Mahan on Artillery Tactics, Part 4: More on the Defense

Let us continue the discussion of artillery as used on the defense, according to Mahan. And we again turn to Chapter II, verse 151…..

Those positions for batteries should be avoided from which the shot must pass over other troops, to attain the enemy. And those should be sought for from which a fire can be maintained until the enemy has approached even within good musket-range of them.

Outpost, 60-1.

Common sense at play here. Fuses are not fail-proof, no matter how good the quality control is at the arsenal. Short rounds were a concern then as they are today. A further concern was the ballistic path of the sabot used behind many projectiles. Though made of wood, that could still injure or kill. With the introduction of rifled guns, another concern entered play – the lead or soft iron sabots often sheered off after the projectile left the muzzle. Those fragments took less predictable paths.

The other part of this is the desired effect of allowing the cannon to engage right up to… and inside of… musket range. The “skirmisher” community will note that Mahan was writing this passage before the rifled-musket was in widespread use. However, we should note that well into the Civil War, 100 yards was still considered the effective range of those rifled-muskets, as the practitioners were focused on volley fire effects as opposed to the effective range of individual weapons.

Where the wings of a position are weak, batteries of the heaviest caliber should be placed to secure them.

Outpost, 61.

Another sensible suggestion here. But one that must play with earlier passages that dictated the bigger caliber pieces be placed on “the more retired points” as opposed to advanced positions. Looking back at the “taking away a course of action from the enemy” mindset, those batteries assigned to support the flanks would be there to remove an option to attack on a flank. Such implies, generally speaking, that in the defense the flanks should be tucked in or refused. I would not argue against that as a general application, but certainly not submit flanks should always be refused. Given terrain or other factors, one might extend a flank position to cover the front of the main defensive line…. you know… like in those simple entrenchments that Mahan wrote of in other volumes.

Thus far, Mahan has placed the light batteries (shall we say the “mounted” batteries?) and the heavy (or “foot”) batteries. What about the horse artillery?

A sufficient number of pieces – selecting for the object in view horse-artillery in preference to any other – should be held in reserve for a moment of need; to be thrown upon any point where the enemy’s progress threatens danger; or to be used in a covering the retreat.

Outpost, 61.

Stomp your feet here to ensure all the cavalrymen hear and heed this. Horse artillery, in the defensive, was not simply attached to the cavalry for support of the troopers doing what ever it is they do on the defensive. Instead, the horse artillery was a reserve force to be used when pressed. If we turn again to “taking away courses of action” then here we are considering how an enemy commander would follow up behind initial success. If that assault has indeed achieved a lodgement on the main defensive line, the next step would involve pressing reinforcements forward to enlarge gains and break the line. The counter, Mahan proposes here, is the rapid, flying batteries of horse artillery introduced to seal that fissure.

And if that cannot be attained, at least have those horse artillery batteries in position to dissuade the enemy from following up with a close pursuit. A handful of well placed shells from the horse artillery should at least cause pause.

Everything thus far we might summarize as “use common sense and good judgement.” But the next paragraph is where the armchair generals will set up and start typing comments….

The collection of a large number of pieces in a single battery, is a dangerous arrangement; particularly at the onset of an engagement. The exposure of so many guns together might present a strong inducement to the enemy to make an effort to carry the battery; a feat the more likely to succeed, as it is difficult either to withdraw the guns, or change their position promptly, after their fire is opened; and one which, if successful, might entail a fatal disaster on the assailed, from the loss of so many pieces at once.

Outpost, 61.

Yes, at first glance, Mahan is laying out an argument against massing artillery on the battlefield. And our latter-day Stonewall Jacksons are quick to point out massed artillery is often the key to victory!

The important part of this passage is “large number of pieces in a single battery.” This is a “battery” not as an organizational unit, but as a position. Reading as such, this is a warning about putting multiple batteries in one contiguous position. If those guns are not arrayed as discussed at earlier points in this discussion of artillery on defense, then such a collection would be a vulnerable, tempting target. Placing the guns hub to hub is not “massing the guns.” But arranging those guns, in accordance to the guides presented by Mahan, is.

What I’d contend is that Mahan was not arguing against what Henry Hunt would do at Malvern Hill. Just the opposite. Prior to July 1, 1862, Hunt organized and emplaced the artillery into a fine example of what Mahan encouraged through these couple of pages on defensive arrangements. Go through the checklist – good engagement ranges, cleared fields of fire, complementing postings, light batteries advanced, heavy batteries retired, wings protected, infantry kept clear of the guns, and all well supported. And that arrangement allowed Hunt to introduce fresh batteries and withdraw tired ones, with relative ease. Thus, what Hunt had at Malvern Hill was not a “large number of pieces in a single battery” but instead a massing of combat power on a good position which maximized the capabilities of the artillery. Famously, one year and two days later, Hunt will accomplish the same feat on another battlefield while defending Cemetery Ridge. We might easily turn to the other side of the war and point to good use of massed artillery at Fredericksburg.

I think what Mahan is arguing against in this passage is actually instances like Missionary Ridge. One might say the Confederate artillery positions on that ridge were well placed for a siege in which their fire would be focused on distant Federal lines. The problem was no proper adjustment was made when that position transformed, due to the shifting of tactical situations, to a defensive one. And so that checklist that Hunt met on those hot July days was not met on that autumn day outside Chattanooga – dead space under the guns even past musket range, no complementary postings, no advanced or retired positions, infantry lines interspersed with the artillery, and little room to move the batteries around. And if we circle back to the “taking away a course of action from the enemy” notion here, I’d posit this counter-intuitive thought with a wry smile: the position on Missionary Ridge was so bad that it invited Federal commanders to accept and pursue a direct assault as a course of action. And as a demonstration, at that!

The last paragraph in this section on defensive arrangements for artillery strikes to the logistics of keeping those guns feed:

In all defensive dispositions the ammunition should be most carefully husbanded. A fire should never be opened until the enemy is within good range; and, when once opened, be continued with perseverance and coolness up to the last moment in which it can be made effective.

Outpost, 61.

I’ve mentioned this a time or two before, expressed as “staying power” of the guns. By this I mean the time for which the gun can remain at a position and actively part of the battle before having to replenish ammunition. Obviously many factors come into play here. Not the least of which is the number of rounds in the ammunition chests (in other words, the smaller-bore weapons had more rounds to shoot, all things being equal… yet another reason to have those big guns at retired positions). As we alluded to above (and at other places on this blog), Hunt and other good artillery commanders mitigated this with a good system to rotate batteries in and out of the line. Hunt also devised a very healthy system to push full ammunition chests up to the points where needed. Such adds another requirement here to those “good position” checklists, in that we must also consider allocating space to allow all the traffic needed in order to maintain a position “up to the last moment.”

And I stress “staying power” over perhaps the cyclic rate of fire. More so than simple weight of metal, it was the paced, deliberate, and measured fire which was desired. So let’s cast off these notions that artillery was just there to belch out canister, send smoke into the air, and make a lot of noise. The impact of those big guns, particularly on the defense, was to shape the flow of the battle… taking away courses of action available to the enemy.

(Citations from Dennis Hart Mahan, An Elementary Treatise on Advanced-guard, Out-post, and Detachment Service of Troops, and the Manner of Posting and Handling Them in Presence of an Enemy, New York: John Wiley, 1861, pages 60-1.)

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Mahan on Artillery Tactics, Part 3: In Defense, artillery is the “principal part”

I started the examination of Dennis H. Mahan and artillery tactics earlier this year with an introduction and a word about the “place” of artillery. That latter referring to what artillery was supposed to do on the battlefield… not the physical place. Now resuming that conversation, let’s move from the somewhat theoretical side into how those ideas would be applied… again, according to Mahan. And that takes us from the “place” as in the role or occupation of artillery more towards “place” as in the actual position relative to the other branches. We start with the general guideline for placing artillery:

The manner of placing artillery and its employment must be regulated by its relative importance under given circumstances, with respect to the action of the other arms.

In the defensive, the principal part is usually assigned to the artillery; and the position taken up by the other arms will, therefore, be subordinate to those of this arm. In offensive movements the reverse is generally obtain[ed].

Outpost, pages 59-60.

Even the most pedestrian, non-tactical study of the Civil War battlefield reinforces this notion. But there is a pitfall here that some novices will fall into. This is not to say that artillery’s importance was weighed to the defense, and was simply an add-on for the offense. Rather, what Mahan indicates here is that the defense, if properly organized, will center upon and be dependent upon the artillery for its strength. While the offensive arrangements would place emphasis on the “moving parts” with the artillery arranged best to support that component. In either case, the artillery placement requires just as much thought. It is simply a matter of which component the commander needs to carry the battle…. or… “relative importance under given circumstances.”

With the central role of artillery in the defense at the fore, Mahan then spoke to how those guns should be arranged:

In defensive positions the security of the batteries is of the last importance. Unless the batteries are on points which are inaccessible to the enemy’s cavalry and infantry, they must be placed under the protection of the other troops, and be outflanked by them.

Outpost, 60

By “last importance“, I believe Mahan was saying the defender should not avoid placing guns on less than idea terrain. The guns should be placed where their firepower would best achieve the mission of the defender. After all, those other arms were there to prevent a battery from being exposed… or at least supposed to be there.

As in the defensive, we should be prepared to receive the enemy on every point; the batteries must be distributed along the entire front of the position occupied, and on those points from which they can obtain a good sweep over the avenues of approach to it; the guns being masked, when the ground favors, from the enemy’s view, until the proper moment arrives for opening their fire.

Outpost, 60

Finally, we are pointing to the places to drop trail! The point I would emphasize here is this notion of masking batteries. In 1861, “masked batteries” were somewhat a boogie man, particularly on the Federal side. The very nature of selecting a good position should bring the officer to place artillery in masking positions. In effect all good artillery positions should be masked. But in reality, when those commanders of 1861 were writing about their fears of “masked batteries” they were referring to positions where their columns might be surprised or ambushed by the waiting enemy using concealed cannon. But before we go down the route of saying all good artillery positions were ambushes and such, we’ve got to take a step back and recognize the same word was being used with different intents.

Mahan’s masked batteries were not necessarily in unseen places. Rather, they were in places where anything which could be seen was within engagment range. Given the range of a 6-pdr field gun (the standard light piece at the time Mahan was writing), that translates out to 1,500 yards, or 0.85ths of a mile…. fine, round it to a mile. That’s a lot of space to work with. And given the average human’s perceptions at the range of a mile, that does not need to imply the battery is camouflaged or excessively concealed. We might double that “round about a mile” space when taking into account rifled artillery. But that’s about as far as I’d take it… range, in the Civil War context, had much dependency on target acquisition.

Taking in mind my interpretation of artillery’s role on the battle – “to take away or deny the enemy a course of action” – then we can start quantifying the value of a defensive position based on how much of that rounded up to a mile range the gunner can see when looking over the breech. Does it give full visibility of everything out to a mile? Give it a score of 100. Is there a rise or depression that prevents engagements at less than a mile? Start taking points off. That gives some measure of how artillery might influence the battle… or not… from a particular point.

Mahan continued with details about placing the trails of those cannon:

The distance between the batteries should not be much over 600 paces; so that by their fire they may cover well the ground intervening between them, and afford mutual support; the light guns being placed on the more salient points of the front, from their shorter range and greater facility of maneuvering; the heavier guns on the more retired points. Guns of various caliber should not be placed in the same battery. A sufficient interval should also be left between batteries of different caliber; to prevent the enemy from judging, by the variations in the effect of the shot, of the weight of metal in the batteries.

Outpost, 60

This paragraph lands at the intersection of technological development and doctrinal evolution. First let’s look at that distance between batteries. The Army (modern version.. but I submit this would be timeless) taught me that an average person’s “pace” is 30 inches… or 0.83ths of a yard. And 600 paces thus works out to 500 yards. ( 600 x 0.83 = 500…. don’t you like how the professor turned that into clean numbers?) That 500 yards is roughly a third the range of a 6-pdr field gun firing solid shot. And 500 yards is roughly half the range of a 12-pdr field howitzer. Thus, if the 600 paces rule is adhered to, even the smallest, lest powerful field pieces could easily support adjacent batteries.

Not much to expand upon with regard to placing those smaller pieces out front. That speaks of common sense. We’ll get into discussions of horse artillery and building a mobile reserve later.

But it’s this warning about mixed batteries which cuts across some of the doctrine in place when Mahan was writing. From the earliest times, the Army’s practice leaned toward mixed batteries. Even up to the writing of the 1860 tactics manual, the Army’s standard arrangement were batteries with two sections of field guns and one of howitzers. That applied for both light (6-pdr field gun / 12-pdr field howitzers) and heavy (12-pdr field guns / 24- or 32-pdr field howitzers). Yet, we know that early in the war senior artillerists advocated for uniform batteries. Mahan gives us a good tactical justification for uniform batteries. And we know Barry and Hunt would weigh in on this during the war years. I think the persistence of the mixed battery on the tables of organization has more to do with forces outside the artillery arm – namely the Ordnance Branch and the other two combat arms branches – and their perceptions of what the artillery needed in order to accomplish a mission. Not as acute, but along the same lines as the internal debate over tank destroyer types as the same US Army rushed into action during World War II.

These notions in mind to answer the question about where to place the artillery in the defensive, let’s circle back to this “taking away a course of action from the enemy” thing I keep talking about. If a defense, featuring artillery, is laid out in accordance to the principles Mahan stated in these paragraphs (and, if time permitted, placed in some of those fortifications, that we’ve discussed at length in the past) then the enemy would find a killing field that he would not be anxious to cross. The direct frontal assault, which is always the easiest and most efficient maneuver for an attacker to perform, would be off the table. Or at least should be off the list of options. We well know of many instances where a commander did not… and his men paid the price. But let’s save the discussion dynamic and flexible leadership for another day….

(Citations from Dennis Hart Mahan, An Elementary Treatise on Advanced-guard, Out-post, and Detachment Service of Troops, and the Manner of Posting and Handling Them in Presence of an Enemy, New York: John Wiley, 1861, pages 59-60.)

Summary Statement, 4th Quarter, 1863 – 1st Illinois Artillery

I contend the 1st Illinois Artillery Regiment punched well above its weight during the war. Not just in terms of where they served or battles fought. Though, from a western theater perspective, batteries from this regiment always seemed in the tick of the fight. But the regiment’s impact was beyond just the metal it threw around in battle. This regiment produced several officers who went on to serve in important positions outside the regiment. In last quarter’s post, I mentioned Colonel Joseph D. Webster, the regiment’s first commander, who served as a chief of staff for both Grant and Sherman. Colonel Ezra Taylor, who replaced Webster in May 1863, was dual-hatted as Sherman’s chief of artillery from Shiloh through Vicksburg (in the latter, formally the Chief of Artillery, Fifteenth Corps). Major Charles Houghtaling, who would later become the regimental Colonel, served a similar role for the Fourteenth Corps, in the Army of the Cumberland. Lieutenant-Colonel Charles H. Adams left the regiment for the top spot in the 2nd Tennessee Heavy Artillery, forming at Memphis. Major Allen C. Waterhouse lead the artillery brigade of the Seventeenth Corps, at times filling in as Artillery Chief. And those are just a few notables. As we look down to the battery officers, many very capable officers with fine records stand out. Let’s look at a few of those as we walk through this summary:

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  • Battery A: Larkinsville, Alabama, with five 12-pdr Napoleons and one 10-pdr Parrott.  The battery remained with Second Division, Fifteenth Army Corps, with Captain Peter P. Wood in command.  The battery was part of Sherman’s force sent to relieve Chattanooga, and later sent to relieve Knoxville. They would winter in north Alabama.
  • Battery B: Also at Larkinsville, Alabama, with four 6-pdr field guns and one 12-pdr field howitzer. Like Battery A, this battery was also assigned to Second Division, Fifteenth Corps.  Likewise, the battery supported the reliefs of Chattanooga and Knoxville. Captain Israel P. Rumsey remained in command.
  • Battery C:  Reporting at Chattanooga, Tennessee, now with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles, being refitted after the campaigns around that city. Captain Mark H. Prescott remained in command, but the battery transferred to the First Division, Fourteenth Corps as the Army of the Cumberland reorganized in October.
  • Battery D: At Vicksburg, Mississippi, now reverting back to reporting four 24-pdr field howitzers, vice four 3-inch Ordnance Rifles reported the previous quarter… which implies a transcription error. Regardless, battery remained with Third Division, Seventeenth Corps, and part of the occupation force at Vicksburg. The battery participated in a couple of expeditions out of Vicksburg in the fall. Then moved, with the division, to duty on the Big Black River, east of Vicksburg. Lieutenant George P. Cunningham was promoted to captain of the battery in December 1864.
  • Battery E: At Corinth, Mississippi, with five 12-pdr Napoleons and one 3.80-inch James Rifle.  Lieutenant John A. Fitch remained in command, and the battery remained under Third Division, Fifteenth Corps. The battery participated in a couple of expeditions across Mississippi during the fall. The division reached Corinth as part of the movement to Chattanooga, but was not forwarded. In November, the division, along with the battery, moved to Memphis (part of the rundown of the Corinth garrison at that time).
  • Battery F: No report. Captain John T. Cheney remained in command of this battery.  As part of Fourth Division, Fifteenth Corps, the battery was part of the reinforcement sent to Chattanooga. Like the other Fifteenth Corps batteries, Battery F played a supporting role at Chattanooga and later at Knoxville.
  • Battery G:  Serving as siege artillery at Corinth, Mississippi, with four 24-pdr siege guns. The battery was assigned to Second Division, Sixteenth Corps.  Captain Raphael G. Rombauer remained in command. When the Corinth garrison was disbanded, Battery G moved to Fort Pickering, in Memphis, in January.
  • Battery H: At Bellefonte, Alabama with three 20-pdr Parrotts.  Assigned to Second Division, Fifteenth Corps, Lieutenant Francis DeGress remained in command of this battery (he would receive promotion to captain in December, after Captain Levi W. Hart was discharged).  As with the other Fifteenth Corps Illinois batteries, DeGress’ were setup to support Sherman’s crossing of the Tennessee in the ill-fated assault on Tunnel Hill. After the march to Knoxville, the battery returned to north Alabama with the division.
  • Battery I: At Scottsboro, Alabama with four 3.80-inch James Rifles. The battery came to Chattanooga as part of Fourth Division, Fifteenth Corps. However, Captain Albert Cudney, who had taken over the battery in June, was not present. Lieutenant Josiah H. Burton, of Battery F, led the battery in support, alongside Battery H (above).  After the relief of Knoxville, the battery followed the division into winter quarters in northern Alabama.
  • Battery K: No return. This battery was stationed at Memphis, Tennessee as part of Grierson’s Cavalry Division, Sixteenth Corps. Recall this battery was, at least up through the spring, equipped with Woodruff guns. Without a return, the equipment at the end of 1863 cannot be confirmed. Captain Jason B. Smith remained in command. 
  • Battery L: In Washington, D.C., with two 12-pdr Napoleons and four 3.80-inch James Rifles. Captain John Rourke commanded this battery, assigned supporting Mulligan’s Brigade, Scammon’s Division, then in West Virginia. So the location given for the return is in question. 
  • Battery M:  Reporting at Loudon, Tennessee with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles (losing its Napoleons and converting to a uniform battery of rifles). Captain George W. Spencer, promoted in September, commanded this battery. With the reorganization of the Army of the Cumberland, the battery transferred to Second Division Fourth Corps.

Those particulars out of the way, we can look to the ammunition reported for this varied lot of cannon. Starting with the smoothbore:

0311_1_Snip_ILL1
  • Battery A: 207 shot, 80 shell, and 270 case for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery D: 177 shell for 24-pdr field howitzers.
  • Battery E: 163 shot, 159 shell, and 246 case for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery G: 314 shot and 120 shell for 24-pdr siege guns.
  • Battery L: 70 shot and 504 shell for 6-pdr field guns; 385 shot (unprepared) for 12-pdr “heavy” guns; 134 shot and 639 case for 12-pdr Napoleons; and 189 shell and 48 case for 12-pdr field howitzers (a wide array of ammunition types perhaps reflecting garrison duty in West Virginia).

We’ll split this next page into groupings for the rest of the smoothbore and then the first columns of rifle ammunition:

0311_2_Snip_ILL1

Smoothbore:

  • Battery A: 69 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery D: 140 case and 33 canister for 24-pdr field howitzers.
  • Battery E: 158 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery G: 72 case, 89 canister, and 113 stands of grape for 24-pdr siege guns.
  • Battery L: 255 canister for 12-pdr mountain howitzers; 923 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.

And the other half of this section covers rifled projectiles:

  • Battery C: 448 Hotchkiss time fuse shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery E: 93 Hotchkiss time fuse shell for 3.80-inch James rifles.
  • Battery L: 580 Dyer’s case for 3-inch rifles; 1005 Hotchkiss time fuse shell for 3-inch rifles; 186 Hotchkiss shot and 144 Hotchkiss time fuse shell for 3.80-inch James rifles. (Apparently Battery L was managing an ammunition dump.)
  • Battery M: 343 Hotchkiss time fuse shell for 3-inch rifles.

Hotchkiss and James Projectiles on the next page:

0312_1_Snip_ILL1

The remaining Hotchkiss first:

  • Battery C: 238 percussion fuse shell, 11 bullet shell, and 252 canister for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery E: 17 percussion fuse shell for 3.80-inch James rifles.
  • Battery H: 49 canister for 20-pdr Parrott.
  • Battery L: 232 bullet shell and 268 canister for 3.80-inch rifles; and 115 percussion fuse shell and 504 canister for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery M: 232 percussion fuse shell, 409 bullet shell, and 29 canister for 3-inch rifles.

And the James columns:

  • Battery E: 50 canister for 3.80-inch James rifles.
  • Battery I: 64 shot, 214 shell, and 256 canister for 3.80-inch James rifles.
  • Battery L: 387 shot, 106 shell, and 19 canister for 3.80-inch James rifles.

Parrott and Schenkl on the next page:

0312_2_Snip_ILL1

First the Parrotts:

  • Battery A: 121 shell, 24 case, and 16 canister for 10-pdr Parrott.
  • Battery H: 163 shell, 77 case, and 17 canister for 20-pdr Parrott.

Then Schenkl:

  • Battery L: 300 shell for 3-inch rifles; and 282 shell for 3.80-inch James rifles.

On to the small arms:

0313_2_Snip_ILL1
  • Battery A: Three Colt army revolvers, thirty Colt navy revolvers, and four horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery B: Six Colt navy revolvers and two cavalry sabers.
  • Battery C: Seven Colt army revolvers, ten Colt navy revolvers, and ten cavalry sabers.
  • Battery D: Five cavalry sabers.
  • Battery E: Two cavalry sabers.
  • Battery G: Sixty .58 caliber Springfield muskets and thirteen cavalry sabers.
  • Battery I: Eleven Colt navy revolvers and three cavalry sabers.
  • Battery L: Seventeen Sharps carbines, twenty-eight Colt army revolvers, and 148 cavalry sabers.
  • Battery M: One Colt army revolver and one cavalry saber.

Lots of cartridge bags, cartridges, and fuses over the last two pages:

0314_2_Snip_ILL1
  • Battery C: 33 cartridge bags for case shot (field guns or howitzers).
  • Battery E: 161 cartridge bags for James rifles.
  • Battery G: 120 cartridge bags for 24-pdr siege guns and 2,400 musket cartridges.
  • Battery I: 515 cartridge bags for James rifles.
  • Battery L: 2,283 cartridge bags for James rifles and 765 cartridge bags for case (for 12-pdr Napoleons)
  • Battery M: 872 cartridge bags for 3-inch rifles.
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  • Battery A: 550 army caliber and 900 navy caliber pistol cartridges.
  • Battery B: 120 navy caliber pistol cartridges and 1,336 friction primers.
  • Battery C: 344 paper fuses and 275 friction primers.
  • Battery D: 500 friction primers.
  • Battery E: 1,750 friction primers and four portfires.
  • Battery G: 2,620 pounds of cannon powder and 569 friction primers.
  • Battery H: 1,410 paper fuses, 1,850 friction primers, 19 yards of slow match, and 48 portfires.
  • Battery I: 240 navy caliber pistol cartridges and 556 friction primers.
  • Battery L: 3,000 army pistol cartridges, 609 paper fuses, 4,540 friction primers, and 3,600 percussion caps (pistol).
  • Battery M: 1.096 paper fuses, 628 friction primers, 250 percussion caps (musket?), and 10 portfires.

That covers the 1st Illinois Artillery. We’ll pick up the 2nd Illinois in the next installment.

Summary Statement, 4th Quarter, 1863 – Delaware

Being a small state, Delaware did not muster a great number of formations during the war. Nine infantry regiments, a cavalry regiment, some independent companies, along with a couple batteries of artillery. Previously, we detailed what amounted to two and a half batteries of artillerymen from Delaware seeing service during the third quarter of 1863. By December 1863, that was down to an even two batteries… and even with that, only one of them was actually credited as an artillery battery doing artillery things:

0309_1_Snip_DE
  • 1st Light Battery: Reporting at Camp Barry, District of Columbia, with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  After duty in New York dealing with the draft riot crisis, the battery returned to Washington, DC in mid-September. They were assigned to the Artillery Camp of Instruction. Captain Benjamin Nields commanded (for whom the battery is often identified).  The battery remained there until February 1864, when it was dispatched to the Department of the Gulf.

Crossley’s Half-Battery of heavy artillery, a militia unit brought into service in response to the Confederate invasion of Pennsylvania, mustered out at the end of September. That leaves only Ahl’s Heavy Artillery Company, which was actually listed on the previous quarter summary, to discuss. Though listed as heavy artillery, Ahl’s company was in reality a guard force for prisoners held at Fort Delaware. Immigrants and galvanized Confederates dominated the ranks. Given the nature of Ahl’s service and assignments, I can understand the exclusion from the summaries.

Moving on to the ammunition reported, we skip past the smoothbore columns to the Hotchkiss:

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  • 1st Battery: 3 Hotchkiss time fuse shell for 3-inch rifles.
0312_1_Snip_DE
  • 1st Battery: 299 Hotchkiss percussion fuse shell, 166 Hotchiss case (bullet) shell, and 142 Hotchkiss canister for 3-inch rifles.

Moving on to the Schenkl columns:

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  • 1st Battery: 487 Schenkl case shot for 3-inch rifles.

For small arms reported:

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  • 1st Battery: Seventeen army revolvers and twenty-eight horse artillery sabers.

Now to the cartridge bags, powder, fuses, and primers:

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  • 1st Battery: 90 cartridge bags for 3-inch rifles.
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  • 1st Battery: 242 cartridges for army revolvers, 401 friction primers, 50 yards of slow match, and 140 percussion caps for pistols.

The Delaware artillerists under Niels had ample time to get their drill correct. And they would put that to good use in the following year. Their luggage would very shortly have tags for New Orleans and various river ports on the Red River and Mississippi River.

Summary Statement, 4th Quarter, 1863 – California

Working in reverse alphabetical order through the C’s, as that’s how the clerks at the Ordnance Department recorded things, we come to California. Formally speaking, no batteries from California mustered into Federal service. But as we’ve detailed in previous quarters, infantry and cavalry regiments from California received artillery to support their duties at frontier posts. And those are reflected in the summaries. Furthermore, there were a handful of militia batteries, not mustered into Federal service, but for whom we have very solid documentation to discuss. That said, here’s the California section for the fourth quarter of 1863, ending in December of that year (note that all three lines indicate receipt dates in February 1864.. prompt considering the distances involved):

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  • Company H, 3rd California Infantry: Reporting at Camp Connor, Idaho with one 12-pdr mountain howitzer. This entry line is a re-appearance of a cannon first reported in the second quarter of 1863 (being left out in the third quarter returns). I would suggest that mountain howitzer was with the company through the summer and fall. The lacking paperwork aside, Captain David Black commanded Company H. Looking through returns and CSRs, we find an annotation that “1 Mountain Howitzer turned over to Capt. Black, 3d Infy. C.V. en route to Soda Springs” in May 1863. And on May 23 of that year, Black established Camp Connor there at Soda Springs, Idaho. The larger context here is that Black’s command was part of Brigadier-General Patrick Edward Connor’s operations aimed to secure the Idaho Territory against any potential Confederate incursions. But in retrospect, was more so aimed at suppressing Indian tribes in that territory.
  • Company B, 1st Battalion California Mountaineers: At Fort Gaston, California, but with no cannon reported. Lieutenant-Colonel Stephen G. Whipple commanded this battalion, which served in the Humbolt District, in Northern California, protecting settlements from several hostile tribes in the “Two-Years War” phase of the Bald Hills Wars. This return should list at least one mountain howitzer, as one such appears in a report of action at the close of December that year. An expedition out of Fort Gaston came upon a fortified and armed group of Indians, about twenty-five miles from the post, on December 25, 1863. Whipple dispatched Captain George W. Ousley, of Company B, with a detachment and a mountain howitzer. “After the arrival of Captain Ousley [on December 26] a fire of shell was kept up as long as the ammunition lasted, doing some damage to the rancherias, but not dislodging the Indians, who had covered ways through which they passed from house to house.” While not effective in action, we can thus confirm the presence of a cannon with the battalion at that post.
  • Company C, 5th California Infantry: No location given, but with four 12-pdr mountain howitzers. Colonel George W. Bowie commanded this regiment, which served detached to several posts in the Department of New Mexico, mostly in the District of Arizona, at this time of the war. Company C, under Captain John S. Thayer, served at Mesilla, in the New Mexico Territory (though is sometimes listed as Las Cruces on some reports), protecting the approaches to El Paso. Specifically regarding the howitzers, Special Orders No. 44 from the District of Arizona Headquarters detailed, “Company C, Fifth Infantry California Volunteers, will take post at Mesilla upon the arrival at Las Cruces of Company E, same regiment. Capt. John S. Thayer, commanding Company C, will take charge of and receipt for the howitzer battery now in the hands of the acting ordnance officer, and have that company ready for efficient service with the same as soon as practicable.”

Perhaps more than I normally provide for the administrative details. But given the obscurity of service for these details, it is important to recall the context of their service.

Moving to the ammunition reported, we have smoothbore rounds to account for:

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  • Company H, 3rd California: 36 shell and 36 case for 12-pdr mountain howitzers.
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  • Company H, 3rd California: 24 canister for 12-pdr mountain howitzers.

I’ve posted all the other pages to Flickr for review. But the only sheet with any more tallies is page 7:

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  • Company H, 3rd California: 25 pounds of cannon powder.
  • Company C, 5th California Infantry: 50 pounds of cannon powder and 250 friction primers.

Before closing the book on California, we should consider the militia batteries from the state. Normally I don’t bring them up in relation to the Ordnance Summaries, as these were not active duty batteries and thus fall outside the scope of study here. But in the case of California, I find the militia service fairly well documented… and … well… interesting to a degree.

Two California militia batteries were in existence at the end of December 1863. The Washington Light Artillery of Napa, Napa County was organized on July 31, 1863, with Captain Nathan McCoombs in command. However, not until February of 1864 would Napa’s Washington Light Artillery receive arms and equipment (financed by bond). 

The National Light Artillery also formed in July 1863, but in Santa Clara County.  S. C. Houghton was named Captain after a continuous election. And rumors persisted about Confederate sentiments among the ranks. Yet, the battery was mustered into state service on October 1. This battery would not receive much support, but had a record of regular drill. I cannot determine what, if any, ordnance was issued to the battery.

Summary Statement, 4th Quarter, 1863 – Colorado

Always a bit perplexing the disregard for alphabetical order among the clerks at the Ordnance Department in 1863. But it is what you make of it. Instead of California following Alabama and Arkansas, it was Connecticut. And next Colorado.

I detailed the story of the Colorado Battery, also known as McLain’s Independent Battery, in the last quarter. Recall the battery was “un mustered” by order of the War Department in September 1863. This was justified as the battery had not been organized with official War Department authority. They had cannons. And they were using them. But they were not supposed to be a battery. However, by December, the state was given authority to raise a battery. The governor directed such shortly thereafter. Though, Captain William D. McLain’s appointment was not official until January the following year. A convoluted story that perhaps a historian with more background on the American West can better detail.

What I am allowed to focus upon, however, are two summary statement lines, indicating a battery not officially in existence was indeed in service… and serving by sections!

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  • 1st [Colorado] Light Battery: At Camp Weld, Colorado Territory, with four 12-pdr mountain howitzers. The return is posted February 5, 1864.
  • Section, [1st Colorado] Light Battery: At Denver, Colorado Territory, according to a March 23, 1864 return. No cannon indicated.

At the start of the quarter, other ranking officers of the battery were Lieutenants George S. Esyre and Horace W. Baldwin. Of course, when the “de mustering” took place, all were left without rank. Esyre was discharged at Camp Weld on October 20. His commission restored in February, he was assigned recruiting duty in Denver. Baldwin had a more “exciting” service interruption which I will touch upon in the closing. A December department return indicates 1st Sergeant William B. Moore (erroneously identified as a Lieutenant) was in command of a section then at Fort Garland.

But the main battery listing, in the department returns for December, has the headquarters at Camp Weld under a Lieutenant Chaney M. Crossitt. Crossitt was actually the Commissary Sergeant of the 1st Colorado Cavalry. Briefly, from October through December, returns have him detailed in “command” of the Colorado Battery. I would think as a practical matter, with a handful of cannon at the post it made sense to assign them to someone (and grant that someone commensurate rank with the responsibility) until this matter with the War Department was settled. So Crossitt had some cannon, even though there was no battery, administratively, at the end of December.

Those administrative details in order, somewhat, we can turn to the listing of ammunition, supplies, and small arms. I’ve posted those to Flickr, but we can skip forward to smoothbore ammunition:

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  • 1st Colorado Battery: 90 canister for 12-pdr mountain howitzers.

We can skip past all the remainder of the pages to the small arms:

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  • 1st Colorado Battery: 38 Sharps carbines, 9 Colt navy revolvers, and 76 cavalry sabers.
  • Section at Denver: 15 Springfield muskets and 8 cavalry sabers.

That was all the items reported. And we might close this post with that short summary. But I would be remiss without at least noting Horace Baldwin’s activities that October. As mentioned above, the War Department issued orders to disband the battery on September 28. Those would not arrive at Fort Garland until around October 15. And Baldwin was out in the field, having left the post on October 12 with a detachment of men accompanying the tracker / scout Thomas Tate Tobin to search for Felipe Espinosa, a rather ruthless murderer causing problems in the territory. I’ll let Baldwin’s official report lay out the “official” details:

I left Fort Garland at 11 o’clock a.m. on the 12th day of October, 1863, and proceeded up the road toward the Sangre de Cristo Pass, to a spot in the road where a man, supposed to be Espanoza, had committed certain outrages a day or two previous. Camped near this Spot the first night. Next morning we discovered the trail of the party or parties who were supposed to have committed such outrages as were known to have been committed, from the fact that two mules had been shot and one carriage burned, the remains of which were then lying in the first-mentioned spot in the road, about 18 miles from Fort Garland, Colo., on the Sangre de Cristo Creek. We followed this trail until it led us into the main traveled road, when and where we were obliged to leave it. Going again to the ruins in the road, we took a new direction, directly opposite to the one we had taken the day before. We followed along the mountains on the north side of the road until we struck the range of the Sierra Madre Mountains. Finding no signs of importance, we followed along this range in a southern direction, entering the Great Cañon at its mouth, near the main road. Here we discovered a moccasin track, which we followed a number of miles, but left it, as signs indicated that it was old and of no importance to us. Upon leaving this cañon, about 5 miles from its mouth, the trail of two men (or man and boy) was found. From signs it was evident that these persons had either led or driven two cattle along that spot not to exceed two days before. Following this trail through an almost impassable fall of dead timber a distance of about 5 miles, a number of crows were seen flying over a spot on the side of, and near the top of, a lofty mountain, indicating a camp or carrion near; two magpies were also seen flying about near this spot. Being convinced that a camp was near, I sent a few men with the horses which were being led (several men being dismounted and in advance) to the rear and behind a hill, that they might not be seen, or their heavy tramp over dead timber might not be heard, in case the object of our search should be near at hand. Thomas Tobin (guide) and 4 soldiers were in advance. The horses were scarcely out of sight, behind the hill, when a shot was fired from Tobin’s rifle, he having approached the camp and discovered a man (Mexican) sitting on a log at the spot indicated by crows, &c., and fired, wounding the man. A boy was at this time seen to run from a spot near where the man was sitting. He was instantly shot. The man, Espanoza, had dodged behind a log or logs, which had been thrown up as a sort of defense. While lying in this position behind the logs he was fired at several times by advancing party (soldiers). From this sort of defense Espanoza fired two shots at soldiers, but without effect. He then raised his body enough to be visible, when he was pierced by many balls, killing him instantly. The heads of the two dead persons were severed from the bodies and taken to our first night’s camp, on Sangre de Cristo Creek, about 18 miles from Fort Garland.
Started before daylight from this camp on morning of the 16th of October, 1863, for Fort Garland, arriving at the latter place at 9 a.m. same date. We delivered to you the heads of the two persons as soon as we arrived.

(OR, Series I, Volume XXII, Part 1, Serial 32, pages 704-5.)

Duty more befitting a US Marshal than an artillerist! The desperado was betrayed by the magpies!

Of course, upon his triumphant return, Baldwin was informed that his battery, and thus his commission, ceased to exist. So he was out of a job. But apparently he didn’t just quit the post. Later in January, Baldwin was brought up on charges. Major Jacob Downing, inspector of the district and officer of the 1st Colorado Cavalry insisted that Baldwin had served as officer of the day and performed other official duties after the date his commission was revoked. Serious charges and a court martial followed on February 20, 1864. The charges were dismissed, with witnesses including Colonel John Chivington and post commander, and 1st Colorado Infantry Commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Samuel F. Tappan speaking on Baldwin’s behalf. (And leading me to believe there was more than just a simple disagreement in play, the next day charges were brought by Tappan against Downing for insubordination…. read into it what you may.)

Baldwin returned to duty with the newly re-formed battery. And he would serve with it for the rest of the war, with breaks in service for recruiting duty.

As for the head of Espinosa? Rumor is the head was put in a jar of alcohol and displayed at different businesses around Denver. Sometime in the 20th century when a reporter sought to track it down, everyone seemed to have seen the head but nobody could cite the whereabouts. Lost to history? Or is that macabre artifact sitting in a Denver attic waiting rediscovery?

Summary Statement, 4th Quarter, 1863 – Connecticut

As of December 1863, when the fourth quarter ordnance returns came due, the small state of Connecticut had mustered and sent to war two light batteries. A third would form in the summer and fall of 1864. Furthermore, the state had two heavy artillery regiments in service. From those heavies, two batteries (or companies, if you prefer) were employed as mounted siege artillery detailed to the Army of the Potomac. These were the long serving Batteries B and M, 1st Connecticut Heavy Artillery, the last vestiges of the “siege train” originally deployed for the Peninsula Campaign. Thus, for the fourth quarter summary, we find four lines – two light batteries and two “in the field” siege batteries, reporting

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  • 1st Light Battery: On Folly Island, South Carolina, with six 3.80-inch James Rifles. Captain Alfred P. Rockwell remained in command, with the battery still assigned to Tenth Corps, Department of the South. The battery had been in reserve, on Folly Island, through most of the Morris Island campaign. And remained there during the Second Major Bombardment of Fort Sumter.
  • 2nd Light Battery: At Camp Barry, Washington, D.C., with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles. Captain John W. Sterling commanded this much traveled battery. Having seen action at Gettysburg (as one of the reserve batteries pulled out of the Washington defenses in June) and then sent to New York to suppress riots, the battery returned to Camp Barry in October. In January 1864, the battery would move again. This time by boat to New Orleans and the Department of the Gulf.
  • Battery B, 1st Heavy Artillery: At Brandy Station, Virginia, with four 4.5-inch siege rifles. Captain Albert F. Brooker commanded this battery assigned (as of the end of December) to the Second Volunteer Brigade, Artillery Reserve, Army of the Potomac. The battery was in reserve at Second Rappahannock Station. And thence went into winter quarters near Brandy Station.
  • Battery M, 1st Heavy Artillery: At Brandy Station, Virginia, with four 4.5-inch siege rifles. Also in the Second Volunteer Brigade, Captain Franklin A. Pratt’s battery participated in the action at Kelly’s Ford (November 7) and the Mine Run Campaign.

Expanding on the mention of the 1st Connecticut Heavy Artillery, the remainder of the regiment was in DeRussy’s Division, Defenses South of the Potomac, Twenty-second Corps. Colonel Henry L. Abbot commanded. Their assignment was to the Alexandria section of the line. Abbot corresponded frequently with Brigadier-General Henry Hunt in regard to artillery matters. Later, as the Overland Campaign began, the 1st Connecticut transitioned back into the army’s siege artillery and readied for use (as would be the case) around Richmond and Petersburg.

I’ll summarize the 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery here so as to save a little space when we discuss the heavy artillery at the end of the quarter. The regiment originally organized as the 19th Connecticut Infantry during the summer and fall of 1862. The regiment, still as infantry, was assigned to the defenses of Washington in September of that year. Their assignment was on the south side of the Potomac. By the fall of 1863, the 2nd was brigaded with the 1st Connecticut (above). Given the nature of their duty, the regiment’s designation changed to “heavy artillery” on November 23, 1863 (though several documents suggest the 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery designation was used during the summer of 1863). Colonel Leverett W. Wessells commanded the regiment from its formation. But in September 1863 he resigned. Lieutenant-Colonel Elisha S. Kellogg, who’d been the acting commander for much of the year, was then promoted to the colonelcy, effective January 24, 1864. Kellogg, unfortunately, would not see the end of that year. But that story, and the 2nd Connecticut’s service as one of the “heavies” fighting as infantry in the Overland Campaign, is for a later discussion.

We can skip the half-page starting the smoothbore ammunition, as no weapons of that type were reported. Turning to the rifled projectiles, we start with some Hotchkiss types on the far right of the page:

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  • 1st Battery: 80 Hotchkiss time fuse shell for 3.80-inch James.
  • Battery B: 48 Hotchkiss time fuse shell for 4.5-inch rifles.
  • Battery M: 121 Hotchkiss time fuse shell for 4.5-inch rifles.

More Hotchkiss rounds on the next page, along with one column for James projectiles:

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  • 1st Battery: 50 Hotchkiss percussion fuse shell, 360 case shot, and 190 canister for 3.80-inch rifles; AND 132 James pattern canister for 3.80-inch rifles.
  • 2nd Battery: 360 Hotchkiss percussion fuse shell and 120 canister for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery B: 40 Hotchkiss case shot for 4.5-inch rifles.

We then move all the way over to Schenkl:

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  • 1st Battery: 758 Schenkl shell for 3.80-inch rifles.
  • Battery B: 394 Schenkl shell for 4.5-inch rifles.
  • Battery M: 113 Schenkl shell for 4.5-inch rifles.

A few more on the next page:

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  • 2nd Battery: 720 Schenkl case shot for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery M: 332 Schenkl case shot for 4.5-inch rifles.

Next the small arms:

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  • 1st Battery: Seventy-seven Colt navy revolvers, nineteen cavalry sabers, and forty-six horse artillery sabers.
  • 2nd Battery: Sixteen Colt navy revolvers, twenty-five cavalry sabers, and twelve horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery B: Four Colt army revolvers, four Colt navy revolvers, eight cavalry sabers, and eight horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery M: Eight Colt army revolvers, eight cavalry sabers, eight horse artillery sabers, and one foot officers sword.

Then cartridge bags for the artillery:

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  • 1st Battery: 998 cartridge bags for 3.8-inch rifles
  • 2nd Battery: 1,300 cartridge bags for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery B: 324(?) cartridge bags for 4.5-inch rifles.
  • Battery M: 241 cartridge bags for 4.5-inch rifles.

Now the rest of the cartridges along with fuses and other items:

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  • 1st Battery: 1,550 paper fuses, 1,150 friction primers, 25 yards of slow match, and 24 portfires.
  • 2nd Battery: 1,800 friction primers.
  • Battery B: 400 navy revolver cartridges, 400 paper fuses, 1,220 friction primers, 55 yards of slow match, 400 percussion caps, and 10 portfires.
  • Battery M: 500 army revolver cartridges, 370 paper fuses, 440 friction primers, and 400 percussion caps.

That sums up the four batteries reporting for Connecticut. Twenty rifles. And a healthy amount of ammunition.