Summary Statement, 1st Quarter, 1863 – 2nd Missouri Artillery

Dyer’s Compendium relates the 2nd Missouri Light Artillery spent much of the first half of the Civil War on duty as garrison artillery. However, unlike garrison artillery in other sectors which took the form of heavy artillery, the 2nd Missouri remained a “light” regiment, on paper at least.  The regiment received a full, by battery, listing in the summary for first quarter, 1863.  But there was little for the clerks to tally within the form:

0116_1_Snip_MO_2

Through the first quarter, Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph Weydemeyer, who had experience in the Prussian army, was the regimental commander. Weydemeyer would be replaced later in the year (some minor point of friction that falls outside our study today).

Of the five batteries offering returns, three have the annotation “Infty. Stores” (or some variation, if you wish).  On the lines for those batteries, there are no tallies for even tools associated with light artillery.  Thus our review of this “light” regiment’s equipment affords a relatively brief review.  Well… let’s at least give them some due respect and discuss where those garrison artillery batteries were serving during the winter of 1863:

  • Battery A: No return.  Assigned to District of Rolla, but returned to St. Louis in the spring.
  • Battery B:  No return.  My records show Battery B moved to New Madrid, Missouri during the winter.  Captain John J. Sutter was likely the commander at the time.
  • Battery C:  No return. As with Battery A.
  • Battery D: Though with a return, no equipment tallied. Captain Charles P. Meisner commanded this battery, posted to the garrison of Cape Girardeau, Missouri.
  • Battery E: No return. One of the batteries posted at St. Louis.
  • Battery F: No return.  As with Battery A.  Of note, this battery would be consolidated into non-existence during the next quarter.  On the table of organization, Captain Clemens Landgraeber’s 1st Missouri Horse Artillery would thence be renamed Battery F, 2nd Missouri.
  • Battery G: Infantry stores at St. Louis.  Duty at both St. Louis and Rolla.
  • Battery H: No return. Duty at St. Louis.
  • Battery I: Infantry stores at St. Joseph, Missouri.  The location is likely a transcription error, as the battery didn’t serve anywhere near that point. For the first quarter of 1863 the battery was among the others posted to St. Louis.
  • Battery K: At St. Louis with two 12-pdr field howitzers and four 3-inch Ordnance rifles.  During the winter, Battery K was being configured for field service with the department’s cavalry.  Lieutenant Thaddeus S. Clarkson commanded later in the spring.  (Clarkson would later command the 3rd Arkansas (Federal) Cavalry).
  • Battery L: No return.  The battery was posted to Rolla during the winter.  In January, the battery accompanied a counter-attack towards the town of Hartville, incurring some casualties, remaining there to the spring.
  • Battery M: Reported at Pilot Knob, Missouri with four 6-pdr field guns and two 12-pdr field howitzers. This location was valid for June, 1863.  Prior to that time, Captain Gustave Stange’s battery was in St. Louis, part of the Second Division, Department of Missouri.

Let me remind readers this listing is more a snapshot in time.  Lineage of the 2nd Missouri Artillery batteries becomes a tangle further into the war.  Our focus here is just on the winter of 1863.  But just a few weeks into the second quarter and administrative change occurred.  Following an inquiry into enlistments and such, a portion of the regiment was mustered out.  What remained was reorganized.  And fresh enlistments filled those batteries mustered back in.  More tangles than we need be concerned with for this post.  But we must untangle some of those for the second and third quarters of 1863.

This leaves us with two batteries to consider in regard to equipment, projectiles, and small arms.  Starting with smoothbore:

0118_1_Snip_MO_2

Just two batteries to consider here:

  • Battery K: 340 shell, 120 case, and 40 canister for 12-pdr howitzer.
  • Battery M: 502 shot, 165 case, and 52 canister for 6-pdr field guns; 92 shell, 120 case, and 24 canister for 12-pdr howitzer (I believe the column entry is a transcription error as no 12-pdr field guns were on hand).

And only one battery reported rifles on hand, so we have short work considering projectiles for those guns:

0118_2_Snip_MO_2

Just Hotchkiss projectiles:

  • Battery K: 204(?) canister, 304 percussion shell, 304 fuse shell, and 196 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.

Looking to the next couple of pages, we find no quantities of Dyer’s, James’, Parrott’s, or Schenkl’s projectiles. So we turn to the small arms:

0119_3_Snip_MO_2

Of the two reporting:

  • Battery K: Twenty Army revolvers and twenty-one horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery M: Thirty Army revolvers and sixty-eight cavalry sabers.

So “short work” for the 2nd Missouri artillery. Keep in mind this was a formation in a state of transition as winter turned to spring.  And we’ll revisit that organization in future installments.

But we are not done with Missouri.  Four more entry lines appear below the 2nd Regiment.  Those four are worthy of their own post, as each will take some lengthy discussions!

Summary Statement, 1st Quarter, 1863 – 1st Missouri Artillery

Earlier in January, I offered a brief, general service history of the batteries of the 1st Missouri Light Artillery in the preface to the fourth quarter, 1862 summary.  As noted at that time, there is much to “untangle” when matching the Missouri batteries to alternate names and designations that appear in the records.  Keep that in mind as we review the Missouri entries over the next couple of posts in this set.

For the first regiment, we have eight returns from the twelve batteries.  Two of those were filed in 1864:

0116_1_Snip_MO_1

So a fair sampling to consider:

  • Battery A: No return.  Captain George W. Schofield’s battery began the quarter as part of the District of Eastern Arkansas.  Their formation bore the very unlucky designation of the Thirteenth Division, Thirteenth Corps.  As the corps organized for the Vicksburg Campaign, the battery shifted to the Twelfth Division of that corps. The battery accompanied it’s parent formation during the Yazoo Pass operations that winter.  They returned to Milliken’s Bend in April.
  • Battery B: No return.  The battery was assigned to the Second Division, Department of Missouri during the quarter.  Captain Martin Welfley remained in command. However, Welfley also served as artillery chief for the department, starting in mid-March.  It is unclear if a subordinate held battery command at that time.
  • Battery C: Reporting from Lake Providence, Louisiana with two 6-pdr field guns and two 12-pdr field howitzers.  Formerly known as Mann’s Independent Battery, the battery was under Lieutenant Edward Brotzmann at the start of the year and assigned to Sixth Division, Sixteenth Corps.  Captain Charles Mann returned to command the battery during the winter.  When Sixth Division transferred to Seventeenth Corps, Mann’s battery went along.
  • Battery D:  At Corinth, Mississippi, with four 6-pdr field guns, two 12-pdr field howitzers, and two 3-inch rifles.  The battery, under Captain Henry Richardson, was part of a battalion of Missouri artillery serving at Corinth under Major George H. Stone, in Sixteenth Corps.  Of note, the battery’s reported armament differed greatly from that indicated the previous quarter (five 20-pdr Parrotts).
  • Battery E: Indicated at St. Louis with four 10-pdr Parrotts and three “English Guns, Cal. 3.5.”  The latter were products of Fawcett & Preston in Liverpool.  During the winter, Captain Nelson Cole resumed command of this battery assigned to the Department of the Frontier.  The battery moved to Springfield, Missouri in mid-February.  Later moved to Rolla.  Not until later in the spring did the battery reach St. Louis, as part of the reinforcements sent to Vicksburg.  A reorganization to be discussed in the next quarter.
  • Battery F: At Rolla, Missouri with two 3.80-inch James Rifles and four 3.5-inch English Guns.  Battery F’s story is paired with Battery E’s for the most part.  During the winter, Captain Joseph Foust (from Battery E) assumed command.  And like Battery E, Foust’s remained with the Department of the Frontier through the winter, to be pulled into the Vicksburg Campaign later in the spring.
  • Battery G: No return.  Captain Henry Hescock’s battery wintered at Murfreesboro, being placed in the Third Division, Twentieth Corps.
  • Battery H: Also at Corinth in Stone’s Battalion and reporting two 6-pdr field guns, one 24-pdr field howitzer, and two 10-pdr Parrotts. Captain Frederick Welker remained in command.
  • Battery I:  Also part of Stone’s Battalion at Corinth, with two 6-pdr field guns, two 12-pdr field howitzers, and two 10-pdr Parrotts.  By the end of the spring, Captain Benjamin Tannrath commanded the battery.
  • Battery K: At Germantown, Tennessee with four 10-pdr Parrotts. Transferring out of Stone’s Battalion, Captain Stillman O. Fish’s battery was placed in the District of Jackson.  Later in the spring, the battery began movement to Helena, Arkansas.
  • Battery L: No report. Captain Frank Backof’s Battery was part of the Department of the Frontier and station at Springfield.
  • Battery M: On July 10, 1863, this battery could proudly claim to be at Vicksburg, Mississippi.  But at the end of March of that year, they’d only begun the journey to that place.  Captain Junius W. MacMurray’s battery was around Lake Providence at the close of the quarter, assigned to Seventh Division, Seventeenth Corps.  The battery reported four 10-pdr Parrotts.

With administrative details and the number of guns reported in mind, let us turn to the smoothbore ammunition on hand:

0118_1_Snip_MO_1A

Yes, extended columns because we have a 24-pdr field howitzer to feed.  And one should notice something appears off with the line for Battery K.  There were no smoothbores in the battery.  And at the same time, Battery H had smoothbores to feed, yet only quantities listed for the 24-pdr howitzer.  Is this a transcription error?  Or admission that the wrong ammunition was carried by Battery K?  I think the former.  But to be accurate in my transcription here, I’ll reflect the lines as recorded on the form:

  • Battery C: 160 shot, 160 case, and 80 canister for 6-pdr field guns; 108 shells, 108 case, and 64 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • Battery D: 280 shot, 204 case, and 145 canister for 6-pdr field guns; 120 shell, 337 case, and 38 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • Battery H: 109 shell, 62 case, and 66 canister for their 24-pdr field howitzer.
  • Battery L: 15 shot, 260 case, and 155 canister for 6-pdr field guns; 120 shell, 109 case, and 145 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • Battery K:  90 case and 28 canister for 6-pdr field guns.

Moving to the rifled projectiles, we start with Hotchkiss:

0118_2_Snip_MO_1

Two batteries reporting, and with different calibers:

  • Battery D: 42 canister, 46 percussion shell, 80 fuse shell, and 240 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery F: 52 shot for 3.80-inch “James”; 400 percussion shell for 3.67-inch “Wiard”; and 200 percussion shell for 3.80-inch “James.”

I break out Battery F in detail as the battery reported rifles in two distinct calibers.  We have to question here if they were using 3.67-inch projectiles in their James Rifles, or if some quantities might reflect the clerk’s attempt to reconcile 3.5-inch ammunition quantities in the form.

We find more from Battery F on the next page:

0119_1_Snip_MO_1

For James’ patent projectiles:

  • Battery K: 172 shot and 12 shell in 3.80-inch.

Moving to the Parrott columns, we see:

  • Battery E: 630 shell and 131 canister for 10-pdr Parrott.
  • Battery H: 13 shell, 60 case, and 117 canister for 10-pdr Parrott.
  • Battery I: 44 shell, 74 case, and 46 canister for 10-pdr Parrott.
  • Battery K: 160 shell, 340 case, and 120 canister for 10-pdr Parrott.
  • Battery M: 152 shell, 240 case, and 152 canister for 10-pdr Parrott.

Lastly the Schenkl columns:

  • Battery E: 89 shot for 10-pdr Parrott.
  • Battery I: 79 shot for 10-pdr Parrott.
  • Battery K: 90 shot for 10-pdr Parrott.
  • Battery M: 80 shot for 10-pdr Parrott.

On the last page for rifled projectiles, we find Battery K again:

0119_2_Snip_MO_1

Tatham’s canister:

  • Battery K: 200 cansiter for 3.67-inch and 100 canister for 3.80-inch.

And again, we must wonder if some of these were 3.5-inch caliber, but lacking a column were simply “dropped” into the form by the clerks.

And for last the small arms:

0119_3_Snip_MO_1

At least no “special” columns, just those as printed:

  • Battery C: Three Army revolvers and thirty cavalry sabers.
  • Battery D: Thirty cavalry sabers.
  • Battery E: Eighty-one Army revolvers and fourty-seven cavalry sabers.
  • Battery F: Six Army revolvers, six Navy revolvers, and fifteen cavalry sabers.
  • Battery  H: Six Army revolvers and forty-three horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery I: Fourteen Army revolvers, 136 cavalry sabers, and one horse artillery saber.
  • Battery K: Three Navy revolvers and twenty-five cavalry sabers.
  • Battery M: Seven Army revolvers and seven cavalry sabers.

The small arms reports are always interesting to me, as I look for correlations between quantities and the assignments.  In this case, maybe Backof’s Battery needed a lot of edged weapons given their duty in southeast Missouri.

We’ll look at Missouri’s Second Light Artillery Regiment in the next installment.

 

Why were there no tanks in the Civil War? Because nobody needed them, that’s why

There’s an interesting counter-factual blog post making rounds since the middle of the month.  The question is posed – why were there no tanks in the Civil War?

The author of the piece, Jason Torchinsky, approaches this a respectful and practical stance.  He points out that the underlying technology needed to produce a tank (more properly armored fighting vehicle… but tank is the handy expression) existed – armor, rotating turret, propulsion systems. And just looking at those photos of Petersburg’s trenches, some steam-powered proto-tank would seem like the thing for Ulysses Grant to take the war to Bobby Lee.  Or maybe for Uncle Billy to finally break the defenses of Atlanta.

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Right?

So the question is why didn’t anyone offer up a tank for use?

Well, long story short, because neither side needed a tank.

To expand on that a bit, consider the situation that created the need for tanks in World War I.  It was not just the trenches that confounded military commanders. As I’ve pointed out in the discussion of field fortifications, those trenches, obstacles, and other features existed before the Civil War.  And military science taught techniques to deal with those fortifications.  So what was different on those French battlefields of 1915?

If we look at the tactical level, technology had given the defender multi-fold increases in firepower.  The machine gun gets a lot of attention in this regard.  But it was long range, rapid fire artillery that brought the most change to the battlefield.  In order to counter the higher level of firepower that inhibited maneuver, generals sought a way to move their firepower up with the advancing infantry.  So we have one “need” that the tank addressed.

Now I mention artillery.  With even the lightest field pieces out ranging the largest Civil War pieces by a factor of three or four, the gunners were well outside of rifle range. Such brought depth to the battlefield well beyond what the Civil War generals had to deal with.  Add to that the buzzing biplanes ranging well behind the front lines.  All of which, again, inhibited maneuver, but here the consideration is at the operational level.  And yet another “need” the tank could address. Let us stop the upward spiral there, but understand there were some strategic considerations also weighing into this “maneuver” problem.

What occurred between 1914 and 1916 was a confluence of technological capability and military need.  That confluence was needed for the tank to be “invented.”

Was that same, or a similar, confluence working up in 1863-5?

It was not.  The trenches at Petersburg and Atlanta (as well as those at Vicksburg the year before) were due in large part because of successful maneuver.  In those cases the Federals had maneuvered their opponents into a point which could not be relinquished without grave effects. One cannot maneuver the enemy out of a position he is unwilling or unable to retreat from.  And thus the campaigns took a static form.  Simplistic overview, but we need not get too far into the mud.

Maneuver and firepower remained at the same relative levels throughout those campaigns (more or less where things had been at the start of the war… and twenty years before the start of the war).  Not to say Civil War generals could maneuver at will, but rather to say the arithmetic for successful movement had not changed.  The commander of 1864 could achieve a maneuver success by way of applying the tried and true practices… though we all know how fleeting success can be on the battlefield.  Thus there was no confluence of technology and need.  And thus no tank.

But… if we really want to start down the path of debating the practicality of armored fighting vehicles in the Civil War, and stay within the scope of military science then we have to bring up the “L-word.”  Could the Civil War armies have sustained a force of tanks, logistically?  Um…. probably not.  At the height of the war, the US Navy was always “just” getting by with the supply of coal for the blockade (arguably the greater threat to the blockade, short of foreign intervention).  And coal would be the most likely fuel for some hypothetical Civil War tank.  Might Mr. Lincoln been confronted with a conundrum – “Sir, you can have your fancy armored wagons, or you can have your blockaders, but not both.”

Fortification Friday: Interior Arrangements, starting with armaments

The next aspect of field fortifications to consider are the interior arrangements.  Thus far most of our focus has been towards the exterior, with the exception of the traverses, and what could be done to block or stop the attacker.  With the interior arrangements, the engineer would consider what could make the defenders’ job easier and, shall we say, more comfortable.  Mahan prefaced his lesson on interior arrangements by calling attention to such factors:

Under the [heading] of interior arrangements is comprised all the means resorted to within the work to procure an efficient defense; to preserve the troops and the material from the destructive effects of the enemy’s fire; and to prevent a surprise.

You are probably thinking, “protect the troops?  Isn’t that what the parapet does?  Doesn’t the ditch prevent surprise?”  Well… yes… you might look at it from that standpoint.  But what Mahan was calling attention to here were the structures and features which were internal to the works and designed to improve the nature of the defense.  As such “within the work” is the important phrase to consider.  But, keep your questions in mind as we work through this topic, as we will revisit shortly.

Mahan continued to offer a list of classes of these interior arrangements:

The class of constructions required for the above purposes, are batteries; powder magazines; traverses; shelters; enclosures for gorges and outlets; interior safety-redoubt, or keep; and bridges of communication.

From that we have a subdivision:

All arrangements made for the defense, with musketry and artillery, belong to what is termed the armament.

So we have a name for structures to support things that shoot.  Armaments.  Just for the context of these field fortification discussions, OK?

The armament with musketry is complete when the banquette and the interior and superior slopes are properly arranged, to enable the soldier to deliver his fire with effect; and to mount on the parapet to meet the enemy with the bayonet.  For this last purpose stout pickets may be driven into the interior slope, about midway from the bottom and three feet apart. The armament with artillery is, in a like manner, complete, when suitable means are taken to allow the guns to fire over the parapet, or through openings made in it; and when all the required accessories are provided for the service of the guns.

So… yes the parapet’s design can be considered part of the interior arrangements.

Mahan continues with this profound statement:

The armament with artillery is a subject of great importance….

You got me at “great importance.”

Oh, wait, I cut the professor off.  He has more on this ….

The armament with artillery is a subject of great importance, because it is not equally adapted to all classes of works.  Experience has demonstrated that the most efficient way of employing artillery, is in protecting the collateral salients by a well directed flank and cross fire, which shall not leave untouched a single foot of ground within its range, over which the enemy must approach.  It has moreover shown, that a work with a weak profile affords but little security to artillery within it; for artillery cannot defend itself, and such a work can be too easily carried by assault to offer any hope of keeping the enemy at a distance long enough to allow the artillery to produce its full effect.

The logic here is “form should follow function.”  If the intent is to have artillery fire on the enemy in order to break up the attack, then a flank fire is recommended.  And that artillery should blanket the approaches with fire… “shall not leave untouched a single foot….”  Artillery sits at the top of the list when making decisions about weapon placement.  It is the most effective, man per man, weapon for influencing the battlefield Not necessarily saying “killing” or producing causalities, but influencing the other side’s actions.  Yet, artillery’s influence is best gained over longer ranges.  Thus the need to form works that not only provide the artillery a measure of protection but also keep the enemy at greater than small arms length (range).

The best position for artillery is on the flanks and salients of a work; because from these points the salients are best protected, and the approaches best swept; and the guns should be collected at these points in batteries of several pieces; for experience has likewise shown, that it is only by opening a heavy, well-sustained fire on the enemy’s columns, that an efficient check can be [given] to them.  If only a few files are taken off, or the shot passes over the men, it rather inspires the enemy with confidence in his safety, and with contempt for the defenses.

Sun Tzu should have said it!  Don’t let the enemy become contemptuous of your defenses!

Consider the “best practice” offered by Mahan.  By placing artillery on the salients, the guns were out of the direct line of the attacker’s fires while being placed behind the various, and likely complex, defensive works on the “horns” of the bastion.  And artillery shouldn’t be parceled out as singles, but rather massed and inter-operated to multiply the effect.

All this is great theoretical talk.  Everyone would agree massing artillery is best.  But now we have a practical problem on the parapet.  With infantry, the parapet works fine to protect most of the body, provide cover to crouch behind when reloading, and, if the fight is close, an orientation for the bayonets.  But artillerymen cannot “crouch” an artillery piece.  And when servicing the weapon, they are exposed. Furthermore, there are all sorts of problems bringing 12 pound or 24 pound or larger projectiles up to the gun.  So to make the big guns work best, one must make arrangements.. in the interior…. And those arrangements Mahan identified under the classification of “batteries.” We’ll look at those next.

(Citations from Dennis Hart Mahan, A Treatise on Field Fortifications, New York: John Wiley, 1852, pages 51-2.)

Summary Statement, 1st Quarter, 1863 – Minnesota and Maryland Batteries

Continuing through the summaries in the order of presentation, the next sections are for batteries from Minnesota and Maryland.  What of Maine? And shouldn’t Massachusetts and Michigan be ahead of Minnesota? Clearly the clerks of the Ordnance Department placed line count and page layout above ease of data retrieval.  We’ll see those other states represented… after Missouri!

For now we have the business of five batteries from “The star of the North” and the “Old Line State.”

0108_1_Snip_MN_MD

Minnesota provided one heavy artillery regiment (very late in the war) and three light batteries to the cause.  The last of those light batteries was fully formed until late spring 1863.  So we see two listed here for the winter quarter of that year:

  • 1st Battery: Received on April 14, 1863, their report gave a location of Lake Providence, Louisiana, with two 12-pdr field howitzers and two 3.67-inch (6-pdr) rifles.  When Grant’s ponderous Thirteenth Corps was reorganized, the battery moved with its parent, the Sixth Division, into Seventeenth Corps.  During the winter the division moved from Memphis to Lake Providence, with other formations focused on Vicksburg.  Freshly promoted Captain William Z. Clayton commanded.
  • 2nd Battery:  On paper, we see this battery’s report arrived in Washington on April 15, claiming an advanced position at Chattanooga, Tennessee.  Something is certainly amiss with the entry.  Two 12-pdr Napoleons and four 10-pdr Parrotts is correct.  But the battery was actually at Murfreesboro with the rest of the Army of the Cumberland.  With the reorganization, the battery moved to First Division, Twentieth Corps.  Captain William A. Hotchkiss relinquished command of the battery to serve as the artillery chief.  Lieutenant Albert Woodbury assumed command.
  • 3rd Battery:  As mentioned above, this battery was still organizing at the reporting time and thus not on the summary.  Men from the 10th Minnesota Infantry transferred to form the battery.  Captain John Jones commanded.

Maryland had three batteries serving the Federal cause at this time in the war:

  • Battery A: The report received on June 23, 1863 indicated the battery wintered around White Oak Church, Virginia and possessed six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  Captain James H. Rigby remained in command.  The battery was part of Sixth Corps at the time.
  • Battery B:  No date on the return, but the battery was also posted at White Oak Church. The battery reported four 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  Captain Alonzo Snow commanded.  At the start of the quarter the battery was also part of the Sixth Corps.  By mid-spring the battery was listed as “unassigned” within the Army of the Potomac, then later assigned to the Provost Guard Brigade.
  • Baltimore Battery: The return of April 19 had the battery at Harpers Ferry, with one 6-pdr field gun and six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  The battery, under Captain F. W. Alexander, was in Kenley’s Division of the Eighth Corps (Middle Department).  Later the battery would transfer to Milroy’s Division at Winchester.

Among those five (reporting) batteries, we have three with smoothbore cannons:

0110_1_Snip_MN_MD

And those had ammunition on hand to count:

  • 1st Minnesota: 92 shell, 104 case, and 130 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • 2nd Minnesota: 96 shot, 32 shell, 96 case, and 32 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Baltimore Battery:  100 case and 100 canister for 6-pdr field guns.

Moving to the rifled projectiles, first those of Hotchkiss:

0110_2_Snip_MN_MD

Four with quantities to report:

  • 1st Minnesota: 74 shot, 96 fuse shell, and 12 bullet shell for 3.67-inch rifle (labeled “Wiard” in the column header, but we know that caliber was also used by the rifled 6-pdr guns).
  • Battery A, Maryland: 40 canister and 181 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery B, Maryland: 120 fuse shell and 452 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • Baltimore Battery:  150 canister, 616 percussion shell, and 712 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.

We cannot “cut down” the next page due to the various projectiles reported.

0111_1_Snip_MN_MD

Let us consider these by type.  One battery had Dyer’s on hand:

  • Battery A, Maryland: 32 shell, 527 shrapnel, and 80 canister for 3-inch rifle.

Now to the Parrott columns:

  • 2nd Minnesota: 416 shell and 149 canister for 10-pdr (2.9-inch) Parrott.

Lastly, there are some Schenkl columns on this page:

  • 2nd Minnesota: 15 shot for 10-pdr Parrott – reminder, these are Schenkl projectiles but made to work in Parrott rifles.

We see more Schenkl projectiles on the next page:

0111_2_Snip_MN_MD

These are in the Maryland batteries:

  • Battery A, Maryland: 332 shell in 3-inch rifle caliber.
  • Battery B, Maryland: 179 shell in 3-inch rifle caliber.

Then all the way to the right, we find Tatham’s canister in use:

  • 1st Minnesota: 126 canister for 3.67-inch (6-pdr) rifle caliber.

I do like that we see the 3.67-inch rifle caliber projectiles specifically called out on the forms.  This underscores the difference – practical and administrative – between the James Rifles and the rifled 6-pdrs.

Moving to the small arms:

0111_3_Snip_MN_MD

By battery:

  • 1st Minnesota: Eleven Navy revolvers and thirteen cavalry sabers.
  • 2nd Minnesota: One Navy revolver and eight cavalry sabers.
  • Battery A, Maryland: Eight Army revolvers and twenty horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery B, Maryland: Fourteen Army revolvers and 102 cavalry sabers.
  • Baltimore Battery: Six Springfield .58-caliber muskets, twenty Army revolvers, and thirty horse artillery sabers.

We see, with one small exception, a desired small arms issue for artillery batteries.

Perhaps this is the best rounded, complete set of returns submitted thus far.  Just one question, about the location of the 2nd Minnesota battery.  And we see every cannon on the report had some projectile to fire!

Pokemon Go… where the markers, monuments, and battlefields are!

Over the last week, Pokemon Go has successfully replaced Trump, Clinton, and even the Kardashians in the news cycle.

PokemonGo

The game is the hottest “new thing” in a world that embraces “new things.”  We call it “viral” now days… a word use that would prompt face-palms from the Civil War generation.  The best I can offer as a guide to this crazy game is an article from Vox.  (With some luck, the aide-de-camp has not expressed an interest in the game… yet!)

There are a lot of rocks being thrown at the game and the gamers.  Tales of gamers running off cliffs or getting hit by cars in the obsessive quest for little virtual characters.  And beyond the physical world, there are some virtual security precautions that participants in the game should consider.  Tales of woe that give pause for anyone… anyone above the age of 25 without a YOLO-death-wish outlook on life that is.

But that’s the down side.  And the aspect that gets much play in the news.

There is an upside.  Consider:

The National Park Service could, with justification, make a “No Pokemon Go” stance.  But Director John Jarvis opted to encourage the activity with caution.  And I like the hook in the end to “find” a park along the way.

Yes, there is a risk that in pursuit of Pokemon creatures someone will wade into the World War II Memorial or traipse across a National Cemetery.  But those egregious possibilities aside, is there anything wrong with the pursuit of Pokemon across the battlefield?  I’m inclined to say there is not.  Those fields are set aside for us to walk over and consider.  Some go there to consider the acts of war that took place.  Others go there to consider the wildlife.  And others go there for reasons far removed from the original intent of these parks.  We’ve come to accept those reasons so long as the acts are compatible with the primary goal of the park.

I don’t see anything particularly unsettling with a group of kids running across the battlefield, so long as they are safe.  Certainly less obtrusive than some other uses that come to mind.  And as the director alludes to, such just might open eyes to the greater purpose of the park system.

And that brings me to another aspect… an upside, if I may suggest… to the Pokemon Go craze.  The game actually uses a system of what they call PokeStops, were these creatures – the goal of the game – are located.  Virtually that is.  From the IGN wiki on the game:

These will be located at select places near you, such as historical markers, monuments, and art installations.

In layman’s terms, these physical placemarks serve as an anchor point for the game’s augmented virtual reality.  SciFi folks might call them “portals” into the game.  How ever you want to spin that.  The bottom line is the game pulls in the coordinates of many public exhibits and features to build a virtual game playing space.

… And one of the inputs to that list of coordinates is the Historical Marker Database (HMDB).  Gamers being gamers will always look to out game the game.  So if these virtual creatures seem to live around historical markers, what better to do than go looking for historical markers?  The owner/editor of HMDB tells me use of the website went up three-fold last week.  Pokemon Go players are hitting the site and use the “markers nearby” feature to move among potential PokeStops.

Now, one would hope that some of those visits to PokeStops involve pauses to read the marker, consider the memorial, or appreciate the art.  We know that even without Pokemon creatures about, only one in about fifty of the average visitors will stop to do that anyway.   At least for those in quest of Pokemon, they are consulting a list of what is nearby.  So it is not all bad.

Indeed, an enterprising mind could well see opportunity here.  What if the participant’s chance of catching said virtual creature was enhanced by display of knowledge of the historical site (or other such criteria relative to the physical site)?  What if someone flipped this game format to something other than a quest for Pokemon thingys?  You know, sort of like a scavenger hunt of old?

… my mind wonders back to my youth and days spent hiking Shiloh on the “Cannon Trail” to earn a Boy Scout patch. Mind you, that’s a major reason you have this blog to read….

Fortification Friday: Torpedoes – Infernal machines or suitable obstacle?

Last week we discussed mines, with some focus on command detonated mines.  Use of those sort of mines dated back to the invention of gunpowder.  The action of the mine was timed by the defender to effect. If triggered correctly, the mine could disrupt an attack.  Even rumors of mines might even dissuade an attack on a particular sector.  But as we saw there were drawbacks to the use of mine.  (One I neglected to mention was maintenance of the powder charge, which by necessity was often in a place apt to be damp.)  Thus mines were rated as an elaborate, though sometimes worthwhile, obstacle.

It should come as no surprise the Civil War saw the major debut of the automatic mine (we might argue that the “first” were used in the Seminole Wars, though).  Usually called torpedoes in contemporary reports, these differed from the earlier mines by using a trip or trigger acted upon by the attacker.  The torpedoes were set in a manner that an attacker’s footfall or passage would trigger the explosion.  The leader in this field of weaponry was Confederate Brigadier-General Gabriel J. Rains. There were several different fusing mechanisms employed.  I’ll save the technical details for another time (however, for those with an appetite, there is an examination of Confederate torpedoes used on Morris Island in 1863).

Writing for the edification of cadets in the 1880s, Junius B. Wheeler discussed the use of Rains’ “infernal machiens”, …er… torpedoes in the defense:

Torpedoes – Loaded shells buried in the earth just deep enough to be concealed, and arranged so they can be exploded automatically, or at the will of the defense, have been used as obstacles. Arrangements of this kind are known as torpedoes.

The case enclosing the charge may be either of wood or iron. Condemned shells are especially suitable for the purpose.

The explosive compound used to charge them may be powder, gun-cotton, nitro-glycerine, or any material which, upon being fired, will burst the case containing the charge and scatter the fragments in every direction.

The automatic – sometimes known as the “sensitive” torpedo – is fired by contact.  It has the advantage of being exploded at the right time, but has the disadvantages of making the ground, in which it is buried, dangerous to the defense, and of subjecting the men when handling it to the danger of accidental explosions.

The torpedo which is fired “at will” has the disadvantage of being fired oftentimes prematurely, or when it is too late.

Circumstances can only decide as to which of the two is to be preferred as an obstacle.

Wheeler made clear distinction between the command detonated and automatic, or sensitive, mines/torpedoes.  We see a familiar method of employment, being concealed in the earth.

What is not discussed in detail is arrangement of the obstacle.  Wheeler did not discuss seeding roadways or footpaths with these torpedoes.  Instead, at other points in the lesson Wheeler suggests use of torpedoes in the ditch or the ground in front of the works, integrated with other obstacles.  “Torpedoes, military pits, entanglements, etc., may all be combined.”

Wheeler cited a couple of disadvantages to the use of torpedoes.  To that we should add the aforementioned need to protect the powder from dampness.  As the technology evolved through the 19th and 20th centuries, better handling configurations, powder, and triggering mechanisms reduced those disadvantages.  Yet the automatic mine remains an indiscriminate killer on the battlefield to be feared by attacker, defender, and non-combatant alike.

What I do find most interesting is the tone of Wheeler’s instruction.  Gone were mention of “infernal machines” or violations of civilized warfare.  Indeed, the only restraints offered are those practical for the defender.  Fifteen years removed from the Civil War, military leaders accepted the torpedo as a weapon and gone forward to embrace its use.

It would be another century before the Convention on Conventional Weapons, in 1980, would offer limits to the use of anti-personnel mines.  Seventeen years later, the Ottawa Treaty directly banned the use of most types of anti-personnel mines (anti-vehicle and command detonated still being allowed under the treaty).  You see, while the technical evolution of the mine has progressed in a linear form, the acceptance of the weapon has seen rises and falls.

(Citations from Junius B. Wheeler, The Elements of Field Fortifications, New York: D. Van Nostrand, 1882, pages 178-9, 183.)