Summary Statement, 4th Quarter, 1863 – 1st Indiana Heavy Artillery

We have mentioned the 1st Indiana Heavy Artillery briefly in previous quarter summaries. The “Jackass” Regiment received short notice in those quarters, as only two of its batteries reported what was rated as field artillery. With the expansion of the tables to include siege and garrison artillery, the 1st Indiana received its own, proper, section:

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This regiment’s story, briefly, begins in July 1861 being mustered as the 21st Indiana Infantry. Sent to garrison Baltimore, the regiment was later among the forces forwarded to the Gulf as part of Butler’s expedition to New Orleans. In February 1863, the regiment converted to heavy artillery, retaining its colorful nickname. As artillerymen, the regiment was posted at several points in the Department of the Gulf. During the summer, the regiment sent eight companies to support the siege of Port Hudson. After the fall of that bastion, the batteries resumed duties at points in Louisiana. Colonel John Keith remained in command of the regiment. (And for more on this interesting regiment, you might consult Phillip E. Faller’s excellent regimental history.) For the end of 1863, we have the above summary noting the postings of all but two of the batteries:

  • Company A: At New Iberia with four 20-pdr Parrott rifles.  Captain Eden H. Fisher resigned on November 20th. Captain Harvey B. Hall replaced him. 
  • Company B: Perhaps an administrative error, this battery is listed on the third line down, below Battery C.  No return. The battery was posted to New Orleans at this time of the war. Captain James Grimsley was promoted to major on October 1. Lieutenant John W. Day accepted the captaincy.
  • Company C: Listed out of order, on the second line, reporting at Baton Rouge, with four 8-inch siege howitzers .  Captain Elihu E. Rose resigned on December 8, and was replaced by Lieutenant William Bough (promoted to captain, date of rank December 9).
  • Company D: At Baton Rouge with five 24-pdr siege guns.  Captain William S. Hinkle remained in command.
  • Company E:  Also at Baton Rouge, reporting four 20-pdr Parrotts. Captain James W. Hamrick in command.
  • Company F: Another battery at Baton Rouge, but no cannon reported.  Captain Francis W. Noblet commanded.
  • Company G: At Baton Rouge and also reporting no cannon.  Captain Edward McLaflin, of this battery, was the detachment commander at Baton Rouge and thus in charge of what amounted to a battalion-plus of artillery. However, Company G was split between the assignment at Baton Rouge and the New Orleans garrison.
  • Company H: Reporting at New Iberia, Louisiana with two 30-pdr Parrotts.  Captain James W. Connelly in command.
  • Company I: Garrison artillery at New Orleans, but reporting no cannon. Captain Richard Campbell’s command.
  • Company K: No return. Also garrison artillery in New Orleans. Under Captain Clayton Cox.
  • Company L: Reporting at Matagorda, Texas with three 12-pdr Napoleons and two 20-pdr Parrotts.  Captain Isaac C. Hendricks commanded this battery, which was part of Major-General Cadwallader Washburn expedition sent to the Texas coast that fall.
  • Company M: Only reporting stores on hand.  Garrison artillery at New Orleans.  This battery mustered in October.  Captain Samuel A. Strong was in command.

Before we leave the administrative section, let us consider a couple of photos from the Photographic History of the Civil War (that old classic). Both are captioned as showing a battery of the 1st Indiana Heavy Artillery (and specifically mentioned as formerly the 21st Indiana Infantry) at drill in Baton Rouge:

1stIndBatonRouge1
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Remarkable photos depicting the company (heavy artillery being companies that is) in battery (top) and in march order (bottom). Parrott rifles, obviously. And while I had reservations about the size, these do appear to be 20-pdrs. So we might tentatively identify this as Company E. Though as we don’t have a specific date to work from this might also show Company A. Or perhaps one of the other companies borrowing equipment… or for full speculation perhaps one of the other companies with rifles assigned to the garrison (and thus escaped the summary lines). A wealth of details in the photographs, particularly for anyone studying drill and tactics.

But the caption in the Photographic History points to another significant attribute for these photos.

The clearest and most trustworthy evidence of an opponent’s strength is of course an actual photograph. Such evidence, in spite of the early stage of the art and the difficulty of “running in” chemical supplies on “orders to trade,” was supplied to the Confederate leaders in the Southwest by [Andrew D.] Lytle, the Baton Rouge photographer – really a member of the Confederate secret service. Here are photographs of the First Indiana Heavy Artillery (formerly the Twenty-first Indiana Infantry), showing its strength and position on the arsenal grounds at Baton Rouge. As the Twenty-first Indiana, the regiment had been at Baton Rouge during the first Federal occupation, and after the fall of Port Hudson it returned there for garrison duty. Little did its officers suspect that the quiet man photographing the batteries at drill was about to convey the “information” beyond their lines to their opponents.

So those cannon we tally in the summaries? Reportedly the Confederates were also counting them… in the photographs. Not quite the microfilm drop of Cold War espionage, but still the use of imagery to gather intelligence.

We turn now to the ammunition reported on hand, starting with the smoothbore columns:

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  • Company L: 71 shot, 62 shell, and 98 case for 12-pdr Napoleons.
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  • Company L: 48 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.

Nothing on the first page of rifled projectiles. So we move to the second and the Parrott projectiles.

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  • Company A: 9 shot, 357 shell, and 72 canister for 20-pdr Parrotts.
  • Company E: 210 shell for 20-pdr Parrotts.
  • Company L: 30 shot, 192 shell, and 34 canister for 20-pdr Parrotts.

No tallies on the “Miscellaneous” pattern projectiles page. So we move to the small arms:

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  • Company A: Six Sharps’ rifles and sixteen horse artillery sabers.
  • Company D: Sixty Remington army revolvers.
  • Company E: Fifteen Remington army revolvers and twenty-four horse artillery sabers.
  • Company G: Thirty-nine Sharps’ rifles.
  • Company H: Fifty-six Sharps’ rifles, eleven foot officer’s sword, and one musician’s sword.
  • Company I: Seventy Sharps’ rifles and nine horse artillery sabers.

Moving on to the cartridge bags and small arms ammunition reported:

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  • Company A: 340 bags for 20-pdr Parrott.
  • Company E: 339 bags for 20-pdr Parrott; and 3,000 Sharps’ cartridges.
  • Company I: 4,300 Sharps’ cartridges.
  • Company L: 226 bags for 20-pdr Parrott.

And on to the next page with fuses, primers, and other items:

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  • Company E: 71 paper fuses and 295 friction primers.
  • Company I: 5,750 percussion caps.
  • Company L: 146 paper fuses, 6 pounds of musket powder, and 590 friction primers.

That concludes the “Jackass” Regiment’s summary. I do believe this summary is lacking because certain equipment (particularly large cannon) were considered part of the garrison property, and not part of a regiment or company assignment. But the inclusion of the entire regiment in this quarter’s summary sheds light on how those heavy regiments served when indeed they served as artillery.

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Summary Statement, 4th Quarter, 1863 – Independent Illinois Batteries

We turn now to “below the line,” or at least on the next page, for the listings for independent batteries from Illinois. Nine batteries listed:

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  • Battery A, 3rd Illinois Artillery: At Little Rock, Arkansas with six 3.80-inch James Rifles. As mentioned in earlier summaries, this battery was better known as the Springfield Light Artillery, or Vaughn’s Battery. Commanded by Captain Thomas F. Vaughn, the battery was part of the Arkansas Expedition. By the late fall, with reorganizations, the battery fell under the Second Division, Army of Arkansas. With Vaughn absent, Lieutenant Edward B. Stillings was in temporary command at the end of December.
  • Chicago Board of Trade Battery: At Huntsville, Alabama, with four 6-pdr field guns and two 3.80-inch James Rifles. Captain James H. Stokes was still the battery commander. But as he was detailed to command a division of the Artillery Reserve, Army of the Cumberland, Lieutenant George I. Robinson led the battery. The battery was assigned to Second Division, Cavalry, Army of the Cumberland. They spent most of the fall supporting operations against Confederate raiders, before settling into winter quarters at Huntsville.
  • Chicago Mercantile Battery: At Pass Cavallo, Texas, with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles. Captain Patrick H. White remained in command. Assigned to the Third Division, Thirteenth Corps, the battery was part of a force sent to the Texas coast at the end of the year.
  • Colvin’s Battery: At Knoxville, Tennessee, with two 3-inch Ordnance Rifles and two 10-pdr Parrotts. This battery was formed in the late summer with men from the 107th Illinois and 33rd Kentucky Infantry (along with some from the 22nd Indiana Battery). By October it was officially carried on the rolls as a battery. Captain John H. Colvin remained in command. The battery participated in the Knoxville Campaign as part of Fourth Division, Twenty-Third Corps. At the end of the year, the battery transferred to the Cavalry, Army of the Ohio.
  • Bridge’s Battery: At Chattanooga, Tennessee, with two 12-pdr Napoleons and six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles. Captain Lyman Bridges commanded. With reorganizations after Chickamuaga, the battery was assigned to Third Division, Fourth Corps. The battery participated in the operations around Chattanooga that fall. They were among the batteries thrown forward to Orchard Knob. After victory at Chattanooga, the battery participated in the relief of Knoxville.
  • Elgin or 5th Battery(?): Also known as Renwick’s Battery, after its first commander. Reporting at Mossy (as written, Mofry?) Creek, Tennessee, with two 12-pdr Napoleons and four 24-pdr field howitzers. Captain Andrew M. Wood remained in command. And the battery with Second Division, Twenty Third Corps. The battery saw action at the battle of Mossy Creek, on December 29.
  • Henshaw’s Battery: At Loudon, Tennessee, but with no artillery reported. In the previous quarter the battery reported four 6-pdr field guns and two 3.80-inch James rifles. Captain Edward C. Henshaw remained in command. The battery remained with Second Division, Twenty-Third Corps. After the relief of Nashville, the division moved to Loudon. However, they would from there move to Strawberry Plains, east of Knoxville, before wintering at Mossy Creek.
  • Cogswell’s Battery: At Nashville, Tennessee, with four 3.80-inch James rifles. William Cogswell remained the battery captain. As part of Second Division, Seventeenth Corps, the battery was among the force sent to Chattanooga. The battery covered Sherman’s crossing and subsequent actions as the siege of that place was lifted. Then afterward participated in the relief of Knoxville. The battery went into winter quarters in north Alabama. In December the battery was assigned to Third Division, Fifteenth Corps. The Nashville location alludes to the reporting date of August 1864, after the battery was transferred to garrison duties.
  • Lovejoy’s battery: Reporting at Brownsville, Arkansas with two 12-pdr mountain howitzer. This listing does not match with any of the “according to Dyer’s” Indiana batteries. We discussed Lovejoy’s Battery last quarter, but under the Missouri heading. It was a section from the 2nd Missouri Cavalry, Merrill’s Horse, then serving at Brownsville. I’m rather sure this is Lieutenant George F. Lovejoy’s section. But I cannot explain why the Ordnance Department would change the state attribution here.

Let us table Lovejoy’s for the time being and move on to the ammunition. Starting with the smoothbore:

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  • Board of Trade Battery: 139 shot and 224 case for 6-pdr field guns.
  • Bridge’s Battery: 32 shell for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Elgin Battery: 34 shot, 36 shell, and 117 case for 12-pdr Napoleons; 135 shell for 24-pdr field howitzers.
  • Lovejoy’s Battery: 28 shell and 96 case for 12-pdr mountain howitzers.

We’ll break the next page down into sections, starting with the rest of the smoothbore:

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  • Board of Trade Battery: 197 canister for 6-pdr field guns.
  • Bridge’s Battery: 17 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Elgin Battery: 25 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons; 116 case and 48 canister for 24-pdr field howitzers.
  • Lovejoy’s Battery: 11 canister for 12-pdr mountain howitzers.

To the right are listings for Hotchkiss rifled projectiles:

  • Mercantile Battery: 512 shot and 281 time fuse shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • Bridge’s Battery: 262 time fuse shell for 3-inch rifles.

More Hotchkiss on the next page:

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  • Springfield Light Artillery: 334 percussion fuse shell and 268 canister for 3.80-inch rifles.
  • Board of Trade Battery: 23 percussion fuse shell and 30 canister for 3.80-inch rifles.
  • Mercantile Battery: 240 percussion fuse shell and 138 canister for 3-inch rifles.
  • Colvin’s Battery: 23 canister for 3-inch rifles.
  • Bridge’s Battery: 240 percussion fuse shell, 240 case shot, and 160 canister for 3-inch rifles.
  • Cogswell’s Battery: 170 percussion fuse shell and 149 canister for 3.80-inch rifles.

To the right are columns for James patent projectiles:

  • Springfield Light Artillery: 236 shot, 212 shell, and 30 canister for 3.80-inch rifles.
  • Board of Trade Battery: 40 shot and 41 shell for 3.80-inch rifles.
  • Cogswell’s Battery: 31 shot, 247 shell, and 109 canister for 3.80-inch rifles.

Then the Parrott and Schenkl sections:

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  • Colvin’s Battery: 56 shell and 19 case Parrott patent for 10-pdr Parrott.
  • Board of Trade Battery: 104 Schenkl shell for 3.80-inch rifles.

Nothing reported on the next page:

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So on to the small arms:

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  • Springfield Light Artillery: ten horse artillery sabers.
  • Board of Trade Battery: 104 Colt army revolvers, three cavalry sabers, and eighteen horse artillery sabers.
  • Mercantile Battery: One Colt army revolver and four horse artillery sabers.
  • Bridge’s Battery: Ten Remington army revolvers, fifteen cavalry sabers, and five horse artillery sabers.
  • Elgin Battery: Six Remington navy revolvers and eight horse artillery sabers.
  • Henshaw’s Battery: Sixteen Colt army revolvers, seven cavalry sabers, and nine horse artillery sabers.
  • Cogswell’s Battery: Two Colt navy revolvers and two cavalry sabers.

Cartridge bags reported on hand:

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  • Springfield Light Artillery: 720 bags for James rifles.
  • Board of Trade Battery: 312 bags for James rifles.
  • Mercantile Battery: 40 bags for 3-inch rifles and 165 bags for 6-pdr field guns.
  • Bridge’s Battery: 198 bags for 3-inch rifles.
  • Cogswell’s Battery: 752 bags for James rifles.

Lastly, small arms cartridges, fuses, friction primers, and other items to cause a boom:

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  • Springfield Light Artillery: 939 friction primers.
  • Board of Trade Battery: 2128 friction primers and 250 percussion caps.
  • Mercantile Battery: 550 paper fuses, 123 friction primers, and two yards of slow match.
  • Bridge’s Battery: 800 pistol cartridges, 600 paper fuses, 595 friction primers, six yards of slow match, 150 percussion pistol caps, 560 percussion caps, and 27 portfires.
  • Elgin Battery: 800 friction primers.
  • Cogswell’s Battery: 740 friction primers and 12 portfires.

Between December 1863 and the end of the war, many of these Illinois independent batteries ceased to be independent. As the batteries from the 1st and 2nd Illinois Artillery saw their members mustering out, and as some of those lettered batteries consolidated, the independent batteries were redesignated. Because of that, the Illinois records appear disconnected at points in 1864 and 1865. Sad, because many of these are batteries with enviable service records.

Mahan on Artillery Tactics, Part 5: Artillery Supporting the Attack

We’ve discussed at length that Mahan felt artillery was the “principal part” of the defense. But on the offense, did the artillery play a minor role? Not according to Mahan. We sometimes misconstrue the notions about supporting roles to be of lesser importance, or perhaps inconsequential. Mahan felt the artillery’s support was vital to staging a successful attack. So how to go about constructing a successful support? Turning to the classes of artillery in use at that time (pre-Civil War), Mahan proposed different roles for heavy and light guns:

In the onset of offensive movements, good positions should be selected for the heaviest pieces, from which they can maintain a strong fire on the enemy until the lighter pieces and the columns of attack are brought into action. These positions should be taken on the flanks of the ground occupied by the assailant, or on the centre, if more favorable to the end to be attained.

Mahan, 61.

Consider a generic scenario, what I call the “blackboard topography.” One might select good artillery positions on the flanks, or the center as Mahan proposes. But regardless it is the heavy, long-range guns that are chosen to open the attack. And we need to understand, tactically, why this is significant. Having the least mobile component of the army as the base from which the army can launch an assault makes good sense. More so having those long-reaching and hard-hitting guns opening the engagement at a range from which only the enemy’s peer heavy guns could respond.

And at what range should those heavy guns open? Mahan did not delve into the technical details in this passage. For the most part, he left those things open as such was the domain of the artillerists and subject to change as the technology evolved. Though we can say given the pre-war context, I would offer 1200 yards. That was the effective range of a 24-pdr field howitzer firing shell. And that particular caliber and class would be the shortest-ranged of what was considered “heavy” artillery in the 1850s.

Continuing on in that paragraph, we put some weight… emphasis… on that point. The enemy would certainly respond to this opening bombardment:

In all cases, wide intervals should be left between the heavy batteries and the other troops; in order that the latter may not suffer from the return fire which the assailed will probably open on the batteries. For the same reason, care should be taken not to place other troops behind a point where they would be exposed to the return fire of the assailed; when this cannot be avoided, the troops should be so placed as to be covered by any undulation of the ground; or else be deployed in line to lessen the effects of the shot

Mahan, 61-2.

Those heavy batteries are going to be magnets for the enemy’s attention. And that in mind, there appears an additional factor here beyond just the measure of range and weight of metal. Not only does the opening bombardment damage the enemy directly … “kinetically” as the modern military is fond of saying… but also by splitting the enemy’s attention in response. Again, “blackboard topography” here, but opening the engagement with those big guns ensures the enemy must respond and counter the bombardment… and thus redirects defensive firepower that would otherwise be applied to the infantry or cavalry.

And in the study of assaults staged during the Civil War, we see this play out time and time again in the form of artillery duels. Most students will recognize the preparatory effects to damage the defense. However, consider how those duels usually played out. Particularly where ammunition supplies factored into how long the bombardment could be sustained. Do we know of instances where a defender deliberately ceased counter-battery fire in order to save guns and ammunition to repel the infantry? Yes we have. So this is not just were the defender pointed those cannon, but also if he decided to fire them or not.

But what of the light artillery?

The artillery which moves with the columns of attack, should be divided into several strong batteries; as the object in this case is to produce a decisive impression upon a few points of the enemy’s line; by bringing an overwhelming fire to bear upon those points. These batteries should keep near enough to the other troops to be in safety from any attempts of the assailed to capture them. Their usual positions will be on the flanks and near the heads of the columns of attack; the intervals between the batteries being sufficient for the free maneuvers of the other troops, in large bodies

Mahan, 62.

This, readers, is about as close as Mahan comes to any notion of “artillery charges.” The notion here is to carry forward, with the assault force, an artillery component up to a point, while still out of musket range, where direct damage can be done to specific enemy positions. Since these light batteries at the time Mahan was writing would be armed with 6-pdr field guns and 12-pdr field howitzers, the idea range would be 1000 yards. Perhaps closing up to 700 yards if the commander wanted to push things. Closer than that and that safety clause comes into risk, as the enemy infantry might be able to close quicker than the battery could respond.

I would stress the fire effects desired here. While none were articulated for the heavy batteries, the light batteries were there to do damage specifically to selected points of the defense. It was the light artillery that was to beat a path for the infantry and artillery. Consider also the control of these two elements of artillery. While the heavy artillery was far enough back to receive direction from the army commander (or at least the commander of the field), the light batteries were so far forward that only the assault force commander could exert any immediate control.

Note also the emphasis placed upon keeping open maneuver space for the infantry or cavalry. Very important to ensure the attacking ranks arrived at the point of contact in an orderly formation.

Continuing on, Mahan wrote:

The maneuvers of these batteries should be made with promptitude; so that no time may be lost for the action of their fire. They should get rapidly over unfavorable ground to good positions for firing, and maintain those as long as possible; detaching, in such cases, a few pieces to accompany the columns of attack. In all the movements of the batteries, great care should be taken not to place them so that they shall in the least impede the operations of the other troops.

Mahan, 62.

This was the reason artillery batteries drilled hard on maneuver, being able to quickly place and unlimber. This point is lost sometimes on our battlefield walks, as we see the guns (if guns are indeed on the field to represent) sitting as if ready for action. I always stress this to any audience I’m leading on a battlefield tour. Maneuver of a battery was an intricate choreography.

As for a section or battery accompanying the assault force right into the attack? Some will contend here’s that mythical “artillery charge.” No, not so. These cannon were reserved to go into action once the objective was attained. A hedge against an enemy counterattack. And we might say, while such was fine for the 1840s and 1850s, during the Civil War rarely would such an accompanying battery move with the assault. At Belmont, early in the war, the Chicago Light Battery was thrown in with the initial Federal attacks. And later in 1863 on Grant’s Vicksburg Campaign, there were a few instances where artillery came into action with the initial infantry waves. But these were, I think, less so much U.S. Grant (or.. .gasp.. John C. McClernand) applying Mahan’s accompanying batteries to practice. More so that artillery in a mixed line of march were employed at the onset of a meeting engagement.

So why was the accompanying battery disused? Well, to be honest, we might also start questioning the notions about the heavy and light battery employments. In the first place, by 1861 the US Army was already shedding the designations of heavy and light within the field artillery. The 12-pdr Napoleon was the weapon of choice in what would become, basically, all-purpose batteries. Furthermore, the introduction of better fuses (Bormann, in particular for the smoothbore) gave better accuracy. Not in terms of aiming, mind you. Rather in the ability of the gunner to have the shell or case shot explode at the right time of flight in order to achieve the desired fire effect. With that ability in hand, why press the issue at any range less than 1000 yards? Double down with the rapid adoption of rifled guns at the start of the Civil War.

With that said, the question always arises of the impact of the rifled musket with respect to artillery use. I have always contended first and foremost that infantry musketry techniques didn’t change significantly with the adoption of the new technology. Infantrymen were not trained, as a rule, to engage targets out to the effective range of their weapons. Some sharpshooters, maybe. But not the rank and file. Nor were infantry commanders apt to open volley fires out beyond a few hundred yards. So how would that impact the use of artillery?

It didn’t. Rather, the reason we see a departure, particularly in regard to the offensive use of artillery, from the Mahanian concepts presented in Outpost was because of the advances in artillery technology. Taking advantage of lighter, longer-ranged, more accurate weapons, practitioners of the artillery (thinking names like Gibbon, Hunt, Barry, and others) began to relook the way their arm could be employed.


(Citations from Dennis Hart Mahan, An Elementary Treatise on Advanced-guard, Out-post, and Detachment Service of Troops, and the Manner of Posting and Handling Them in Presence of an Enemy, New York: John Wiley, 1861, pages 61-2.)