Summary Statement, 2nd Quarter, 1863 – Vermont Batteries

At the end of June, the two volunteer batteries from Vermont were serving at Port Hudson, Louisiana:

0225_1_Snip_VT

Just the 1st and 2nd Batteries at this time of the war, with the third forming up in January 1864.  And a very short administrative description:

  • 1st Vermont Light Battery: Listed at Port Hudson, Louisiana with six 3-inch rifles (perhaps ending any speculation I might have offered from the previous quarter). Captain George T. Hebard remained in command.  The battery was assigned to Second Division, Nineteenth Corps.  Hebard’s battery occupied a position just left of center on the Federal siege lines.
  • 2nd Vermont Light Battery: Also at Port Hudson, Louisiana with six 3.67-inch rifles.  Although using a column for bronze pieces, these were most certainly Sawyer rifles of cast steel. Assigned to Third Division, Nineteenth Corps under Captain Pythagoras E. Holcomb. The battery occupied one of the works on the right end of the Federal siege line, rather close to the Confederate defenses.

There is a fine map from the Atlas volume of the Official Records which shows the respective locations for these batteries.  The map annotations call out each battery by commander’s name.  According to the map, the 1st Battery had six 3-inch rifles and the 2nd Battery had six 6-pdr Sawyer rifles.

No smoothbore rounds reported for these batteries, only rifled projectiles.  We start with Hotchkiss for the 1st Battery:

0227_2_Snip_VT

  • 1st Battery: 110 canister, 75 percussion shell, and 860 (!) bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.

Turning to the next page, note the lack of James projectiles.  We can focus on the Dyer’s Patent types:

0228_1A_Snip_VT

Again, just 1st Battery:

  • 1st Battery: 120 Dyer’s canister for 3-inch rifles.

Rather significant we don’t see any Hotchkiss, Dyer’s, James, or Parrott reported from 2nd Battery.  In a way it corroborates the presence of Sawyer rifles.  Those weapons were designed to fire projectiles of Addison M. Sawyer’s design (patented in 1855).

But we do see 2nd Battery in the Schenkl columns:

0228_2_Snip_VT

Both batteries in fact:

  • 1st Battery: 312 Schenkl shells for 3-inch rifles.
  • 2nd Battery: 99 shot, 1536 (!!) shell, and 524 canister, of Schenkl type, for 3.67-inch rifles.

Of note, Sawyer’s patented projectiles featured a large lead sabot that covered almost the entire body of the projectile.  Some of those have been recovered from around Port Hudson.  There is no doubt 2nd Battery had Sawyer projectiles for their rifles.  But there are no columns for Sawyer.  So… do perhaps the clerks put “Sawyer” under “Schenkl”?

Moving to the right, 2nd Battery also reported Tatham’s canister:

  • 2nd Battery: 598 Tatham canister for 3.67-inch rifles.

Yes, a lot of canister.  And certainly something an artillerist would want around during a siege.

Turning to the small arms:

0228_3_Snip_VT

Both batteries reporting:

  • 1st Battery: Eighteen Army revolvers and thirty horse artillery sabers.
  • 2nd Battery: Eleven Army revolvers and fifty-eight cavalry sabers.

As is my mission, of sorts, with these summaries is to translate and demonstrate how these dry numbers translated to real activity afield, the Vermont batteries, while brief, are an excellent case in point.  We can match the guns reported – though not without questioning the clerks on 2nd Battery’s guns – to specific places on wartime maps.  And from those maps we can step out to what remains of the battlefield today.  All contributing to the study of the subject.

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