Comparison: US and Foreign 6-pdr Guns

Those of us with Cold War experience may fondly recall the old ASCC reporting names for aircraft and missiles.  For those who were not gifted with such experiences, in short the NATO countries, along with allied nations around the world, standardized an artificial set of names for Soviet hardware.  Those artificial names served as a framework when discussing the perceived capabilities of the aircraft or missiles.  But not knowing with precision exactly what the Soviets called their weapons lead to a lot of misidentification and incorrect perceptions.  For the historian dealing with such things, we have to work from a perspective of “what did they know at that time?”… furthermore we must ensure that knowledge, or lack thereof, is used as the context when interpreting the sources.

In the 19th century, armies “looked over the shoulder” of their potential adversaries – and allies – just the same as today.  While perhaps not cloaked an air of “James Bond” and all, there was indeed some technical intelligence gathering going on.  With respect to field artillery, we find that manifested in a section within the US Army’s Ordnance Manuals with a title something like “Cannon of Foreign Countries.”

From the 1841 edition:

The materials for the following table have been collected, with few exceptions, from the latest manuals of artillery in England, France, Prussia, and Austria, and from memoranda obtained in Russia and Sweden.

The dimensions and weights are given in our own measures.

The column of exterior length shows the length from the rear of the base ring to the face of the piece, and the length of bore includes the chamber, when not otherwise mentioned.

In England, France, and Sweden, howitzers and mortars take their denominations, as with us, from the diameter of the bore, or from the caliber of a gun of corresponding bore; in Austria and Prussia, from the weight of a stone ball of the caliber of the bore; in Russia, from the true weight of the shell.

This introduction identifies the sources used, to which I would add some data was undoubtedly derived from examination of cannon – particular those captured from the British during the Revolution or War of 1812.  And that point is one good reason to have data on the cannon of other countries – should the situation arise that American officers need to use captured or otherwise acquired weapons.

The introduction also lets us know the data was converted to American standards.  Though at the same time we see just settling on “the name of a thing” was as difficult then as it is today.

In the past, I’ve used the tables to compare foreign and American 24-pdr howitzers.  There we were focused more on weapons imported during the Civil War.  If we switch over to the 6-pdrs, there were certainly some imports to consider.  But also we might use those tables to compare US weapon development to that of Europe.  Much of the American’s research, development, and test programs focused on the 6-pdr caliber between 1815 and 1855.  And some of the data, which made its way onto those Ordnance Manual tables, was used to assess American work.  That in mind, let us consider the data:

6pdrForeignComp

Please note the color coding here.  Green lines are field guns (many, even heavy types, specifically labeled field gun in the tables).  Rose colored lines are siege, garrison, seacoast, or naval guns.  And that one yellow line is for a mountain gun, included simply because the caliber rating in the manual. Entries from England, France (only the earliest manuals), Spain, Belgium, Austria, Prussia, Saxony, Russia, and Sweden.  To that I added listings for US models from 1919 up to the Civil War.  And for good measure, the experimental Griffen wrought iron gun.

As alluded to in the manual’s introduction, the table included bore diameter, exterior length (minus the knob), bore length, and weight.  There were also columns that rated the windage allowed.  While that was an important factor with field artillery, a lot of variables played in there. Worth discussion at a later time perhaps.

The columns for focus in our discussion today are those detailing the length and weight.  And to narrow that focus more, I’ve added a column to show the ratio between the length of bore (in inches) to the weight of the gun (in pounds).  In other words, how much metal was allocated against the length of travel down the bore?

Why that?  Well, length of bore factors into the interior ballistics of the weapon.  And interior ballistics in turn begets exterior ballistic performance.  Guns have longer bores than howitzers, of course.  But beyond that, when comparing a gun of shorter bore to one with longer bore, there are performance differences to keep in mind. And there are limitations that govern the practical length of the bore.  One of those is the weight of the weapon.  In a simple equation, one would desire the longest bore possible within a given weight.  But… we are reminded the thinner the metal, the more susceptible the gun to bursting or other metal performance problems.  All this said… and again, running the risk of over simplification for sake of brevity… the optimum 6-pdr gun would be one with the longest bore, yet with just enough metal thickness (around the breech, mostly) to ensure good performance and reliability.  But not one pound of metal more!  (lest we start discussing the ratio of horse power to pound of gun…)

But not all metals are the same, you say!  Correct.  In the scope of mid-19th century conversations, there was cast iron and bronze (steel, wrought iron, and other options, we’ve discussed before… were more novelties at that time).  Furthermore, prior to the 1840s, copper, the necessary base for bronze, was mined in only small quantities (Vermont was the leading producer, BTW).  But the early United States had plenty of iron!  Later, after the big Michigan copper rush, the War Department realized the US was gifted with plenty of both metals.

All that background in mind, what do we see with the ratio of bore length to weight?  Well, the Model 1819 “Walking Stick” cannon, of cast iron, had a lower ratio than many European bronze weapons.  In fact, it was almost as low, in ratio, to the British light bronze 6-pdr (which the Americans were very familiar with).   A longer bore, and with a much denser metal, yet the Americans left it relatively thin around the breech.  Only 75 pounds heavier and with about five inches more bore.  Would have been interesting to see range trials between those weapons.

On the other end of the time line, the last mass produced American 6-pdr, the Model 1841, was much heavier, by ratio, than the Model 1819 iron gun.  Nearly four pounds per inch of bore heavier!  This made the Model 1841 heavier, again by ratio, than the Napoleonoic era British and French guns.  (And that is a fine point that I lack space to fully develop here – the French and British move to 12-pdr guns as the century progressed.. topic for another day.)  Yet, the Model 1841 does not stand out as overly heavy compared to the other European powers. Particularly when considering the Belgian guns.

The thumb I’d put on the scales here is with respect to the model numbers.  We have documented efforts by the Americans to develop an acceptable (Secretary of War Joel R. Poinsett might say “perfect” in the sense of perfection being the enemy of good in this case) field gun.  Acceptable in 1819 was a cast iron gun of relatively light weight.  By 1841, even a bronze gun needed more mass of metal – more than a third more, by ratio of bore to overall weight.

Why?  One word – gunpowder.  Despite having few wars during that first half of the Pax Britannica period, the technology of warfare did not sit still.  By 1861, there was nearly a half century of innovation and refinement to apply towards the grim task of warfighting.

Advertisements

Summary Statement, 2nd Quarter, 1863 – Batteries of New Hampshire and New Jersey

For this installment of the summary reports, we will look at the contributions of two states – New Hampshire and New Jersey.   Between the two, by June 1863 were only three batteries of light artillery:

0201_1_Snip_NH_NJ

Just one battery from the Granite State.  For the New Hampshire battery:

  • 1st Battery: Reporting at Taneytown, Maryland with four 3-inch Ordnance Rifles. After the Chancellorsville Campaign, Captain Frederick M. Edgell’s battery transferred from First Corps to Third Volunteer Brigade, Artillery Reserve, Army of the Potomac.  If we go to Edgell’s official report of the Gettysburg Campaign, we find his battery expended 105 rounds on July 2nd (at ranges of 2,000 yards or more!) from a position off the Taneytown Road, in what is today the National Cemetery.  On July 3, they fired counter-battery and later helped repulse Longstreet’s assault, with 248 rounds.  The battery fired a total of 353 rounds, with Hotchkiss time shell and Schenkl percussion mentioned specifically.  Edgell complained about the Schenkl combination fused case.

And from the Garden State, two batteries (three more batteries would muster in September 1863, but are outside our scope here):

  • Battery A: In Maryland with six 10-pdr Parrotts. The battery was, after Chancellorsville, moved from the Sixth Corps to Fourth Volunteer Brigade, Artillery Reserve, Army of the Potomac.  Lieutenant Augustine N. Parsons remained in command, with the absence of Captain William Hexamer.  On June 30, the battery was, like most of the Artillery Reserve, near Taneytown.  On July 3, Battery A went into action near the present day Pennsylvania Memorial, and thus on the opposite flank of Longstreet’s assault from the New Hampshire battery mentioned above.  Parsons reported firing about 120 rounds of case against the infantry charge.  Afterward, he fired an additional 80 rounds of shell at Confederate batteries, for a total of around 200 on the day.
  • Battery B: Reported at Brandy Station, Virginia with six 10-pdr Parrotts, reflecting a March 1864 receipt date. Of course the battery was with the Third Corps, Army of the Potomac, on June 30, 1863, and between Emmitsburg and Taneytown.  Captain A.Judson Clark commanded the battery.  However, at least at the start of the Gettysburg Campaign, Clark was listed as a divisional artillery chief, a position that should have been redundant with battery consolidation at the corps level.  Captain George E. Randolph, Battery E, 1st Rhode Island Artillery, was the corps artillery chief (somewhat confusing, even on the tablets at Gettysburg list both Randolph and Clark).  While Clark was serving as chief, Lieutenant Robert Sims had charge of the battery.  But all reports have Clark in command of the battery on July 2nd, when the battery advanced to support infantry at the Peach Orchard salient.

Thus we can place all three batteries in action at Gettysburg.  Writing these summaries, I have an urge to discuss so much of the “rest of the story.”  But for the moment, let us focus on the summaries and not the deeds (which most would agree are more interesting).

No smoothbores on hand, so no smoothbore ammunition to report.  Turning to the Hotchkiss projectiles:

0203_2_Snip_NH_NJ

  • 1st New Hampshire: 80 canister, 158 fuse shell, and 238 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.

Keep in mind Edgell fired 353 rounds at Gettysburg.  And we’ll revisit the totals below.

On the next page, we can trim down to focus on the Parrott projectiles:

0204_1A_Snip_NH_NJ

The two New Jersey batteries reporting:

  • Battery A, New Jersey: 130 canister for 10-pdr Parrotts.
  • Battery B, New Jersey: 568 shell, 360 case, and 120 canister for 10-pdr Parrotts.

Parsons’ battery seems to be missing a large quantity of ammunition.  And that cannot simply be accounted for by that expended in battle in July.

Moving to the next page and the Schenkl columns:

0204_2_Snip_NH_NJ

  • 1st New Hampshire:  322 shells for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery B, New Jersey: 152 shells for 10-pdr Parrotts.

We find here some of the Schenkl shells that Edgell complained about.  The total for that battery, on the summaries, is 798 rounds.  Again, the question here – was that “as of June 30, 1863”?  Or on hand as of the day the report was generated?  Or quantity on hand sometime after the great battle?

Moving to the small arms section:

0204_3_Snip_NH_NJ

By battery:

  • 1st New Hampshire: Thirteen Navy revolvers and nine cavalry sabers.
  • Battery A, New Jersey: Fifteen Army revolvers and twenty-seven horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery B, New Jersey: Sixteen Navy revolvers and fifteen horse artillery sabers.

Three batteries from two different states.  All three playing in action at Gettysburg.

Robert E. Lee: Good, Bad and Human

For your consideration:

In Memory of Robert E. Lee Marker

The photo is from a Historical Marker Database entry, by my late friend Mike Stroud.  I might make the case this is more a “monument,” but the opening line says “in Memory of….” so maybe we put it in the memorial column.

Regardless of how we categorize the object, there is a story to tell here.  And it is one of a positive contribution to the community by a historical figure – one Robert E. Lee.

In short, a problem developed in front of St. Louis in the 1830s. A shift to the river channel caused the city’s harbor to silt up.  Unchecked, that would isolate the city from commerce, the Gateway to the West would become just another bypassed river town, and steamboats would ply their trade somewhere else.  City officials used their political clout to secure the services of the US Army Corps of Engineers, who sent a First Lieutenant named Robert E. Lee (along with Second Lieutenant Montgomery C. Meigs, but now I’m name dropping, at the expense of brevity).

The core problem was with Bloody Island, laying opposite St. Louis.  The river was slipping to the east side of that island, leaving more sediment on the Missouri side.  Lee’s solution was to let the river do the bulk of the work. He proposed a series of dikes and revetments that would entice the river to push to the west channel and thus clear out the sand bars deposited in front of St. Louis.

MapNo3StLouisLee(Map source:  Birmingham Public Library, Digital Collections)

Lee’s plan was never completely adopted.  Political influence prevented the dike construction on the north (upstream) end of Bloody Island.  But on the dike on the south end was enough.  The river soon gouged out a deep channel close to the Missouri shoreline.  The City of St. Louis continued to prosper.  And Lee was their hero.

Of course, one great irony here –  Lee had ensured St. Louis would be a thriving center of commerce and industry that would later support the Federal war effort in the west… twenty something years later.

A lesser sidebar, with all those trivial connections we enjoy- Lee’s efforts saved Bloody Island as one of those of those “in between” locations where laws were loosely enforced.  The island remained a favored spot for dueling.  On September 22, 1842, James Shields dueled Abraham Lincoln, with cavalry sabers, there on Bloody Island. It turned out a bloodless duel with both parties agreeing to a truce.

Lee did other work along the Mississippi to improve navigation, but the solution at St. Louis had the most impact.  And that impact was not forgotten.  Moving forward to 1977, the memorial shown above was placed on the waterfront, aptly in front of the Gateway Arch.  Moved a few feet in recent years, the memorial now sits between a bike trail and Leonor K Sullivan Boulevard.

But here we stand today, with a lot of talk lately about Robert E. Lee’s legacy and its place of prominence in our cultural landscape.  There can be no distancing of Lee from the Confederacy.  And by that connection, there should be no quibbling over Lee’s connection to slavery.  We cannot pretend Lee’s hands were not sullied in the matter. He was a direct participant in the system, benefited from the system, and fought to preserve that system.  Regardless of what he may, or may not, have personally felt, Lee served a country, and thereby a cause, that defined slavery as a necessary institution.

Yet, does that become the only factor in assessment of Robert E. Lee? Do we only measure him with the letters R-A-C-I-S-T?

Or, are there other factors to consider in the net assessment of Lee?  We have a preponderance of evidence that says he was a capable military leader.  He was a capable school administrator, at a time when Washington University needed one.  And, with respect to the Mississippi River at St. Louis, we can say he was a good public engineer (I’ve been known to debate his skill as a military engineer, but we shall table that for today).  Beyond that, at the personal level, we have many vignettes that indicate Lee possessed many admirable qualities… at a personal level.  None of which, of course, can, should, or would overshadow the connections Lee had to the system of slavery.   Yet these facets to the man do tell us he was a human being, just like the rest of us.  Maybe even more human than some of us.  (And certainly not the “Marble Man”.)

In his four volume biography of Lee, historian Douglas Southall Freeman closed:

That is all. There is no mystery in the coffin there in front of the windows that look to the sunrise.

Far be it for me to disagree with Freeman, who probably knew more about Lee than anyone save Lee himself. But I must say we cannot close the story of Robert E. Lee, simply looking out the windows.  He’s a complex figure, mixing good with bad, distasteful with the honorable, and repulsive with attractive.  And there’s a lot of mystery left to explore.

Then again, we can well say that about any figure we are apt to meet in history…or out on the street today.

Confederate Memorials… and Reason

From time to time I’ve deviated from the main topics of this blog – or shall I say the strict content line – to discuss matters surrounding the memorials for Civil War subjects.  It’s not too far off my preferred line of discussion.  After all, in the functional sense, markers, monuments and memorials tend to be lumped together in the public eye.

But there is enough functional differences that we should keep such in consideration.  To me a marker is public-facing display that is intended as purely informational, conveying historical facts, settings, components, context, and such.  Granted, some markers may “have a passing acquaintance with the truth” the function is still the same – misguided, it may be.

Monuments, in my definition, are something a bit more advanced in the mind.  Their function is specifically to remind one of an event, most usually one in close proximity, in terms of space, to the monument.  We have regimental monuments on many large battlefields that indicate where a unit fought.  We have monuments to people at locations where they may have done great deeds.  The point I’ve always made about monuments is, again with function, they are meant to inspire or at least remind the audience, but with less concern with the all raw historical facts.  They tend to grow out of that kernel of history which someone wishes to remain at the fore.  Certainly something to be remembered, but tied to THAT place at THAT time.  Take a monument away from that context of place and time, and it lies flat.

Memorials, on the other hand, tend to be less about the history and more about what the agent (the party placing the memorial) want to have remembered.  And that word, “remember,” I think is the active part in the function of a memorial.  The intent is that something would be maintained in memory.  The memorial speaks, more so than a monument, to the emotions of the audience.  It is not so much there for a history lesson, but as a construct of heritage.

Those categories cast, it is the memorials that have the world’s attention these days.  Though unfortunately the other two types of public displays are getting lumped into the mix.  In my little corner of the world, the Confederate memorial at the county courthouse has been in the news of late.  I’ve even had my spot on TV discussing the memorial (yes… “day off” scruff and a t-shirt… If I’d know I’d be on TV….) Long time readers know where I stand on these issues.  I have no need of Confederate iconography.  For the most part, it’s heritage and not history.  There are places where that iconography may provide a visual supplement to a point of history, to be sure.

And it is the history that I seek.  And it is the history that is being walked past in our rush to judge the memorials.  The problem here is we are practically ignoring the greater history as if attempting to purge the “bad” out.  I’ve written on this before and need not spend time reiterating the concern.   I will say that the Southern Poverty Law Center’s study continues to get a lot of placement, though it is at best a flawed study of the subject.  Toward that point, the “chilling effect” I mentioned years ago has lead to the removal of some markers (which were clearly markers) and even vandalism against some decidedly non-Confederate public displays.  That trend, I would say, needs to stop and stop now.

Regardless, as I say, I’m not attached to the memorials… though I am concerned that the general public doesn’t know what a memorial is!

Specifically to our Loudoun County memorial, different local politicians have come forward with their ideas.  One has suggested that the memorial be moved to the Confederate Cemetery, across town, a section in the, perhaps ironically named, Union Cemetery.  Such is impractical as there is already a Confederate memorial there… not to mention cemeteries tend to be short on space.  Another has suggested the memorial be relocated to the Balls Bluff National Cemetery.  That would be the place managed by the Veterans Administration where FEDERAL dead are buried.  Most unfitting for a Confederate memorial.  Of course, others have suggested placing the memorial at Balls Bluff, just outside the cemetery.  But, well, there’s already a Confederate memorial there.  I could go on discussing more “move here” options floated.  None of these are reasoned or practical.

We could take the memorial down, right?  Well there are some folks who would disagree.  And they would offer their own reasons and purposes.  I’ve found it best, as a historian, to let those reasons be heard, where supporting merit exists.  And, though I’m not going to enumerate those here, some reasonable people have made a reasonable case for leaving the memorial as it stands.  Don’t read into that.  Reasonable doesn’t automatically mean “right.”  Rather, that the presentation has its merit… and we should discuss that merit, not dismiss.

On the other side, what if that memorial is left in place?  Well, I don’t think anyone can say it represents all of today’s Loudoun.  It is, at best, a reminder of what Loudoun was in 1908, not 1861 or 2017.  And there is a lot of the Loudoun of 1908 that does not set well with the Loudoun of 2017.  Again, I won’t enumerate all the reasons offered for removal.  But I will say those sound reasonable.  Yes… having merit and not to be dismissed.

Some have even suggested the memorial be removed, but the pedestal remain for “introspection.”  Well, that might remove the bronze statue, but would leave the words that really drive home the point (which are inscribed on the base).  Besides, I tend to see memorials such as this one reflecting a great scar upon our national history – for better or worse.  What good would it be to attempt to remove the scar, yet leave remains of it?  A partially open wound which may be periodically rubbed with salt?  We sort of have that already.  Better to just have a patch of grass there, in my opinion.

You see, I don’t think there are any simple solutions here.  Remove, move, or leave in place… if we put that out as a referendum, the results would be mixed at best. None of those options are going to leave even a slim majority of people happy.  It is a complex problem…  derived from a complex history.

But it is a problem we need to sit down and discuss.  Reasoned discussion, that is.

Like anyone else on this issue, I don’t have a quick, simple solution.  Though, I do have a complex one….

Before anyone decides what to do with Loudoun’s Confederate memorial, I think there should be an deeper discussion that brings to the fore the full historical background.  Starting with this:

Richmond_Times_15May1908_Page5_Col2

What was said at this event?  John Daniel’s speech might be found in his papers, in the University of Virginia’s library.  To tell the truth, I’ve never gone looking (him being a post-war figure).  But if the speech given at Leesburg does exist, then that’s the first place to look.  Beyond that speech, what ELSE did Daniel say about the Confederacy, its legacy, and the world of 1908?  I have some presumptions of what I THINK was said.  But that’s not how history works… you actually have to use the sources, not what you think of the sources.  I would want that speech, if it can be found, given full distribution for evaluation… as a source document for direct, and spotlighted, interpretation.

And that is just the starting point.  There’s a lot more of the history that SHOULD be discussed.  Including things that happened in, and around, the location where the statue stands today.  Furthermore, unlike what some in this discussion might want you to believe, there were reasons – REASONS, plural – for the memorial’s placement. We should let the words of those who placed the memorial help frame the discussion of the memorial. That’s called full historical context.

From that context, we need to promote understanding of the history.  Right now, there are simply too many emotional reactions – from all sides of the issue – to the memorial clouding the history.  We need to put that emotion to the side.  We need to circle the history, determine it, describe it, and, finally, USE IT!

Use that history to explain the complexity of the issue.  From that, we can … and should… come to a common understanding.   That, I would submit, would be the foundation for a solution that more than a simple majority will agree upon.  Leave it, or move it, or remove it… let the decision weigh from the evidence of history.

P.S.:  I’ve used the word “reason” a lot in this post, taking advantage of the several definitions of that word. And that was for a reason!

Missouri’s Marines and their abbreviated service

Early this week I used an entry from the ordnance summaries, second quarter of 1863 to introduce the Mississippi Marine Brigade.  That unit is often associated with Missouri, if for nothing else a lack of proper place to put the records.  Though there was a recruiting focus in the river towns of Missouri, in the War Department’s view there was no connection to the state.

Before leaving the subject of marines and Missouri, I’d be remiss without mentioning there were indeed Missouri Marines raised during the Civil War.  But that organization was short lived and we don’t see them listed in official reports, returns, or organizational tables.  In 1902, the office of the Secretary of War provided a report of organizations, in response to a Senate inquiry, titled “Missouri Troops in service during the Civil War.”  After a short paragraph on the Mississippi Marine Brigade (and establishing, officially at least, that unit was not “Missouri” in parentage), the report turned to a “Marine Corps” raised in Missouri:

Among the many peculiar and illegal organizations formed by Major-General Frémont, or by his authority, during his administration of the affairs of the Western Department, was an organization designated by him as a “Marine corps.” This corps, consisting of three companies, was organized for “river transportation service,” and would have no place in a history of Missouri military organizations but for the fact that an effort has been made to give the members of the corps a military status, and that, evidently through misapprehension as to their status in the service, they were credited to the quota of the State of Missouri.

The verbiage goes a long way to distance these three companies from formal recognition – illegal, with no place, but for a mistake.  The report went on to cite Frémont’s orders:

St. Louis, August 13, 1861.

Capt. Thomas Maxwell.

Sir. You are hereby authorized to recruit a Marine Corps to serve during the war, to consist of 1 captain, 2 pilots -first and second; 4 engineers – first, second, third, and fourth, 2 mates – first and second; 1 clerk, 1 steward, 30 sailors, 8 firemen, 1 watchman, 1 cook and mate, 1 cabin boy.

When you shall have completed the organization of said corps, you will apply to these headquarters, where the necessary order will be issued.

J. C. Frémont, Major-General, Commanding.

Key point here – these were not marines in the sense that we think of.  Instead of being “leathernecks” that would provide security, landing parties, and such, this is a formation tailored to operate boats.

One day after the order, Maxwell reported the force was “enrolled.”  Five days later, Frémont sent orders to have a steam transport turned over to Captain Maxwell.  On August 20, the company was sworn in as “First Company in the First marine Corps … of Missouri Volunteers” with a three year term of service.

Following this establishment, Frémont proceeded to order two more companies.  On August 28, Captain James Abrams was authorized to form a company.   Then on September 12, Captain John Reily was likewise to form a third company, this one to include a carpenter.  The report mentioned a fourth company, under Captain John Young, but indicated no authorization documents were found.  The designation changed to “Marine Corps for River Transportation Service.”

The first three companies were assigned to transports. Reily’s operated the steamer John D. Perry, a sidewheel steamer of 382 tons (empty).   Before the war, the Perry operated on the Mississippi on a circut between Cape Girardeau, Cairo, St. Genevieve, St. Louis, and other river towns.  Under contract for the US Government, the Perry operated mostly on the Missouri River.

On October 20, 1861, the Perry was on a trip up the Missouri to Jefferson City to deliver horses and wagons.  At Portland, Missouri, about thirty miles downstream from that point, the Perry‘s pilot, John F. Smith, attempted to dock around dusk to gather wood for fuel.  Some locals immediately informed the vessel “there was a force of 150 rebels back of the town,” with intentions to capture the vessel.  The pilot quickly pulled away, tied up to an island in the river, and gathered wood.  The Perry made Jefferson City at 11 the next morning, according to a report in the Daily Missouri Democrat (reporting on October 25).  Other than that incident, there are scant reports of operations by these Missouri Marines or their boats.

The operations with contract steamers and their Missouri Marine complements ceased shortly after Major-General Henry Halleck replaced Frémont.  Determining the contracts were not proper and likewise the enlistments did not conform to regulations, Halleck moved to break up the arrangements. On December 14, Halleck directed the Missouri Marines be disbanded.  Regarding their service, Halleck wrote to Washignton:

I am discharging most of the steamers formerly in the Government employment, and mustering out of service what is called “Marine Corps,” which are nothing more than hired men on these boats. This will be a great saving of expense.

Halleck insisted the Missouri Marines were not a military organization and were thus not properly, legally mustered.  Old Brains at it again.

Captain P.T. Turnley, quartermaster, had the duty of paying off and discharging the Missouri Marines.  By working through the Quartermaster’s Department, Halleck essentially covered the matter as one of contractual obligations and not of enlistments. He reported that was complete by December 31.  Finally, under Special Orders No. 29, from the Department of Missouri, Halleck officially announced disbanding “the three Marine Corps under command of Maxwell, Abrams, and Reily….”

In 1902, the War Department put closure to the Missouri Marines:

It has always been held by the War Department, since the attention of the Department was called to the military status of the “Marine Corps,” that its muster into service was not a lawful muster into the military service of the United States, such an organization being unknown to the military establishment and not authorized by law.  The members of this force were not officers or enlisted men in the United States military service, for which reason, evidently, they were paid by the Quartermaster’s Department and not from the appropriations for pay of the Army.  They are regarded by the War Department as having been civilian employees in the Quartermaster’s Department and not having been formed a part of the military establishment of the United States.

Not stated or considered, even forty years after the war, was that the military did indeed need such services on western waters.  And such duty was eventually performed by a mix of Army and Navy personnel, along with contract labor.

(Citations from War Department, Missouri Troops in Service in During the Civil War, 57th Congress, 1st Session, Document No. 412, Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1902, pages 195-7; OR, Series I, Volume 8, Serial 8, page 449; Daily Missouri Democrat, October 25, 1861, Page 2, Column 2; Documents filed in the Combined Service Record of Thomas Maxwell, Missouri, Miscellaneous papers pertaining to organizations, Record Group 94, Roll 0850.)

 

 

 

Summary Statement, 2nd Quarter, 1863 – Mississippi Marine Brigade

The Mississippi Marine Brigade:  They were not from Mississippi.  Nor were they Marines.  And they were not a full brigade!

An interesting formation, the Mississippi Marine Brigade. Some have called it a prototype for the “Brown Water” units used by the US Navy in Vietnam.  Others have compared it to special forces units in the modern military.  Yet, others might point to a speckled service and rate the unit as more a disruption to good order – both in the Federal ranks and on the southern river-cities.   Before we go too far, let’s get some things straight about the Mississippi Marine Brigade.

First off, it was not from Mississippi.  Rather the brigade operated ON the Mississippi River.  In March 1862, civil engineer Charles Ellet, Jr., with a colonel’s commission and authority from Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, built a squadron of riverboat rams (initially four in number) for use on the Mississippi River and other western waters.  Ramming tactics being what they are, Ellet needed an infantry force on board to board rammed vessels… or repel borders from other vessels.  To fill the need, Ellet recruited from those convalescing in hospitals, but also received companies from the 59th and 63rd Illinois.  The former was a company commanded by Captain Alfred W. Ellet, Charles’ brother.  Although playing a key role in the Battle of Memphis, June 6, 1862, the ram fleet suffered a setback when Charles Ellet was mortally wounded.

On his brother’s death, Alfred assumed command of the rams.  Promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel, and later Brigadier-General, Alfred pressed his command downriver toward Vicksburg.  In the late summer and early fall of 1862 the Navy had forces under Admirals David Farragut and David D. Porter operating against Vicksburg, but without any substantial land forces.  Not only did this prevent a direct move on Vicksburg, it left the navy without security from Confederate raiding parties and sharpshooters on shore.  To address the security problem on October 21, 1862, Porter wrote to Secretary of the Navy Gideon Wells that a naval brigade was necessary.  While calling for Ellet’s rams to come under his command, Porter also offered:

Colonel Ellet thinks he can promptly raise the men by enlistment, if authorized to do so, and this would be a far preferable way of procuring them…. This brigade will be invaluable, and will enable us to effectually operate against the numerous guerrilla bands and other scattered rebel forces along these rivers.

With authorization, Porter and Ellet set about organizing such a force.  Several side-wheel and stern-wheel steamers were outfitted as transports, with loopholes and other fixtures to allow the troops to fight from the boat if needed.  The force also included a logistical “tail” with vessels outfitted as hospital ships, receiving vessels, and outfitting shops.

As for the men recruited, that brings us to the next point – these were not Marines!  Ellet recruited heavily from the Missouri and the convolecent hospitals in the Western Theater through the winter of 1863.  However, his artillery came complete from Pennsylvania, which we’ll discuss in detail below. Recruiting flyers bragged that Mississippi Marines would not dig trenches, perform picket duty, camp in the mud, or suffer long marches.  Just cruise down the river on a boat!  These were Army enlistments, not Navy.  And to cut a fine point, the men were organized not as traditional Marines, in the 19th century notion, who would be assigned to and operate as part of a ship’s crew to provide security.   Rather these were companies organized to conduct riverine operations (again, splitting hairs, a 20th century Marine chore).  The command, with Army troops, would operate under the Navy.

And lastly, this was not a brigade!  Ellet recruited a battalion of infantry and a battalion of cavalry.  Neither of these formations were recruited to full strength.  Added to this, Ellet secured a battery of Pennsylvania artillery.  So the “Brigade” might be called a small legion.  Or perhaps just considered a large combined arms battalion, but far short of a brigade.

It is the artillery battery that interests us here.  Captain Daniel Walling’s battery was organized as a battery in Colonel Hermann Segebarth’s Pennsylvania Marine Artillery Battalion (I’ve mentioned them in passing).  Despite the title, Segebarth’s, which was organized starting in August 1862, was heavy artillery and first assigned to Fort Delaware.  The formation would later become the core of the 3rd Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery Regiment.  For reasons I’ve never been able to establish, Company C of Segebarth’s, under Walling, was chosen for service with the Mississippi Marine Brigade. Maybe it was Segebarth’s applied label that prompted the selection.  The battery had six Ordnance Rifles.  In addition a pair of howitzers operated with the brigade.

The Mississippi Marine Brigade first went into action in April 1863 with a patrol up the Tennessee River looking for guerrillas.   The following month, the brigade and ram fleet moved down the Mississippi to support the effort against Vicksburg.  In late May, the brigade fought an action outside Austin, Mississippi ( a series of events that lead to the destruction of the town by the brigade…. but that is another story…).  In June, the brigade operated from Young’s Point and the Milliken’s Bend.  A detachment from the brigade manned a 20-pdr Parrott rifle opposite Vicksburg, served with great effect against a Confederate foundry in the city.

With this introduction as to what the Mississippi Marine Brigade was… and was not… let’s turn to the second quarter summaries for 1863.  The brigade was given a separate section, independent of Missouri or Pennsylvania:

0201_1_Snip_MMB

By itself, this is a significant administrative detail.  As mentioned before, the brigade was Army, but assigned to the Navy for duty.  So we have a set of returns.  But those are not filed inside the normal coalition of returns, rather under a separate heading as if a separate state or territory.  One can imagine the consternation this caused the clerks.  So what do we have on those four lines:

  • Light Battery Artillery:  Reported on board steamer ‘Baltic’ with six 3-inch Ordnance rifles.  This matches to other reports for Walling’s Battery.
  • Company A, 1st Battalion Cavalry:  At Vicksburg with two 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • “Capt” Stores in ChargeOn board steamer ‘Diana’ with two 12-pdr field guns.  The heavy guns, not Napoleons.
  • “Qmst” (?) Stores in ChargeOn board steamer ‘E. H. Fairchild’ with no guns reported.  The Steamer E.H. Fairchild was indeed the quartermaster and commissary boat for the brigade.

Of note, we have accounting for the Ordnance rifles, but no indication of howitzers.  Yet, we see full sized 12-pdr field guns – both the Model 1841 “heavy” and the “light” Napoleons.

The steamers mentioned here deserve more space for description and discussion.  Perhaps at a later date.  In lieu, here is an illustration from Warren D. Crandall’s History of the Ram Fleet and Mississippi Marine Brigade in the War for the Union on the Mississippi and its Tributaries:

DianaBalticAtGreenville

As the caption states, we see the Baltic and Diana in an action (in May 1864).

Moving to the ammunition, the smoothbore quantities seem far too uniform:

0203_1_Snip_MMB

  • A, 1st Battalion Cavalry:  58 shot, 88 shell, 157 case, and 88 canister for 12-pdr field guns.
  • On the Diana: 58 shot, 88 shell, 157 case, and 88 canister for 12-pdr field guns.

As for rifled projectiles, we find one line:

0203_2_Snip_MMB

And that is for Hotchkiss projectiles:

  • Light Battery (Walling): 374 canister, 125 percussion shell, 74 fuse shell, and 2,260 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.

The brigade reported no Dyer’s re, James’, Parrott’s, or Schenkl’s projectiles. So we move to the small arms:

0204_3_Snip_MMB

Just one line:

  • Light Battery (Walling): Twenty Navy revolvers and twenty horse artillery sabers.

The infantry and cavalry likely filed separate, branch specific, reports for their respective small arms.

Outside the scope of what is normally discussed in these posts, the Quartermaster on the E.H. Fairchild reported various implements and tools associated with artillery pieces, along with 3,000 .38-caliber cartridges.

The Mississippi Marine Brigade offers a lot of threads to follow.  Certainly unique in service.  And offering many noteworthy stories.  But from the artillery side of things, I must point out this formation was not long in service.  In September 1864, Walling’s battery was broken up and re-constituted as Battery E, 1st Missouri Light Artillery (reorganized), and no longer assigned to the brigade.

(Citation from ORN, Series I, Volume 23, page 428.)

Summary Statement, 2nd Quarter, 1863 – Michigan’s Batteries

Starting a fresh set of pages in the second quarter summaries, we find Michigan’s are the next set of volunteer batteries.  As mentioned in previous installments, the clerks identified Michigan’s batteries with numbered designations, as per early war convention.  But the batteries were later designated with letters within the state’s 1st Light Artillery Regiment.  I will merge the two in an attempt to cover all bases.

Michigan provided a full light artillery regiment during the war in addition to a handful of independent batteries.  The independent batteries were late war formations.  However, all twelve of the 1st Michigan Light Artillery were formed by the end of June, 1863 (just barely, that is).  Colonel Cyrus O. Loomis, formerly of 1st Batttery / Battery A, was made colonel of the regiment on October 8, 1862.  And Loomis also served as the chief of artillery for Fourteenth Corps, Army of the Cumberland (analogous to the service of Colonel Charles Wainwright in the Army of the Potomac).

0201_1_Snip_MI

Of the twelve batteries of the 1st Michigan, only ten made the summary.  Added to those were three additional lines.  So we have some gaps to fill and questions to resolve:

  • 1st Battery (Battery A): No return.  Also known as the Loomis Battery, for its first commander. At the reporting time, this was Lieutenant George Van Pelt’s battery, assigned to First Division, Fourteenth Corps.   Battery reported five 10-pdr Parrotts in an internal report for the Army of the Cumberland.  And of course, the battery was part of the Tullahoma Campaign at the reporting date. Van Pelt killed in action at Chickamauga.
  • 2nd Battery (Battery B): Reporting from Corinth, Tennessee with two 12-pdr howitzers and three 3-inch rifles (under the “steel” column). The battery, under Lieutenant Albert F. R. Arndt, was posted to West Tennessee, under the District of Corinth, Sixteenth Corps.
  • 3rd Battery (Battery C): At Memphis, Mississippi.  One 12-pdr field howitzer and three 10-pdr Parrotts.  Under Captain George Robinson, this battery was also part of the District of Corinth, Sixteenth Corps.
  • 4th Battery (Battery D): Reporting Manchester, Tennessee with two 12-pdr field howitzers, two 10-pdr Parrotts, and two James 3.80-inch rifles.  Captain Josiah Church took this battery, assigned to the Third Division, Fourteenth Corps, into action at Hoover’s Gap in late June.
  • 5th Battery (Battery E): At Lavergne (?), Tennessee with two 6-pdr field guns and four 10-pdr Parrotts. Captain John J. Ely’s battery was part of the Artillery of the Reserve Corps, Army of the Cumberland, and then serving under the garrison of Nashville.  The battery was assigned to a post named Fort Riley during this period.
  • 6th Battery (Battery F): Munfordsville, Kentucky with two 6-pdr field guns and two 10-pdr Parrotts.  By some reports, the battery had sections at Munfordsville, Bowling Green, and Louisville, through October 1863.  Captain Luther F. Hale commanded overall, and at Munfordsville.  That section had two 6-pdrs and two Parrotts, in a report to the Department of the Ohio on June 20.  Another section at Bowling Green under Lieutenant Byron Paddock also reported two 6-pdrs and two Parrotts.  As with the previous quarter, we have to ask if those were duplicate reports?  Or if only one section is represented for the summary? Or… one of those sections is carried in the other lines below.
  • 7th Battery (Battery G):  At Vicksburg, Mississippi with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  The battery was assigned to the Ninth Division, Thirteenth Corps and commanded by Captain Charles H. Lanphere.
  • 8th Battery (Battery H): Also reporting at Vicksburg, but with with two 12-pdr field howitzers, one 6-pdr (3.67-inch) rifles, and two James (3.80-inch) rifles.  Captain Samuel De Golyer commanded this battery, assigned to Third Division, Seventeenth Corps, when the Vicksburg Campaign began.  On May 25, while directing one of his howitzers, De Golyer was mortally wounded (in the hip).   He died later in August.  Lieutenant Theodore W. Lockwood assumed command.
  • 9th Battery (Battery I): Reporting at Boonesboro, Maryland with six 3-inch rifles.  Captain Jabez J. Daniels commanded this battery.  When Stahel’s Cavalry Division transferred to the Army of the Potomac, Daniels’ battery became part of the 1st Brigade, Horse Artillery, Army of the Potomac.  However, the battery was detailed to support First Corps on July 3, and fired 322 rounds of Hotchkiss shot, shell, and canister in the fighting that day at Gettysburg.  Their monument is across from the Pennsylvania Memorial.
  • 10th Battery (Battery K): Reporting at Chattanooga, Tennessee, with four 3-inch rifles.  However, this reflects the September 1864 posting date.  In June 1863, the battery was at Camp Barry, Washington, D.C..  Captain John Schuetz commanded.  (The battery was sent west as part of the reinforcements sent to Chattanooga in November.)
  • 11th Battery (Battery L):  Not listed.  Under Captain Charles J. Thompson.  The battery reported to Cincinnati, Ohio in May.  First action on June 15, 1863, at Triplett’s Bridge, Kentucky.  And in July, the battery was active against Morgan’s Raid, with one section serving at Buffington’s Island.
  • 12th Battery (Battery M):  Not listed. Captain Edward G. Hillier commanded.  The battery did not leave the state until July 9, being dispatched to Indianapolis in reaction to Morgan’s Raid.

So with the two “fill ins” provided here at the end, we’ve reconstructed a complete list for the regiment.  The biggest remaining question is the sections of 6th Battery / Battery F.  It is my belief the battery had only four cannon, and the Department of the Ohio report duplicates the listings. And one of the “other” lines seems to reinforce that belief:

  • Finch’s (?) Section: In the previous quarter, we saw Lieutenant Amasa J. Finch, 18th Michigan Infantry, had two field howitzers at Hickman’s Bridge, Kentucky.  This was a temporary assignment, apparently disbanded before the end of the March.  Though the guns were turned over, the section still reported a handful of implements and tools on hand.
  • “Lieutenant, Stores in Charge”: Reporting from Bowling Green, Kentucky. This line included ammunition (which we will consider below), friction primers, and implements.  This line could account for Paddock’s section of 6th Battery / Battery F.  And if so, this indicates the section’s guns were accounted for with the main battery summary.
  • 12th Michigan Infantry: At Little Rock, Arkansas with one 12-pdr field howitzer.  At the end of June, 1863, the 12th Michigan was part of the reinforcements sent from the Sixteenth Corps to Vicksburg, and assigned as part of Kimball’s Provisional Division to the Thirteenth Corps.  Later in the summer and fall, the regiment moved with its parent brigade to the other side of the Mississippi, and was part of the force moving on Little Rock.  That city fell in November, which is also when the clerks received this return in Washington.  Thus explains the location.

So with those explanations, we seem to have the blanks covered and important questions answered.

Not so fast, as we move to the smoothbore ammunition:

0203_1_Snip_MI

Like a canister pattern here, with numbers scattered all about:

  • 2nd Battery / Battery B: 152 shell, 152 case, and 94 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • 3rd Battery / Battery C: 80 shell, 80 case, and 35 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • 4th Battery / Battery D: 98 shell, 108 case, and 40 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • 5th Battery / Battery E: 206 shot, 133 case, and 137 canister for 6-pdr field guns.
  • 6th Battery / Battery F: 251 shot, 209 case, and 115 canister for 6-pdr field guns.
  • 8th Battery / Battery H: 75 shot and 30 case for 6-pdr field guns; 128 shell, 95 case, and 27 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • 9th Battery / Battery I: 12 shell for 12-pdr mountain howitzers.
  • Bowling Green: 294 shot, 196 case, and 98 canister for 6-pdr field guns.
  • 12th Infantry: 20 shell, 24 case, and 16 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.

The first issue to consider is the 8th Battery / Battery H and the 6-pdr ammunition.  But that battery also had a rifled 6-pdr field gun, 3.67-inch caliber, which could use smoothbore ammunition in a pinch.

More concerning is the 9th Battery / Battery I with mountain howitzer ammunition on hand.  I can only speculate.

Finally, we see a substantial quantity of rounds at Bowling Green, which might support the idea this was a section from 6th Battery / Battery F.

Moving over to the rifled projectiles, we consider the Hotchkiss rounds first:

0203_2_Snip_MI

Five batteries to consider:

  • 2nd Battery / Battery B: 240 shot, 48 canister, 48 percussion shell, and 72 fuse shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • 7th Battery / Battery G: 202 canister, 399 fuse shell, and 1,487 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • 8th Battery / Battery H: 117 shot, 62 percussion shell, and 12 fuse shell for 3.67-inch rifles.
  • 9th Battery / Battery I:  96 canister, 120 percussion shell, 240 fuse shell, and 713 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • 10th Battery / Battery K: 96 canister, 165 percussion shell, 179 fuse shell, and 402 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.

We have not seen much solid shot for 3-inch rifles reported.  So 2nd Battery / Battery B’s report is worthy of notice.

However, keep in mind the caliber of projectiles reported by 8th Battery / Battery H.  In this case, rifled 6-pdr caliber.

Moving to the next page, we’ll break this into segments for clarity:

0204_1A_Snip_MI

A leftover Hotchkiss column:

  • 8th Battery / Battery H: 27 canister for 3.80-inch rifles.

So, both 3.67-inch and 3.80-inch in the same battery.  That 0.13-inch difference?

James Projectiles:

  • 4th Battery / Battery D: 413 shell, 150 case, and 12 canister for 3.80-inch rifls.
  • 8th Battery / Battery H: 1 shot and 272 shell for 3.80-inch rifles.

And moving over to the Parrott and Schenkl columns:

0204_1B_Snip_MI

First the Parrott patent projectiles:

  • 3rd Battery / Battery C: 40 shell, 421 case, and 80 canister for 10-pdr Parrott.
  • 4th Battery / Battery D: 150 shell, 150 case, and 45 canister for 10-pdr Parrott.
  • 5th Battery / Battery E: 289 shell, 108 case, and 171 canister for 10-pdr Parrott.
  • 6th Battery / Battery F: 412 shell, 381 case, and 92 canister for 10-pdr Parrott.

Now the Schenkl patent:

  • 3rd Battery / Battery C: 57 shot for 10-pdr Parrott.
  • 5th Battery / Battery E: 129 shot for 10-pdr Parrott.

Continuing with the Schenkl, we have one entry on the next page:

0204_2_Snip_MI

  • 5th Battery / Battery E: 40 shell for 10-pdr Parrott.

Appears the 10-pdr ammunition chests were well stocked.

Lastly, we turn to the small arms.  Notice the hand-written column headers here.

0204_3_Snip_MI

None of those come into play for the Michigan batteries.  But we’ll see those discussed in future installments.

For Michigan:

  • 2nd Battery / Battery B: Twenty Army revolvers and 31 cavalry sabers.
  • 3rd Battery / Battery C: Seventeen cavalry sabers.
  • 4th Battery / Battery D: Twenty cavalry sabers.
  • 5th Battery / Battery E: Twenty-five cavalry sabers and ten horse artillery sabers.
  • 6th Battery / Battery F: Twenty-five Army revolvers and twelve cavalry sabers.
  • 7th Battery / Battery G: Thirteen Army revolvers, forty-six cavalry sabers, and six horse artillery sabers.
  • 9th Battery / Battery I: 106 Army revolvers and thirty horse artillery sabers.
  • 10th Battery / Battery H: Fifteen Army revolvers and sixty-nine horse artillery sabers.

Looking back to the previous quarter, there is some attrition and loss indicated with the small arms.  As one might expect with these batteries involved with hard campaigning.