Summary Statement, 4th Quarter, 1863 – Miscellaneous New York Artillery

Below the list of independent batteries are three lines covering returns from formations either outside the listed artillery organizations or under the other branches of service. These are always good stories, often alluding to lesser known aspects of the war:

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Examining these three in detail:

  • 99th New York, U.S. Gunboat “Smith Briggs”: Reporting from Fort Monroe, Virginia with one 30-pdr Parrott Rifle. I provided a short background about this regiment and the Smith Briggs in last quarter’s summary. (I should follow up with details on this “Marine Brigade,” however) Captain John C. Lee seems to be the commander at this time (though it appears Lee had been relieved, temporarily, earlier in the year, then restored). However, there was, as indicated in the return, a change with the gunboat’s armament with a bigger Parrott rifle replacing the howitzer and 10-pdr Parrott reported in the previous quarter. This tracks with correspondence between Major-General John Foster and Rear-Admiral S. Phillips Lee from October 1863 in regard to armaments. In short, the Army needed cannon and carriages for shipboard use. And the Navy agreed to loan (not transfer) those. In February during the battle of Smithfield, the Smith Briggs suffered a shot through the boilers and was blown up. Presumably the Parrott rifle fell into Confederate hands.
  • Battery H(?), 13th New York [Heavy] Artillery: At Norfolk, Virginia, but with no cannon reported. I believe this line reflects the elements of the incomplete 36th Independent Battery which were folded into the 13th New York Heavy Artillery. Recall Charles G. Bacon was the officer raising the 36th. But with that authority receded, Bacon accepted a commission as a Lieutenant for Battery E, 13th New York Heavy in November 1863. At the end of 1863, Batteries A, B, C, and D of the 13th were assigned to Eighteenth Corps and stationed in the Norfolk area. Battery H, if that is correct for this entry, did not muster until March 1864. Further complicating a specific designation, the return was not received until August, meaning all batteries of the regiment are candidates! All may be a mute point, as the unit reported six No. 1 field carriages, assorted implements, tarps, and ammunition chests.
  • Lieutenant F.G. Comstock, Stores in Charge: Reporting at Fort Jefferson, Florida, with two 12-pdr field howitzers. The 110th New York Infantry transferred from Third Division, Nineteenth Corps to a garrison posting at Fort Jefferson in February 1864. And Lieutenant Franklin G. Comstock served as the regimental quartermaster. So the location appears to match, down to the name of the officer, for the received date of May 30, 1864, as opposed to the “reporting date” of December 1863. Turning back the calendar further, the 110th New York had an active fall, being involved with the expedition to the Teche Country in November. Perhaps the regiment used those howitzers while in Louisiana, and carried them along to Key West? Just as likely, the regiment assumed control of the howitzers after arriving at Key West for their garrison duties. Colonel Clinton H. Sage commanded the regiment through his discharge on December 10, 1863. Lieutenant-Colonel Warren D. Smith led the regiment afterward until a permanent replacement was assigned.

Looking back at last quarter’s post, there are some units that I’d submit were missed with the summary roll-up (either due to lack of return submission or clerical actions):

  • 51st New York Infantry: Had reported ordnance stores and ammunition on hand the previous quarter. Likely all were passed to other units by December.
  • 98th New York Infantry: The regiment remained posted to North Carolina. Though by this time their ordnance may have been deemed garrison equipment, and thus reported through other channels.
  • 3rd New York Cavalry, Allis’s Howitzers: I’ve detailed this section in earlier posts. If force to speculate, I’d say likely the 3rd New York retained that howitzer section through the end of the year, even if Lieutenant James A. Allis as not still in command.
  • 12th New York Cavalry, Fish’s Howitzers: This detachment, under Lieutenant Joseph M. Fish, was certainly still intact at the end of December. But was not reported here.

Those speculations aside and the details in view, we turn to the remaining pages of this summary, starting with the smoothbore ammunition:

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  • 110th New York: 100 shot for 18-pdr siege & Garrison gun; 10 shell and 36 case for 12-pdr guns (could be light, heavy, or siege).

Certainly not compatible with the howitzers reported on hand! This discrepancy continues on the next page:

0351_2_Snip_NY_Misc
  • 110th New York: 36 canister for 12-pdr guns.

So why would the regiment have field howitzers, but ammunition for guns? Particularly all the 18-pdr shot? The details beg questions we cannot answer here.

The next page (Hotchkiss projectiles) has no entries. So we turn to the Schenkl columns:

0352_2_Snip_NY_Misc
  • 99th New York: 30 shells for 4.2-inch rifles (30-pdr Parrotts).

As there are no other tallies of projectiles, we are left with the suggestion that Smith Briggs‘ guns were short of ammunition!

A lone entry on the small arms page:

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  • 99th New York: 5 Enfield muskets, .58-caliber.

This is an unconventional inclusion. Normally the small arms issued to the infantry were tallied on separate returns. This implies the five Enfields were assigned to the crew of the Smith Briggs, operating as gun crews. And the 99th had plenty of ammunition for those muskets:

0354_2_Snip_NY_Misc
  • 99th New York: 2,000 musket cartridges for .54-caliber and 1,000 musket cartridges for .58-caliber.

So even within the small arms reporting, we see entries which beg questions.

The last page offers no such question marks:

0355_1_Snip_NY_Misc
  • 99th New York: 40 friction primers.

If anything, these miscellaneous entries set up follow-on postings to better describe the nature of service. For the New Yorkers, I’ve got those taskings. The Marine Brigade and those cavalry howitzer sections deserve more story-telling.

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