Summary Statement, 3rd Quarter, 1863 – Maine’s Batteries

Despite a summer of campaigning and major battles, the third quarter, 1863 summaries for Maine captured information from four of the six batteries:

0257_1_Snip_ME

Two of those returns were posted in October. The clerks had to wait until the winter for the other two.  The same two batteries, 1st and 3rd, failed to file returns the previous quarter.  The Maine batteries are at times identified by numbered as well as lettered designations.  For simplicity here, I’ll retain the convention used by the Ordnance Department clerks… the numbers:

  • 1st Battery: No return. Captain Albert W. Bradbury resumed command of the battery after July.  Battery remained assigned to First Division, Nineteenth Corps, Department of the Gulf.  After the fall of Port Hudson, the battery moved with its parent formation back to Baton Rouge.  Reports earlier in the year gave the battery had four 6-pdr rifled guns and three 12-pdr howitzers.
  • 2nd Battery: “In the field” with four (down from six) 3-inch Ordnance rifles.  This is Captain James A. Hall’s battery, First Corps, Army of the Potomac.  Hall was up for promotion later in the year.  “In the field” was in Culpeper County, as of the end of September, 1863.  The battery would report to Camp Barry in November.  And around the same time, Hall would receive a much deserved promotion (and soon command the artillery school at Camp Barry).
  • 3rd Battery:  No report.  At this stage of the war, 3rd Battery was re-designated Battery M, 1st Maine Heavy Artillery (it would later revert to light artillery). Captain James G. Swett commanded.  The battery was stationed in the Defenses of Washington, on the north side of the Potomac.  They were, for at least a portion of this time, assigned to Battery Jameson, outside Fort Lincoln.
  • 4th Battery: Reporting at Culpeper, Virginia with six 3-inch Ordnance rifles.  Captain O’Neil W. Robinson, Jr. remained in command.  The battery returned to the Army of the Potomac, as part of French’s Division, under Third Corps.
  • 5th Battery: Reporting, appropriately “in the field” with four (down from six) 12-pdr Napoleons, from a report filed in March 1864.  Captain Greenleaf T. Stevens remained in command of this battery, which remained with First Corps, Army of the Potomac, through the end of the reporting period.  As such, its location was “in the field” in Culpeper County, Virginia.
  • 6th Battery: Another battery reporting from Culpeper, Virginia, in January 1864, this time with four 12-pdr Napoleons. The battery transferred from the 4th Volunteer Brigade, Artillery Reserve, Army of the Potomac to the 1st Volunteer Brigade (commanded by its original commander – Lieutenant Colonel Freeman McGilvery. Lieutenant William H. Rogers resumed command of the battery.

Of note, the 7th Maine Light Battery began formation in the fall of 1863. Though it would not formally muster until December.

And, mentioned above in regard to the 3rd Battery, the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery, under Colonel Daniel Chaplin, was part of the defenses of Washington, D.C., assigned to the north side of the Potomac.  The regiment had detachments in Maine on recruiting duties and at the seacoast fortifications (mostly recruits being trained up for duty).  This regiment was destined to see combat in the year that followed, but as one of the “heavies” given infantry duties in the Overland Campaign.

Let us move across the summary and discuss the ammunition on hand for the four reporting field batteries, starting with the smoothbore:

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Two Napoleon batteries:

  • 5th Battery: 192 shot, 64 shell, 188 case, and 68 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • 6th Battery: 192 shot, 64 shell, 192 case, and 64 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.

The number of rounds on hand for the Napoleons seems low to me.  A standard Napoleon ammunition chest held 32 rounds.  Each gun in the battery should have at least four such chests (one on the limber, three with the caisson) if not a few more.  Do the math.  5th and 6th Batteries had roughly a chest per gun.  Both returns were filed at the start of 1864, while the batteries were enjoying the winter encampment.  And those batteries would have plenty of ammunition to fill the chests.  I suspect in this case the returns were “as of the reporting date” and not “on hand at this time.”  But without seeing the actual return, that cannot be determined for certainty.

Moving to the rifled projectiles.  The batteries with 3-inch Ordnance Rifles reported Hotchkiss rounds:

0259_2_Snip_ME

Two batteries reporting:

  • 2nd Battery: 71 shot, 99 canister, and 240 fuse shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • 4th Battery: 120 canister, 381 fuse shell, and 699 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.

As with the Napoleon batteries, 2nd Battery seems short on ammunition, with a couple of chests worth on hand (though we’ll see enough for a couple more chests from the Schenkl columns below).  4th Battery had but six total.

We rarely have seen solid shot reported for field batteries in the 3-inch or 10-pdr Parrott calibers.  Solid shot, or bolt as the Parrotts were designated, were good for counter-battery work.  Though they could not match the performance of solid round shot against infantry.

As for 2nd Battery and their Schenkl rounds:

0260_1_Snip_ME

  • 2nd Battery:  258 shot for 3-inch rifles.

Taken with the 71 Hotchkiss, that’s a lot of solid shot! Almost two full chests worth.

More Schenkl on the next page.

0260_2_Snip_ME

  • 2nd Battery: 115 shell for 3-inch rifles.

With the remarks and questions about ammunition taken in consideration, we continue to the small arms:

0260_3_Snip_ME

By battery:

  • 2nd Battery: Sixteen Army revolvers and nine cavalry sabers.
  • 4th Battery: Eighteen Navy revolvers and eleven cavalry sabers.
  • 5th Battery: Ten Army revolvers and fifteen cavalry sabers.
  • 6th Battery: Seven Army revolvers, a hundred Navy revolvers and twenty-two horse artillery sabers.

All considered, the numbers for the Maine batteries offer some insight into logistics at this time of the war for the Federal ranks.  Two of the batteries gave returns close to the end of the reporting period. And we have conjectural evidence the other two were giving “as of that date” returns.  From those returns, we conclude the battery had one chest on hand for many of its guns.

But before we go off worrying the Army of the Potomac had some shortage of shells, we have to keep in mind what we know outside of those batteries.  The artillery chief (Brigadier-General Henry Hunt) was not filling the telegraph lines with pleas for more ammunition.  Nor was the ordnance or quartermaster sections reporting any Army-wide shortage.  So perhaps the Maine batteries were reporting what they had on hand, at the end of a summer of hard campaigning with little time to resupply.  Meanwhile, the missing set of data here is what was retained on hand at the Army-level in Hunt’s famous artillery trains.  Those chests, resupplied after Gettysburg, represented a ready supply to be quickly applied where need was felt.  Perhaps the numbers indicate Hunt placed priority to resupply of the trains over filling chests in the batteries?

Thus, if we take these numbers at face, on the eve of the Bristoe Station Campaign at least four batteries had simply enough rounds for a brief engagement.  Though resupply was but a short ride away.

Another “number” to consider is the reduction of three batteries to four guns.  This trend would continue through the Overland Campaign and reflected policy changes.  Seasoned, veteran infantry required less gun tubes per frontage for support.  Fewer guns to support meant fewer ammunition chests.  And such cycles back into the discussion of logistics, among other things.

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