Raccoon Ford Solar Farm update: Victory along the Rapidan, but follow through needed to complete win

Let me pass along an update on the threat to the Rapidan Fords, mentioned earlier this month.

Cricket Solar, the project aimed at placing a large-scale solar farm in southern Culpeper County, formally withdrew their conditional use permit on August 26. Spokesperson for the project indicated Cricket Solar was taking the action in order to “ensure that any project proposed represents Cricket’s best effort to address community concerns.” Which in essence means the project could not reconcile their plan with valid concerns and objections. A sizable number of those concerns were the impact on historical resources. The irony in the case of this solar farm project is the main “pro” argument in its favor was to create renewable energy alternatives in order to preserve natural resources… yet the cost of developing that renewable energy option was the destruction of natural and historical resources!

Yes, this is a win for preservation. However, I think we need to apply some lessons learned from our study of the Civil War in this situation. A battle is won, to be sure. But that victory is but a fleeting moment in the campaign to reach an objective. How many Civil War generals won significant victories on the field, only to see that victory ring hollow due to delayed pursuit and failure to follow through toward the strategic goals?

The goal here, for me as a preservationist (and I trust you too, reader) is to ensure places like Raccoon Ford are not perpetually under threat of development. We should not need to queue up, year after year, the same discussion about preserving these places – Brandy Station, Cedar Mountain, Morton’s Ford, Hansbrough Ridge, and Raccoon Ford. These places should instead be recognized for the intrinsic value possessed … and thus preserved and entrusted to future generations.

But how to do that?

I submit that preservation efforts are much like those wartime campaigns we study. Each effort must have stages and phases leading ultimately that goal of preservation. And in that light, our next step forward should renewed calls to establish a state park in Culpeper County that covers, at minimum, the Brandy Station and Cedar Mountain battlefields.

Consider – the discussion of the Cricket Solar project brought the area’s Civil War history back to the fore. Specifically, we’ve seen localized discussion about what did happen “in my back yard.” Call it “renewed” interest… or in many cases a “newfound” interest (which is rewarding, for those of us engaged in the discussion). With that rise in interest, there is now a ready made foundation for follow on public discussion. Poll after poll taken indicated the citizenry of the county preferred to preserve these sites, be that motivated by interest in history or concern for the environmental impact. Those sentiments logically lead to renewed efforts for a state park. Then, ultimately, a seed for further preservation of the county’s important historic sites.

No, I’m not advocating for the entire county to be placed “under glass” or some other starry-eyed notion. Rather that attention be paid to those sites deserving preservation. We should, in this age, be able to recognize good stewardship techniques that balance and moderate development while protecting what needs to be preserved. In the case of Culpeper County, the best stewardship technique, in my opinion, takes the form of a state park.

We should follow up our victory this week with decisive action. Now is the time for the American Battlefield Trust and allies to renew the push for a Brandy Station and Cedar Mountain Battlefields state park. It is time to move this campaign forward!

Summary Statement, 4th Quarter, 1863 – 2nd Missouri Artillery

I hesitate to apply the designation “Light” artillery to the 2nd Missouri Artillery, at least not as it existed at the end of 1863. As chronicled in earlier posts, this regiment had an unconventional organizational history in many regards. Starting in the late summer of 1863, the regiment was reorganized, from the section up, with the aim of forming all into field artillery batteries. However, that process took time. And at the close of 1863, only four batteries were equipped and serving as field artillery. The remainder, if they were indeed reorganized, served as heavy artillery. We’ll look at their story in this “snapshot” view that the summaries provide.

Lieutenant-Colonel Nelson Cole remained in command of the regiment, and would receive promotion to full colonel in February 1864. In December, his second in command was Major Frank Backof. However, Backof was shortly dismissed from service in early 1864 (a story I hope to detail in a follow up post). As the regiment was still reforming, there was little to report in the way of “on hand” cannon and stores. Just the four “reorganized” field batteries mentioned above:

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But there’s more to the regimental’s December status than those four lines, as we fill in the gaps:

  • Battery A: No report. This battery was the consolidation of the old Batteries C and D and remained at Cape Girardeau, manning Fort B as heavy artillery. The battery was part of the District of St. Louis. Captain John E. Strodtman commanded. Men from Battery C (below) were also under his command. Not until June was the battery reorganized as light artillery.
  • Battery B:  No report. This battery moved from St. Louis in early December and was stationed at Fort No. 4 defending New Madrid, Missouri by the end of the month. Captain John J. Sutter remained in command.  The posting, as heavy artillery, was part of the extended District of St. Louis.
  • Battery C:  No report. The new Battery C was formed from the old batteries H and I.  Captain Frederick W. Fuchs, formerly Company I, commanded the new battery.  This new battery was stationed at Cape Girardeau, consolidated with Battery A at the time, as heavy artillery.  The battery waited until May to reorganize as light artillery.
  • Battery D: Reporting from DeValls Bluff, Arkansas with two 12-pdr field howitzers and two 3-inch Ordnance Rifles. The battery reorganized in September at St. Louis with the consolidation of old Batteries A, F, G, K, and M. Most of the first three batteries had mustered out in St. Louis. What remained was a large “section” reformed at that place. The “old” batteries K and M were at Little Rock and consolidated into the “new” Battery D.  The battery was assigned to 1st Cavalry Division, Army of Arkansas. Those sections from the old Batteries K and M served at DeValls Bluff, protecting the railroad line to Little Rock. Captain Charles Schareff commanded.  The St. Louis section, under Lieutenant Frederick W. von Bodengen served detached with the 1st Nebraska Cavalry. Bodengen’s section left St. Louis on December 3, moving through Rolla, West Plains, and finally to Bateville, Arkansas on the 25th.
  • Battery E: Reporting at Little Rock, Arkansas with six 3.67-inch bronze rifles.  Reorganized from parts of old Batteries E, L, and M, under Captain Gustave Stange (old Battery M) during the fall.  The battery served in 1st Cavalry Division, Department of Arkansas. 
  • Battery F: At Woodville, Alabama with four 12-pdr field howitzers.  Captain Clemens Landgraeber’s First Missouri Flying Artillery transferred into the regiment during the reorganization.  The battery supported First Division, Fifteenth Corps. In October, the battery supported their division during operations on the Memphis & Charleston Railroad (part of the relief of Chattanooga). In November, they participated in fighting around Lookout Mountain and the advance on the Federal right onto Missionary Ridge. After the relief of Knoxville, the battery moved with its parent formation into winter quarters.
  • Battery G: At St. Louis with one 3.67-inch bronze rifle.  The battery reformed on November 15 and stationed at Fort No. 3, in St. Louis, Captain William T. Arthur commanded.
  • Battery H: No return. A new Battery H formed out of men (new and old enlistments) at Springfield, Missouri on December 4, 1863, under command of Captain William C. Montgomery (formerly of the Missouri State Cavalry). The battery was initially part of a heavy artillery battalion formed at Springfield.
  • Battery I: No return. The new Battery I began reforming on December 28 at Springfield.  Captain Stephen H. Julian commanded.  Initially, the battery was designated heavy artillery.
  • Battery K: No return. A new Battery K was formed in January at Springfield, Missouri with Captain William P. Davis in command. The battery was also organized initially as heavy artillery.
  • Battery L: No return.  A new Battery L formed at Sedalia, Missouri in January 1864 and was formerly the 1st Battery, Missouri State Militia.  So we will see them accounted for under the “miscellaneous” portion of Missouri’s returns in this quarter. Captain Charles H. Thurber commanded.
  • Battery M: No return. The new Battery M organized at Fort No. 2, St. Louis, on February 15, 1864, and thus escapes our summary for this quarter.  Captain Napoleon Boardman would command this battery.

Of note, the battalion of heavy artillery, consisting of Batteries H, I, and K, came under the command of Major John W. Rabb, formerly of the 2nd Indiana Battery. This arrangement remained until the spring of 1864 when the batteries were reorganized (again) as light batteries.

Turning to back to the summary, we have ammunition to account for, starting with smoothbore rounds:

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  • Battery D: 113 shell and 77 case for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • Battery F: 288 shell and 197 case for 12-pdr field howitzers.

The smoothbore columns continue on the next page:

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  • Battery D: 43 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • Battery F: 84 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.

For the Hotchkiss columns to the right, two entries:

  • Battery D: 61 time fuse shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery E: 240 time fuse shell for 3.67-inch rifles.

More Hotchkiss on the next page:

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  • Battery D: 115 percussion fuse shell, 102 bullet shell, and 80 canister for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery E: 120 percussion fuse shell, 720 bullet shell, and 120 canister for 3.67-inch rifles.

No other projectiles reported by the 2nd Missouri batteries in this quarter, so we turn to the small arms:

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  • Battery D: Fourteen Colt army revolvers, eight Colt navy revolvers, twelve Remington army revolvers, and twelve horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery E: Twelve Colt navy revolvers, thirty-five Remington navy revolvers, thirteen cavalry sabers, and twenty-nine horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery F: Eighteen Colt navy revolvers and seventy-two cavalry sabers.
  • Battery G: Two Springfield .58-caliber muskets, thirteen Colt army revolvers, and thirteen horse artillery sabers.

From there, we turn to the columns for pistol ammunition, fuses, powder, and primers:

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  • Battery D: 1,000 army caliber and 1,000 navy caliber pistol cartridges; and 1,000 friction primers.
  • Battery E: 1,400 navy caliber pistol cartridges.
  • Battery F: 1,200 navy caliber pistol cartridges.
  • Battery G: 1,000 navy caliber pistol cartridges (perhaps a transcription error?).

While the 2nd Missouri was not engaged in many pitched battles or heavy combat, its stories from outside the battlefield continue to fascinate me. They certainly kept the clerks busy.

Next we’ll look at the Missouri State Militia batteries that were in service along with some of the artillery sections serving with the state’s cavalry.

Summary Statement, 4th Quarter, 1863 – 1st Missouri Light Artillery

The 1st Missouri Light Artillery Regiment began the war as the 1st Missouri Infantry, a three month unit. As infantry, the regiment organized in April 1861 and served in the early war campaigns in Missouri. After Wilson’s Creek, during the month of September, the regiment was reorganized as artillery, one of many creative administrative activities during the first year of the war by authorities in Missouri. The first commander of the regiment was Colonel Francis P. Blair, Jr. However, Representative Blair was not with the regiment for long, being absent for his duties in Washington. Blair, of course, accepted a volunteer commission as a general and went on to gain fame in many of the war’s important campaigns, ending the war as commander of the Seventeenth Corps. Not many artillery regiments can boast a major-general from their ranks.

When Blair accepted his general’s commission, Lieutenant-Colonel Warren S. Lothrop replaced him as the regimental colonel, with date of rank to October 1, 1862. At the end of 1863, Lothrop was the overall artillery chief for Sixteenth Corps. Looking to the rest of the staff, Lieutenant-Colonel Albert M. Powell was artillery chief for Seventeenth Corps; Major George Henry Stone was artillery chief for Left Wing of the Sixteenth Corps; and Major Thomas Maurice was artillery chief for First Division, Seventeenth Corps. Thus we see the 1st Missouri was well represented in staff positions, and fully employed.

For the line batteries, we have this section of the summary to consider:

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  • Battery A: At New Iberia, Louisiana with two 6-pdr field guns, one 12-pdr Napoleon and three 12-pdr field howitzers.  Captain George W. Schofield remained in command.  However, Schofield was at the time detached on his brother’s (Major-General John Schofield) staff. Furthermore, George was due to be promoted in the 2nd Missouri Artillery.  In his absence, Lieutenants Charles M. Callahan and Elisha Cole alternated at head of the the battery.  The battery remained with Third Division, Thirteenth Corps.
  • Battery B:  No return. Captain Martin Welfley’s battery remained with Second Division of the Thirteenth corps.  Welfley had reported two 12-pdr field guns and four 12-pdr field howitzers earlier in the previous winter.  Records are not clear if those were still on hand as of September 1863 or those had been exchanged. With the division, the battery was part of the Rio Grande Expedition that began in October. At the end of the year, the battery was in Brownsville, Texas.
  • Battery C: Reporting from Vicksburg, Mississippi with four 12-pdr field howitzers.  Captain Charles Mann was promoted to major at the start of November, and sent on recruiting duties. Lieutenant Wendolin Meyer led the battery until Captain John L. Matthaei was appointed (January 17, 1864, post-dated to October). The battery remained with First Division, Seventeenth Corps (under Major Maurice mentioned above).  The battery was part of an expedition to Canton, Mississippi in October. But otherwise remained at Vicksburg through the end of the year.
  • Battery D:  At Scottsboro, Alabama, with three 6-pdr field guns, two 12-pdr field howitzers, one 24-pdr field howitzer and two 3-inch rifles.  The battery, under Captain Henry Richardson was assigned to Corinth, transferred to Fourth Division, Fifteenth Corps at the start of October. Richardson was the division artillery chief, with Lieutenant Byron M. Callender leading the battery. The battery participated in the battles around Chattanooga in November and then the relief of Knoxville. But in December, the battery moved to the Huntsville area.
  • Battery E: Reporting at Brownsville, Texas with two 10-pdr Parrotts and two 12-pdr Whitworth 3.5-inch rifles. The latter were were “Fawcett Rifled Iron Gun, Cal. 3.5.” from earlier accounting.  Captain Joseph B. Atwater remained in command of the battery, assigned to Second Division, Thirteenth Corps. The battery was still with the division for the Rio Grande Expedition in October. They were stationed at Brownsville and DeCrow’s Point well into the next year.
  • Battery F: At DeCrow’s Point, Texas (opposite Fort Esparanza at Cavallo Pass, entering Matagorda Bay) with two 3.80-inch James Rifles and four 3.5-inch Whitworth Rifles (as above, these were earlier identified as Fawcett rifles). Captain Joseph Foust remained in command, and the battery assigned to Second Division, Thirteenth Corps.  As with Battery E, this battery participated in the Rio Grande Expedition and other operations on the Texas coast that fall.
  • Battery G: Reporting from Chattanooga, Tennessee with six 12-pdr Napoleons.  Captain Henry Hescock, commanding the battery, was in a Confederate prison. In his place, Lieutenant Gustavus Schueler lead the battery. With reorganizations to the Army of the Cumberland, the battery moved to Second Division, Fourth Corps. After the battles around Chattanooga, the battery became part of the garrison of that place.
  • Battery H: At Pulaski, Tennessee with six 12-pdr Napoleons. Captain Frederick Welker’s battery was part of Second Division, Sixteenth Corps, guarding the railroad lines from Nashville to Decatur. In addition to his battery duties, Welker was also the division artillery chief.
  • Battery I:  No report. In the previous quarter, the battery reported a varied assortment: two 6-pdr field guns, one 12-pdr field howitzers, two 10-pdr Parrotts, and one 4.62-inch rifle (likely a 12-pdr “heavy” field gun, rifled using the James system). I suspect this battery “slimmed down” for field duty in the fall of 1863. Captain Benjamin Tannrath commanded the battery, assigned to Second Division, Sixteenth Corps, alongside Battery H. And likewise, Battery I guarded the railroad lines near Decatur, Alabama.
  • Battery K: At Little Rock, Arkansas with four 10-pdr Parrotts. Captain Stillman O. Fish remained in command of this battery, assigned to Third Division of what soon became the Seventh Corps, Department of Arkansas. Of note, Lieutenant Charles Green of the battery was detached serving with Battery F, 2nd US Artillery.
  • Battery L: At Rolla, Missouri with two 12-pdr field howitzers and two 3.67-inch rifles. Captain Junius G. Wilson McMurray commanded the battery, but he was absent on leave. Lieutenant Charles Stierlin let the battery instead. During this time, the battery was accused of “depredations upon civilians,” for which Stierlin was charged for failing to keep discipline in the battery. Lieutenant John Steffins (appearing on some rolls as Stephens) stepped into this “cloudy” situation with Battery L. At the end of December, the battery moved from Rolla to Springfield.
  • Battery M: At Vicksburg, Mississippi with four 10-pdr Parrotts.  This battery remained assigned to the First Division, Seventeenth Corps. Captain James Marr was now the battery commander, but due to illness on detached service in St. Louis. Lieutenant John H. Tiemeyer led the battery in his place.

A busy ammunition section to consider as we start with the smoothbore rounds:

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  • Battery A: 294 shot and 262 case for 6-pdr field guns; 50 shot, 40 shell, and 102 case for 12-pdr Napoleons; 270 shell and 380 case for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • Battery C: 240 shell and 240 case for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • Battery D: 83 shot and 107 case for 6-pdr field guns; 48 shell for 24-pdr field howitzers.
  • Battery G: 102 shot, 170 shell, and 289 case for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery H: 288 shot, 96 shell, and 288 case for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery L: 58 shell and 64 case for 12-pdr field howitzers.
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  • Battery A: 71 canister for 6-pdr field guns; 84 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers; and 26 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery C: 128 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery D: 157 canister for 6-pdr field guns; 7 case and 24 canister for 24-pdr field howitzers.
  • Battery G: 183 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery H: 96 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery L: 79 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.

To the right are the first of the Hotchkiss projectile columns:

  • Battery D: 48 time fuse shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery F: 75 shot and 505 time fuse shell for 3.5-inch rifles; 10 shot and 34 time fuse shell for 3.80-inch rifles.
  • Battery L: 87 shot for 3.67-inch rifles.

More Hotchkiss on the next page:

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  • Battery D: 45 percussion fuse shell, 54 bullet shell, and 40 canister for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery E: 44 percussion fuse shell and 80 canister for 3.5-inch rifles.
  • Battery F: 342 percussion fuse shell and 209 canister for 3.5-inch rifles; 181 percussion fuse shell and 48 canister for 3.8-inch rifles.
  • Battery L: 110 percussion fuse shell and 71 canister for 3.67-inch rifles.

To the right of those are columns for James projectiles:

  • Battery F: 16 shot, 15 shell, and 54 canister for 3.80-inch rifles.

The last column on the right are three entries for 10-pdr Parrott Shot:

  • Battery E: 60 shot for 10-pdr Parrott.
  • Battery K: 20 shot for 10-pdr Parrott.
  • Battery M: 126 shot for 10-pdr Parrott.

The Parrott rounds continue on the next page:

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  • Battery E: 190 shell, 115 case, and 35 canister for 10-pdr Parrott.
  • Battery K: 66 shell, 238 case, and 112 canister for 10-pdr Parrott.
  • Battery M: 265 shell, 373 case, and 130(?) canister for 10-pdr Parrott.

The next entries are on the small arms columns:

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  • Battery A: Nine Colt navy revolvers and twenty-five cavalry sabers.
  • Battery C: Two Colt navy revolvers and four horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery D: Eight Colt army revolvers and thirty cavalry sabers.
  • Battery E: Twenty-three Colt army revolvers and four cavalry sabers.
  • Battery F: One Colt army revolver, two Colt navy revolvers, and thirteen cavalry sabers.
  • Battery G: Seven Colt army revolvers and seven cavalry sabers.
  • Battery H: Twenty-three Colt army revolvers, three Colt navy revolvers, and sixty-three horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery K: Three Colt navy revolvers.
  • Battery L: Eighteen Colt army revolvers and thirty-one cavalry sabers.
  • Battery M: Four Colt army revolvers and seven cavalry sabers.

Two entries on the cartridge bag columns:

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  • Battery F: 114 cartridge bags for 6-pdr James.
  • Battery L: 140 cartridge bags for 6-pdr field guns/12-pdr field howitzers.

Lastly the page for pistol cartridges, fuses, powder, and miscellaneous items:

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  • Battery A: 950 navy pistol cartridges.
  • Battery C: 60 paper fuses and 400 friction primers.
  • Battery D: 1,660 army pistol cartridges.
  • Battery F: 350 friction primers.
  • Battery G: 1,250 friction primers.
  • Battery H: 10 yards of slow match.
  • Battery K: 200 paper fuses, six yards of slow match, and 520 percussion caps for pistols.
  • Battery L: 200 paper fuses.
  • Battery M: 130 army pistol cartridges, 50 paper fuses, and 90 friction primers.

From Chattanooga to the Rio Grande, the 1st Missouri Light Artillery finished off a busy year of 1863 with most of the batteries in good shape. However, the 2nd Missouri, their sister regiment, was going through a full reorganization. In the next installment we will track that process.