Working in reverse alphabetical order through the C’s, as that’s how the clerks at the Ordnance Department recorded things, we come to California. Formally speaking, no batteries from California mustered into Federal service. But as we’ve detailed in previous quarters, infantry and cavalry regiments from California received artillery to support their duties at frontier posts. And those are reflected in the summaries. Furthermore, there were a handful of militia batteries, not mustered into Federal service, but for whom we have very solid documentation to discuss. That said, here’s the California section for the fourth quarter of 1863, ending in December of that year (note that all three lines indicate receipt dates in February 1864.. prompt considering the distances involved):
- Company H, 3rd California Infantry: Reporting at Camp Connor, Idaho with one 12-pdr mountain howitzer. This entry line is a re-appearance of a cannon first reported in the second quarter of 1863 (being left out in the third quarter returns). I would suggest that mountain howitzer was with the company through the summer and fall. The lacking paperwork aside, Captain David Black commanded Company H. Looking through returns and CSRs, we find an annotation that “1 Mountain Howitzer turned over to Capt. Black, 3d Infy. C.V. en route to Soda Springs” in May 1863. And on May 23 of that year, Black established Camp Connor there at Soda Springs, Idaho. The larger context here is that Black’s command was part of Brigadier-General Patrick Edward Connor’s operations aimed to secure the Idaho Territory against any potential Confederate incursions. But in retrospect, was more so aimed at suppressing Indian tribes in that territory.
- Company B, 1st Battalion California Mountaineers: At Fort Gaston, California, but with no cannon reported. Lieutenant-Colonel Stephen G. Whipple commanded this battalion, which served in the Humbolt District, in Northern California, protecting settlements from several hostile tribes in the “Two-Years War” phase of the Bald Hills Wars. This return should list at least one mountain howitzer, as one such appears in a report of action at the close of December that year. An expedition out of Fort Gaston came upon a fortified and armed group of Indians, about twenty-five miles from the post, on December 25, 1863. Whipple dispatched Captain George W. Ousley, of Company B, with a detachment and a mountain howitzer. “After the arrival of Captain Ousley [on December 26] a fire of shell was kept up as long as the ammunition lasted, doing some damage to the rancherias, but not dislodging the Indians, who had covered ways through which they passed from house to house.” While not effective in action, we can thus confirm the presence of a cannon with the battalion at that post.
- Company C, 5th California Infantry: No location given, but with four 12-pdr mountain howitzers. Colonel George W. Bowie commanded this regiment, which served detached to several posts in the Department of New Mexico, mostly in the District of Arizona, at this time of the war. Company C, under Captain John S. Thayer, served at Mesilla, in the New Mexico Territory (though is sometimes listed as Las Cruces on some reports), protecting the approaches to El Paso. Specifically regarding the howitzers, Special Orders No. 44 from the District of Arizona Headquarters detailed, “Company C, Fifth Infantry California Volunteers, will take post at Mesilla upon the arrival at Las Cruces of Company E, same regiment. Capt. John S. Thayer, commanding Company C, will take charge of and receipt for the howitzer battery now in the hands of the acting ordnance officer, and have that company ready for efficient service with the same as soon as practicable.”
Perhaps more than I normally provide for the administrative details. But given the obscurity of service for these details, it is important to recall the context of their service.
Moving to the ammunition reported, we have smoothbore rounds to account for:
- Company H, 3rd California: 36 shell and 36 case for 12-pdr mountain howitzers.
- Company H, 3rd California: 24 canister for 12-pdr mountain howitzers.
I’ve posted all the other pages to Flickr for review. But the only sheet with any more tallies is page 7:
- Company H, 3rd California: 25 pounds of cannon powder.
- Company C, 5th California Infantry: 50 pounds of cannon powder and 250 friction primers.
Before closing the book on California, we should consider the militia batteries from the state. Normally I don’t bring them up in relation to the Ordnance Summaries, as these were not active duty batteries and thus fall outside the scope of study here. But in the case of California, I find the militia service fairly well documented… and … well… interesting to a degree.
Two California militia batteries were in existence at the end of December 1863. The Washington Light Artillery of Napa, Napa County was organized on July 31, 1863, with Captain Nathan McCoombs in command. However, not until February of 1864 would Napa’s Washington Light Artillery receive arms and equipment (financed by bond).
The National Light Artillery also formed in July 1863, but in Santa Clara County. S. C. Houghton was named Captain after a continuous election. And rumors persisted about Confederate sentiments among the ranks. Yet, the battery was mustered into state service on October 1. This battery would not receive much support, but had a record of regular drill. I cannot determine what, if any, ordnance was issued to the battery.