Summary Statement, 1st Quarter, 1863 – Ohio’s Independent Batteries, Part 1

Ohio designated twenty-six batteries as “independent” numbered units during the Civil War.  As with our look at the previous quarter, we’ll split those into halves to facilitate detailed discussion (… and well.. also because the section is split across two pages in the summaries!).  So the first fourteen appear as such:


With ten of those reporting:

  • 1st Battery: No report. Captain James R. McMullin commanded this battery, supporting the Third Division, Eighth Corps, and posted to Kanawha Falls, West Virginia. The battery had 3-inch Ordnance Rifles at this time.
  • 2nd Battery: Reporting at Helena, Arkansas with  two 12-pdr field howitzers and four 3.80-inch James Rifles. At the start of the winter, Captain Newton J. Smith commanded this battery assigned to Twelfth Division (later Third Division), Thirteenth Corps.  Lieutenant Augustus Beach replaced Smith near the beginning of spring.
  • 3rd Battery: At Berry’s Landing, Louisiana with two 6-pdr field guns and four 3.80-inch James Rifles.   Berry’s Landing was a placename upstream of Helena, Arkansas, not in Louisiana!  In this case, the battery was around Lake Providence at the end of winter 1863.  So it is likely there were two such placenames in use.  Was assigned to Third Division, Seventeenth Corps.  Captain William S. Williams commanding.
  • 4th Battery:  At Milliken’s Bend, Louisiana with two 12-pdr field howitzers and four 3.80-inch James Rifles.  Captain Louis Hoffmann’s battery assigned to First Divsision, Fifteenth Corps.
  • 5th Battery:  At Memphis, Tennessee with two 6-pdr field guns, two 12-pdr field howitzers, and two 3.80-inch James Rifles.  Commanded by Lieutenant Anthony B. Burton.  Briefly assigned to the Seventeenth Corps at the start of the winter months. Later, in January, moved with the rest of the division (Fourth) to Sixteenth Corps.
  • 6th  Battery:  Reporting from Murfreesboro, Tennessee with two 12-pdr Napoleons (replacing 6-pdrs) and four 10-pdr Parrotts. Captain Cullen Bradley remained in command of the battery, which was assigned to First Division, Twenty-First Corps with the reorganizations that winter.
  • 7th Battery: Memphis, Tennessee with four 3.80-inch James Rifles.  Like the 5th Battery, the 7th was briefly listed in the Seventeenth Corps until the Forth Division transferred to the Sixteenth Corps.   Captain Silas A. Burnap remained commander.
  • 8th Battery: No report.  Commanded by Captain (promoted)  James F. Putnam, this battery was assigned to Second Division, Fifteenth Corps.
  • 9th Battery: Brentwood, Tennessee (between Franklin and Nashville) with six 12-pdr Napoleons. Commanded by Captain Harrison B. York and assigned to the Reserve Corps, Army of the Cumberland.
  • 10th Battery: Lake Providence, Louisiana with four 3.80-inch James Rifles. At the start of January 1863, this battery,  under Captain Hamilton B. White, was in Sixth Division, Sixteenth Corps.  But that division moved to the Seventeenth Corps later in the month.  You need a cheat sheet to follow Grant’s old Thirteenth Corps reorganizations!
  • 11th Battery: No report. Was part of the Seventh Division, Sixteenth Corps at the start of January.  When the division transferred to the Seventeenth Corps, the battery went along. By the end of spring, Lieutenant Fletcher E. Armstrong was in command.
  • 12th Battery: At Aquia Creek, Virginia with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles. Captain Aaron C. Johnson commanded this battery assigned to the Eleventh corps.
  • 13th Battery: No report. Losing all its guns at Shiloh, this battery ceased to exist after April 1862.
  • 14th Battery: Jackson, Tennessee with two 12-pdr Napoleons and four 3-inch Ordnance rifles. The battery part of the District of Jackson (though at Lynnville, Tennessee), Thirteenth Corps at this time, under Lieutenant Homer H. Stull.

What I like about this set of batteries is the variation among gun tubes assigned.  We see some 6-pdrs and field howitzers still on hand.  A lot of James Rifles.  But the Napoleons, Parrotts, and Ordnance Rifles beginning to replace the older weapons. An interesting mix for the middle of the war.

Turning to smoothbore projectiles:


Like a canister blast pattern!

  • 2nd Battery: 41 shell, 113 case, and 77 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • 3rd Battery: 120 shot, 143 case, and 59 canister for 6-pdr field guns.
  • 4th Battery: 110 shell, 105 case, and 92 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • 5th Battery: 40 shot, 267 case, and 93 canister for 6-pdr field guns; 57 shell, 147 case, and 82 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • 6th Battery: 118 shot, 52 shell, 76 case, and 80 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • 9th Battery: 180 shot, 243 shell, 446 case, and 310 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • 14th Battery: 148 shot, 48 shell, 150 case, and 58 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.

Moving to rifled projectiles, we start with the Hotchkiss types:


We can split this page between the James Rifles (majority) and the Ordnance Rifles (two battery).  Starting with Hotchkiss projectiles for James rifles:

  • 2nd Battery: 60 shot, 127 percussion shell, and 310 fuse shell for 3.80-inch rifles.
  • 3rd Battery: 58 fuse shell for 3.80-inch rifles.
  • 4th Battery: 55 shot and 240 percussion shell for 3.80-inch rifles.
  • 7th Battery: 66 shot for 3.80-inch rifles.
  • 10th Battery: 39 shot and 71 fuse shell for 3.80-inch rifles.

Now the two batteries with Hotchkiss for 3-inch Ordnance Rifles:

  • 12th Battery: 171 percussion shell, 497 fuse shell, and 407 bullet shell in 3-inch.
  • 14th Battery: 148 canister, 160 percussion shell, 160 fuse shell, and 340 bullet shell in 3-inch.

For simplicity, let’s break the next page into batches.  Starting with some “trailing columns” of Hotchkiss and those of Dyer’s Patent:


One line for Hotckiss left:

  • 10th Battery: 389 canister for 3.80-inch rifles.

And likewise for Dyer’s:

  • 12th Battery: 120 canister for 3-inch.

Moving to the James-patent projectiles, as we would expect there are many entries:


  • 2nd Battery: 51 shot in 3.80-inch.
  • 3rd Battery: 63 shot and 210 shell in 3.80-inch.
  • 4th Battery: 170 shell in 3.80-inch.
  • 5th Battery: 55 shot, 151 shell, and 95 canister in 3.80-inch.
  • 7th Battery: 60 shell and 100 canister in 3.80-inch.
  • 10th Battery:  203 shell in 3.80-inch.

Moving to the right, one battery with Parrotts, so….


  • 6th Battery:  440 shell, 347 case, and 60 canister for 10-pdr Parrott.

Turning to the next page…


Just a few entries for Schenkl shells:

  • 3rd Battery: 122 shells for 3.80-inch.
  • 7th Battery: 320 shells for 3.80-inch.
  • 10th Battery: 176 shells for 3.80-inch.

Where we see James rifles in use, we often see Tatham’s Canister:

  • 2nd Battery: 144 canister in 3.80-inch.
  • 3rd Battery: 78 canister in 3.80-inch.
  • 4th Battery: 90 canister in 3.80-inch.
  • 7th Battery: 80 canister in 3.80-inch.

I find interesting that among these batteries with James rifles, there is a mix of shells from different patent types.  And with the canister, we see the 7th Battery reported both James’ and Tatham’s on hand – thus alluding to differences with the two types.

We close with the small arms:


By battery reporting:

  • 2nd Battery: Three Army revolvers and twelve cavalry sabers.
  • 3rd Battery: Twenty-three Army revolvers, eight cavalry sabers, and eight horse artillery sabers.
  • 4th Battery: Twenty-five Army revolvers, fifty-five cavalry sabers, six horse artillery sabers, and eighteen foot artillery sabers.
  • 5th Battery: Seven Navy revolvers and sixteen cavalry sabers.
  • 7th Battery: Ten Army revolvers and seven horse artillery sabers.
  • 9th Battery: Thirteen horse artillery sabers.
  • 10th Battery: Five Army revolvers and thirteen cavalry sabers.
  • 14th Battery: Thirty Army revolvers and thirty horse artillery sabers.

Notice the 12th Battery, posted in Virginia, reported no small arms on hand. I would expect the battery to have some arms on hand, but not many.

Fortification Friday: Splinter proof shelter, from the wartime experience

Last week, we split all manner of hairs regarding shelters within fortifications. Some of this hair-splitting had to do with nomenclature – shot proof, shell proof, and splinter proof.  And we saw that post-war writings introduced differences between facilities designated magazines and those designated shelters.  We can read into this a shift in doctrine.  Not only fortification doctrine, but also that of the practice of artillery.  After all, there existed (and still exists) a direct relationship between fortifications and artillery.

Let us focus on the splinter proof shelter for the moment.  Prior to the war, Mahan mentioned splinter proofing as a means to protect the magazine entrance.  But after the war, he introduced a structure called splinter proof shelter:

Splinter proofs for trenches and enclosed works faced with timber from eight to twelve inches in diameter, and covered with a sheeting of thick boards, and from four to six feet of earth, which are supported by uprights at the back; having a board flooring as shown in the figure, have been recently used in our field works and trenches with great benefit in the saving of life.

And the illustration provided demonstrates such as structure:


Note the dimensions of the interior of this splinter proof.  Eight feet tall at the entrance, slanting to six feet.  Shown as 3 ½ feet wide, with a plank floor.  The structure is open to the left, which would be the interior, or rear, of the line of works.  And it is partially sunk into the ground, roughly three feet deep.  The arrangement would protect the occupants from direct fire (from the right of view) and high angle fire (dropping on top).  Being partially sunk down, some protection was afforded against shells bursting behind (to the left) of the structure.  But clearly the solution balance ease of access against protection.

And notice the caption, “Shows a section of Splinter Proof used in the trenches at the Siege of Fort Wagner.”  Yes, we’ve seen this sort of structure before… many times:


Looking to a handy example, right at the top is the a-a’ profile line, working from one of the splinter proofs forward through Battery Brown to the Howitzer Battery in the Second Parallel. For cross reference, this line runs through the red oval highlighted here:


A clean look at the profile:


Looking to the left, we see a slightly more elaborate splinter proof shelter, with two supporting uprights.  But notice the Battery Brown splinter proof is at surface level, not sunk in.

Something closer to what Mahan illustrated stood just a few yards behind Battery Brown, indicated by profile d-d’:


In profile:


The walk-space is wider than on Mahan’s diagram. But the structure generally matches. We know from reading accounts from the campaign, the intent was to provide shelter for troops staged for work on the parallels.  The orientation of the trench provided protection from Confederate batteries further up on Morris Island, as well as those on James Island. The Confederate fires reaching this point of the Federal lines were typically large caliber weapons fired at higher elevations.  Though not high-angle as used with mortars, which were out of range to hit these Federal trenches, the columbiad shells arrived at an angle which would normally defeat standard parapets.  So a splinter proof provided some overhead protection.

So we see, documented with the maps, diagrams, and accounts from Morris Island, a shift in emphasis for field fortifications.  This is not to say overhead cover was not used prior to the Civil War. Nor is it to say splinter proof shelters did not appear on earlier battlefields.  What it does say is that field experience in the Civil War caused engineers to focus more attention on overhead cover, to the extent that more elaborate shelters were built.  A shift in doctrine, you see.

Keep in mind, these examples come from a field army engaged in a siege.  So field fortifications directed for offensive purposes, as opposed to defensive arrangements.  Certainly these sort of works continued to appear on Morris Island after the fall of Battery Wagner, as the Federal presence shifted more to garrison of the hard-gained foothold in front of Charleston.  But more to the point – field fortifications are “tools” that can be used for either defense or offense as the tactical situation demands.  (And thus we’ll see later “lessons” from Mahan on how to build fortifications in support of siege operations.)

Writing even later, Junius Wheeler would further refine wartime experience to suggest even more elaborate shelters, in particular using wartime experience building the defenses of Washington.  We’ll consult Wheeler’s lessons in turn… before then, we should consider another of those split hairs – shelters vs. magazines.

(Citation from Mahan, An Elementary Course of Military Engineering: Part 1: Field Fortifications, Military Mining, and Siege Operations, New York: John Wiley & Son, 1870, page 52.)


Summary Statement, 1st Quarter, 1863 – 1st Ohio Light Artillery

O-H!  I-O!  All the Buckeyes are standing up making letters with their arms now…..

Referring back to the fourth quarter, 1862 summaries, we noted the 1st Ohio Light Artillery Regiment was equipped with some of the less preferred cannons.  We also found the regiment split between the Armies of the Cumberland and Potomac:


Given the reorganizations that winter, we have dots to connect for the administrative columns:

  • Battery A: At Murfreesboro, Tennessee with two 12-pdr Napoleons and four 3.80-inch James Rifles.  According to the unit history, the battery held two 12-pdr howitzers and a pair of Napoleons through the winter months.  On March 22th, they received four new James Rifles, turning in the howitzers. Captain Wilbur F. Goodspeed resumed command during the winter.  Under reorganizations, the battery went to Second Division, Twentieth Corps, Army of the Cumberland.
  • Battery B: Reporting at Nashville, Tennessee with two 6-pdr field guns and four 3.80-inch James Rifles.  Remaining under Captain William E. Standart, this battery was part of Second Division, Twenty-First Corps, Army of the Cumberland. And as such, was actually at the forward outpost position (with the rest of the division) “up on Cripple Creek”…Tennessee.
  • Battery C: At Lavergne, Tennessee with two 12-pdr Napoleons (replacing two 6-pdr field guns from the previous report) and four 3.80-inch James Rifles. Captain Daniel K. Southwick remained commanded this battery. Under reorganizations, it was assigned to the Third Division, Fourteenth Corps.
  • Battery D: Wintering at Murfreesboro, Tennessee, with three 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  This report covered just one section, under Lieutenant Nathaniel M. Newell, with the Second Division, Cavalry Corps, Army of the Cumberland.  Captain Andrew J. Konkle was the batter commander, but his name does not appear on reports until later in the spring, with a section assigned to First Division of the same Cavalry Corps.  Konkle reported ill through the winter, leaving him unable to perform manual labor and the basis for an invalid pension claim after the war.
  • Battery E: No report. Captain Warren P. Edgarton’s battery was initially assigned to Second Division, Twentieth Corps.   This battery suffered heavily, losing its guns, at Stones River. As such, it was posted to Nashville through the winter months.  Edgarton became the artillery commander of the Nashville garrison.  Lieutenant Stephen W. Dorsey assumed command of the battery, which was later assigned to the Reserve Corps, Army of the Cumberland.
  • Battery F: No report. Lieutenant Norval Osburn assumed on the field at Stones River. Later in the winter Captain Daniel T. Cockerill recovered from his wounds and returned to command.  The battery served in Second Division, Twenty-first Corps. For the previous quarter, reporting two 12-pdr field howitzers and four 3.80-inch James Rifles. But consolidated reports indicate the battery had six 12-pdr Napoleons and five 3.80-inch James Rifles (!).
  • Battery G: At Murfreesboro with four 12-pdr Napoleons and two 3-inch Ordnance Rifles (completely re-equipped after Stones River).  Captain Alexander Marshall’s battery assigned to Second Division, Fourteenth Corps.
  • Battery H: At Falmouth, Virginia with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles. Captain James F. Huntington resumed command of this battery.  The battery supported Third Division, Third Corps, Army of the Potomac.
  • Battery I: Reporting at Stafford Court House, Virginia with six 12-pdr Napoleons. Captain Hubert Dilger’s battery were part of Third Division, Eleventh Corps.
  • Battery K: No report.  Commanded by Captain William L. De Beck, this battery supported First Division, Eleventh Corps.  I believe they were armed with 12-pdr Napoleons at this time.
  • Battery L:  At Stafford, Virginia with Six 12-pdr Napoleons. Captain Frank C. Gibbs had command of this battery, supporting Second Division, Fifth Corps.
  • Battery M: Also at Murfreesboro and reporting one 6-pdr field gun, two 3-inch steel guns, and three 3.80-inch James Rifles (considerably different from the previous quarter, but still a mixed battery).  Captain Frederick Schultz commanded this battery, assigned to Second Division, Fourteenth Corps.

Two tangents to recognize with the administrative details and cannons reported.  As mentioned before the Army of the Cumberland’s reorganization from one corps (with wings) into multiple corps caused considerable re-alignment through the winter.  Secondly, those same batteries, while not quite up to the level of those in the east, were phasing out the less efficient 6-pdr guns and 12-pdr howitzers.  The James Rifles, however, persisted.

With the winter refitting of the batteries in mind, consider the quantities and types of smoothbore ammunition reported on hand:


Excepting Batteries D and H, every reporting battery had some smoothbore ammunition on hand:

  • Battery A: 56 shot, 64 shell, 108 case, and 72 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery B: 40 canister for 6-pdr field guns.
  • Battery C: 15 shot, 42 case, and 46 canister for 6-pdr field guns; 96 shot, 32 shell, and 64 canister for 12-pdr Napoleon.
  • Battery G: 77 shot and 148 canister for 6-pdr guns; 168 shot, 64 shells, 128 case, and 64 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons; then 143 shell and 46 canister for 12-pdr howitzers.
  • Battery I: 288 shot, 96 shell, 288 case, and 96 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery L: 312 shot, 112 shell, 296 case, and 136 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery M: 64 shot, 105 case, and 27 canister for 6-pdr field guns.

So Battery B only had canister for its 6-pdrs.  Battery C retained 6-pdr ammunition, at least at the end of the quarter, after turning in two 6-pdrs.  But those are small issues compared with Battery G, which had substantial amounts of ammunition for guns it had lost earlier.

Turning to the rifled projectiles, there are first the Hotchkiss:


Two calibers to consider – 3-inch and 3.80-inch:

  • Battery A:  90 shot for 3.80-inch James.
  • Battery C: 102 shot, 379 fuse shell, and 96 bullet shell for 3.80-inch James.
  • Battery D: 54 canister and 60 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery G: 77 canister, 96 percussion shell, 120 fuse shell, and 96 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery H: 96 canister, 450 percussion shell, and 754 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery M:  56 canister, 115 percussion shell, 40 fuse shell, and 180 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles; 75 shot and 56 bullet shell for 3.80-inch James.

A couple more Hotchkiss entries on the next page, along with one for James projectiles:


The last two Hotchkiss columns:

  • Battery A: 60 Hotchkiss canister for 3.80-inch James.
  • Battery M: 94 Hotchkiss canister for 3.80-inch James.

And just one column of James-patent:

  • Battery C: 61 James shells for 3.80-inch James.

Moving to the last page of rifled projectiles:



  • Battery A: 440 Schenkl shells for 3.80-inch James.
  • Battery B: 240 Schenkl shells for 3.80-inch James.
  • Battery C: 403 Schenkl shells for 3.80-inch James.
  • Battery M:  102 Schenkl shells for 3.80-inch James.

And Tatham:

  • Battery B: 200 canister for 3.80-inch James.
  • Battery M: 42 canister for 3.80-inch James.

Lastly, we move to the small arms:


By battery:

  • Battery A: Three Navy revolvers and two cavalry sabers.
  • Battery B:  Three horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery C: Eight horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery G: Nine Navy revolvers and twelve horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery H: Twenty Army revolvers and fourty-eight horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery I: Twelve Navy revolvers and fourty-three horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery L: Eighteen Navy revolvers and thirty-seven horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery M: Seven Army revolvers and eight cavalry sabers.

Those eastern batteries seemed to carry more small arms than their western counterparts.

Aftermath of Hurricane Matthew: Forts survive storm surge; unearthed ordnance

Like many, I have monitored the news from the southeast as Hurricane Matthew over the last few days.  Friends and relatives living in and around the storm’s path all report they are fine and recovering.  The storm left behind a trail of damage and destruction, with over 300 reported deaths in Haiti alone and ten reported in the U.S.

But it could have been much worse.  The eye passed some 20 to 25 miles offshore of Tybee Island.  Later the center of the storm passed thirty miles eastward of Charleston before making landfall further up the coast near Cape Romain, not far from where Hurricane Hugo made landfall in 1989.  While Hugo was rated at category 4 when making landfall, Matthew was falling from category 2 down to 1 before reaching the coast.  Still the track covered a large section of coast from Florida to North Carolina.  As such, we see a lot of familiar place-names in news reports.

From Savannah, footage shows flooding at Fort Pulaski.  At first this appears dramatic… particularly from the view of the reporter (… who’s not yet visited the fort):


Yes, the fort is completely isolated, with a significant portion of Cockspur Island under water.  As of this writing, there are no on-site reports.  So we don’t have a full assessment.  But from this view, we can see the interior of the fort was not flooded.  A tree in the interior has fallen and the demilune is wet, but the casemates appear dry.  Relatively that is.  The video didn’t give a close view of the lighthouse further downriver.  Hopefully within a few days the water will drain off… and hopefully any damage is minor.  And this is largely due to the careful placement and construction of the fort. General Joseph Mansfield deserves much credit for the fort’s survival… 170 years after the fact!

Further up the coast, Forts Sumter and Moultrie were also within the storm’s path.  The forts closed and prepared to weather the storm:

No work as of this writing about the status of those forts.  So we are in “wait and see” mode. The storm surge crested to 9.29 feet at Fort Sumter at it’s peak.

However, Fort Sumter is in the news feeds due to a post-storm finding down the coast at Folly Island.  Erosion from the storm unearthed a pile of what appear to be shells:


Later reports added, “Authorities announced Sunday night that a number of the cannonballs were detonated by the Air Force and a small amount of them would be transported to the Naval Base.”

I don’t want to “Monday morning quarterback” here.  As I’ve said in the past, handling explosive ordnance is something we must… MUST … allow the experts to manage.  Some will offer, from a safe distance, these were fully inert.  Maybe so.  Maybe not.  “We” were not there, and don’t know all the details.  The individuals on the scene made a risk assessment and deemed action necessary.  We should accept their decision as the call to make.  All I would offer is that EOD teams, such as those called upon to respond at Folly Island, should have access to as much information on Civil War ordnance as possible to further aid their decisions.  Far better to incorporate what is known about the subject into their (EOD) policies and procedures than to openly criticize them for being cautious.  This hurricane killed at least ten here in the US.  And over 600,000 died in the Civil War.  We should not rush to add more to either grim tallies.

The value of this find was not with the actual shells themselves, but rather the context of the location. This site appears to be on the northern end of Folly Beach. Several Federal batteries stood in that area, guarding Lighthouse Inlet (and in July 1863, were used to support landings on Morris Island).  Archaeological surveys of the area have documented well some of the battery locations (as the gentleman in the video notes, the location was known by locals as a place where fortifications stood).  Hopefully this find will add to that knowledge.  Given the location, on eroded beach, it appears sufficient effort was made to document that context.  Perhaps this will spur further archaeological examinations in the area.

Fortification Friday: shot proof, bomb proof, splinter proof… those are not the same!

In the discussion of magazines thus far, I’ve contained our examination to Mahan’s pre-war instruction on the matter.  However, we should all recognize, from reading wartime reports, the use of the descriptions shot proof (shot-proof, or shotproof… you grammar enforcers need to sort out which is proper), bomb proof, and splinter proof.  Earlier, I pointed out that Mahan specifically used the term “shot proof” when defining powder magazines … in the context of field fortifications:

Powder magazines. The main objects to be attended to in a powder magazine are, to place it in the position least exposed to the enemy’s fire; to make it shot proof; and to secure the powder from moisture.

Let’s focus on these three terms (my definitions here):

  • Shot proof:  Possessing the ability to arrest or at least divert the trajectory of solid shot.  Preferably arrest the solid shot, leaving it embedded on the works or harmlessly bounced to the ground.  Ricochets were fine, but might be dangerous elsewhere in the works.
  • Bomb proof: Able to prevent damage due to shells.  Keep in mind the shell that embeds and explodes will cause more damage than one glancing off and exploding. So there are some desired properties that run contrary to the same structure being rated “shot proof.”
  • Splinter proof:  Has sufficient resistant qualities to arrest the trajectory of fragments from a shell.

Purist might also add structures designed to stop musketry.  True, but for now let us focus on that used to build magazines.  Thus we see three different … shall we say… ratings for defensive structures.  Each with different qualities and requirements.  Furthermore, prior to the war Mahan did not give much discussion about sheltering troops, equipment, or materials, other than the ammunition to be stored in magazines.

I think these are important hairs to be split.  Mahan retained the same definition for powder magazines in his post-war version of the text.  And simply repeated the same remarks about construction of such.  But, at the end of that section, he added the following:

The magazines here described, are only suited for works which are not expected to be occupied but for some weeks and are not exposed to attack of any but light field guns.  In all cases where lumber is abundant, it will be best to cover at top by a foot in thickness of pieces laid in juxtaposition, and to give a covering of at least six feet of thickness of earth on the most exposed side, and place the magazine entirely underground.

Skipping a paragraph on wartime splinter proofs (which we will return to later), Mahan proceeded to introduce by name the bomb proof magazine:

Bomb Proof Magazines. For field works of semi-permanent character which are to be indefinitely occupied, have an armament of heavy guns, and are expected to stand a siege, like the defenses around Washington for example.  The magazines, bomb, and splinter proof shelters, should be constructed of the heaviest timber, and be covered securely with earth from the assailant’s curvated and direct fire.

Notice here Mahan insists the bomb proof magazines need possess the ability to resist direct and indirect fire (which he called curvated).  And offered this figure as a suggested profile of the bomb proof:


We are going to examine this structure in more detail, but for now I want to focus attention on the front (right) side.  The diagram demonstrates as slope of 35°. On the interior side (left), we see a slope of 45°.  Thus the side not facing the enemy would retain the natural slope – that 45° slope at which the engineer would expect the pile of dirt to sustain itself against the force of gravity – while the side facing the enemy would have a gentler slope.  In fact, that front side has a slope just a bit greater than that preferred of the parapet.  This not only increased the chances of a projectile glancing off as a ricochet, but also improved the relative thickness of the magazine’s protective cover.  A World War II analogy is apt here – sloped armor of the T-34 tank as opposed to the straight sides of the Panzer IV (or early Tiger tanks).  Sloped armor… and sloped earth… is more resistant to projectiles.

Mahan does not dwell on the nature of this change.  We might easily speculate on the nature and improvement of rifled projectiles by the end of the Civil War. But I would call out another important shift in the practice of artillery fire by 1864.  That is more emphasis on indirect… curvated, if you prefer… fires.  As discussed during the sesquicentennial, the use of mortars, field artillery firing as mortars, and other forms of high-angle fire changed the battlefield.  (Though, sadly, this is a point lost on most historians who have explored the matter… as they rush to discuss rifled musketry and soldiers digging foxholes…..)

So we see one of these hairs – the differences between shot, shell, and splinter proofing – became rather important as Mahan re-assessed the practice of field fortification after the Civil War.

As to that other “hair” to split, Mahan also added, in his post war writings, a section on what he then termed bomb proof shelters.  Junius Wheeler, writing even later and when the lessons from the Franco-Prussian War were being digested, went one step further.  Wheeler actually subordinated magazines as a form of interior shelter.  Wheeler further reduced the ratings of these structures for simplicity:

Shelters. – An efficient defense of a field work is greatly aided by shelters, arranged for the men and the stores, so that the men can rest in them, and the stores be kept safe from the enemy’s fire.

Shelters are generally known as bomb-proofs, and splinter-proofs, which differ from each other only in capacity and strength.

Bomb-proofs must be strong enough to resist the effects both of the impact and the explosion of the projectiles which strike them.  They should be roomy, and when used by the men, should be well ventilated.

Splinter-proofs are so placed that they are not exposed to the impact of projectiles.  They are liable to be struck by fragments of shells, or splinters knocked off by the impact of a projectile, and are therefore made only strong enough to resist the effects of flying fragments and splinters produced by shells bursting, or by projectiles striking near them.

So now the emphasis is beyond just protecting the ammunition.  We see that emphasis expanded to include force protection!  Further demonstrating this shift, Wheeler considered magazines to be, “Shelters in which the ammunition and other stores can be placed and kept safe from the effects of the enemy’s fire….”   And also note that Wheeler collapsed shot proofing into shell proofing.

Why the shift?  Again, I say it is due in large part to changes in the practice of artillery fire.  With more use of vertical (or better labeled, high-angle) fires, the defenders had more need of overhead cover.  No longer could the defender simply hide behind a breastwork, but now had to worry about shells bursting overhead or dropping into the works.  This is not to say high-angle fires were “invented” for the Civil War.  Indeed, the mortar… nay… we can go back to trebuchets if you want… were in use centuries before the Civil War.  Rather, we see by 1864 the confluence of practice and technology (namely improved fuses) that allowed gunners to use high-angle fire with increased effectiveness.  Though… we should point out… not nearly as effectively as the gunners of 1916-18… when artillery was really the bully of the battlefield!  And… by no coincidence, it was at the same time we see the art of field fortification on display, using the French countryside as a canvas.

(Citations from Dennis Hart Mahan, A Treatise on Field Fortifications, New York: John Wiley, 1852, pages 58-9;  Mahan, An Elementary Course of Military Engineering: Part 1: Field Fortifications, Military Mining, and Siege Operations, New York: John Wiley & Son, 1870, page 52;  Junius B. Wheeler, The Elements of Field Fortifications, New York: D. Van Nostrand, 1882, pages 135-6, 139-40.)



Summary Statement, 1st Quarter, 1863 – New York Independent Batteries (Part 3)

Time to “close out” the New York Independent Battery summaries for first quarter, 1863 by looking at the last set – the 25th and higher:


Like a half empty ammunition chest!  The Ordnance Department recorded batteries numbered up to the 32nd.  And we see only the 25th, 27th, and 32nd gave returns.  So we should make short work of this set.  But since we are here… Dyer’s reminds us New York offered thirty-six of these independent batteries by war’s end.  Let’s give a full accounting of those just to round out the list:

  • 25th Battery: Reporting at New Orleans, Louisiana with four 3-inch Ordnance Rifles. Captain John A. Grow remained in command of this hard-luck battery.  Recovered from a shipwreck in transit to New Orleans, the battery went into the defenses of the city as part of the Nineteenth Corps.
  • 26th Battery: No return.  Also a shipwreck survivor!  Captain George W. Fox’s battery was also listed in the New Orleans defenses.  Very likely the battery had not been reequipped for field service by the spring of 1863.
  • 27th Battery: At Camp Barry, Washington, D.C. with four 12-pdr Napoleons.  Under Captain John B. Eaton, this relatively new battery was still training up to standards at the start of spring 1863.
  • 28th Battery: No return. This battery would spend the war at Fort Schuyler, New York.  Captain Cyprian H. Millard is listed as commander.
  • 29th Battery: No return. Formerly, Battery A, 1st New York Light Artillery Battalion. This battery was assigned to the Army of the Potomac’s Artillery Reserve, likely retaining its four 20-pdr Parrotts. Returns from the period list Lieutenant Gustav Von Blucher as commander, but Captain Otto Diedrich was listed on the battery rolls.
  • 30th Battery: No return.  Re-designation of Battery B, 1st New York Light Artillery Battalion. Also with the Artillery Reserve at this time, and also a battery with four 20-pdr Parrotts.  Captain Adolph Voegelee commanded.
  • 31st Battery: No return.  And this was old Battery C of that New York light battalion.  Also assigned four 20-pdr Parrotts.  This battery’s history is somewhat vague.  Captain Robert Langner remained battery commander. But the battery does not appear on Army of the Potomac rolls at the end of the winter.  However, the battery appears to have taken nine casualties during the Chancellorsville Campaign.
  • 32nd Battery: At Martinsburg, (West) Virginia, and reporting six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  The location is valid for the June 1864 reporting date.  Starting the spring of 1863, the battery was still with the Army of the Potomac’s Artillery Reserve. Captain Charles Kusserow gave way to Lieutenant George Gaston, temporary, at the start of spring.
  • 33rd Battery:  Not listed.  This battery would not muster until September 1863.
  • 34th Battery: Not listed. Recall, this is the re-designation for Battery L, 2nd New York Heavy.
  • 35th Battery: Not listed. Recruiting of this battery started in July 1863 but never progressed far.  Battery never formally organized and those recruited transferred to the 16th New York Heavy Artillery.
  • 36th Battery: Not listed. Another battery authorized in the summer of 1863.  And it also failed to organize.  Recruits sent to the 13th New York Heavy Artillery.

So much for administrative histories.  As you see, we should have eight returns and probably twenty-six gun tubes to discuss.  Instead, we have three returns and fourteen cannon.  Of those, only one smoothbore battery to report ammunition:


  • 27th Battery: 229 shot, 62 shell, 254 case, and 72 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.

Moving to those 3-inch rifles, Hotchkiss was issued:


  • 25th Battery: 80 canister, 60 percussion shell, 300 fuse shell, and 300 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • 32nd Battery: 120 canister, 600 percussion shell, and 480 fuse shell for 3-inch rifles.

How about Dyer’s, James’, Parrott’s, and Schenkl’s?





But there were small arms to report:


  • 25th Battery: Eighteen horse artillery sabers, perhaps saved from the shipwreck of January 9, 1863.
  • 27th Battery:  Nineteen Army revolvers, thirty cavalry sabers, and ten horse artillery sabers.
  • 32nd Battery: Nine Army revolvers, forty-four cavalry sabers, and eighteen foot artillery swords.

Thus we round out the New York Independent Batteries.  The unit’s service varied.  Some of these batteries stood at pivotal moments of the war.  Others, as we have seen from administrative accounting, were posted well out of the war.

Summary Statement, 1st Quarter, 1863 – New York Independent Batteries (Part 2)

Continuing with the first quarter, 1863 summaries for the New York Independent Batteries, the second batch consists of batteries numbered 13 to 24:


Compared to the first twelve batteries, the second set exhibits more variation in armament… just a little:

  • 13th Independent Battery: At Brook’s Station, Virginia with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  Captain  Julius Dieckmann commanded.  Battery assigned to First Division, Eleventh Corps.
  • 14th Independent Battery: No return.  As related for last quarter’s return, this was more a paper designation, which was never fully activated.  Personnel of the battery were distributed for service in other batteries at the time.  The battery  would not be officially struck until the fall of 1863.
  • 15th Battery:  Reporting at Falmouth, Virginia with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.   The battery was assigned to the Artillery Reserve, under Captain Patrick Hart.
  • 16th Battery: In Camp Barry, Washington, D.C. with six 10-pdr Parrott Rifles. Originally Dickinson’s Light Artillery, this battery was under Captain Frederick L. Hiller and posted to the Artillery Camp of Instruction.  The battery would transfer to Seventh Corps in April.
  • 17th Battery: Minor’s Hill, Virginia with six 12-pdr Napoleons.  Captain George T. Anthony’s battery was part of Abercrombie’s Division, defending Washington.
  • 18th Battery: At Opelousas, Louisiana with six 20-pdr Parrotts.  Assigned to Second Division, Nineteenth Corps at the time.  Captain Albert G. Mack retained command. The battery was around New Orleans at the start of spring 1863.  Opelousas was their location the following summer, corresponding to the report’s receipt date of August 1864.
  • 19th Battery: Another battery in Camp Barry, Washington, D.C. Reporting six 12-pdr Napoleons.   Posted to the Camp of Instruction under Captain William H. Stahl.
  • 20th Battery: No report. Captain  B. Franklin Ryer’s battery was assigned to Fort Schuyler, New York.
  • 21st Battery: Indicated at Port Hudson, Louisiana with four 3-inch steel guns. Actually, in the spring of 1863, this battery was in New Orleans, under Captain  James Barnes, on garrison duty.  I am at a loss to definitively identify the 3-inch steel guns. Perhaps, Sawyer 3-inch rifles?
  • 22nd Battery: Indicated as “Attached to Ninth Artillery.”  By February the battery became Company M, 9th New York Heavy Artillery.
  • 23rd Battery: Washington, North Carolina with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles. The redesignation from Battery A, New York Rocket Battalion was not official until February 1863. Captain Alfred Ransom was in charge of this battery, assigned to the Eighteenth Corps, Department of North Carolina.
  • 24th Battery: At Plymouth, North Carolina with six 12-pdr Napoleons. Likewise, Battery B of the Rocket Battalion was not “officially” the 24th Battery until February 1863.  This battery was under Captain J. E. Lee and was also assigned to the Eighteenth Corps.

Turning to the ammunition reported, first the smoothbore types:


All 12-pdr ammunition:

  • 17th Battery: 269 shot, 107 shell, 236 case, and 144 canister for 12-pdr Napoleon.
  • 19th Battery: 268 shot, 88 shell, 272 case, and 96 canister for 12-pdr Napoleon.
  • 24th Battery:  194 shot, 91 shell, 288 case, and 168 canister for 12-pdr Napoleon.

Notice that I am “calling” the 24th Battery’s shells as a data entry error – to be 12-pdr field gun shells, vice those for 12-pdr field howitzers.

Moving to the rifled projectiles, first the Hotchkiss:


Four batteries reporting quantities:

  • 13th Battery: 120 canister, 120 percussion shell, 340 fuse shell, and 720 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • 15th Battery: 365 percussion shell and 720 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • 21st Battery: 80 canister, 480 percussion shell, and 240 fuse shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • 23rd Battery: 197 canister, 129 percussion shell, 269 fuse shell, and 564 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.

Moving to the next page of projectiles…


Let us break this down into sections for clarity.  We find some Dyer’s projectiles reported:


One entry:

  • 15th Battery: 120 Dyer’s canister for 3-inch rifles.

And over to the Parrott columns:


Two lines here:

  • 16th Battery: 456 shell, 625 case, and 135 canister, of Parrott-type, for 10-pdr Parrott rifles.
  • 18th Battery: 302 shell, 336 case, and 308 canister, Parrott patent, for 20-pdr Parrott rifles.

And one column on this page for Schenkl, but let us combine that line with those on the next page:


Just one battery reporting Schenkl:

  • 18th Battery: 100 Schenkl shot and 230 Schenkl shell for 3.67-inch bore, which corresponds to 20-pdr Parrotts.

Moving lastly to the small arms:


By battery:

  • 13th Battery: Fifteen Navy revolvers and twenty-five horse artillery sabers.
  • 15th Battery: Eighteen Navy revolvers and sixteen cavalry sabers.
  • 16th Battery: Fourteen Army revolvers and twenty horse artillery sabers.
  • 17th Battery: Twenty Army revolvers and thirty (?) horse artillery sabers.
  • 18th Battery: Four Springfield .58 caliber rifles, three Army revolvers, and twelve horse artillery sabers.
  • 19th Battery: Twenty Army revolvers and fifty horse artillery sabers.
  • 21st Battery: Eighteen Army revolvers and eighteen horse artillery sabers.
  • 23rd Battery: Sixty Army revolvers and seventy-five cavalry sabers.
  • 24th Battery: Fifty-three Army revolvers.

So we find those former rocket batteries assigned to North Carolina with a larger quantity of small arms than expected.  Might be a reflection of the unit’s previous organization.  Might be due to the assigned garrison duties.

Next we will look at the last set of these New York Independent Batteries, 25th and above.