Fortification Friday: Marking “Planes of Direct Defilement” on the Parapets

No doubt some readers are still battling with snow this Friday, with large berms of the white stuff piled high.  I’ve considered taking advantage of this to build our own little fortification with relief, Mahanian style.   But I must admit, despite encouragement… and bribery… I’ve yet to enlist my aide-de-camp to pose with a picket post in order to properly establish our fortification.  It is difficult enough just to get the aide to shovel the snow in the first place.  Seems it is much more fun to simply sled down the berm and assail neighborhood compatriots with snowballs.  Nobody wants to build up some intricate snow-works.  So, alas, readers will not have a depiction of relief in snow.

This week we will continue with Mahan’s lesson on building the relief of works. Thus far we’ve considered the need for relief in the works, defined defilement of the works,  and then begun planning the extents of that defilement.  Recall that by this point, the engineer has the basic idea of where he should place the traverse… as in this diagram:

PlateIIFig17A

Next the engineer needed to focus on the points e and e’ (again keep in mind the upper-case, lower-case distinctions here).  That brings us back to Figure 16 and the trace of the works:

PlateIIFig16A

Working on that plane, Mahan called for the engineer to address another set of planes… the planes of direct defilement.

Poles (Fig. 16) are planted at the points A B C, &c., and one at the point F, where the lines of the capital and gorge intersect.  On the pole F, a point is marked three feet above the ground and a point is likewise marked on the pole at C, which should be one foot six inches higher than that on F; that is, if the ground between the two poles be level, the point on C will be four feet six inches above the ground. Two stout pickets may next be planted between F and C, and a cord, or a straight edge, be fastened to them, so as to be in the same line as the points marked on the poles.

So let me dress up this figure to highlight what Mahan was referring to:

PlateIIFig16B

The blue lines are the posts at F and C.  The green are the two posts Mahan required on the line between F and C.  And the thin yellow line is the cord run between all four posts.  Due to the size and limitations of my graphical arts skills, I am not accurately demonstrating the height of the marks on those posts.  Keep in mind the desired marks for F (three feet) and C (four and a half, plus the height of the parapet).

These poles and cord in place, the engineer had a base line for further definition:

Observers are then placed at the poles A and B; and another places himself behind the cord [between F and C] so as to bring the posts O, A, and B, in the field of vision with it; then shifting the position of the eye until the cord is brought tangent to the highest point on O, he directs the observers at A and B, to mark on the respective poles the points where the plane of vision intersects them.  This operation will determine the rampant plane for one half of the work A B C F, and that for the other half will be determined by a similar process.  If the distance of five feet be set off on each pole above the points thus determined, these points will fix the position of the interior crests.

Looking at the diagram, let me attempt to illustrate this effort:

PlateIIFig16C

The poles at A and B are orange lines.  The line of observation, from the cord to O is in red.  Then we have the adjustments on B with the red arrows on that line.   With marks on the poles at A and B set, and a line (presumably another cord) between those posts, we set the height required for the parapet, specifically the interior crest in order to provide protection to the defenders.  The same could be repeated for D and E and set the height required on that side.  But there’s a catch here:

It is obvious that the interior crest of the part A B C is not the same plane as that of the part C D E.  These two planes are denominated planes of direct defilement.

Thus it may be that the interior crest on one side is higher than the other.  The engineer needed to “reconcile” or, simply ease the difference where the two planes come into contact on the parapet… that being at point C.  Thus there is an irregularity in the height of the parapet, which Mahan would address at a later point. But readers should keep this “conundrum” in mind as we go forward.

The poles, cords, and marks indicated here allowed the engineer to specify how much earth needed to be piled to make the parapet effective.  The verbiage used here is indicative of the desired effect – to intercept fires from the distant, high ground.  Thus we have “planes of direct defilement” here.  Next we need to look at the other side of this… that being the “planes of reverse defilement” and the details of the traverse.

Now, I ask, are you getting the feel for how complicated “pile it higher” really is?

(Citation from Dennis Hart Mahan, A Treatise on Field Fortifications, New York: John Wiley, 1852, page 27-8.)

Summary Statement: December 31, 1862 – 3rd New York Light Artillery Regiment

So what is next with New York?  2nd Regiment of Artillery?  Well, for the fourth quarter, 1862 summary statement, the focus was on field artillery equipment.  And the 2nd New York Artillery Regiment was a “Heavy” assigned to the Washington Defenses. The 2nd was brought out to the field in the spring of 1864, with a lot of other heavies, to be used as infantry.  So another story for another day.

That brings us to the 3rd Regiment of Artillery from New York, the next “light” formation.  Unlike the 1st Regiment, which was all in Virginia, the 3rd Regiment’s service was in North Carolina at this stage of the war. Briefly, the 3rd New York Artillery was originally the 19th New York Infantry.  Reorganized in December 1861, the regiment contained Batteries A through K and M.  In March 1862, those eleven batteries, commanded by Colonel James H. Ledlie (who would go on to infamy for actions later in the war), went to North Carolina to be part of Burnside’s operations.  The batteries did not see a lot of action through the summer and into the fall, and were mostly deployed around New Berne.   As part of a general reorganization of the Department of North Carolina, the 3rd New York and the other artillery batteries were organized into a brigade under Ledlie, as part of the Eighteenth Corps.  Major Henry M. Stone assumed command of the regiment at that time.  Some of the batteries were involved with Major-General John Foster’s Goldsborough campaign in December 1862.  But the main duty of these batteries was garrisoning the post of New Berne.

That brings us to the regiment’s section of the summary:

0059_Snip_Dec62_3NY_1

Note the clerks only noted five received returns.  For brevity, with the exception of Battery L (which I’ll explain) were in the Artillery Brigade, Eighteenth Corps, Department of North Carolina.  And all, save Battery L, were reported at New Berne except where noted:

  • Battery A: No return.
  • Battery B: No location listed, but reporting six 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery C: No return.
  • Battery D: No return.
  • Battery E: New Berne, armed with two 24-pdr and two 32-pdr field howitzers.  Yes, the big ones!
  • Battery F: No return.
  • Battery G: No return.  Reported on duty at New Berne and Washington, North Carolina.
  • Battery H: New Berne with six 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery I: New Berne reporting four 20-pdr Parrotts.
  • Battery K: New Berne with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.
  • Battery L: No return.  This battery was a “special case” detailed in the next paragraph.
  • Battery M: No return.

 

The linage of Battery L deserves special mention.  Captain Terrence J. Kennedy was authorized to recruit a battery sometime in 1861.  This was designated the 1st Independent New York Light Artillery.  However, somewhere along the way Kennedy’s battery was linked to the 3rd Regiment, on some books at least, as Battery L.  Kennedy’s 1st New York served through the war with the independent battery designation, never serving as a 3rd regiment formation.  However, in March 1865, the 24th New York Independent Battery, formerly Battery B, New York Rocket Battalion, was re-designated Battery L, 3rd New York.  Thus we have a confusing story of three different batteries, one of which was only a paper designation.  Bottom line, there was no Battery L, 3rd Artillery in December 1862.

Moving on to the ammunition sections, first we have the smoothbores:

0061_Snip_Dec62_3NY_1

Notice here the 24-pdr and 32-pdr columns that I usually omit for clarity:

  • Battery B: 288 shot, 96 shell, 288 case, and 96 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery E: 144 shell, 96 case, and 24 canister for 24-pdr field howitzers; 74 shell, 140 case, and 48 canister for 32-pdr field howitzers.
  • Battery H: 288 shot, 96 shell, 288 case, and 96 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery K: 15 case for 24-pdr field howitzer.

Why Battery K would have 24-pdr howitzer ammunition?  I only have speculative leads for now.  Those obviously would not fit in the Ordnance Rifles. Battery K had what I’d consider meager quantities of the right size ammunition on hand:

0061_Snip_Dec62_3NY_2

Battery K reported 184 canister, 107 fuse shell, and 132 bullet shell of the Hotchkiss patent for 3-inch rifles.

For it’s 20-pdr Parrotts Battery I reported 289 shell and 48 canister, all of Parrott’s patent type:

0062_Snip_Dec62_3NY_1a

The 3rd New York did not report any quantities of Dyer’s, James’, or Schenkl’s patent projectiles on hand for the reporting period.

As for small arms on hand:

0062_Snip_Dec62_3NY_3

By battery:

  • Battery B: 23 Army revolvers and 23 horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery E: 19 Army revolvers, one cavalry saber, and 31 horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery H: 17 Navy revolvers and 50(?) horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery I: Nine Army revolvers and six horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery K: 26 Army revolvers, two cavalry sabers, and 52 horse artillery sabers.

Circling back to to my “complaint” that the returns and summaries as inconsistent, I offer the 3rd New York Artillery as yet another example.  All of these batteries (save the non-existent Battery L) were in one place and under one command structure.  Yet the reporting was more miss than hit.  I could understand lax attitude across the board. But in this case within a field organization, some were recorded while others were not.  It implies to me that the returns were complied by battery and submitted by battery, as opposed to being consolidated by field or administrative (regimental) staff.

Maybe the omissions were due to the fault of the clerks?  Again, one would presume the entire 3rd Regiment, as they were co-located, would submit one package of returns.  So where omission occur, logically wouldn’t we see whole regiments missing?  Maybe one or two batteries?  But certainly not six out of eleven as we see here.  In short, it sort of defies the logic in most intra-office protocols.

All we can say for sure is there are a lot of empty cells in the book.

Summary Statement: December 31, 1862 – 1st New York Light Artillery Regiment

New York’s contribution to the Federal war machine was not just a “cog” in a wheel.  Rather we might say the Empire State provided a whole wheel.  And part of that was of course a number of artillery batteries.  I could well spend several posts discussing the various formations – heavy artillery, light artillery regiments, independent batteries, independent battalions, National Guard batteries, etc…. oh, and don’t forget some rocket batteries.  But for the Fourth Quarter 1862 summaries we need focus on four groups – 1st New York Light Artillery Regiment, 3rd New York Light Artillery Regiment, 1st New York Light Artillery Battalion (sometimes cited as the “German” battalion), and numbered independent light artillery batteries.  There’s one additional line for reporting artillery assigned to a volunteer cavalry formation.  And we should also mind the German battalion’s batteries were later assigned independent battery numbers.  But that was the future.  For December 1862 we have two regiments, one battalion, thirty-two (minus four that were at the time in the battalion) independent batteries,  and one “other” line to consider.

So let us start with the 1st Regiment, New York Light Artillery… Colonel Charles S. Wainwright’s boys:

0059_Snip_Dec62_1NY_1

The clerks posted information from seven of the twelve batteries, most being received in 1863.  At this time of the war, most of the 1st New York batteries supported the Army of the Potomac in the east.  The breakdown by battery:

  • Battery A: No return.  This battery’s guns were captured earlier in the year at Seven Pines.  Most of the surviving men were transferred to other batteries while Captain Thomas Bates went about recruiting and reorganizing.  So in December 1862, there was no equipment to report.
  • Battery B: No return. Captain Rufus D. Pettit’s battery was part of Second Corps, having just participated in the Fredericksburg Campaign with six (or four?) 10-pdr Parrotts.
  • Battery C: At Falmouth, Virginia with four 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  This was Lieutenant William H. Phillips’ battery assigned to support Fifth Corps.
  • Battery D: Fredericksburg, Virginia with six 12-pdr Napoleons.  Battery assigned to Ninth Corps and under Captain Thomas W. Osborn.
  • Battery E: No return. Reduced by sickness and other causes during the Peninsula Campaign, Battery E was assigned to 1st New York Independent Light Artillery at this reporting interval.
  • Battery F: Yorktown, Virginia with four 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  Captain William R. Wilson’s battery was part of Fourth Corps, Department of Virginia.
  • Battery G: No return. This was Captain John D. Frank’s battery supporting Second Corps with four 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery H: Fort Keys, Gloucester Point, Virginia with four 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  Also assigned to Fourth Army.  Captain Charles E. Mink commanded this battery.
  • Battery I: Falmouth, Virginia with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  Captain Michael Weidrich’s battery supported Eleventh Corps.
  • Battery K: Brandy Station, Virginia with four 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  This location is obviously in error for December 1862.  It was correct for January, 1864, when the return was received in Washington.  Backing up a year and a month, Battery K was with the Twelfth Corps for the 4th Quarter, 1862.
  • Battery L: No location given but with four 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  Captain John A. Reynolds’ battery supported First Corps, which was near Fredericksburg at the time.
  • Battery M: No return. This battery was also part of Twelfth Corps in December 1862.  Lieutenant Charles Winegar commanded the battery at the time, with Captain George W. Cothran on leave.  I believe it was equipped with 10-pdr Parrotts.

 

Of note here is the listing for Battery K with the discrepancy indicated with regard to reported location.  Often in correspondence (present day correspondence, that is), folks will eagerly inquire about these summary statements.  The perception, which I held when first looking them over, is we have a gold mine of “facts” to work with.  Not entirely true.  What we have are a lot of numbers that must be shaken down for some useful information.  The example seen here, with Battery K, one of the many issues that demonstrate the data is not “clean”.    The summaries are far short of the sound foundation of facts that might lead easily to solid information.  Though those summaries are a bit firmer than clay, I would quickly point out.

At the December 1862 reporting time, I believe Battery K was commanded by Lieutenant E. L. Bailey.  It was part of a battalion commanded by Captain Robert H. Fitzhugh, the battery’s former commander.  Batteries K and M constituted 2/3rds of the battalion. And it was part of Wainwright’s regiment.  Wainwright who, as we know from his diary, was very particular about keeping up with his paperwork.  Yet, this battery didn’t give a fourth quarter, 1862 report until over a year later.  And when that report was registered by the Ordnance Department, an erroneous location was recorded.

One would think such tardiness wouldn’t be allowed.  And one would rightly supposed Battery K’s officers would report on time and accurately.  Our impression is the chain of command above Battery K would insist on timely reporting.  Furthermore that the clerks in Washington were efficient and never lost such important paperwork.  Yet, the record indicates otherwise.

So we have reason to dispute one column for Battery K, why not the rest?  Was the clerk entering the 1862 data with just one cell (location) incorrect? Or is all the other data now suspect?  Enter that discussion with ample salt…. With that salt applied, let us walk through the reported ammunition quantities, starting with smoothbore:

0061_Snip_Dec62_1NY_1

The only smothbores among the reporting batteries were the Napoleons of Battery D.  That battery reported 288 shot, 96 shells, 238 case, and 96 canister.

We have more rifled guns to feed. Those projectiles start with the Hotchkiss Patent listings:

0061_Snip_Dec62_1NY_2

Four batteries reporting Hotchkiss projectiles on hand:

  • Battery C: 102 canister, 40 percussion shell, 235 fuse shell, and 576 bullet shell all in 3-inch caliber.
  • Battery F: 80 canister, 80 percussion shell, 160 fuse shell, and 430 bullet shell of 3-inch.
  • Battery I: 120 canister, 290 fuse shell, and 651 bullet shell in 3-inch.
  • Battery K: 97 canister, 117 percussion shell, 118 fuse shell, and 54 bullet shell also 3-inch.

We might attach some significance to the proportionally larger numbers for “bullet shell” or what I prefer to call case shot.

One battery reported Dyer’s patent projectiles:

0062_Snip_Dec62_1NY_1

Battery H had 140 shells, 576 shrapnel (case), and 164 canister, all in 3-inch caliber.

There are a couple of entries for the Shenkl patent projectiles:

0062_Snip_Dec62_1NY_2

Battery H had 285 3-inch shells and Battery I had 116 of the same.

None of the batteries known to have Parrott rifles had a return complied.  So we are certainly missing more than a handful of pieces to the puzzle.  And I would point out that while Battery K’s data did not include any projectiles, the other pages indicate the battery had other supplies accounted for in the belated report.

Finally, the small arms:

0062_Snip_Dec62_1NY_3

By battery:

  • Battery C: One Army revolver, eight Navy revolvers, and fourteen cavalry sabers.
  • Battery D: Eight Army revolvers and eight horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery F: Nineteen Army revolvers and sixteen foot artillery swords.
  • Battery H: Sixteen Navy revolvers and fifteen cavalry sabers.
  • Battery I: Seventeen Navy revolvers and thirty horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery K: One Navy revolver and eight cavalry sabers.
  • Battery L: Seventeen Army revolvers and ten horse artillery sabers.

In summary, and to reinforce the point made above in the battery details, we cannot take this summary as a clear, clean “snapshot” of what equipment was on hand at the specified time.  Even here for a set of Eastern Theater units, very close to Washington, we see easily recognized errors in the data.  So we are obligated to ask questions and search for answers that validate… or invalidate.

Fortification Friday: In a “hollow formed by two eminences”? Reverse Defilement

Last week we discussed the defiling of an earthwork … as in planning, thence constructing, the works so as to intercept plunging fires from higher elevation.  This process of defilement was, while “not indispensable” in Mahan’s words, was highly recommended where terrain allowed an adversary to dominate the point of defense.

Where we left that lesson, Mahan advised to define a plane of defilement out to 1000 yards from the works – that being the extreme range of musketry and (at the time of writing) practical range of artillery.  We can easily place this into the “common sense” category… saying it just makes sense to pile dirt high enough that one is protected from the enemy’s guns.  Now that is a simple matter if the eminences are a dozen feet above the height of the works.  Real world scenarios are rarely that simple, as anyone who has visited … say… Harpers Ferry or Chattanooga or Pilot Knob might attest.  The nature of terrain at such key points often allowed for an enemy to fire on the flanks, rear, and interior of the works. Piling dirt higher is just not practical.  So what would the engineer do in response to such lofty heights?

When a work is placed in a hollow formed by two eminences, and is exposed to both a direct and reverse fire from them, it cannot be defiled by the means just explained, without giving it a relief generally too great for field works.  To avoid this the method of reverse defilement must be resorted to.

Consider the crudely copied illustration below:

PlateIIFig16A

The lunette is defined by A-B-C-D-E of Figure 16.  There are two eminences here – O and O’.  We see the flank A-B-C is open to direct fire from O, and can be hit in reverse from O’.  And the same can be said for flank C-D-E, transposing the respective high ground.

Looking at this problem from the profile of the works, cited as Figure 17:

PlateIIFig17A

This is where the engineer needed to do his “figuring.”  We see a vertical plane from O to O’ (orange lines, corresponding to the lines seen in Figure 16).  We have the parapets of two sides of the lunette depicted as A and B.  And follow the proper labeling of points here, mindful of upper and lower case letters.  Also for this first snip ignore the structure labeled C (as in capital C) as we evolve the solution:

If in this plane a vertical, a b, be drawn [brown line], corresponding to the capital of the work, and eight feet be set off on this vertical form the point a, and two verticals be drawn through the points O and O’, and five feet be set off on each of them [black lines]; and then the points c and c’ be joined with d [blue line], it is obvious that the interior crest of the parapet A, being placed on the line c d, will screen all the ground in the rear of it, as far as the capital, from direct fire from O.  The parapet B being regulated in a similar manner, will screen all the ground behind it as far as the same line.

Sounds good so far, but what about that reverse fire?

But the fire from O’ would take the parapet A in reverse, and that from O the parapet B; to prevent this, a covering mass, denominated a traverse, must be erected on the line of the capital, and a sufficient height be given to it to screen both A and B from a reverse fire. To effect this, let eighteen inches be set off the interior crests of A and B; the point e being joined with c’, and the point e’ with c; it is here also obvious, that if the top of the traverse be placed on the line c e’ [dashed green line], it will effectually screen both the parapets from all reverse fire; because every shot that strikes the top of it will pass at least eighteen inches above the two parapets, and since the banquettes are four feet three inches below the interior crests, the shot must pass five feet nine inches above the banquettes, which will be quite sufficient to clear the heads of the men when on the banquettes.  This illustration explains the spirit of the method of reverse defilement.

At this point in the engineering process, we’ve defined one particular needed to form that traverse, labeled C on the diagram.  However, that is still a far cry from actually determining the full nature of that traverse.  More measurements, observations, and planning was required to properly plan and place the traverse.  We’ll turn to that in the next installment.

(Citation from Dennis Hart Mahan, A Treatise on Field Fortifications, New York: John Wiley, 1852, page 26-7.)

Summary Statement: December 31, 1862 – Batteries from New Hampshire and New Jersey

Today we move back east for the summaries – New Hampshire and New Jersey.  In contrast to the messy Missouri entries, with gaps and questions to address, those lines for New Hampshire and New Jersey are relatively clean.

Between those two states, there were but three lines to consider.  New Hampshire provided one field battery for service during the war.  New Jersey would eventually provide five batteries, but as of December 1862 only two were in existence.  The New Hampshire battery is referenced as “the 1st”.  The New Jersey batteries are mentioned as both lettered and numbered batteries.  I’ll conform to the convention used in the summary statement here – lettered batteries.

Three easy entry lines to consult:

0059_Snip_Dec62_NH_NJ_1

All batteries supporting the Army of the Potomac:

  • 1st Battery New Hampshire Light Artillery: At Potomac Creek, Virginia with four 3-inch Ordnance Rifles. Lieutenant Frederick M. Edgell’s battery supported First Division, First Corps.
  • Battery A, New Jersey Light Artillery: At White Oak Church, Virginia with six 10-pdr Parrott rifles.  Captain William Hexamer’s battery was, same as the New Jersey Brigade, part of First Division, Sixth Corps.
  • Battery B, New Jersey Light Artillery: At Falmouth, Virginia with six 10-pdr Parrott Rifles.  Commanded by Captain A. Judson Clark, Battery B supported Third Corps.

Rifles… rifled guns.  And we see empty columns on the smoothbore ammunition section:

0061_Snip_Dec62_NH_NJ_1

Somewhat interesting breakdown for the rifled projectiles.  First section of those columns listed Hotchkiss patent projectiles:

0061_Snip_Dec62_NH_NJ_2

For the New Hampshire battery, and them only, we see 3-inch Hotchkiss types – 90 canister, 182 percussion shell, 228 fuse shell, and 340 bullet shell.

Now over to the Parrott and first half of the Schenkl patent columns:

0062_Snip_Dec62_NH_NJ_1

Only the New Jersey batteries reported quantities on this side of the line:

  • Battery A: 10-pdr Parrott patent – 410 shell, 360 case, and 134 canister.  Also 70 10-pdr Parrott shot, made to Schenkl’s patent.
  • Battery B: 10-pdr Parrott patent – 530 shell, 340 case, and 146 canister.

Looking across to the other Schenkl columns:

0062_Snip_Dec62_NH_NJ_2

More listings:

  • New Hampshire Battery: 70 Schenkl shells for 3-inch rifle.
  • Battery A, New Jersey: 120 Schenkl shells for Parrott 10-pdr.
  • Battery B, New Jersey: 160 Schenkl shells for Parrott 10-pdr.

We might raise an eye at the mix of Schenkl with the Hotchkiss and Parrott patent projectiles. But nothing out of the ordinary.  Actually these three batteries seem to have a clean allocation compared to some we’ve seen.

Down to the small arms:

0062_Snip_Dec62_NH_NJ_3

By battery:

  • New Hampshire: 39 Navy revolvers and 12 cavalry sabers.
  • Battery A, New Jersey: 15 Army revolvers and 123 horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery B, New Jersey: 18 Navy revolvers and 17 horse artillery sabers.

Not a lot of question marks or even remarks to add with respect to these three batteries.

Next up… a lot of New York batteries!

Summary Statement: December 31, 1862 – Missouri’s Second Regiment and Militia

The first half of the Missouri entries on the Fourth Quarter, 1862 Summary Statements offered no small number of questions and gaps to fill.  The second half of the entries offer, what I think, are the widest gaps in any section of the summary.  There’s just no getting around the need for conjecture during the examination.  One reader, who wishes to remain anonymous, has aided me greatly in the effort to properly identify and match these entries to batteries.  But in the interest of keeping the level of conjecture down to the minimum, allow me to first present those entries “as is” for review.

Here is the first page of those entries:

0051_Snip_Dec62_2MO_1

Four entries with three different originating sources – The 2nd Missouri Light Artillery Regiment, a “1st Battery” of some unstated formation, and two from the militia (the Missouri State Militia).  Two of these lines are relatively easy to link with Official Reports.  The other two are lacking details needed for such positive identification.  Furthermore, we are missing most of the 2nd Regiment.  For now, let us table those discussions and look at the numbers on the paper.

Looking strictly at those entries, without attempting to interpret further, we have:

  • Battery M, 2nd Missouri: At Pilot Knob, Missouri reporting a regulation “mixed” battery of four 6-pdr field guns and two 12-pdr field howitzers.  The battery was commanded by Captain Gustave Stange and assigned to the 2nd Division Army of Southeast Missouri. The battery was at St. Louis at the end of 1862, but moved to Pilot Knob later in the spring.  Note the report received date of April 1863.
  • 1st Battery:  No location indicated.  Three 6-pdr field guns and two 12-pdr field howitzers.  We’ll discuss the question mark over this entry below.
  • 1st Battery Artillery, Militia (1st Militia Battery): Reporting at Warrensburg, Missouri (in April 1864!) with three 6-pdr field guns.  Just working from the designation, this would be Captain Albert Wachsman’s battery which was at the time stationed in the Central District of Missouri.  But let us mark the identification as tentative and discuss below.
  • 2nd Battery Artillery, Militia (2nd Militia Battery): Reporting at Jefferson City, Missouri with two 12-pdr mountain howitzers and four 10-pdr Parrotts.  And we’ll also discuss the organization below.

Turning now to the ammunition reported, we start with the smootbore calibers:

0053_Snip_Dec62_2MO_1A

By battery:

  • Battery M, 2nd Missouri: 6-pdr field guns – 502 shot, 165 case, and 53 canister; 12-pdr field howitzer – 92 shell, 120 case, and 24 canister.
  • 1st Battery:  6-pdr field guns – 75 shot, 201 case, and 48 canister; 12-pdr field howitzer – 70 shell and 48 case;  And… oh by the way, 26 canister for 12-pdr mountain howitzers.
  • 1st Militia Battery:  6-pdr field guns – 294 shot, 134 case, and 168 canister.
  • 2nd Militia Battery:  12-pdr mountain howitzer – 113 case and 16 canister.

Not a lot of rifled weapons among the four reporting batteries.  The only entries are under Parrott and Schenkl patents:

0054_Snip_Dec62_2MO_1

And only for the 2nd Militia. Of Parrott patent type, 245 10-pdr shells and 80 10-pdr canister.  Also 108 (?) Schenkl shot, for Parrott 10-pdrs.

Lastly, small arms:

0054_Snip_Dec62_2MO_3

  • Battery M, 2nd Missouri: 30 Army revolvers and 68 cavalry sabers.
  • 1st Battery: 20 Army revolvers and 71 cavalry sabers.
  • 1st Militia Battery: 60 percussion pistols and 10 cavalry sabers.
  • 2nd Militia Battery: 20 Navy revolvers, 23 cavalry sabers, and 51 foot artillery swords.

With those remarks entered into the “record” let us attempt to fill in some of the gaps.

Firstly, some clarification about the 2nd Missouri Regiment of Light artillery.  As with any regiment, the allocation was twelve lettered batteries (A through I, skipping J, thence K to M).   The 2nd Missouri was organized from from batteries assigned to the US Reserve Corps (a volunteer formation, but raised with the expectation of service only in Missouri).  Formally designated the 2nd Missouri in the fall of 1861, the regiment’s primary duty up to the summer of 1863 was defending St. Louis, as part of the garrison assigned there.  And, as one might guess, many of those batteries were assigned equipment from the garrison, be that heavy or light artillery.  Such would explain the lack of reports, since that equipment would be reported by the garrison’s ordnance officer on a separate set of documents.  However there were exceptions based on situations of war.  Battery M was one of those.  That all said, for the sake of complete coverage here allow me to list the elements of the 2nd Missouri by battery and their assignments for the end of 1862:

  • Battery A: District of Rolla, at Rolla.
  • Battery B: Garrison of St. Louis.
  • Battery C: District of Rollla, at Hartville.
  • Battery D: Garrison at Cape Girardeau.
  • Battery E: Garrison of St. Louis.
  • Battery F:  District of Rolla, at Hartville.
  • Battery G: District of Rolla, at Rolla.
  • Battery H: Garrison of St. Louis.
  • Battery I: Garrison of St. Louis.
  • Battery K: Garrison of St. Louis.
  • Battery L: District of Rolla, at Hartville.
  • Battery M: Department of Southeast Missouri.

Other than Battery M, the details of the individual battery equipment is a misty subject.

The militia batteries present yet another series of gaps.  Before proceeding too far, we must remember that there was not just one militia formation in Missouri during the war.  In fact, it is a deep and complicated subject.  For a short premier, there is a helpful page offered by the St. Louis Public Library.  I think one important aspect to consider about those various militia, volunteer, and guard formations is if they qualified for a Federal pension.  Short explanation here, which is fought with holes and slippery slopes, is that if the members qualified for a pension, then likely the battery was “in” the Army service at some point during the war – be that in an emergency or as part of an organized garrison formation.  Otherwise, the unit was unlikely to be a formal part of the Federal organization… and thus would likely not supply an ordnance report to Washington.  Not perfect logic, but that does narrow things down a bit.  But I think we can focus, given that logic, specifically on the Missouri State Militia (3 years), commonly referred to by the abbreviation MSM.

As the St. Louis Public Library page indicates, the MSM included two batteries.  Oh, but that’s just simplifying things.  When formed during the first half of 1862, those “batteries” included “companies” which may have been a reference to separate sections, as organized or deployed.  Enough to split the hairs of hairs.  Wachsman, mentioned above, commanded one battery which was reported at Jefferson City in December 1862.  Another battery was assigned to Independence.  (And I think we take the reported location from the summary with a grain of salt, based on the belated receipt in Washington…. however, I’m leaning towards this being a transcription error in which the clerk transposed the locations of 1st and 2nd Batteries MSM.).

Now… about those cannons…. Wachsman was particularly fond of a set of English 2.9-inch rifled guns in his battery.  And I’m very sure Wachsman had those rifles with him in December 1862.  The only thing close to those weapons in the summary are the four 10-pdr Parrotts indicated for 2nd Battery MSM.  As we’ve seen in the past with the Woodruff guns, when presented with a square peg and only round holes, the clerks tended to find a place to enumerate the tallies.  What is the difference, from the clerk’s side of the desk, between a 2.9-inch caliber 10-pdr Parrott and a 2.9-inch Blakely, for instance?  And, compounding the confusion, maybe the clerk flipped the entries for the 1st and 2nd batteries?

Oh, and speaking of Woodruff guns, there should be entries for those also.  Captain Horace M. Johnson commanded a battery of the MSM which also should be on our “list” above.  Johnson’s men crewed a pair of Woodruff guns along with mountain howitzers and 6-pdr field guns.  Johnson’s battery was sometimes referred to as the Saint Joseph Battery, but appears to have been formally the 1st Missouri Battery of Horse Artillery, MSM.  Later in the spring of 1863, Johnson’s battery was changed to a cavalry company (some sources say the 1st Missouri Cavalry MSM, others say 10th Missouri, and others just say unattached company), though apparently retaining the Woodruff guns.

Though Johnson’s might be a candidate for that “First Missouri,” I believe that line refers instead to the 1st Missouri Flying Artillery, aka. 1st Missouri Horse Artillery,  Pfennighausen’s Battery or  Landgraeber’s Battery.  That battery was assigned to Brigadier-General Frederick Steele’s Division in the ill-fated Chickasaw Bayou expedition outside Vicksburg, at the end of December 1862, and at the time commanded by Captain Clemens Landgraeber.  This battery would later become part of the 2nd Missouri Artillery Regiment.  The original Battery F was broken up (transferred to Battery D, 2nd Missouri, officially) in September 1863.  At that point, Landgraeber’s became Battery F, 2nd Missouri Artillery, often mentioned with the qualifier “New” in secondary sources to avoid (or create) confusion.

As you can see, there are still many gaps and questions about these Missouri batteries.  Unfortunately, these issues are not resolved with summaries from later quarters.  My home state’s artillery organization was an administrative mess.  What can I say?

Fortification Friday: Defilement of works by defining planes

Defilement, that is, by Mahan’s definition… as in constructing a work so as to protect against plunging fire.  You know, as we discussed last week.  Get your mind out of the gutter!

In his Treatise on Field Fortifications, Mahan offered a book example of how to build a defile in order to protect against otherwise dominating terrain.  The example used this basic diagram (which I’ve attempted to clean up a bit…):

PlateIIFig15A

Consider this a three-dimensional diagram, with “poles” and “stakes” extending upward from the points with capital letters (I’ve embellished in red).  At the top of the diagram are the dominating points of terrain, labeled “O”.

The defilement of a work is a practical operation performed on the ground in the following manner: –

Let A B C D E (Fig. 15) be the plan of a work, a lunette for example; and the points O, O, & c., the most elevated points of a commanding position in front of the work.  At the points A, B, &c., let straight poles be planted vertically, and on the poles along the gorge line let a point be marked, at three feet above the ground. Let two pickets be driven in the ground along the gorge line, and a cord a,b, or a straight edge of pine, be fastened to them, on the same level as the two points marked on the poles at A and E.

Referring to the diagram, we see those “poles” indicated – 5 feet tall at the points along the trace of the lunette.  Five feet allowed for a soldier to stand at the parapet, and have clearance to fire.   However, across the gorge (which, recall, was open for a lunette) Mahan called for a three foot measure.   Again, think three-dimensional here and put on those funny glasses so we can “get into” the works.  This is the “eye” on the drawing.  Oh… and do mind the difference here between “A” and “a”; “B” and “b”.

… Let an observer now place himself in the rear of a b, so as to bring the poles at B, C, and D, and the points O, O, &c., within the same field of vision.  Let observers be placed at B, C, and D.  The first observer now sights along a b, until he brings he eye in the position that a b will appear tangent to the most elevated of the points O. Having accurately determined this position, he next directs the other observers to slide their hands along the poles until they are brought into the same plane of vision with the point O, and the line a b, and to mark those points on the poles.  These points, together with the two first marked, will evidently be in the same plane, and this plane, produced, will be tangent to the highest point O.  It is denominated the Rampant Plane.

We see the points on the poles indicated with the short lines radiating from the “eye.”

Another way to define the rampant plane is thinking of it as a line of sight between two points.  These points being the three foot mark above the gorge line and the distant high ground.  So the line of sight starts on the interior of the works and extends through the interior of the works, out past to the high ground the enemy might occupy.

Having established some points to think about, Mahan began using those to frame up this defilement, by introducing yet another plane to consider:

Now if a point be marked on each pole, at five feet above the points thus determined, these points will be contained in a second idea plane, parallel to the first, and five feet above it.  This plane is denominated the Plane of Defilement, and the interior crests of the work are contained in this plane, being the lines joining the highest points marked on the poles.

Plane of defilement is sometimes shortened to plane of defilade (which sounds better for those with dirty minds).  The important aspect of this plane is consideration of the height of an extra five fight over the rampant plane to account for the height of the enemy soldier standing on that distant hill top.   Towards that consideration, Mahan elaborated:

As the gorge line is farthest from the heights, and the rampant plane ascends towards them, it will necessarily pass at more than three feet above every other point of the parade of the work; and the plane of defilement, in like manner, will pass at eight feet above the parade at the gorge, and at five feet above the highest point O.  A plane of defilement is therefore defined to be, that plane which, containing the interior crests of a work, passes at least eight feet above every point that the enemy can occupy within the range of cannon, which range may be taken, with safety, at one thousand yards.

Where that plane crosses the trace lines of the works, it is desirable for the parapet to rise to the same level… obviously.

This is common sense.  If one wishes to protect the gorge from enemy fires, then pile up the parapet a bit higher.  Well, recall we have some governing factors there.  One cannot pile the parapet up to great heights without compromising the close range properties.  Yes, adding a glacis will help to some degree.  But that is yet another large amount of earth to move.  Beyond that, there is a practical limitation as to how high parapets and glacis may be stacked.

Once again, something that appears simple common sense can easily become rather difficult to apply in real situations.  What if, for instance, the point to be defended is in a valley with dominating heights all around?  What is the engineer to do?  We’ll take up that lesson next Friday.

(Citation from Dennis Hart Mahan, A Treatise on Field Fortifications, New York: John Wiley, 1852, page 25-6.)