The Folwell letters, June 24, 1863: Waiting on orders and hoping for mail

If pressed to put a label on June 24, 1863, from the perspective of the Army of the Potomac, I’d have to say “hesitations.”  Such would allude the posture at army headquarters as Major-General Joseph Hooker deliberated about how to apply his force to a ever changing situation.  A cloud lay over his situational awareness.

I detailed the situation, and lack of appreciation thereof, back in the sesquicentennial.  Tactically the most important movement of the day was the Eleventh Corps marching to Edwards Ferry.  However, the Engineers suffered as headquarters issued orders, only to countermand and issue new orders later in the day.   Here’s the summary of the brigade’s dispositions at the start of the day, from that sesqui post:

[Brigadier-General Henry Benham] … had 300 engineers of the Regular battalion at Edwards Ferry.  Another 360 of the 15th New York Engineers were at the Monocacy, waiting bridging equipment.  At the Washington Navy Yard, he held 135 men to repair equipment brought up from the Rappahannock and 250 more of the 50th New York Engineers.  Benham wanted to remain in Washington, with those 385 men, to supervise the repairs, which he estimated would take a week.  Headquarters agreed to continue the repairs, but still ordered Benham to the field at Edwards Ferry.

So in the morning the intent was to have a bridge near the Mouth of the Monocacy to complement the one at Edwards Ferry.  The bridge at Edwards Ferry was already heavily used, with supply trains going across to Virginia (so much that replacement parts were requested).  So it would reason a second bridge might be needed as supply needs increased.  Indeed, sage wisdom from many grey-haired logisticians says an army in the field should have a minimum of two supply lines.

But before we label this planned bridge at the Monocacy as “supply line #2”, consider the proposed location.  Such would be on Loudoun County’s “Lost Corner” where the Potomac bends out at an exposed angle.  The Virginia side of the crossing was exposed to attack from the west, over Catoctin Ridge.  Furthermore, the location is but 5-6 miles downstream from Point of Rocks, where Confederates had just raided.  So, my conjecture is that if a bridge was needed for a second supply line, then it would have been downstream of Edwards Ferry (say… Young’s Island or the Seneca Creek area… either of which brings up other “what if?” inquiries).   And thus the proposed Monocacy Bridge was instead intended for troop movements.

All this said, and speculated, the bridge at the Monocacy was not to be.  By the end of the day, the engineers then at the Monocacy and those transiting to that position were instead ordered to concentrate at Edwards Ferry.  I think (again, my speculation) that reports from Major-General Henry Slocum, then in Leesburg, about Confederate movements about Snicker’s Gap caused Hooker to reconsider the bridge.

In the middle of all this changing situation sat Captain William Folwell and Company I, 50th New York Engineers, minding their bridge at Edwards Ferry.  And Folwell’s entry for the day was short… perhaps better said… abrupt:

Edwards Ferry, June 24th, ’63.

Lt. [John] Davidson of Co. H. came up yesterday in charge of animals and returns today.  Strange enough Chaplain did not send our mail.  However, we have so far opportunity to send off the letters we write.  Yesterday afternoon, we moved camp across the canal on to a fine place of sloping ground. My tent stands on a spot from which there is one of the most charming prospects imaginable. The winding of the river, the wooded shores backed by green fields of grain and grass, the bridges and the people on them altogether form a very beautiful scene. I presume I shall have to leave it soon, for we have a telegram announcing that another company is on the way with 1000 ft. of Bridge, which is to be laid at Monocacy.  Probably Co. I will be ordered to assist.  It is a little hard on us who are here that they will not think enough of us at Washington to send us our mail while they are living in high style.  Some of the officers having sent for their wives.  Yes, we are to move up to Monocacy tonight.  I hope Co. A. Capt. [George W.] Ford will arrive with the boats, 1400 ft. of Bridge material will be sent.  Here’s Davidson.  Off –

On a personal side, what stands out is this discussion of the mail.  The Chaplain mentioned would be Edward C. Pritchett, who served the regiment through most of the war.  And shame on those “rear area” officers who were “living in high style” back in Washington!

We also see the bridge at Monocacy as an anticipated task.  We sense the “coiling of the spring” as Folwell prepared to support that endeavor.  I don’t quite know what to presume from the cut off at the end of this entry.  I’ve presented it here precisely as it appears in the type-written transcription.  Is that to say “we are off!” Or is that the first word of a new sentence cut off?

The next entry picks up on June 25th at 7 A.M.  A day and time which we know, from the historical record, was perhaps the most difficult of the campaign for the engineers.  We’ll pick up Folwell’s account there.

(Citations from William Watts Fowell, Civil War Diary, unpublished, transcription retrieved from University of Minnesota Library, pages 417 (pages 423 of scanned copy))

 

Summary Statement, 2nd Quarter, 1863 – Indiana, miscellaneous lines

Before we can leave the Indiana batteries, here for the 2nd quarter, 1863, there is the matter of six lines below the numbered independent batteries:

0185_1_Snip_IndMisc

One of these, Wilder’s Battery on line 28, is familiar from the previous quarter.  Furthermore, that battery would receive a number designation, the 26th, later in the war.  But the others are “new” formations from the perspective of the summary reports.  So we should allow space for detailed “administrative” discussion:

  • Wilder’s Battery (26th Battery): At Somerset, Kentucky with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  Lieutenant Casper W. McLaughlin was in command, with battery assigned to Second Brigade, First Division, Twenty-third Corps.  A Department of the Ohio artillery report, dated June 30, 1863, indicated the battery had six 3-inch steel rifles.  However, as we have often seen, the description of wrought iron guns was often imprecise, from a metallurgical standpoint.
  • Arty Det. 65th Vols“- or 65th Indiana Infantry (mounted):  First the listed particulars – this detachment reported from Raleigh, North Carolina with one 12-pdr field howitzer and three 3-inch Ordnance rifles.  The location most likely reflects the date of report receipt in Washington – May 6, 1865.  And in June 1863, the 65th Indiana had many, many miles to travel before reaching Raleigh.  Backing up to that spring, the regiment was mounted, and assigned to the Second Division, Twenty-third Corps, then serving in Kentucky.  Other than that, I don’t have details of the artillery detachment.
  • Battery [attached] to 1st Ind. Cavalry“: At Pine Bluff, Arkansas with three 10-pdr Parrott rifles.  During the spring of 1863, a portion of the 1st Indiana Cavalry operated in eastern Arkansas, at least six companies.  (Detachments of the regiment were assigned to both Eastern and Western theaters, with varied service histories.)  A June 1863 return has Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas N. Pace in command.  In his report for the Battle of Helena (July 4), Pace indicated First Lieutenant Samuel Lefler, Company B, had command of “our battery.”
  • Battery A, 1st Indiana Heavy Artillery: At Port Hudson, Louisiana with four 20-pdr Parrotts.  Part of the siege operations at that place, and assigned to the First Division, Nineteenth Corps.  Captain Eden H. Fisher was in command.  Interesting to note the clerks rated this battery as “field” and those 20-pdr Parrotts as field guns, despite the battery’s tactical role as siege artillery.
  • Battery E, 1st Indiana Heavy Artillery: Reporting from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with four 20-pdr Parrotts.  Part of the garrison then at the state capital, and part of the Nineteenth Corps.  Captain James W. Hamrick was in command at this time, according to the State Adjutant’s report.  As with the sister battery, it is worth noting the clerks rated this garrison battery as a field battery, with its Parrotts.
  • Lieut. 35 Infy“:  Reporting at Nashville, Tennessee with three 6-pdr field guns.  The 35th Indiana Infantry was at that time assigned to the Third Brigade, Third Division, Twenty-first Corps.  Recruited as an Irish regiment, the unit was under Major John P. Dufficy at this juncture of the war.  But why those Irish infantrymen were assigned three cannon is unknown to me.  No reports link these guns with the regiment (or higher units) during winter months at Murfreesboro or the Tullahoma Campaign.  The receipt date of this return was in 1865.  After the Atlanta Campaign, the regiment was among those sent to middle Tennessee, and fought there in the battles of late 1864.  So the unit has several periods of service in and around Nashville which this return might match with.

So a lot of unanswered questions remain within those six entries.  But, thankfully, the ammunition pages leave few questions.  Starting with the smoothbore rounds:

0187_1_Snip_IndMisc

With only two lines reporting, which appropriately matches to the cannon reported on hand:

  • 65th Infantry Detachment: 250 shell, 20 case, and 470 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers; and also 48 canister for 6-pdr field guns.
  • 35th Infantry Detachment: 28 shot and 4 case for 6-pdr field guns.

Perhaps it would have been nice for the 65th Infantry to send over that canister to the 35th?

Moving to the Hotchkiss page:

0187_2_Snip_IndMisc

Two batteries reported 3-inch rifles on hand.  But how about that third entry line?

  • Wilder’s Battery:  600 canister, 174 percussion shell, 350 fuse shell, and 426 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • 65th Infantry Detachment: 140 canister and 150 percussion shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery A, 1st Heavy: 439 fuse shell in 3.67-inch rifle caliber.  And that corresponds to the bore of a 20-pdr Parrott.  Interesting entry, as we more often see Hotchkiss of this caliber issued to James Rifles.  And, as seen from the column header, the Ordnance Department considered it a “Wiard” caliber.  Sort of hitting all the spots there.

Moving to the next page, we can focus on the Parrott and Schenkl columns:

0188_1A_Snip_IndMisc

Three batteries reported Parrott rifles.  And we have three lines to consider:

  • 1st Cavalry Detachment:  60 shell and 20 canister for 10-pdr Parrott.
  • Battery A, 1st Heavy: 250 shell for 20-pdr Parrott.
  • Battery E, 1st Heavy:  260 shell and 8 canister for 20-pdr Parrott.

Under the Schenkl columns:

  • Battery A, 1st Heavy: 40 shot for 20-pdr Parrott.
  • Battery E, 1st Heavy:  16 shot for 20-pdr Parrott.

There are no entries on the next page of projectiles.  So we move to the small arms reported:

0188_3_Snip_IndMisc

  • Wilder’s Battery: Nineteen horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery A, First Heavy:  Forty-eight rifles and eighteen foot artillery swords.

I am certain there are lots of “back stories” within the unanswered questions surrounding these six lines.  If any readers have leads, I would greatly appreciate a comment here.

Summary Statement, 2nd Quarter, 1863 – Indiana’s Independent Batteries (Part 2)

We move down the sheet to the second half of the Indiana independent batteries, numbering 13 through 25:

0185_1_Snip_IndP2

Of the thirteen to consider, seven had posted returns for the quarter.  So more than a few blanks to fill here.  Organizationally, these batteries had very few administrative changes from the previous quarter to note:

  • 13th Battery: No return.  Captain Benjamin S. Nicklin’s battery remained at Gallatin, Tennessee.  Though part of the Army of the Cumberland, the battery was unattached.
  • 14th Battery: No return.  This battery remained part of the District of Jackson, Sixteenth Corps, presumably still with three 6-pdr field guns and one 3-inch Ordnance Rifle.  Lieutenant Francis W. Morse remained in command.
  • 15th Battery: Reporting at Paris, Kentucky with six 3-inch rifles.  After assignment to the Fourth Division, Twenty-Third Corps, the battery was part of the Federal response to Morgan’s July 1863 Raid.  Captain John C. H. von Sehlen commanded.
  • 16th Battery: A return of Fort Washington, Maryland without any guns listed.  There is a faint note “Infy Stores” under the regiment column.  Lieutenant Charles R. Deming’s battery were part of the Washington Defenses.
  • 17th Battery: No return.  Captain M. L. Miner’s battery was part of French’s Division, Eighth Corps.  During the pursuit phase of the Gettysburg Campaign, the battery would return to Maryland Heights at Harpers Ferry, with their six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.
  • 18th Battery:  No Return. Captain Eli Lilly’s battery remained with the Fourth Division, Fourteenth Corps, and thus involved with the Tullahoma Campaign at the end of the reporting period.
  • 19th Battery: Reporting at Chattanooga, Tennessee with four 12-pdr Napoleons and two 3-inch Rifles (not under the usual Ordnance Rifle column). Like the 18th, Captain Samuel J. Harris’s battery was part of Fourth Division, Fourteenth Corps.  Thus the location of Chattanooga reflected a later reporting date.
  • 20th Battery:  At Nashville, Tennessee with no weapons reported.  Captain Milton A. Osborne’s battery was assigned to the artillery reserve posted to Nashville, under the Army of the Cumberland.
  • 21st Battery:  At Camp Dennison, Ohio with six 12-pdr Napoleons. The location offered is clearly an error.  Captain William W. Andrew’s battery was the third Indiana battery assigned to Fourth Division, Fourteenth Corps.  And thus were on the move through middle Tennessee at the time.
  • 22nd Battery: At Bowling Green, Kentucky with four 12-pdr Napoleons.  Under Captain Benjamin F. Denning, this battery was assigned to the Second Division, Twenty-Third Corps, Army of the Ohio.
  • 23rd Battery:  Reporting at Indianapolis, Indiana with six 3.80-inch James Rifles.  Captain James H. Myers’ battery remained in the District of Indiana and Michigan, charged with guarding prisoners. Later in the summer the battery would get the call to the field.
  • 24th Battery: No return. Under Captain Joseph A. Sims, this battery was newly assigned to the Third Division, Twenty-Third Corps, with duty in Kentucky.  The battery was among those mobilized to chase Morgan in July.
  • 25th Battery:  No return. This is a curious entry line.  The 25th would not organize for another year.  So at best this is simply a placeholder.

As I said earlier, very few changes from the previous quarter.

Turning to the smoothbore ammunition reported:

0187_1_Snip_IndP2

Four batteries with quantities to report:

  • 19th Battery: 20 shot, 15 shell, 12 case, and 72 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • 21st Battery: 463 shot, 126 shell, 491 case, and 161 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • 22nd Battery: 131 shot, 141 shell, 144 case, and 155 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • 23rd Battery: 930 canister for 6-pdr field guns.

So there we have the 23rd Battery, guarding prisoners in Indianapolis, with James rifles loaded up with 6-pdr canister.  Well, it would fit into a 3.80-inch bore!

Moving next to the Hotchkiss columns for rifled projectiles:

0187_2_Snip_IndP2

A couple of batteries with 3-inch rifles on hand.  So we see their entries along with the James rifles of the 23rd Battery:

  • 15th Battery: 340 canister,  342 fuse shell, and 1,207 (?) bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • 19th Battery: 76 canister, 68 percussion shell,  55 fuse shell, and 40 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • 23rd Battery: 390 percussion shell and 330 fuse shells for 3.80-inch rifles.

The next page we can focus down to the Dyers and James columns:

0188_1A_Snip_IndP2

For Dyer’s:

  • 19th Battery: 17 shell for 3-inch rifles.

For James’:

  • 23rd Battery:  95 case shot for 3.80-inch rifles.

None of the batteries reported Schenkl’s or Tatham’s, so we may proceed on to the small arms:

0188_3_Snip_IndP2

By battery reporting:

  • 15th Battery: Twenty-eight Army revolvers and twenty (?) horse artillery sabers.
  • 19th Battery: Fifteen Army revolvers and sixteen horse artillery sabers.
  • 20th Battery: Nineteen Army revolvers.
  • 21st Battery: Thirty Army revolvers and thirty horse artillery sabers.
  • 22nd Battery: Thirty-two horse artillery sabers.
  • 23rd Battery:  Twenty horse artillery sabers.

Uniformity… somewhat.  And with that we can close the Indiana independent batteries. Or can we?

0185_1E_Snip_IndP1

Yes, there are six “others” at the bottom of the section.  One of which would become the 26th Indiana Independent Battery later in the war.  We’ll look at them in the next installment.

Fortification Friday: As Wheeler would say, “Loopholes are not just for blockhouses”

As we continue to compare and contrast the pre-war writings of Dennis H. Mahan with the post-war instructions of Junius B. Wheeler, let’s move from arrangements for the artillery to that of the infantry on the parapet.  Mahan, like his contemporaries, left the infantry on a bare parapet, with a firing step on the banquette that would allow them to step-up to the crest and fire over.  Little else was deemed necessary.  But experience of the Civil War indicated something more was indeed necessary.   Wheeler discussed this under the heading of “loopholes”:

Loop-holes.  – Troops on the banquette, when in the act of firing their pieces, are frequently exposed to the fire of the enemy’s sharp-shooters.  Under these circumstances, expedients must be devised to protect the men, without interfering with their fire.  The expedient which is most generally used, is that of an improvised loop-hole.  The loop-hole is made, in this case, by arranging two or more rows of sand bags, placed upon the parapet and filled with earth, so that the top row will be higher than the men’s heads, and so as to leave intervals between the bags in the lower rows, through which the men can aim and fire their pieces.

Figure 28 illustrated this arrangement:

WheelerFig28

Let’s walk through this passage, as it offers another glimpse into the changing doctrine applied to the battlefield.  Right from the start, we see something “non-Mahan” as a condition.  In those pre-war days where the Napoleonic battlefield framework was in play, musketry was generally used in mass.  Volley fire, by attacker and defender, was the expected means of delivering those lead projectiles.  In that framework, working a musket into a gap in sandbags would slow down the delivery of a volley.

But Wheeler alluded to a change in how musketry was used.  Instead of massing fires in volleys, the Civil War armies employed much more individual fires.  Skirmishing, of course, took on greater importance.  And in these field fortifications, that translated to sharpshooting.  More likely the attacker would employ this means of attriting the defender, instead of attempting a rush of the works.

This is not to say nobody ever thought of putting sandbags on the parapet before the Civil War (or headlogs, which we’ll circle back to).  But this is to say changes in the way musketry was delivered brought out a need to employ this feature (loopholes) as a standard fit on the parapet.  Wheeler and his contemporaries didn’t invent the sandbag loophole.  They simply introduced it to meet an evolving requirement.  Yes, “innovation” does not always mean “invention.”

There were other ways to setup a loophole on the parapet of course:

Gabions are also used for a similar purpose.  The gabions are placed in pairs upon the parapet and filled with earth, each pair being separated from the adjacent pair by an interval of about two inches.

And… field experience gave us even more options:

A contrivance adopted in the war of 1861-5, was quite effective for the same purpose.  Skids were placed upon the parapet, with notches cut in them.  A heavy log was placed on the skids, occupying a position parallel to the interior crest and just in contact with the superior slope.  Notches were cut in the underside of this horizontal log and these were used as loop-holes.  The openings to the exterior were made as small as possible, and in some cases were protected by small patches of boiler iron spiked upon the log.  When exposed to artillery fire, earth was banked against the log.

We often hear this or similar arrangements called a “head log” in the writings of veterans.  I am most curious that Wheeler didn’t use the term.  And even more curious why Wheeler didn’t include an illustration!  At any rate, he continued with this description, naming an “innovator” from the late war:

A wooden loop-hole was devised by Lieut. King (now Major) of the United States Engineers, which was used in 1864.  It was practically a wooden hopper made of boards, placed upon the superior slope of the parapet, and covered with earth.  The splay of the sole and the angle of the cheeks were made to suit the field of fire required.

The officer mentioned was Lieutenant William R. King.  Brett Schulte has King’s report on Beyond the Crater, and a detailed report it is.  The accompanying illustration matches to Wheeler’s description.  For brevity, I’ll refer you to Brett’s excellent site.

Wheeler continued, with detailed requirements for these loopholes:

The exterior orifice of a loop-hole for musketry should be made as small as possible.  A width of two inches and a height of five, is sufficiently large for ordinary purposes.  The sides are sloped, and an inclination given to the bottom and top, according to the field of fire which is to be swept.

Now what is good for the musket should also be good for the cannons, right?  Of course:

Embrasures are sometimes protected in a manner similar to this arrangement for loop-holes.  Timbers are laid across the embrasure, covering the throat, leaving only room for the muzzle of the piece.  These timbers are then covered by sand bags, by fascines, etc., to make them shot-proof.  Sometimes the embrasure is filled with sand bags or fascines to mask it, these things being quickly removed when the embrasure is needed for use.

Thick wooden shutters, made bullet-proof, and placed on vertical axes, and iron shutters swung on horizontal axes, have both been used to close the throat of the embrasure.

In some cases, timber supports were extended back from the parapet and a covering of timber and earth placed upon them, protecting the gun from vertical and plunging fire.  A gun thus sheltered is said to be case-mated.

Again we see the factor driving all this “innovation” and change – different types of fire were employed.   Individual musketry … sharpshooting as it may be called… brought out the need for protection on the parapet.  Vertical and plunging fire, which I have written about before, brought out the need for overhead protection.  No new inventions are introduced here, rather the innovation lay in the way existing practices were employed.

(Citations from Junius B. Wheeler, The Elements of Field Fortifications, New York: D. Van Nostrand, 1882, pages 126-8.)

 

Fort Sumter, April 1865 Photos, Part 3: Three sets of stairs

Last week we discussed the sallyport, or the entrance into Fort Sumter.  Let’s now consider the means by which that photographer made his way up to the top of the wall. Turning back to our “pre celebration” photo of Fort Sumter’s interior:

02320a

Looking close at the entrance way again:

FS1Snip2

How many ways do you see to the top of the wall?

There’s a set of stairs to the right of the sallyport.  There’s the ladders laying down to the right of that.  But there’s also a hidden set of stairs, covered up by the berm at the top – the interior stairs in this sector of the fort.  So, not counting those intrepid types who would just run up the berm, there were three options here.  For the photographer, one was unlikely (ladder), another presented problems handling equipment (internal stairs), thus leaving the open, external stairs laid against the berm of the wall.

An otherwise plain old set of steps:

FS1Snip3

Fifteen steps, if you count the block at the bottom.  Note also there is a break where a wider set, at top, fits over the narrower part.

We see these steps in many interior photos:

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Don’t confuse.  There’s an additional set of stairs in this view.  A second, more elaborate, set added for those VIPs attending the April 1865 ceremony.

Looking closely, we see the break from another angle:

FS2Snip1

Obviously this photo was taken after the first (which I call FS1).  The dirt was cleared away from the lower part of the steps.  In fact, I’d probably say the entire lower section was picked up and reset.  The heavy beam used as the bottom step is not in view.  But one of the ladders is there.

And do take note of the fine workmanship of that second set of stairs.  Elaborate.  With handrails.  Probably was sanded to protect VIPs from wood splinters.  We’ll see these stairs in other photos.  So let’s save discussion for later.

But, we should ask if the first set of wooden stairs was put in place by the Confederates or Federals?  Well, the stairs do appear on the draft survey:

Feb65Draft_LeftShoulderAngle

The Confederates would probably avoid having a light wooden structure such as those stairs exposed in the fort.  A lucky Federal shell might shatter it and spray deadly splinters all about the parade ground.

The Confederates did have reason to climb to the top of the wall.  Most importantly, the garrison’s flag was on this particular quarter for much of the siege.  But access was provided by the much safer internal stairway.  We see that structure along the profile section RS:

Feb18_65_SnipElevationRS

Again, note the dashed “ghost” of what the fort had looked like before the war.  We have, just inside the original fort’s wall, a couple of steps for what had been stairs up to the second tier.  With the wartime changes, those steps were covered by a berm.  A passage connected the galleries of the lower tier to the stairs, and thence provided access to the top of the wall… now rubble and dirt.  The opening at the top of the berm was reinforced by a frame and lined with gabions.  We see that in our photo… but just barely:

FS1Snip4A

Earlier I was a bit confused about the location of this stairway, and mentioned the gabions in the background.  Those are directly over the external sallyport.  I don’t know what to call those, other than perhaps a bonnett (which we discussed last Friday).  Certainly in a position to protect the sallyport from stray fragments.  But also, perhaps, in a line to block enfilade fire on those internal stairs.

From the other view, the top of the internal stairs is a little more apparent:

FS2Snip2A

Good little mountain howitzer right there in view!

Thinking again about the second set of stairs and the preparations for the ceremony, note the landing of the outside stairs, with an “entrance statement” complete with garnishing.  This photo had to be just a few days prior to the ceremony, with those decorative branches still green.  Note also the railings setup to prevent some poor VIP from falling over the side.  Yes, their safety was important… as they walked about a site full of unexploded shells!

UPDATE: A paragraph which I inadvertently deleted, but should be added back here.  Some of the fine points about the construction of that original set of stairs is worth examination.  The upper portion appeared to be anchored into the berm.  Thus making it somewhat permanent.  The lower portion, however, was held in place by placement within the uprights of the upper section and a set of cleats anchored to the heavy beam at the bottom.   It appears to me that lower section was configured as something which could be removed, stored, then replaced when needed.  Given that possibility, I’d think the stairs were built by the Confederates, with a lower section which was only put in place during quiet times (i.e. when the Federals were not bombarding).

Both sets of external stairs appear in the ceremony photos, often with lots of activity:

FSC2Snip1

Here we see a blur of people descending to the parade ground.  To the right of that, four people are using the old steps as a viewing perch.  The one at the bottom is a Navy-type.  I conjecture he was a petty officer, finding a way to keep out of the crowd but still get a good view (as they are apt to do). At the top are three of civilians – two seated and one standing.  The standing man is in a convenient position for us to obtain a rough measure of the stairs:

FSC2Snip1A1

His height covers five steps of the upper section, with him standing on the top step of the lower section.  Assuming him of average height… maybe a little over six feet perhaps… can we measure the stairs overall?

FSC2Snip1A2

So maybe fifteen to eighteen feet?

Better still, we might also use that measure to address that question about the Confederate sallyport:

FSC2Snip1A3

Standing-man’s measure compares favorably to others standing next to the gabion revetment beside the sallyport. We see a person standing there is roughly up the mid-point of the second row of gabions.

Circling back to the pre-ceremony photo, let’s apply that same measure:

FS1Snip2A

Not necessarily scientific, but I would contend the entrance was much smaller than the survey would lead us to believe.  And, of course, that would also explain why the Federals built such an elaborate set of stairs for the VIPs.  Having those gray-headed dignitaries climb up and down steps was preferable.  Opposed having them crawl on their hands and knees through the passage.

One last note on that sallyport.  You see also a metal plate set up by Confederates to block that entrance.  A reminder  – this was Fort Sumter after it was pummeled by tens of thousands of shot and shell, over the span of a year and a half.  The gabions were not just there to prevent erosion, but to sustain a defensive structure exposed to the heaviest weapons devised at the time.

The Folwell letters, June 23, 1863: “We have no reliable news.”

Let me get back to Captain William W. Folwell and his bridge builders on the Potomac.  When we last checked in, Company I of the 50th New York Engineers were at Edwards Ferry, along with other engineers from their own regiment and the US Regulars, having built the first pontoon bridge at the site.  Having accomplished their task, the engineers were sentenced to sitting to wait on  the rest of the Army.  And waiting they did…

Edwards Ferry, Md.,

June 23rd, 1863.

Twelve hours of unbroken sleep makes me a new man again.  Bain [Lieutenant Mahlon Bainbridge Folwell] and I made our beds together.  We had two rubber blankets, our overcoats, and our woolen blankets under us, and over us my white double woolen blanket.  The previous night, we had slept cold, but last night we were as snug as could be.  We had a nice breakfast of broiled ham, fried potatoes, boiled eggs, bread and butter and coffee.  The eggs were cooked to absolute perfection….

That sounds like a pretty good breakfast, if you ask me!

But these guys weren’t there to sit around the campfire and drink coffee.  There was a war on:

We have no reliable news. This is an out-of-the-way place.  It seems quite certain that the Rebs. have been (in small force) in Frederick.  I do not think they have any considerable body north of the Potomac. If they have, we can’t help it.  Hooker can’t spare a man from the ranks as long as Lee is on his front with 180,000 men.  I hope we can avoid battle for some weeks.  Indeed, I wish there might be no more fighting this season, and that during it and the following winter, an army of 1,200,000 men be raised and organized.  What an eternal shame to us that the Rebels, with less by far resources of all kinds, should constantly outnumber us.  Here’s Lee with 120,000 men (as I was informed yesterday by a deserter from Longstreet’s Corps) while Hooker can barely parade 75,000.  The deserter was an intelligent fellow and well-informed.  he says the Rebels hold us in greater contempt than ever since they flagged us at Chancellorsville.  They had but 65,000 men there.  Longstreet’s whole corps was at Suffolk.  We had 120,000 men and were disgracefully and ignominiously beaten by little more than half our number.  I am astonished that Mr. Lincoln retains Hooker in command.  The giving the order to retreat ought to have broken him.  Oh, such a shame to have lost the battle, and 20,000 men hors du combat.

Another frank assessment of Hooker’s leadership from Folwell.  A prevailing opinion in the ranks at that time of the war.  But I would read into this further.  Folwell was convinced, at that moment in time, the Confederates had considerably more men than they would ever be able to concentrate at this time in the war (if ever at all!).   I’d argue this goes further to an underlying belief, instilled during the early phases of the war, that the Confederates had been able to recruit, equip, and field a massive force.  A presumption that clouded thinking from the highest to the lowest levels.

Beyond that, I’ve never really understood why the word of a deserter was taken as firm truth.

More war news to close out his entry for the day:

Bain has just handed me a copy of a telegram from Gen. Butterfield to Capt. [Charles] Turnbull, giving an account of the Cavalry fight on Sunday.  Pleasonton thrashed Stuart completely.  Drove them back to Ashby’s Gap, captured prisoners, 2 pieces of artillery, small arms, enemy leaving dead and wounded upon the field.  Our loss small.  Well, this is encouraging, but these cavalry skirmishes scarcely affect the general result.  We are to move our camp in a short time.  We can make a very nice camp on the hill.  [Captain Martin] Van Brocklin [of Company C] and I intend riding out to Leesburg this morning to see the country and hear the news.

The news of the cavlary fighting, from days before, was as sign of things to come.  Somewhat like a distant thunder in the distance on a summer day, portending a moving storm front.  The question that lingered, like the smell of rain to come, was “where?”  Fate would not grant Folwell’s wish that the rest of 1863 would be quiet.

As for the trip to Leesburg… I hoped would follow a description of the town and surrounding area.  Would be most interesting to those of us studying the Civil War here in Loudoun.  But I doubt Folwell made the trip.  June 24, as we know, was the first of several busy days for the engineers at Edwards Ferry.

(Citations from William Watts Fowell, Civil War Diary, unpublished, transcription retrieved from University of Minnesota Library, pages 415-7 (pages 421-23 of scanned copy))

 

Summary Statement, 2nd Quarter, 1863 – Indiana’s Independent Batteries (Part 1)

By June 1863, Indiana had twenty-five independent batteries on the books, in one way or another.  In addition to those independent batteries, there were a couple of heavy artillery batteries with field artillery along with detachments and other miscellaneous formations.   So they covered most of a page on the summary sheets:

0185_1E_Snip_IndP1

We will review these in three parts, starting with the first dozen numbered independent batteries:

0185_1_Snip_IndP1

Of these first twelve, only seven have recorded returns.  So let’s dive into those missing parts:

  • 1st Battery:  No report.  The battery remained with Fourteenth Division, Thirteenth Corps and was part of the siege of Vicksburg.  The battery had four (some sources say six) James rifles. Captain Martin Klauss commanded.
  • 2nd Battery:  Reporting at Springfield, Missouri with two 6-pdr field guns and four 3.80-inch James Rifles.  Lieutenant Hugh Espey commanded this battery, assigned to the District of Southwestern Missouri.
  • 3rd Battery: Also indicated as at Springfield, Missouri but with two 6-pdr field guns, two 12-pdr Napoleons, and two 3.67-inch rifles.  Also part of the District of Southwestern Missouri, Captain James M. Cockefair commanded this battery.  The battery split duty between Springfield and Rolla during the summer.
  • 4th Battery:  No report. Last quarter found the battery at Murfreesboro, with two 12-pdr Napoleons, two 12-pdr field howitzers, and two 3.80-inch James Rifles.  Lieutenant David Flansburg command this battery, assigned to First Division, Fourteenth Corps.  So June found them participating in the Tullahoma Campaign.
  • 5th Battery: At Shell Mound, Tennessee with two 12-pdr Napoleons and four 3.80-inch James rifles. Shell Mound was a landing on the Tennessee River downstream from Chattanooga.  And that location was probably valid for the reporting time of February 1864.  In June 1863, the battery was with Second Division, Twentieth Corps, and part of the Tullahoma Campaign. Lieutenant Alfred Morrison remained in command, with Captain Peter Simonson the division artillery chief (temporarily at least).
  • 6th Battery: No report.  Last quarter’s returns gave the battery two 6-pdr field guns and two 3.80-inch James Rifles. Officially assigned to First Division, Sixteenth Corps. Captain Michael Mueller commanded. The battery had postings across west Tennessee until June, when dispatched with the rest of the division to Vicksburg.
  • 7th Battery: McMinnville, Tennessee with two 12-pdr Napoleons and four 10-pdr Parrotts. Captain George R. Swallow’s battery supported Third Division, Twenty-First Corps.  So the battery was involved with the Tullahoma Campaign at the reporting time. McMinnville appears to be derived from the August report filing.
  • 8th Battery: No return. Captain George Estep retained command of this battery.  In the winter reorganizations, the battery was posted to First Division, Twenty-First Corps at Murfreesboro.  The battery had four 6-pdr field guns and two 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • 9th Battery: No return. Lieutenant George R. Brown commanded this battery, assigned to Fourth Division, Sixteenth Corps.  It remained part of the garrison at District of Columbus, in Kentucky.
  • 10th Battery: Reporting at Pelham, Tennessee with two 12-pdr field howitzers and four 10-pdr Parrotts.  Lieutenant William A. Naylor remained in command of this battery, assigned to First Division, Twenty-First Corps that winter.  At the end of June the battery was involved in the Tullahoma Campaign.
  • 11th Battery: Chattanooga, Tennessee (which was accurate for October 1863 when the report was received) with four 12-pdr Napoleons and two 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  Captain Arnold Sutermeister’s battery supported Third Division, Twentieth Corps and was on the Tullahoma Campaign at the end of June.
  • 12th Battery: At Nashville, Tennessee as siege artillery.  Returns list the battery assigned to Fort Negley, with four 4.5-inch Ordnance siege rifles under Captain James E. White.

So we can, using the Official Records mostly, fill in most of these blanks.

Turning to the ammunition, the smoothbore columns are particularly active:

0187_1_Snip_IndP1

The usual sets of 6-pdr and 12-pdr rounds:

  • 2nd Battery: 203 shot, 203 case, and 191 canister for 6-pdr field guns.
  • 3rd Battery:  105 shot, 141 case, and 132 canister for 6-pdr field guns;  136 shot, 406 shell, 227 case, and 300 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • 5th Battery: 76 shot, 24 shell, 92 case, and 33 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • 7th Battery: 75 shot, 32 shell, 101 case, and 48 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • 10th Battery: 115 shell, 100 case, and 116 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • 11th Battery: 132 shot, 122 shell, 110 case, and 120 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.

Moving to the next page, we start the rifled projectiles with the Hotchkiss columns:

0187_2_Snip_IndP1

Not a lot to report:

  • 5th Battery: 24 shot, 24 fuse shell, and 132 bullet shell for 3.80-inch James.
  • 11th Battery: 100 canister, 140 fuse shell, and 150 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.

There is one “stray” on the following page for Hotchkiss:

0188_1A_Snip_IndP1

  • 5th Battery: 32 canister for 3.80-inch Rifles.

Moving to the right, the James columns:

0188_1B_Snip_IndP1

Three batteries reporting:

  • 2nd Battery: 130 shot and 142 shell for 3.80-inch rifles.
  • 3rd Battery: 52 shot, 273 shell, and 24 canister for 3.80-inch rifles.
  • 5th Battery:  58 canister for 3.80-inch rifles.

And over to the Parrotts:

0188_1C_Snip_IndP1

Two batteries with Parrotts, and two reporting:

  • 7th Battery: 197 shell, 273 case, and 157 canister for 10-pdr Parrotts.
  • 10th Battery: 468 shell, 225 case, and 94 canister for 10-pdr Parrotts.

Note to the right, there is one entry for Schenkl patent projectiles for Parrott rifles:

  • 7th Battery: 217 shot for 10-pdr Parrott.

To the last page of ammunition columns, we find two entries:

0188_2_Snip_IndP1

Both for 5th Battery:

  • 5th Battery:  150 Schenkl shell for 3.80-inch rifles; 40 Tatham canister for 3.80-inch rifles.

Yes, 5th Battery reported canister from three different patterns to feed their James rifles (and that does not include canister for their 12-pdr Napoleons).  Would love to see a first hand account discussing those particulars.

Lastly, we have the small arms:

0188_3_Snip_IndP1

By battery, of those reporting:

  • 2nd Battery: Eighteen rifles (no type specified), twenty-eight Army revolvers, and twenty-two cavalry sabers.
  • 3rd Battery: Four Navy revolvers and ten horse artillery sabers.
  • 5th Battery: One percussion pistol, fourteen cavalry sabers, and seven horse artillery sabers.
  • 7th Battery: Two cavalry sabers and fifteen horse artillery sabers.
  • 10th Battery: Eighteen Army revolvers and twelve horse artillery sabers.
  • 11th Battery: Ten Army revolvers, twelve Navy revolvers, and eleven cavalry sabers.

Perhaps the 5th Indiana Battery must have been the last user of the percussion pistol?

Next we’ll pick up the bottom half of the Indiana Independent Batteries.