John W. Powell in command, and at Vicksburg.
  • Battery G: Outside Vicksburg, Mississippi with four rifled 6-pdr guns. Captain Frederick Sparrestrom commanded this battery, assigned to Third Division, Seventeenth Corps.  There is an interesting, if trivial, sidebar that I hope to present in a follow up post.  The short story – While being ferried across the Mississippi River at Bruinsburg on May 1, 1863, a collision resulted in the loss of most battery equipment and horses.  As related earlier, Sparrestrom temporarily commanded Battery D, 1st Illinois Artillery for a time.  The battery was re-equipped in Memphis and forwarded to Vicksburg, reporting on June 30 (or there-abouts).
  • Battery H: Showing as posted to Fort Donelson.  Reporting two 6-pdr field guns and four 3.80-inch James Rifles. Lieutenant  Jonas Eckdall’s battery was transferred to the Third Division, Reserve Corps, Army of the Cumberland earlier in the spring.  But the battery was among the forces posted to guard the army’s supply lines.
  • Battery I:  At Nashville, Tennessee with two 12-pdr Napoleons, two 10-pdr Parrotts, and two 3.80-inch James Rifles.  Captain Charles M. Barnett commanded this battery.  It was assigned to Second Division, Reserve Corps, Army of the Cumberland.
  • Battery K: No report.  This battery, under Captain Benjamin F. Rodgers, was part of the Fourth Division, Sixteenth Corps, which was forwarded to Vicksburg during the siege.
  • Battery L: Listed at Vicksburg with four 3.80-inch James Rifles. Part of Third Division, Seventeenth Corps, Captain William H. Bolton commanded.
  • Battery M: Cited as still in Chicago, Illinois, but gaining four 3.80-inch James Rifles.  The battery was reforming after its surrender at Harpers Ferry the previous fall.  In May, the battery, still under the command of Captain John C. Phillips, moved to Kentucky.  There the battery became part of Fourth Division, Twenty-third Corps, Army of the Ohio.  At the end of June, the battery was at Louisville, Kentucky.

As you can see, a lot of story-lines with the 2nd Illinois Artillery.

Moving to the ammunition, we start with the smoothbore rounds on hand:

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Four batteries reporting smoothbore cannon.  And four reporting ammunition on hand:

  • Battery E: 207 shot, 164 case, and 203 canister for 6-pdr field guns; 34 shell, 60 case, and 34 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • Battery F: 184 shot, 135 case, and 28 canister for 6-pd field guns; 120 shell, 133 case, and 31 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.  Interpreting the last figure as a transcription error by the clerks.
  • Battery H:  186 shot, 160 case, and 42 canister for 6-pdr field guns.
  • Battery I:  25 shot, 38 shell, 130 case, and 63 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.

Moving to the rifled projectiles, here’s where we get busy.  We start with the first page of the Hotchkiss columns:

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Heavy use of the Hotchkiss rounds, but for James and 6-pdr calibers:

  • Battery C: 100 shot, 430 percussion shell, and 68 fuse shell for 3.80-inch James.
  • Battery G: 110 percussion shell and 935(?) fuse shell for 3.67-inch rifles.
  • Battery H:  10 shot for 3.80-inch James.
  • Battery I: 103 bullet shell for 3.80-inch James.
  • Battery L: 300 percussion shell, 200 fuse shell, and 200 bullet shell for 3.80-inch James.
  • Battery M:  70 shot, 340 fuse shell, and 270 bullet shell for 3.80-inch James.

But… we are not done with the Hotchkiss.  Moving to the next page, which I’ll break down by section for ease of presentation, we find more Hotchkiss projectiles:

0180_1A_Snip_ILL_2

Canister for everyone! Well at least for four batteries:

  • Battery C:  250 canister for 3.80-inch James.
  • Battery G: 100 canister for 3.67-inch rifles.
  • Battery L: 60 canister for 3.80-inch James.
  • Battery M: 70 canister for 3.80-inch James.

And note, with underlines, the ordnance department and the battery in the field carried the 3.67-inch rifles and their ammunition separately from the James rifles.  These weapons looked the same on the outside.  The bore diameter was just over a tenth of an inch different.  But for accounting and handling, these were different weapons.  The Ordnance Department associated the 3.67-inch caliber with Wiard.  But I don’t think we should read too much into that.

Moving to the right, we skip Dyer’s columns for the James-type projectiles:

0180_1B_Snip_ILL_2

Everything in 3.80-inch caliber:

  • Battery C: 7 shot, 24 shell, and 2 canister in 3.80-inch James.
  • Battery D: 45 shot, 203 shell, 64 case, and 60 canister for 3.80-inch James.
  • Battery H: 125 shot, 267 shell, and 214 canister for 3.80-inch James.
  • Battery I: 121 canister for 3.80-inch James.
  • Battery L: 300 shell and 128 canister for 3.80-inch James.

Next we have the Parrott columns. Battery I had a pair of those, and here’s what they could fire:

0180_1C_Snip_ILL_2

  • Battery I:  119 shell, 233 case, and 46 canister for 10-pdr Parrott.

And to be sure we are tracking, those were Parrott-patent projectiles.  More in the same caliber, but Schenkl, are on the far right:

  • Battery I: 30 shot for 10-pdr Parrott.

Then off to the next page where there are more Schenkl columns to consider:

0180_2A_Snip_ILL_2

But these are for James rifles:

  • Battery D: 64 shot and 128 shell for 3.80-inch rifles.
  • Battery I: 102 shell for 3.80-inch rifles.

And looking to the right of those, we find some Tatham canister reported:

0180_2B_Snip_ILL_2

More James caliber stuff:

  • Battery H: 33 canister for 3.80-inch rifles.

So to summarize the rifled projectiles reported on hand for the 2nd Illinois Artillery…. a wide variety of types.

Lastly we move to the small arms:

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By battery reporting:

  • Battery C: Fourteen Army revolvers, fifty-one cavalry sabers, and six horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery E: Eight Army revolvers, thirty-two cavalry sabers, and forty-four horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery F: Twenty-five Army revolvers and twelve cavalry sabers.
  • Battery H: Fifty-four Army revolvers, twenty-one cavalry sabers, and twelve foot artillery swords.
  • Battery I: Seven(?) Army revolvers, twenty-three Navy revolvers, and thirty horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery M: Twenty Army revolvers and twenty horse artillery sabers.

With that, we close the Second Illinois.  But we are not done with this state’s contributions for the second quarter of 1863.  Next up is the somewhat official Third Regiment and miscellaneous batteries.