6-pdrs from Liège – A walk-around

Earlier I introduced this fine bronze cannon and it’s peculiar origin:

Vacation23 102

This cannon represents the 8th Indiana Battery at Chickamauga.  Let’s do a formal walk around this Belgian cannon, noting the features and markings.  As mentioned in the earlier post, the intent was to use this cannon to test European metal within an American pattern.  So the exterior form is very much “American”:

Vacation23 098

We see a slight muzzle swell, chase ring, a single reinforce extending just past the trunnions, a base ring, then a simple cascabel at the breech.  One could easily mistake this cannon for a 6-pdr Model 1841 Field Gun.

Looking close to the muzzle:

Vacation23 099

From the face, there is a simple cavetto and a fillet to join with the muzzle swell.  The chase ring is a full astragal with fillets on each side.  No other adorning features.

The trunnions themselves are simple forms also.  That on the right has no markings:

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Turing to the left side, there are markings to interpret:

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“No. 1 // 369 K”  The top line indicates this was the first of the set.  The second line may indicate the weight – 369 kg = 813.5 pounds.  Perhaps?  But that would put the 6-pdr about 65 pounds lighter than a Model 1841 of the same caliber. But close to the weight of a Model 1840 6-pdr.

Or 369 K might refer to a foundry sequence number?  There’s more markings to consider.

Normally on American weapons of this period, we’d find the weight stamped on the breech face, below the knob:

Vacation23 092

A little hard to read, but this stamp is 889.  That number, in pounds, conforms to the weight of a standard Model 1841 6-pdr.  Keep both these stampings (left trunnion and breech face) in mind when we look at the second Belgian gun.

We already discussed the nice label atop the base ring “Liège 1841”:

Vacation23 091

This is very much European in look.  Note also the vent, which is bouched.

We also looked at the muzzle in the earlier post:

Vacation23 095

No so much a “brag” here, as many guns would fire eight times that number during the Civil War.  “Fired.1000.Rounds. // 1842” was, I think, intended to mark this gun as the control example in testing.  After all, 1000 rounds was not a full life-cycle test.  That in mind, the bore diameter measures 93 mm, or 3.66142 inches. Giving allowances for my field measures and such, that’s very close to the standard 6-pdr bore specifications.

Moving to the other surviving example, on the north end of the Chickamauga battlefield, representing Douglas’s Texas Battery:

Vacation23 023

Again, a familiar exterior form.

This example has no markings on the muzzle face:

Vacation23 028

And about that muzzle, I measure it at 98 mm in diameter, or 3.85 inches.  And that is what we might expect for a cannon subjected to a great number of test fires.  The bore, however, is relatively smooth:

Vacation23 029

Looking aside from the mud-dauber nest and the bottle seated in the chamber, there’s not a lot of scratches.  Though the stress lines give the appearance of use.

The left trunnion has markings:

Vacation23 036

“No. 4 // 370 K”   The first, of course, indicates this was the last of the set purchased in Belgium.  And 370 kg would be 815.7 pounds.  Again, closer to the Model 1840, which would be the pattern in hand when the board was in Belgium, than the Model 1841.

But what about the breech face, is it stamped? Vacation23 035

Yes.  But it reads “1063”.   And that is NOT the weight of the piece.  So “might be” and “could be” on the stampings.

The base ring on No. 4 has the same label as the first gun:

Vacation23 040

However, note the vent.  This vent was cleared after what appears to be a lot of wear.

I didn’t have my full field kit in hand when visiting these guns.  So I didn’t get a chance to take overall measurements.  However, conveniently sited next to No. 4 is a standard Model 1841 6-pdr, registry number 146, cast by Ames in 1844:

Vacation23 048

The base ring sits directly atop the elevating screw.  The same as on the Belgian cannons.  These National Park Service reproduction carriages tend to be very uniform in dimensions.  So my first inclination is the Belgian guns match the Model 1841 in terms of length.  At least from the trunnions to base ring.

But if we go with the trunnion stamp as the weight in kilograms?  Hard to reconcile that with the dimensions.  One of these days I’ll return to the Belgian guns to give an exact number on the dimensions.  (Or perhaps a reader with a tape measure might save me the trip!)  And that might help discriminate the stampings.

Questions of weight and dimensions aside, there are two of the four Belgian bronze guns surviving – number 1 and number 4.   If we accept No. 1 as the “control” for experiments on endurance…. and No. 4, with all that bore wear, as subjected to substantial firings… then might we suppose No. 2 and No. 3 were destroyed in the process?

Though I’ve never run across a formal report of testing for these Belgian guns, I do know William Wade used the results in other experiments.  And for the next few years Wade would work to perfect the alloying process for bronze and other fine points of casting.  The result that played out on battlefields of the Mexican-American War.  Then later the Civil War.

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Summary Statement, 2nd Quarter, 1863 – New York Independent Batteries, Part 1

In addition to batteries within the regimental formations, the state of New York provided thirty-six independent batteries during the course of the Civil War.  That number is somewhat misleading, as some of those independent batteries were simply re-designations of existing batteries; some were later re-designated within the regimental formation; others mustered out when their time came and were not replaced; or never completed organization. But, the clerks in Ordnance Department had to track those as lines for accounting purposes.  By June 1863, there were thirty-two of those independent batteries to account for:

0209_1_Snip_NY_IND_All

Plus three lines of “other” detachments.  I’ll break these down in groups of twelve, to allow proper examination.  So the first twelve look like this:

0209_1_Snip_NY_IND_Pt1

Four of those twelve did not have a return on file:

  • 1st Independent Battery: At Warrenton, Virginia with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles. The location probably reflected the August reporting date.  Captain Andrew Cowan remained in command of the battery, assigned to Sixth Corps, Army of the Potomac.  On June 30, the battery was at Manchester, Maryland, with a long march toward Gettysburg in their immediate future.  On July 3, Cowan’s battery helped repulse Pickett’s charge, firing their last canister – double canister, that was – at 20 yards.
  • 2nd Independent Battery:  No return.  The battery mustered out, in New York, on June 13, 1863.  Captain Hermann Jahn was last in command. The men with time left on their enlistments transferred to Battery I, 1st New York.  A reorganized 2nd Independent was authorized, but instead was made part of the 15th New York Heavy Artillery.
  • 3rd Independent Battery: At Manchester, Maryland  with six 10-pdr Parrotts. The battery was part of Sixth Corps, under Lieutenant William A. Harn.  The battery saw less action at Gettysburg than Cowan’s, being positioned along the Taneytown Road.
  • 4th Independent Battery: No return.  Captain James E. Smith’s battery had six 10-pdr Parrotts when placed in defense of the Devil’s Den on July 2.   They were, of course, assigned to Third Corps. We are familiar with the 4th, thanks to their stand at the Devil’s Den at Gettysburg, and know they had six 10-pdr Parrotts.  By the end of the day, the battery would have only three of those Parrotts (and one was on a disabled carriage).  Smith reported firing 240 rounds during the battle.
  • 5th Independent Battery: At Warrenton Junction, Virginia (reflecting the August report date) with six 20-pdr Parrotts (increased from four over last quarter’s report).  This was Captain Elijah D. Taft’s battery in the Army of the Potomac’s Artillery Reserve.  And as such was near Taneytown, Maryland on June 30.  Taft’s battery went into action defending the cemetery on Cemetery Hill.  In the action, the battery had one Parrott burst, while expending 80 Schenkl percussion shell, 63 Schenkl combination-fuse shrapnel, 32 Parrott shell, and 382 Parrott shrapnel.
  • 6th Independent Battery: “In the field” and with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles. Captain Joseph W. Martin held command of this battery, assigned to the First Brigade, Horse Artillery, Army of the Potomac.  Martin’s battery lost three guns on the field at Brandy Station.  After that battle, the battery was sent to Washington for refitting.  Rejoining the army on June 28, the battery had a full complement of guns.  A remarkable testament to the depth of Federal logistics at this time of the war.
  • 7th Independent Battery: At Norfolk, Virginia with three 12-pdr Napoleons (added during the quarter) and six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles. Captain Peter C. Regan’s battery supported the Seventh Corps.
  • 8th Independent Battery: At Fort Keyes, Virginia with  six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  Captain Butler Fitch commanded this battery.  In the previous quarter, the battery reported at Yorktown.  The Fort Keyes assignment indicates it moved across the York River to Gloucester Point.
  • 9th Independent Battery: Fort Reno, District of Columbia, with only infantry stores. Captain Emil Schubert remained in command.  Battery assigned to the Twenty-Second Corps, defending Washington.  As indicated, the battery was not equipped as light artillery.
  • 10th Independent Battery: Marked “not in service.”  In May, the battery transferred from Third Corps to the Artillery Reserve, Army of the Potomac. And in June, the battery was sent to Washington.  Members of the battery were transferred to four different batteries, none of which were from New York.  Captain John T. Bruen remained commander, but was absent for much of May.  Lieutenant Samuel Lewis was listed in command through early June.  Then Lieutenant Charles T. Bruen picked up the assignment.  For all practical purposes, the 10th Battery was “cross leveled” to bring other batteries up to strength.
  • 11th Independent Battery: No return and dittos for “not in service.” This battery moved from the Third Corps to the Fourth Brigade, Artillery Reserve in May 1863.  On, or about June 16, what remained of the battery was attached to Battery K, 1st New York Light.  Not until the end of the year was the 11th Battery brought up to strength.  Captain John E. Burton was, on the rolls at least, in command.
  • 12th Independent Battery: At Bealton, Virginia reporting six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles (an increase from four reported the previous quarter). The location reflects a September reporting date, by which time the battery had not only moved, but also changed organizational assignments.  As of June 30, the battery was at Camp Barry, Washington, D.C. Later in the summer, the battery transferred to Third Corps.  Captain George F. McKnight remained in command.

So five of the twelve were directly involved with the Gettysburg Campaign.  Two other batteries had attachments at Gettysburg.

Moving to the ammunition, we start with the smoothbore:

0211_1_Snip_NY_IND_Pt1

Only one battery had Napoleons, and we see their chests accounted for here.  But what of the other line?

  • 5th Battery: 96 canister for 6-pdr.
  • 7th Battery: 57 shot, 46 shell, 89 case, and 65 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.

Taft’s Battery had 20-pdr Parrotts, with a bore diameter of 3.67-inch, which is the same as a 6-pdr smoothbore.  However, in an otherwise detailed report for Gettysburg, Taft does not mention the use of that ammunition type.  So, was this reflective of Taft receiving, after Gettysburg, some 6-pdr stocks?   Or did he take 6-pdr canister to Gettysburg?  We also cannot rule out clerical error (at the battery or in Washington)… or for that matter that someone in the battery mistakenly identified Parrott canister as smoothbore type (hard to imagine… but a possibility).

Turning to the rifled projectiles, the Hotchkiss rounds are well represented:

0211_2_Snip_NY_IND_Pt1

  • 1st Battery: 126 canister, 7 percussion shell, 3 fuse shell, and 456 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • 6th Battery: 93 canister, 10 fuse shell, and 128 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • 7th Battery: 152 canister, 64 percussion shell, 239 fuse shell, and 675 bullet shells for 3-inch rifles.
  • 8th Battery: 66 canister for 3-inch rifles.
  • 12th Battery: 60 canister, 65 percussion shell, 126 fuse shell, and 366(?) bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.

And as with many of these reports for the second quarter, we have to ask if these are quantities reported strictly “as of June 30″…. or at a time when the officers got around to doing the paperwork.  Those numbers could tell us about the battery’s state prior to Gettysburg, or just after, as the case may be. There isn’t a way to say for sure.

Breaking the next page down by section for easier handling, we turn to Dyer’s projectiles:

0212_1A_Snip_NY_IND_Pt1

Three batteries with that type on hand:

  • 1st Battery: 571 Dyer’s Shrapnel in 3-inch rifle caliber.
  • 5th Battery: 4 Dyer’s Shrapnel in 3-inch rifle caliber.
  • 8th Battery: 369 shell, 650 shrapnel, and 109 canister, Dyer’s patent, for 3-inch rifles.

I cannot explain why 5th Battery would need 3-inch shrapnel.  Perhaps a transcription error.

Moving to the right, Parrott projectiles:

0212_1B_Snip_NY_IND_Pt1

Two batteries reporting:

  • 3rd Battery: 490 shell, 490 case, and 177 canister for 10-pdr Parrotts.
  • 5th Battery: 46 shell and 138 case for 20-pdr Parrotts.

Of course, missing, as their return was not recorded, is 4th Battery.  Would be interesting to account for what Smith’s Battery took into action on July 2, compared to what was on hand July 3… or later when replenished.

Last of the ammunition columns, the Schenkl projectiles:

0212_2_Snip_NY_IND_Pt1

A lot of lone entries:

  • 1st Battery: 37 shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • 3rd Battery: 67 shell for 10-pdr Parrotts.
  • 5th Battery: 84 shell for 20pdr Parrotts.
  • 6th Battery: 654 shell for 20-pdr Parrotts.  Yes, 20-pdr.
  • 8th Battery: 45 shell for 3-inch rifles.

The entry for 6th Battery may be a transcription error, just one column over from where it should be.

And the final section covers the small arms:

0212_3_Snip_NY_IND_Pt1

By battery:

  • 1st Battery: Thirty-one Navy revolvers and twelve horse artillery sabers.
  • 3rd Battery: Four Navy revolvers and ten cavalry sabers.
  • 5th Battery: Twenty-five Army revolvers and twenty-one horse artillery sabers.
  • 6th Battery: 131 Navy revolvers and ten cavalry sabers.
  • 7th Battery: Eighteen Navy revolvers and twenty-six horse artillery sabers.
  • 8th Battery: Thirteen Navy revolvers and twelve horse artillery sabers.
  • 12th Battery: Twenty-eight Army revolvers and twenty-nine horse artillery sabers.

The first dozen independent batteries served in the Eastern Theater, with close association with the Army of the Potomac.  The next dozen, from the 13th to 24th Independent, saw much more diverse service.  We’ll look at those next.

 

Command and Control going into the West Woods, September 17, 1862

About a year ago I posted about the nature of generalship and how that trait is, properly, assessed.  For the military professional, generalship means exercising command and control of a military unit.  Under my personal definition, I throw in a third skill to exercise – management.  But for today let’s just focus on the two “C’s” that most professional sources mention – command and control.   These two are often confused, conflated, and mashed into one when discussing generalship in historical terms. No more so than with the study of the Civil War.

So let’s lean back on the definitions.  First, command:

Command is the authority that a commander in the armed forces lawfully exercises over subordinates by virtue of rank or assignment.

There is, of course, more to it than this one sentence.  Please consult the earlier post for the full context.  In particular consider the three key elements of command – authority, decision making, and leadership.  In brief, command is the commander’s “charge”… that body of military force that he is responsible for… to include the responsibility of appropriate use.  We might say that command is an assignment.

Control, on the other hand:

… control is the regulation of forces and battlefield operating systems to accomplish the mission in accordance with the commander’s intent.

The important elements of control are information, communication, and structure.  Again, the nuances and details of each of these elements is important, so please consult that earlier post as to how each is defined.  Control is more so exercised. The measure of control may be quantified as the amount of the battle a commander can influence.

But these two have a dependent relationship – commanders can only command what they can control.  And commanders can only control what they can command.  Somewhere there is a Venn diagram waiting to be drawn…..

Turning to the battlefield, there is a ready example of the nature of command and control… with an anniversary just around the corner.   Consider Major-General John Sedgwick’s divisional attack into the West Woods at Antietam, on the morning of September 17, 1862.  Sedgwick was in Second Corps, under Major-General Edwin V. Sumner.  Sedgwick commanded three brigades that morning:

  • 1st Brigade, Brigadier-General Willis Gorman with 15th Massachusetts, 1st Minnesota, 34th New York, and 82nd New York (and a couple companies of sharpshooters).
  • 2nd Brigade, Brigadier-General Oliver O. Howard with 69th, 71st, 72nd, and 106th Pennsylvania.
  • 3rd Brigade, Brigadier-General Napoleon J.T. Dana, with 19th and 20th Massachusetts, 42nd and 59th New York, and 7th Michigan.

And… of course Battery A, 1st Rhode Island and Battery I, 1st US Artillery… but they would not be part of the infantry formation going into the West Woods.

Sumner and Sedgwick chose a common attack formation with the division in a column of brigades in line of battle.  Something like this “wire frame”:

 

Formation1

Generally, that is, with the line of march to the left of view.  (If any of you Antietam experts find where I’ve put a regiment out of order, let me know.)  Gorman’s brigade up front.  Dana’s brigade, with five regiments, followed.  Then Howard’s with four larger regiments (in terms of men) trailed. Let’s add to graphics to depict the layers of command and the control exercised at each layer.

First, Sumner at the corps level:

Sumner

The red arrow depicts Sumner’s command, through Sedgwick, of the entire formation.  Yes, Sumner had the authority to go all the way down to an individual private in his command. But he would normally work through his subordinates, in this case Sedgwick.  Plus, you’d have a really messy diagram with red arrows down to each individual regiment.  Keep in mind, Sumner had two other divisions under his command.  So imagine a couple more arrows pointing off the diagram.  Brigadier-General William French and Major-General Israel Richardson were, in many ways, out of the picture.

Sumner’s control was likewise exercised through Sedgwick, depicted here with a green oval. Sumner’s ability to control the situation was limited to what decisions and information he could communicate directly to subordinates, chiefly Sedgwick.  His “reach” extended only to how far Sumner could be heard, or extended by way of messengers.  Sumner, himself, moved forward when the fighting started, in some cases giving direct orders to brigades and regiments.  So his influenced extended very far forward.

But, that brings up French and Richardson again.  Some would argue that Sumner was unable to control those divisions to the extent the situation demanded, because “Bull Head” was not in a place to make his voice heard to them.

Sedgwick’s situation was a bit cleaner:

Sedgwick

All of Sedgwick’s subordinates were in front of him.  And we can assume Sedgwick did move about the formation to exercise control.  Indeed, he was severely wounded while doing just that!  But we still have the constraint that his “reach” is the sound of his voice, extended by way of messengers.  However, at the division level, that constraint was manageable.  Orders to a brigade commander might take five or ten minutes to pass.  The time taken for the brigade to execute those orders might take twice as much time off the clock.

For the brigade commanders, consider Howard:

Howard

 

Then Gorman:

 

Gorman

The red arrows are almost always within the green oval.  While not every single private in the brigade could hear the general, control was manageable by voice and messenger.  …. Well at least in the formation as it stepped out.  This will change.  Consider the actual “on the field” arrangements and how much space this division took up on the battlefield.  A visual, from the field, if I may:

Antietam 154 003

This is a panoramic photo taken at the 154th anniversary of the battle.  The rangers arranged the visitors to represent different regiments. Then aligned everyone in the brigade formations.  You’ll see some flags for the center of selected regiments.  I was standing in front of Dana’s brigade to take this photo.  The main point to stress was just how much distance those orders had to travel.  And yes, the brigade commanders would be mounted and move around the formation to best exercise control. Still, the time required to relate an order, be that in person or by messenger, was minutes.  And that must be balanced against the time needed to move a regiment, or battalion, or company.  At the brigade level, some changes – say a refuse to meet an enemy thrust, or a well timed charge – required quick responses.

Keep in mind, control is not just exercised simply by riding around barking orders.  Control also involves gathering and assimilating information.  And at that day and age, most of the intelligence presented to the commander came from his own eyes…. And, yes, you will need to use the zoom features on that pano photo to see the flags… get that inference?

And once the firing started, those formations would not remain so well dressed and orderly.  Turning to the Antietam map sets, consider the command and control problem facing Gorman with his brigade engaged:

GormanMap

A color switch to adapt to the map here – the commander’s name in “neon blue” so it stands out.  Green is the range of control, give or take, for our consideration.  And the light blue lines depict the command arrangements.  Gorman had three regiments close at hand, but the 34th New York was off on it’s own.  Days later, Colonel James Suiter, commanding the 34th, could only report, “For some cause to me unknown, I had become detached from my brigade….”  Thus we have to consider the area of influence exercised by Gorman as well as Suiter.  And in this case, we also have to consider what Gorman and Suiter could see, assimilate as information, and thus use when making decisions.

Dana’s brigade appears more intact on the map:

DanaMap

But this is deceptive.  As his brigade moved up, Dana noticed Confederate movements and called an “audible” in response.

There was no time to wait for orders; the flanking force, whatever it was, was advancing its fire too rapidly on my left.  I permitted the three right regiments to move on, but broke off the Forty-second New York Volunteers, with orders to change front to the left and meet the attack….

I’d highlight two points from this passage. First, the situation called for immediate decisions, orders, and movements.  Dana could not wait for Sumner’s command and control to reach down through Sedgwick.  It was hard enough just to get his own command and control through to the 42nd New York!

Second, writing that passage two weeks after the battle in his after-action report, Dana still had no idea what hit him from the woods.  Only decades later, did the likes of Ezra Carmen piece the situation together.  (And one might argue even more study is still needed!)  Part of control, by way of handling information, is forming a common operating picture.  Where that common operating picture is ill defined, the commander has trouble making sound decisions.  Such makes those green ovals a little smaller, or perhaps a shade dimmer.

Howard, however, had it really bad:

HowardMap

By the map, there is no brigade formation.  Of course, the reports speak of “good order” and such.  As with Dana’s description, the full story would begin to unfold decades later as the veterans re-told their stories.  Add to that another twist – shuffling command under fire.  When Sedgwick was taken from the field, Howard assumed command of the division.  In Howard’s place, Colonel Joshua T. Owen, 69th Pennsylvania, assumed command of the brigade.

Sumner was in this fight and taking personal command.  But how much could Sumner control?   Howard added an interesting remark in his after action report:

Nearly the whole of the first line in good order stood and fired some 30 or 40 rounds per man, when word came that the left of our division had been completely turned by the enemy, and  the order was given by General Sumner in person to change the position of the third line.  He afterward indicated to me the point where the stand was to be made, where he wished to repel a force of the enemy already in our rear.  The noise of musketry and artillery was so great that I judged more by the gestures of the general as to the disposition he wished me to make than by the orders that reached my ears.

Emphasis mine.

In this short paragraph we have a glimpse of how command and control played out in combat during the Civil War.  “Word came down” about a threat.  Orders were given “in person.”  And those exact orders were not audible even to someone in close proximity! Gestures.  That’s how command and control was accomplished that day!

When examining the fighting in the West Woods – especially after the problems of command and control are laid out – the natural question arises:  Did the division take a bad formation into battle?

Perhaps.  And this question takes us into the “management” component that I alluded to in the opening.  As we have seen from the “wire frames,” maps, and some after action reports, when the division was under fire there were limitations on control.  An “armchair general” case might be made for having the brigades formed with regiments, in battle formation, stacked in column, with a three brigade front.  That would have allowed each commander to “fight” a narrow brigade sector.

But…. that also means the commanders would be working in a “stove pipe” without much influence on what happened outside of a regimental front.  And how much combat power would then be stacked up waiting for the order to commit?

A similar situation faced the Marines who assaulted Tarawa on November 20, 1943.  There, the 2nd Marine Division attacked, with an initial force of three regiments, landing abreast.

tarawa1

Inside those regiments were battalion landings, essentially in successive lines. If I “wire framed” the formation, it would look a lot like the opposite of Sedgwick’s.  Command and control faced serious problems that day too.  Though I would point out Major Generals Holland M. Smith and Julian C. Smith selected the formation for good reasons, based on an incomplete assessment of Japanese defenses and other factors.  The same qualifier can be used with respect to Sumner and Sedgwick selecting a formation on September 17, 1862.

Bottom line, there is no “one way” to assault into woods or across a hostile beach held by an unknown force.  The textbooks and manuals are not written that way.  Instead, the military professional has to study the situations and events of the past, looking for lessons that might apply to future scenarios.

(Citations from OR, Series I, Volume 19, Part I, Serial 27, pages 306, 316, and 320.)

Summary Statement, 2nd Quarter, 1863 – 3rd New York Cavalry, Allis’s… NOT Allee’s… Howitzers!

Sometimes, even Frederick H. Dyer stands need of correction.  Or at least a small adjustment.

Just below the 3rd New York Artillery’s battery summaries for the second quarter, 1863, there is a lonely line:

0201_1_Snip_NYAllis

  • Section, Attached to 3rd Cavalry: At New Berne, North Carolina with two 12-pdr mountain howitzers.

If we consult Dyer’s Compendium we find a listing:

Allee’s Howitzer Battery

Attached to 3rd New York Cavalry (which see)

Consulting the entry for the 3rd New York Cavalry, we see no mention of the howitzer battery.  And that is normal where a section (or battery) served as an integral component of the parent unit.

In the past, I’ve normally just accepted Dyer’s designation.  You’ll see that in entries for the summaries of fourth quarter, 1862 and first quarter, 1863.  But since this entry stands alone for the second quarter, I thought it convenient to pause and provide a more detailed study of this particular unit.

So who was this Allee that commanded this howitzer battery?

Well… the roster of the 3rd New York Cavalry has no record of an officer named Allee.  In fact, there was no soldier in the regiment by that name.  And there are no references, primary or secondary, that would reconcile the name “Allee” to the regiment.  Rather hard for a person to command a battery if there were not IN the unit!

So who should we be looking for?  Consulting New York State Military Museum’s website (an excellent on-line resource that should be in your bookmarks), specifically a collection of newspaper clippings that reference the 3rd New York Cavalry, we find this entry, discussing Brigadier-General Edward Potter’s July 1863 raid on Greenville, Tarboro, and Rocky Mount (emphasis mine):

We had a most delightful passage from New York and arrived at Newbern on Tuesday evening, 21st inst. I found the city of Newbern quiet and pleasant as ever, although … had gone out early Saturday morning, under the command of that most efficient and gallant officer, Brigadier General Potter, Chief of Staff to General Foster. The troops for the expedition comprised two battalions of the 3d N. Y. cavalry, commanded by Majors Cole and Jacobs; one company of the 1st N. C. cavalry, Lieut. Graham, and one battalion of the 12th N. Y. cavalry, Major Clarkston; two sections of 12 pound howitzers, Lieut. Allis, and one section of flying artillery from the 3d N. Y. regiment, commanded by Lieut. Clark. The cavalry was all under the command of Lieut. Col. Lewis, of the 3d N. Y. cavalry.

And there WAS a Lieutenant James A. Allis with the 3rd New York Cavalry.  And he was detached to artillery service, according to his state muster records:

James_Allis_Muster_2

Note the the remarks.  “… On detached service comd’g artillery detachment since Jan 1/63…” THIS is the commander, and the name, that we need to close the loop.  Very possible that Dyer transcribed the name incorrectly.  However, my wife pointed out that “Allis” is likely a name of Norman-French origin.  If that is the case, it would be pronounced somewhat like “Alee” or such.  So Dyer might have worked from a source that spelled Allis as it sounded.  At any rate, I am pretty sure we can match “Allee’s Battery” to “Allis’s Section” in this case.  Those are the howitzers were are talking about!

James A. Allis was born in Cazenovia, New York (Madison County), on September 17, 1840 to Elijah and Diantha Allis.  His family moved to Syracuse, as he appears there in the 1855 state census, aged 14.  The 1860 census has a 19 year-old James A. Allis, from New York, as a teacher in Joliet, Illinois.  Not for sure this is the same person, but certainly matches with some particulars.

Turning to his muster records:

James_Allis_Muster_1

Allis enlisted in what would be come the 3rd New York Volunteer Cavalry on August 3, 1861 in Syracuse as a sergeant in Company I. The remarks indicate he was born in Syracuse (vice Cazenovia), was 5 foot, 7 ½ inches tall, black eyes (!), and brown hair.

He was promoted to First Sergeant on October 8.  And then this “fast mover” was promoted to First Lieutenant on December 31st to close out the year.   (And a side note, the 3rd New York Cavalry was involved through that time in operations on the upper Potomac, to include Balls Bluff and Edwards Ferry in October … thus he was in my neck of the woods for a while.)

In April 1862, the 3rd New York transferred to the Department of North Carolina.  On May 30,  Allis led a detail of 15 men out of Washington, North Carolina on a reconnaissance mission.  At Trantor’s Creek, about eight miles out of the perimeter, the detail encountered a Confederate patrol.  Allis left a detail to secure the bridge at the creek and took up pursuit.  “Finding himself surrounded by a large body of infantry concealed in the woods,” Captain George Jocknick, commanding Company I reported, “Lieutenant Allis gallantly cut his way through the crowd, and returned here with his command about noon, with only one man–Private Ogden Harrison–badly wounded and 2 horses killed.”   In short, Allis got himself into trouble, but smartly… and aggressively…  extracted himself.   On the heels of that action, Allis received promotion to First Lieutenant. Clearly an officer held in high regard.

I’m not sure when the 3rd New York Cavalry came into possession of the mountain howitzers.  In December, that section was associated with Allis as part of the expedition to Goldsborough.  Captain Newton Hall, commanding the troops from the 3rd New York on that operation, wrote “I must not neglect to mention Lieutenant Allis and his howitzer, which was always ready when wanted, and did us good service at White Hall.”  In March the section supported another expedition out of New Bern.   On May 20-23, the section was involved with a demonstration towards Kinston.   June 17-18, Allis’s section was taken along for a scout to Core Creek.  The section was again called upon in the first week of July to support a raid on the Wilmington & Weldon Railroad.  Later in the month, the battery was part of the expedition toward Rocky Mount mentioned above.

In December 1863, the 3rd New York Cavalry transferred to Newport News, where they became involved with operations against Richmond and Petersburg.  And around that time, Allis appears to have left the howitzers (either the section was turned in, or at least Allis was given other duties).  Allis continued as a lieutenant for Company F and later Company G.  With his initial enlistment complete in the summer of 1864, Allis reenlisted as a captain, in Company C, in July 1864.  However, by that time Allis was working as an aide and staff officer.  In correspondence with Lieutenant-General U.S. Grant, Major General E.O.C. Ord describes Allis as “the best [cavalry] officer I have…” … though it is hard to ascertain the full context, as Ord was speaking from a position of want in regard to proper cavalry!  Still a high accolade, when mentioned between such very high ranking officers.

After the war, Allis returned to Syracuse.  In the 1875 state census, Allis lived with his brother, practicing law.  Around that time, James Allis married Ellen Moore.  The couple had one boy child die in infancy.  But then were blessed with three girls – Olive, Mable, and Ida.  The 1910 census indicated James, still in Syracuse, worked as an equipment clerk.  His three daughters, by then aged 34 to 25, were living with their parents.  All three employed as teachers.  James A. Allis died in Syracuse on October 30, 1920, and is buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Syracuse.

Circling back to the summary statement, the section did not report any ammunition on hand for the quarter.  Though there were ample implements and other supplies.  Perhaps the cavalrymen were just not accustomed to the artillery reporting forms.

The important take-away from examining that lonely line on the summaries is not the need to correct the spelling of Allis’s name in Dyer’s Compendium.  Rather, that the line allows us to be introduced to James A. Allis and the duties he performed during the war.  He was, as they say, mentioned in dispatches.

 

 

 

Summary Statement, 2nd Quarter, 1863 – 3rd New York Artillery Regiment

When we examined the 1st New York Light Artillery last week ago, it’s service at the mid-point of the Civil War was mainly within Virginia.  Or shall we say the Eastern Theater proper?  In contrast, the 3rd New York Artillery (which was a mix of heavy and light) spent the first half of the war serving in the Carolinas.  For the fourth quarter of 1862, we briefly looked at the origins of the 3rd regiment.  And for the first quarter of 1863, we noted the split of the regiment, with some batteries going to reinforce efforts against Charleston.  In addition to that move, over 500 two year enlistments came up in May.  This brought the overall regimental strength down to 889 men.  Men were transferred within the regiment to meet obligations to maintain field batteries at full manning.  Between May and June, the remaining men of Batteries A, C, D, and G were transferred to batteries B, E, F, H, I, and M.  Colonel Charles H. Stewart remained in command of the regiment, though as time progressed it was more so an administrative assignment.  And with Stewart’s administrative responsibilities, he received permission to recruit replacements (with the objective of a full 1,700 men).

That history in mind, we turn to the first page of the summary:

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As mentioned above, many of these batteries were not fully staffed.  And what did remain were either employed as garrison troops or other support roles.  Referencing Henry and James Hall’s Cayuga in the Field, we can fill in some of the blanks from the summary:

  • Battery A: No return.  Captain Charles White was in command of the battery when mustered out in Syracuse, on June 2.  The three-year men transferred to Batteries E, I, and K.
  • Battery B: Reported at Folly Island, South Carolina, with six 12-pdr Napoleons.  Captain James E. Ashcroft commanded. Returns from the end of June had the battery assigned to Seabrook Island, but of course part of the force concentrating for the Morris Island Campaign.
  • Battery C: No return.  Ashcroft transferred to Battery B (above) on May 22, leaving Lieutenant Charles B. Randolph in charge of the two-year men.  They were mustered out on June 2.  The three year men from this battery moved to Batteries I and K.
  • Battery D: No return.  Captain Owen Gavigan was among the two year men mustered out in June.  Those with enlistments remaining went to Batteries E, I, and K.
  • Battery E:  At New Berne, North Carolina with four 20-pdr Parrott rifles.  Captain Theodore H. Schenck remained in command.  This battery was originally earmarked for South Carolina, but returned to North Carolina by April, part of Eighteenth Corps.
  • Battery F:  On Morris Island with six 12-pdr (3.67-inch) Wiard rifles.  The location was valid for September, 1863, when the return was received in Washington.  Lieutenant Paul Birchmeyer commanded this battery, then on Folly Island. Captain David A. Taylor was on detached service, with the Signal Corps.
  • Battery G: No return. Another battery mustered out in early June.  Captain John Wall rolled up that guidon.  Remaining men transferred to Battery K.
  • Battery H: At New Berne, North Carolina with six 12-pdr Napoleons.  Captain William J. Riggs in command.  Assigned to Eighteenth Corps.
  • Battery I:  Also at New Berne and with six 12-pdr Napoleons.  Captain John H. Ammon held command.
  • Battery K: No return.  Also assigned to New Berne at this time of the war. Captain James R. Angel was in command.  For the previous quarter, and the one that followed, this battery had six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles on hand.  Likely that was the case for the second quarter.  This battery received many three-year men from the disbanding batteries.
  • Battery L:  As explained in earlier posts, this battery did not exist as part of 3rd New York Artillery at this stage of the war.  Near war’s end The 24th Independent Battery was assigned this title, somewhat retroactively.
  • Battery M: At New Berne with six 10-pdr Parrott Rifles.  Captain John H. Howell commanded.

The batteries mustered out at the start of June (A, C, D, and G) were replaced by new batteries with the same designations starting in the fall of 1863 running through the winter of 1864.  So we will see them again in the summaries.

One other note.  We have seen the Napoleons of Battery B

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and the Wiards of Battery F

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in the photos from Morris Island.

Turning to the ammunition, we have to use the extended columns to handle the smoothbore rounds.  And we have a “problem”:

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Three Napoleon batteries and some “leftover” in Battery E:

  • Battery B: 678 shot, 382 shell, 872 case, and 406 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery E: 84 shells for 12-pdr Napoleons; 20 shell, 78 case, and 6 canister for 24-pdr field howitzers; 2 shell and 6 canister for 32-pdr field howitzers.
  • Battery G (?): 396 shot, 87 shell, 439 case, and 160 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery H (?): 294 shot, 150 shell, 303 case, and 136 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.

First off, Battery E had heavy field howitzers on hand in the previous quarter.  And apparently the battery retained some ammunition for those big howitzers (awaiting turn in, perhaps).  But that does not explain the Napoleon shells on hand.

Battery G, as indicated above, mustered out in the first week of June.  And no return was indicated on the first page of the summary.  I offer this was a transcription error.  If so, did the clerk just move everything up one line?  In other words, what’s on line 60 being Battery H’s ammuntion; and line 61 that for Battery I?  No evidence, just expectations!

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

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One, well stocked, battery:

  • Battery F: 100 shot, 1065 percussion shell, 300 fuse shell, and 650 bullet shell for 12-pdr / 3.67-inch Wiard Rifles.

And we know those projectiles were destined to be fired at Battery Wagner and, occasionally, Fort Sumter in the months to come.

Let’s split up the next page for clarity:

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  • Battery F: 240 Hotchkiss canister for 12-pdr / 3.67-inch Wiard Rifles.

Moving to Parrott and Schenkl projectiles:

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Two batteries reporting:

  • Battery E: 126 Parrott shell, 30 Parrott canister, and 402 Schenkl shot for 20-pdr Parrott, 3.67-inch caliber.
  • Battery M: 1203 Parrott shell, 57 Parrott case, and 134 Parrott canister for 10-pdr Parrotts.

There were no tallies for any additional Schenkl projectiles or the Tatham’s canister.

So on to the small arms:

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By battery:

  • Battery A:  One Army revolver, thirteen Navy revolvers, and fourteen horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery E: Twenty-nine Navy revolvers, two cavalry sabers, and forty-one horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery F: Eleven Army revolvers and seven horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery G (?): Four Army revolvers, seventeen Navy revolvers, and fifty horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery H (?): Ten Army revolvers, seven Navy revolvers, and forty-nine horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery M:  Thirty Navy revolvers and thirty horse artillery sabers.

As with the smoothbore ammunition columns, I offer that lines 60 and 61 were moved up by one.  So those should be Battery H and Battery I.  In the previous quarter, Battery H reported thirty-one Navy revolvers and fifty horse artillery sabers.  Battery I reported Ten Army revolvers, nine Navy revolvers, and forty horse artillery sabers.  Not a close match, but at least a little weight to consider.

We’ll continue with the New York batteries with consideration of yet another “straggler” line – some mountain howitzers in the 3rd New York Cavalry!

 

A trip to Europe, looking at foundries: The 1840 Ordnance Commission

Last week’s post about foreign 6-pdr field guns was a “resource” post, if not an outright setup posting.  Sort of a background discussion leading me up to some points about European cannons and influences upon American designs.  What I am leading up to is this cannon:

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This cannon marks the battery position for 8th Indiana Battery at Chickamauga (Viniard Field).  At first glance this looks like any old bronze 6-pdr.

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Liège…as in Belgium.

And there’s this bit of service history proudly displayed on the muzzle:

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This weapon’s history takes us back to the end of the 1830s when Joel Roberts Poinsett was Secretary of War.  Aside from introducing the poinsetta to the United States, Poinsett had a very active life as a public servant – Congressman (1821-25), Minister to Mexico (1825-29), and Secretary of War (1837-41).  And, standing apart from many of his fellow South Carolinians, was a strong unionist during the Nullification Crisis.  So Poinsett is an interesting fellow to say the least.

As Secretary of War, Poinsett was a reformer.  In brief, Poinsett proposed many changes to the system of regular and militia forces, aiming for more formality and standardization.  At the low end of reforms, Poinsett pressed for new manuals and better weapons.  But at the high end, Poinsett wanted concentrated Army garrisons, summer training maneuvers that incorporated the militias, and expanded weapon manufacturing facilities.  Some of these reforms got through Congress.  But those on the high end didn’t.

Looking specifically at artillery, the Poinsett years are marked by a series of model numbers for field artillery, easily traced with the history of the 6-pdr guns – Models 1838 and 1840 along with the Model 1841.  And in-between were many experimental types.  Much debate among ordnance officers, and with Poinsett himself, in those days as the Army struggled to find a suitable field piece (arguably, much of that because the Army wanted the “perfect” field piece).

This came to a head in March 5, 1840, when Poinsett wrote the Ordnance Board that he was “…not satisfied that the corps, collectively or individually, posses that practical knowledge which the importance of the subject, both to the country and the reputation of the corps, would seem to require.” Very damning assessment from the boss.  But Poinsett didn’t just call out a problem, he also brought a remedy.  On March 16, Poinsett sent a letter instructing the Ordnance Department to detail a commission of three officers, and one civilian, on a trip to Europe with the mission of gaining the said practical knowledge.  In his letter of instruction, Poinsett wrote:

In the first place, it will be the duty of the board to acquire, as far as may be practicable, all practical knowledge which actual observation may afford upon the following objects, viz:

  1. The process of moulding and casting iron and brass cannon.

  2. The nature of the iron ores and pig metals used, and the treatment of the metal before and during the casting.

  3. The kinds of copper and tin used, and the proportions composing the metal for guns.

  4. The description of furnaces, and the kinds of fuel used in them.

  5. The modes and regulations for the inspection and proof of iron and brass cannon.

These broad objectives meant the board needed to gather information about the process of cannon production from the mines up to the foundry and out to the field.  Continuing with the instructions, Poinsett also authorized the purchase of samples:

The board will likewise obtain, by purchase, iron and brass guns, according to patterns which they are authorized to establish, in numbers sufficient to form a few field batteries; and they will give as much of their personal attention to their fabrication as time will allow, taking specimens of the metals in proof bars, of suitable dimensions for the necessary experiments and tests.

It is that paragraph which authorized the purchase of the cannon pictured above.

The commission consisted of Major Rufus Lathrop Baker, Captain Alfred Mordecai, Captain Benjamin Huger, and former ordnance officer, William Wade (who maintained partnership in a foundry in Pittsburgh, which later became Fort Pitt Foundry).   After spending the summer and much of the fall in Europe, the board returned to provide a very lengthy, detailed report. No doubt, that detail served to impress upon Poinsett that the desired “practical knowledge” was indeed obtained and retained.

In the report, the board provided a full accounting of all purchases.  Specific to the 6-pdr types, there were:

  • Two 6-pdr American pattern field guns, of iron, from Gospel Oak works, Birmingham, England.
  • Four 6-pdr American pattern field guns, of iron, from foundries in Sweden.
  • Two 6-pdr American pattern field guns, of iron, from the Liège, Belgium foundry.
  • Four 6-pdr American pattern field guns, of bronze, from the Liège, Belgium foundry.

Of that last quartet, two were cast in clay.  The other two cast in sand molds.  As you can see, the secretary’s intent was carried out.  There were sufficient 6-pdrs to outfit three batteries.  And that’s just the light field guns, not counting the heavier 12-pdr field guns and howitzers also purchased at the same time.

These weapons were, as alluded to in the letter, not intended for service use.  Rather these were earmarked for testing.  Most of that, tests to determine the weapon’s breaking point.  Destructive testing.

In a report from March 1844, on the extreme proof of a 6-pdr iron cannon cast at South Boston Foundry (Cyrus Alger & Company),  William Wade mentioned the foreign iron guns.  He compared the performance of the 1844 South Boston gun to tests of at least some of the foreign 6-pdr iron guns between 1841 and 1842 at Fort Monroe:

Of the six guns tried, three were cast in at different furnaces in Sweden, one in England, one in Belgium, and one in the United States.  Two of these burst with the charge of 3 pounds of powder and two balls; one at the 38th, and the other at the 39th fire of the series.  Three of them burst with the charge of 3 pounds and 3 balls; two at the 47th and one at the 49th fire.  The other, one of the Swedish guns, endured once the charge of 6 pounds and 7 balls, and burst at the second, being the 52d fire of the series.  The force of the charge last mentioned, under which the Swedish gun failed at the second fire, is computed to be less than that endured by all the [1844 guns]; the weakest of which, endured that force a greater number of times than the Swedish gun.

So that accounts for five of the eight foreign purchased iron guns.  It also indicates American cannon manufacture progressed smartly in just three short years. Some of that due to Wade’s “practical knowledge” and further experiments.

But what of the bronze guns?  I have not found any details of the tests.  But one of the other Belgian guns survives and is also on display at Chickamauga on the north end of the battlefield, at Douglas’ Texas Battery:

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This one is marked as registry number 4.  That at the 8th Indiana Battery is registry number 1.  In my next post, I’ll provide a walk around of these two historic pieces.  For closing now, let us consider these as “artifacts” which speak to a time of reform within the US Army.  These were “samples” used to derive “practical knowledge” in the art of cannon production.

(Citations from Report of Select Committee, to Inquire Into the Propriety of Establishing a National Foundry for the Purpose of Fabricating Ordnance, Report No. 229, 27th Congress, 3rd Session, US House of Representatives, 1843, pages 242-6; “Report of the Manufacture and Proof of 6 Pdr Iron Cannon Cast at the South Boston Foundry: 1844,” by William Wade, from Reports of Experiments of the Strength and Other Properties of Metals for Cannon, US Ordnance Department, Philadelphia: Henry Carey Baird, 1856, pages 16-17.)

Summary Statement, 2nd Quarter, 1863 – 2nd New York Artillery Regiment

Sandwiched between the summaries for the 1st and 3rd New York Artillery Regiment is this lonely line:

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That line:

  • Battery L: At Haine’s (Hayne’s Bluff, Mississippi with four 3-inch Ordnance Rifles. Captain Jacob Roemer commanded this battery, assigned to the Ninth Corps detachment sent to reinforce Grant at Vicksburg.

I discussed Battery L, 2nd New York’s complicated history in a post for the first quarter summary.  As mentioned, this battery was detached from the main portion of the regiment, which was then serving in the Washington Defenses.  Later it would be redesignated the 34th New York Independent Battery.

Captain Roemer’s battery started the quarter in Kentucky.  In June, they were ordered to Mississippi as part of a detachment of the Ninth Corps under Major-General John G. Parke, specifically Second Division (Brigadier-General Robert Potter) of that detachment.  This detachment was part of the force guarding the “backside” of the Vicksburg siege lines to prevent any Confederate attempt to interfere.  While there was little action on their front, the battery had a brief skirmish during passage downriver.  As related in Roemer’s Reminiscences of the War of the Rebellion: 1861-1865 (page 115):

Nothing of importance occurred until the steamer reached Lake Providence.  Here they were fighting on the land, and we could hear the musketry.  Our flotilla consisted of eleven transports led by two gunboats.  The Mariner was the rear boat of the flotilla, and two of the Battery’s guns were in position in the bow of the boat ready for action….

Just as the boat neared the bank and swung away from it to the left, several companies of Confederates rushed out of the canebrake, and let us have the contents of their muskets.  When they had fired three volleys, I made up my mind that some of us might suffer.  My first thought was for my son.  I made him lie down and then covered him with mattresses. I then went to the guns in the bow, had them loaded with canister, and fired.  That the guns were so well aimed, was proved by the fact that we could see the “Johnnies” hop.  The latter started to run and we sent some shrapnel after them.  It was all over in a few minutes, but the “Johnnies” got the worst of it, for we suffered no casualties.

Roemer went on to say his fires played out just as a counterattack occurred on land.  While this seems to match into the narrative for the Battle of Lake Providence, fought on June 9, 1863, there are several discrepancies with Roemer’s dates.  At any rate, the battery off-loaded at Hayne’s Bluff on June 18.  From that point, the battery setup in positions looking east and anticipated Confederate approaches to relieve Vicksburg.

Meanwhile, the main portion of the 2nd New York (Heavy) Artillery was assigned to the Washington Defenses south of the Potomac.  Colonel Joseph N. G. Whistler took command of the regiment on May 6, 1863, and held that position for the remainder of the war.   A year later the 2nd New York Heavy was assigned to Second Corps, Army of the Potomac as “foot artillery.”  As the Overland Campaign progressed, they, along with other “Heavies” were pressed into service as infantry.

Turning back to Battery L, we have a healthy, but varied, quantity of ammunition on hand:

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Battery L reported 30 percussion shell, 336 fuse shell, and 224 bullet shell, of Hotchkiss patent, for 3-inch rifles.

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The battery also had 83 canister on hand, but of Dyer’s patent, for 3-inch rifles.

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Adding to the variety were 30 shells for 3-inch rifles of the Schenkl patent.

Turning to the small arms:

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In the previous quarter, the battery reported fifteen Navy revolvers and fifteen horse artillery sabers.  By the end of June, they had twelve Army revolvers and fourteen horse artillery sabers.  Sounds like the supply sergeant did some dealing.