Not a populous state, yet Vermont arguably fought above their weight class during the Civil War with nearly 10% of the state’s population responding to the call. We hear much of the two infantry brigades which served with the Army of the Potomac. And the storied 1st Vermont Cavalry gets it due from those who chronicle the horse soldiers. But with respect to the artillerymen, the most often mentioned is the 1st Vermont Heavy Artillery, which served through much of the war, in effect, as infantry. What of the light batteries? Well… let’s look to their summaries:
At the close of the third quarter, 1863, Vermont had only two light batteries in service (the third would not muster until 1864). And those two batteries were dealing with the heat, humidity, and mosquitoes of Louisiana. Thus, in our “main theaters of operation” centered studies of the war, these two batteries garner little attention. Let’s give them some attention here:
- 1st Battery: Reporting from Brashear City (modern Morgan City), Louisiana with four 3-inch rifles. Under Captain George T. Hebard, the battery moved to Third Division, Nineteenth Corps in the reorganizations after the fall of Port Hudson. Initially assigned to Baton Rouge, the battery returned to Port Hudson in late July. During the first week of September, the battery participated in the unsuccessful Sabine Pass expedition. After that, they returned to Brashear City on garrison duties.
- 2nd Battery: At Port Hudson, Louisiana, with four 6-pdr (3.37-inch) rifles. Although using a column for bronze pieces, these were most certainly Sawyer rifles of cast steel. After the fall of Port Hudson, the battery remained at that place as part of the Fourth Division, Nineteenth Corps (again, a transfer as part of the corps’ reorganization). Captain Pythagoras E. Holcomb commanded the battery at the start of the summer. But on August 19, he was mustered out of the battery to accept a promotion to major in the 1st Texas (US) Cavalry. An interesting “unionist” story to follow. But as this is “To the Sound of the Guns” and not “The Tinking of Sabers,” I’ll leave that story to those who write about the cavalry. Lieutenant John W. Chase was promoted in October to replace Holcomb.
- 3rd Battery: Not listed. This battery began forming in November. So we will discuss them in the next quarter in more detail. Captain Romeo H. Start received commission in the battery on November 23. And was busy recruiting from that point forward.
So just two batteries to account for in the ammunition tables. With no smoothbores reported, we can skip that page. So we move to the Hochkiss columns:
- 1st Battery: 86 canister, 329 percussion shell, and 261 fuse shell for 3-inch rifles.
No Dyer, James, or Parrott rounds reported. So we turn to the Schenkl columns:
- 1st Battery: 130 shell for 3-inch rifles.
- 2nd Battery: 498 shell and 222 case for 3.67-inch rifles.
Note also, at the far end of the table, some of those rare Tatham’s canister were reported also:
- 2nd Battery: 222 canister for 3.67-inch rifles.
This leads us to the small arms reported:
- 1st Battery: Fourteen army revolvers and thirty-four horse artillery sabers.
- 2nd Battery: Seven army revolvers and fifty-one cavalry sabers.
These two batteries continued their service in Louisiana into the next year. The 1st would muster out the following summer. But the 3rd, which we mentioned only as a prelude here, would move up to the front around the same time to participate in some of the most violent fighting of the war.