Below the second quarter, 1863 listing for the New York independent batteries are three lines derived from returns of separate, non-artillery battery, detachments:
Recall we discussed a fourth “line” earlier in this series – the 3rd New York Cavalry – as that entry was better placed in the order it appeared on the summaries. These remaining “orphans” include artillery pieces and stores under the charge of a Lieutenant (unit unspecified) and reported by two infantry regiments:
- “Lieutenant – Stores in Charge”: The unnamed lieutenant was at Gloucester Point, Virginia. With several artillery batteries, in particular some New York batteries, at that station, one wonders why the stores were not distributed to the artillerists.
- 100th New York Infantry: Reporting a pair of 6-pdr field guns at Morris Island, South Carolina. Of course, as of June 30, the regiment was actually on Folly Island, across the Stono River. They would land on the southern end of Morris Island on July 10. These guns were not part of the masked batteries on Folly Island. More likely the 6-pdrs were assigned to the works securing the southwestern end of the island.
- 132nd New York Infantry: The regiment was stationed at New Bern, North Carolina at this time. No cannon on hand. Just stores and equipment. With so many artillery batteries stationed there, we must again wonder why the infantry was stuck with this charge.
There are, however, two light batteries which escaped the tallies of the clerks in Washington. And that was not due to some administrative oversight. Rather, that battery’s service, as a mustered “Federal” battery, was very brief.
Colonel William B. Barnes received authorization to recruit the 11th New York Artillery Regiment in February 1863. Handbills and newspaper announcements proclaimed this regiment would man the fortifications around New York City, with promises of no marches or backpacks. Good duty if you can get it! By June, Barnes had upwards of 1,000 recruits at Rochester, New York.
Then the other shoe dropped. With reports of Confederates moving into Pennsylvania, authorities in Washington and New York reached for any and all resources to meet the threat. Among those was the 11th New York. On June 15, orders came for the regiment to report to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Before that could happen, the mustering officer culled out unfit or otherwise unqualified recruits. This limited the regiment to just four batteries – A, B, C, and D.
Of those four, only Battery D was equipped as a light battery. Captain William F. Goodwin recruited his battery with an additional enticement – service with a unique and advanced weapon. From a notice run in the Albany Evening Journal, on, quite appropriately, June 15:
Goodwin’s Battery. – Capt. Goodwin is recruiting in this city for a Battery to be attached to the 11th Artillery. His company is nearly half full, and he hopes, in the course of a few weeks, to be in position to take the field.
His guns – his own invention – have been warmly approved by leading artillery officers and accepted by the Government. They are breech-loaders, and are claimed to have the widest range of any in the world. They have projected a ball the enormous distance of six miles, and can be fired at the rate of fifteen times a minute. Capt. G. assures us that they can be fired fifteen hundred rounds without cleaning or swabbing.
Capt. Goodwin is an officer of high character and large experience in the science of gunnery, and his Battery is destined to make its mark.
Artillery enthusiasts know well this song. Such advanced weapons rarely lived up to the sales pitch hype! The details of this weapon are best saved for a dedicated post. But Goodwin did provide an illustration of the mechanism with a patent application:
Goodwin’s design included a breech plug, lined with rubber or other material. That was forced into a seat with a breech piece swung horizontally on a yoke. I’ll offer more details separately, but the main point today is this was of Goodwin’s own design.
Goodwin’s Battery, along with the three others, boarded trains for Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on June 17. In Pennsylvania, the 11th was part of the scratch force assembled to defend Harrisburg. On July 1, the 11th was ordered to proceed to Carlisle, in reaction to Confederate cavalry, to serve as infantry. This prompted a mutiny, as the rank and file had not signed up for such. Writing on July 10, Brigadier-General Lorenzo Thomas, in Harrisburg, had unflattering words about the regiment as a whole, but held a favorable impression of Goodwin’s:
… Goodwin’s battery of four 10-pounder rifled breech-loading guns went forward [to Chambersburg] this morning. The Eleventh New York Heavy Artillery, excepting Goodwin’s battery, which rendered good service, left this morning for New York City, to report to General Wool. This is the regiment which refused to go forward as infantry when the rebels were advancing and near this place. (OR, Series I, Volume 27, Part III, Serial 45, pages 633-4.)
Thomas’ report confirms Goodwin’s Battery did serve as field artillery during their brief active service. Furthermore, we have some indication as to the caliber of weapon, if indeed those were of Goodwin’s design. While not precise, the 10-pounder label is often used for 3-inch caliber.
While Batteries A, B, and C of the 11th proceeded back to New York, Battery D briefly served in Pennsylvania. By the end of July all were back in their home state, serving at Fort Richmond (Battery A), Fort Hamilton (Batteries B and D), and Sandy Hook (Battery C). The 11th was mustered out shortly afterwards, but remained on state rolls. Because of the brief, perhaps only six weeks in total, service of Battery D, we do not see them recorded on this summary.
Goodwin’s Battery was still at Fort Hamilton on September 18 when disaster struck. While practicing, one of the guns discharged prematurely. Goodwin was badly injured and a private lost his arm when the breech plug blew out the back of the gun. A report in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, on October 3, lamented, “… it is feared the Captain will lose his eyesight.”
The second of these militia batteries caught up in the emergency was Varian’s State Militia Battery. This battery had served in Maryland and Virginia in the earliest days of the war. When it mustered out on July 20, 1861, conveniently missing First Manassas, the guns remained behind while the men returned to New York. It was reorganized as a battery in the 8th Regiment, New York National Guard. In June 1863, the regiment, with the battery attached, was mustered into service for thirty days. It would advance as far as Carlisle, Pennsylvania as part of First Division, Department of the Susquehanna. The battery was mustered out of Federal service on July 23, 1863, returning to its state assignment.
Turning back to the summaries, we find the 100th New York Infantry had ammunition on hand for it’s 6-pdrs:
- 100th New York Infantry: 40 shot, 40 case, and 20 canister for 6-pdr field guns.
Ample supply for a couple of guns guarding the approaches to Folly Island.
The 132nd New York had Hotchkiss projectiles on hand:
- 132nd New York Infantry: 26 shot, 20 percussion shell, and 40 fuse shell for 2.6-inch rifles, presumably Wiard 6-pdrs.
Further down, we see the unnamed lieutenant at Gloucester Point had his hands full with 3-inch projectiles:
- Gloucester Point: 73 Dyer’s shrapnel for 3-inch rifles.
Add to several chests worth of Schenkl shells:
- Gloucester Point: 299 Shenkl shell for 3-inch rifles.
As a taxpayer, I am profoundly irritated, 150 years after the fact, at this gross wastage. Why weren’t these 372 projectiles simply transferred over to the 8th New York Independent Battery? Instead, some lieutenant wasted his time, and my tax money, accounting for and maintaining this pile of shells! If only the Ordnance Department were as “vigorous” for accounting of Goodwin’s Battery!
Things never seem to change, do they?
Turning to the small arms we see…..
Nothing. Of course, these units would report their small arms on a separate report specifically for infantry weapons.
Thus concludes New York for the second quarter of 1863. Up next… OHIO!