Summary Statement, 4th Quarter, 1863 – Minnesota

In the previous quarter, we saw Minnesota represented by three light artillery batteries. For the fourth quarter, we see the same three batteries… but four lines:


Yes, the 3rd Minnesota Battery reported by section. So let’s break those lines down:

  • 1st Battery: Reporting at Gaylesville, Alabama, as of November 1864, with with two 12-pdr field howitzers and two 3.67-inch (6-pdr) rifles. The report location is “as of” the reporting date, after the Atlanta Campaign when the battery was involved with the pursuit of Hood’s forces in northern Alabama. Captain William Z. Clayton commanded. But while he was on recruiting duty, Lieutenant Henry Hunter led the battery.  The battery remained with the First Division, Seventeenth Corps at Vicksburg through the spring. At some point that winter, the battery received three new 3-inch rifles.
  • 2nd Battery:  At Chattanooga, Tennessee with six 10-pdr Parrott rifles.  In October, with reorganizations of the Army of the Cumberland, the battery shifted from First Division, Twentieth Corps to Second Division, Fourteenth Corps. Captain William A. Hotchkiss, the battery commander, served as Artillery Chief for the division.  And Lieutenant Richard L. Dawley led the battery. The battery supported the division in the battles around Chattanooga in November. They wintered at Rossville, Georgia, just outside of that city.
  • 3rd Battery:  Reporting from Fort Snelling, Minnesota with two 6-pdr field guns and six 12-pdr mountain howitzers.  Captain John Jones commanded this battery assigned to the District of Minnesota, Department of the Northwest.  Actually, this battery four sections were spread out across the department. The 1st Section was at Fort Snelling in December. 2nd Section was at Pembina, Dakota Territories (see below). The 3rd Section at Fort Ridgely, Minnesota. And the 4th Section served at Fort Ripley, Minnesota. I am not sure which officer drew particular sections, but Lieutenants John C. Whipple, Horace H. Western, Don A. Daniels, and Gad Merrill Dwelle were with the battery.
  • Section of 3rd Battery: Reporting from Pembina, Dakota Territories (so this must be the 2nd Section) but not listing their assigned cannon. I believe this section’s gun were rolled up with the battery’s, but for some reason their other stores were accounted separately. For what reason, we are left to guess.

And about those stores, we see some with the smoothbore ammunition tallies:

  • 1st Battery: 117 shells and 128 case for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • 3rd Battery: 102 shot and 130 case for 6-pdr field guns; 48 shell and 134 case for 12-pdr mountain howitzers.
  • 2nd Section, 3rd Battery: 24 case for 12-pdr mountain howitzers.

Continuing with smoothbore:

  • 1st Battery: 90 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • 3rd Battery: 42 canister for 6-pdr field guns and 84 canister for 12-pdr mountain howitzers.

To the right is a lone tally for Hotchkiss shot:

  • 1st Battery: 122 shot for 3.67-inch rifles.

More Hotchkiss on the next page:

  • 1st Battery: 40 percussion fuse shell, 26 case shot/bullet shell, and 110 canister for 3.67-inch rifles.

On the far right of this, is a tally for the one column of Parrott projectiles on this page:

  • 2nd Battery: 22 shot for 10-pdr Parrott.

That brings us to the rest of the Parrott columns:

  • 2nd Battery: 780 shell, 383 case, and 188 canister for 10-pdr Parrotts.

We then skip forward to the small arms:

  • 1st Battery: Eleven Colt navy revolvers.
  • 2nd Battery: One Colt navy revolver and nine cavalry sabers.
  • 3rd Battery: Thirty Colt army revolvers and 126 cavalry sabers.

The next page has totals for cartridge bags, only two batteries reporting such:

  • 1st Battery: 254 cartridge bags for 6-pdr field guns or 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • 2nd Battery: 834 cartridge bags for 10-pdr Parrotts.

The last page covers small arms cartridges and other articles:

  • 1st Battery: 800 navy-caliber pistol cartridges and 450 friction primers.
  • 3rd Battery: 550 army-caliber pistol cartridges, 21 fireballs, and 259 friction primers.
  • 2nd Section, 3rd Battery: 12 fireballs.

Fireballs? Well, specifically it is a column for fireballs loaded for 8-inch or 10-inch mortars. Which, of course, the 3rd Battery didn’t have. Recall we discussed fireballs some time back in reference to use with the heavy mortars. These were a canvas bag loaded with a shell and explosive composition and covered with pitch. The idea was to throw such a projectile over the enemy position, timed to ignite in the air with the objective of illuminating the ground. A similar projectile, called the “light ball” was without the shell and intended to ignite closer to friendly lines, also providing illumination.

I doubt that the 3rd Battery, out there on the frontier, actually had regulation fireballs on hand. However, what would make for sound speculation is the battery reported locally fabricated fireballs (or light balls) for use from their howitzers. At a remote outpost they would find need of artificial light for many reasons.

4 thoughts on “Summary Statement, 4th Quarter, 1863 – Minnesota

  1. Craig: I think there’s an error by the clerk regarding that November 1864 date for the First. According to Henry Hurter’s account (at p. 645-46, Minn in the Civil and Indian Wars, Vol. 1), they left Vicksburg on April 4, 1864, eventually going to Huntsville, Alabama and then finally joining the Atlanta Campaign with the 17th Corps on June 9. Before they departed Vicksburg on April 4, their “brass guns” were exchanged for “three-inch Rodman rifled guns” (i.e., 3-inch ordnance rifles). The written date in the report clearly appears to be “November 1864”, however. Hurter confirms that they were indeed at Gaylesville that fall but there is no indication that they ever “re-exchanged” their guns and Hurter’s closing states that the “Rodman guns spoke” throughout the Atlanta Campaign and “were heard” at Savannah and “wound up business” in SC in March, 1865. I’ll wager that the clerk simply wrote “1864” where he meant “1863”.

  2. That makes sense (it’s under “date of receipt”). Any idea why the lengthy delay when they had plenty of time at Vicksburg over the ’63-’64 winter to submit a report?

    • Well that battery’s returns from earlier in the war all seemed to have arrived around the same time, Given the evidence in front of us, I would say the likely reason is the battery officers didn’t like doing paperwork.

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