Summary Statement, 4th Quarter, 1863 – California

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Summary Statement, 4th Quarter, 1863 – Colorado

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary Statement, 4th Quarter, 1863 – Connecticut

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We then move all the way over to Schenkl:

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

A few more on the next page:

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

Next the small arms:

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

Then cartridge bags for the artillery:

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

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

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

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

Summary Statement, 4th Quarter, 1863 – Alabama

At the end of the third quarter summaries, I made mention of several USCT artillery units that had either just formed or were forming in the second half of 1863. One of those was the 1st Alabama Siege Artillery (African Descent), formed at LaGrange, LaFayette, and Memphis, Tennessee starting in June 1863. As each new battery formed, they were assigned to the garrison of Corinth, in the Sixteenth Corps. The regiment appears, by battery, in the fourth quarter’s summaries under the Alabama heading:

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Four batteries in existence at the end of the reporting period, but only two returns:

  • Battery A: No return. Captain Lionel F. Booth commanded. This battery was, as mentioned, posted to Corinth.
  • Battery B: A return posted in January 1864 has this battery at Corinth with two 20-pdr Parrott rifles and two 8-inch siege howitzers. Captain John H. Baker commanded.
  • Battery C: No return. Also serving at Corinth. Captain William T. Smith commanded.
  • Battery D: Another January 1864 return confirms this battery at Corinth but with two 6-pdr field guns and two tallies under the 12-pdr Whitworth column. We will analyze this entry below, so hold your horses. Captain Delos Carson commanded.

First order of business, as the 1st Alabama Siege Artillery continued to fill out, Booth was promoted to Major in January, commanding what was a battalion. At around that same time, Federal high command decided the garrison at Corinth was no longer needed. Concurrent with the start of Sherman’s Meridian Campaign, Corinth was abandoned. Some of the troops were used in Sherman’s campaign. But the 1st Alabama was sent to Memphis, then later, in March, upriver to Fort Pillow. Around that time, the regiment was re-designated the 6th US Colored Heavy Artillery. That being a duplicate the re-designated 2nd Mississippi Heavy Artillery (AD), the regiment was then given the designation of 7th US Colored Heavy Artillery. But before that new designation could be officially applied, Confederate Major-General Nathan B. Forrest attacked Fort Pillow. The 6th Heavy, formerly the 1st Alabama Siege, though technically supposed to be the 7th Heavy, bore the brunt of what became a massacre. Much later, in 1865, the regiment was again re-designated as the 11th US Colored Troops infantry. So four designations in three years. And such has caused confusion at times among historians, despite the regiment’s connection with a well known, infamous battle. But in December 1863, that was all in the future… and these are part of the story we’ll pick up in the next quarter’s summary.

What we do need to focus on here is some of the line entries. Battery B’s big Parrotts and siege howitzers make sense. I would offer that Batteries A and C likely were assigned garrison infantry duties and possibly manned artillery assigned to specific forts (for accounting purposes). But it’s Battery D’s entry on the Whitworth line that I know gives readers pause. Let’s look at this close:

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I read this as a “2” with the super-script of “E.R.” And I translate that to mean “English Rifle.” To me, the entire column, header and all, is suspect. Yes, it reads clearly, “12-pdr Whitworth, 3.5-inch bore.” But that’s sort of a self-contradictory designation. There were 12-pdr Whitworths. But that term generally referred to 2.75-inch caliber weapons. Those being hexagonal bores, one might go with the widest measure of the barrel. Still that is not 3.5-inches. To my knowledge, there were no Whitworths used in the American Civil War that could be cited with a 3.5-inch bore (leaving aside any possible weapons not imported, etc.). On the other hand, there were many cannon with 3.5-inch bores imported from England that didn’t have the Whitworth name. Blakelys are most often mentioned, but such might apply to some weapons actually using that inventor’s patents, while others clearly did not and are deserving of more precise names. In this case, I submit the “Whitworth” column was a dodge by the Ordnance Department. They had a set of 2.75-inch Whitworths on hand. But they also had a lot of other miscellaneous English rifles. Instead of breaking those out across this header, the Whitworth column was the slot for any of those English weapons, regardless of origin (or perhaps even of caliber).

Though there are scant leads outside this summary, I think these are English-made rifles of 3.5-inch caliber, based on the ammunition reports that follow. Were these imported by the Federals and then handed off to the 1st Alabama? Possibly. However, I think it more likely these are captured weapons turned against the Confederates… fittingly manned by former slaves. A “bottom rail on top” scenario.

We find more super-script annotations throughout the 1st Alabama’s summary, as we turn to the smoothbore ammunition:

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  • Battery B: Reporting 295 shells under the 32-pdr field howitzer column. But that’s not right. See below.
  • Battery D: 165 shot and 179 case for 6-pdr field guns. But also 24 shells under the column for 12-pdr field howitzers. Another “not right” and see below.

First off, let’s look close at the Battery B entry:

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A bit fuzzy, but you can just make out “8-inch” or something along that line. As there were no columns dedicated for the 8-inch howitzer ammunition, the clerks must have stuck this entry here with the annotation.

For Battery D, it’s also an appropriated column, but a different twist:

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That super-script looks like “6-pdr” to me. So if this is right, Battery D had 24 shells of 6-pdr caliber. Non-standard. But within the bounds of reason.

This appropriation of columns continues on the next page:

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  • Battery B: 40 case and 40 canister for 8-inch howitzers, but placed under the 32-pdr howitzer columns.
  • Battery D: 123 canister for 6-pdr field guns.

The 8-inch annotation is a bit clearer on this page:

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To the right, we see Hotchkiss rounds reported:

  • Battery D: 36 shot for 3.5-inch “Rebel Trophy”.

That gives us some conformation as to the caliber of those “English Rifles.” And perhaps this “trophy” label indicates for use in captured cannon. But I think we’ve learned these column labels can be less than exact. Though this label is repeated for the rest of the Hotchkiss columns:

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  • Battery D: 137 shell and 108 canister of Hotchkiss-type for 3.5-inch “Rebel Trophy”.

The Parrott columns are, refreshingly, require no explainations:

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  • Battery B: 36 shot, 380 shell, 57 case, and 155 canister for 20-pdr Parrotts.

We may skip the Schenkl and miscellaneous projectile sections, as none are reported. That brings us to the small arms reported on hand:

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  • Battery B: 84 Enfield .577-caliber muskets.
  • Battery D: 35 Springfield .58-caliber muskets, 62 Enfield .577-caliber muskets, and one foot artillery sword.

The cartridges reported:

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  • Battery B: 350 20-pdr Parrott gun cartridge bags; 53 8-inch siege howitzer cartridge bags (the column is for 12-siege guns… or 8-inch howitzers); and, finally, 6,000 rifled musket cartridges in the .577/.58-caliber range.
  • Battery D: 9,300 rifled musket cartridges, .577- and .58-calibers.

Lastly, the fuses and primers (no loose powder):

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  • Battery B: 650 wood fuses, 486 friction primers, and 60 portfires.

I think, given the cannon assigned, we can say the 1st Alabama Siege Artillery was indeed prepared for siege operations. But through the end of December theirs was the somewhat thankless task of simply guarding the railroad depot at Corinth, while the fighting had shifted to places like Chattanooga. But fate would plat the 1st Alabama at the fore of the war later in 1864. While many of those heavy cannon were not at Fort Pillow, most assuredly, those muskets were there. So again we see “numbers” that we can relate to actual events on the battlefield.

Summary Statement, 4th Quarter, 1863 – Arkansas

We start the fourth quarter of 1863’s summaries not with the US Regulars, which has been the pattern in the past quarters, but with the volunteers from Arkansas. Unionist volunteers that is. Apparently the clerks at the Ordnance Department adopted a pure alphabetical arrangement… sort of that is. Below Arkansas are listings for USCT under the heading for Alabama. Give them a break, as Sesame Street was still over 100 years away.

At any rate, there is one line for Arkansas in this quarter:

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  • 1st Light Battery: At Fayetteville, Arkansas with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles. Captain Denton D. Stark remained in command of this battery, then supporting Colonel Marcus LaRue Harrison’s Arkansas Unionists garrisoning Fayetteville. In the previous quarter, we noted this battery was dispatched by section from Springfield to Fayetteville. Elements of the battery participated in the pursuit of Confederate General Joe Shelby’s raid in October. Stark led a section that saw action at Cross Timbers, Missouri, on October 15. But December found all the sections in Fayetteville.

In the previous quarter, we noted the presence of a section of mountain howitzers with Harrison’s 1st Arkansas Cavalry. These troops were also at Fayetteville. And I believe the cavalry retained use of the mountain howitzers at that time of the war. But there is no return here.

For later reference, the 1st Arkansas Light Battery (African Descent) would organize in June 1864. Then later that battery became Battery H, 2nd US Colored Light Artillery. We shall reserve a spot for them in future summaries.

Turning to the 1st Arkansas Battery’s report, we look at the ammunition and other ordnance on hand. No smoothbore ammunition needed, so we skip past Page 3’s first leaf. Then we turn to the Hotchkiss projectiles listed on the right side of Page 3:

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  • 1st Light Battery: 463 Hotchkiss time fuse shells for 3-inch rifles.

On to page 4’s left side and more Hotchkiss:

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  • 1st Light Battery: 1194 Hotchkiss percussion fuse shell, 942 Hotchkiss case shot, and 237 Hotchkiss canister for 3-inch rifles.

Yes, that’s a lot of rounds! We can skip the Parrott, Schenkl, and miscellaneous columns. That brings us to the small arms:

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  • 1st Light Battery: 20 Enfield muskets, 28 Colt .44 revolvers, and nineteen horse artillery sabers.

And for the muskets, the battery reported a sizable number of cartridges:

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  • 1st Light Battery: 1000 ball, .54 inch caliber. I’m not the small arms expert, but Enfields were .577. So either the Arkansas were making due with the wrong ammunition, or this is a transcription error.

No such issues in regard to the revolver ammunition on the next page:

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  • 1st Light Battery: 1,800 cartridges for army caliber (.44-inch).

But to the right of that we have an entry with a question regarding the miscellaneous articles:

  • 1st Light Battery: 50 yards of slow match.

During the Civil War, slow match was a common issue item. In fact, a regulation ammunition chest would hold 1.5 to 2 yards of slow match (in addition to friction primers and 3 to 4 portfires). And, yes, technology had progressed, by the start of the Civil War, so that artillerists didn’t have to stand around with a linstock to ignite the powder. “Didn’t have to” is the operative phrase here. There’s a lot of uses for slow match aside from firing the cannon. But in this case, was there any better option?

The 1st Arkansas does not report any friction primers. Fifty yards would have given the gunners eight yards, plus some left over, per gun. The battery reported a total of 2,836 rounds on hand. That translates, with fifty rounds per chest, into 57 ammunition chests (rounding up for a partial). If we factor 1.5 yards of slow match per chest, we should have 85 yards. But only fifty yards are reported. Still not enough per regulation. But perhaps sufficient until the shipment of friction primers arrived from Missouri?

My point isn’t that “authentic” Arkansas light battery reenactors should be lighting off their cannon with slow match. Rather that we should not insist all the batteries in the war had equal supplies. In this case, we might conclude the Arkansas failed to count the friction primers on hand… or that they were using slow match in lieu of friction primers. Either way, it adds to the other facts that define the historical situation – bad record keeping, or poor logistical support. Both were in play in Arkansas at the end of 1863.

Summary Statement, 4th Quarter, 1863 – Introduction

The next round of summary statements to discuss come from the fourth quarter of 1863. As with each of these sets, I think we must consider the context of the reporting period as it gives more meaning to the raw numbers. Such was very evident over the previous quarters, with the second quarter of 1863 allowing us to review batteries in action… or just out of action, or about to go into action… at places like Gettysburg and Vicksburg. Likewise, the third quarter of that year was a snapshot in time reflecting the action at Chickamauga, with losses directly reflected in the numbers, or lack of reports. And beyond that battle, we see a response to that Federal defeat, in form of so many batteries converging on Chattanooga. And that sets us up for the fourth quarter, with battles around Chattanooga.

But looking further afield, we have the reporting period, from October through December; the “as of” date – December 31, 1863; and also the time in which the report was completed, which was most often into the early months of 1864. Frequent readers will recall the story of the Army of the Potomac, as well as the other Federal armies, as they wintered that year. Reequipping, reinforcing, and reorganizing. Yes, there were some important operations conducted during that penultimate winter of the war – the Meridian Campaign, Red River Campaign, Olustee, and Morton’s Ford to name a few – but for the most prat that winter is a story of the three “Rs” of winter encampments. And that set up the great campaigns which followed into 1864. Such context brings importance to the numbers in the summary sheets.

Numbers? Yes, numbers arrayed across the lines allocated for each battery (or section) and under the column headings. And those column headings changed at the start of the fourth quarter. I have not found any documentation as to why the Ordnance Department changed their paperwork. I can only say there was a change to the format. I can speculate that there were some shifts with the underlying purpose of the quarterly returns. Pre-war the summaries were a type roll-up based on the battery returns. And those returns were in place to provide data for assessments of equipment (particularly cannon) durability. By the end of 1863, some of that was overtaken by events. The Army now had more of everything and durability was less a requirement.

That said, let’s look through these headers and discuss the columns. Ten pages in total for each summary entry line – left and right leaves. And those were divided into logical “Classes” or sections for the clerks. We start with Class I, the ordnance itself:

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You may have to click on the image to see this full size. But even without zooming in, we see “Class I” is greatly expanded in scope. No longer just field pieces, but siege guns and mortars included:

  • Field Guns and Howitzers, Smothbores, Bronze:
    • 6-pdr gun, Models 1840-41, 3.67-inch bore.
    • 12-pdr gun, light, Model 1857, 4.62-inch bore.
    • 12-pdr gun, heavy, Model 1840, 4.62-inch bore.
    • 12-pdr mountain howitzer, 4.62-inch bore.
    • 12-pdr field howitzer, 4.62-inch bore.
    • 24-pdr field howitzer, 5.82-inch bore.
    • 32-pdr field howitzer, 6.4-inch bore.
  • Field Guns, Rifle Guns, Iron:
    • 3-inch wrought iron, Model 1861 (Ordnance Rifle).
    • 10-pdr Parrott, Model 1861, 2.9-inch bore.
    • 10-pdr Parrott, Model 1863, 3-inch bore. (This is after the mandated change in caliber.)
    • 20-pdr Parrott, Model 1861-62, 3.67-inch bore.
  • Field Guns, Rifle Guns, Steel:
    • 3-inch gun (Pattern unspecified).
    • 6-pdr “Wiard” gun, 2.6-inch bore.
    • 12-pdr “Wiard” gun, 3.67-inch bore.
    • 12-pdr “Whitworth” 3.5-inch bore. (Which seems to hold place for any cannon of English manufacture in this caliber.)
  • Field Guns, Rifle Guns, Bronze:
    • 6-pdr gun, Model 1840-41, 3.67-inch bore. (i.e. Rifled 6-pdr.)
    • 6-pdr “James”, 3.80-inch bore.
    • 12-pdr “James” or heavy 12-pdr, 4.62-inch bore.
  • Siege Guns, Smoothbore, Cast Iron:
    • 12-pdr siege gun, Model 1839-40, 4.62-inch bore.
    • 18-pdr siege gun, Model 1839-40, 5.3-inch bore.
    • 24-pdr siege gun, Model 1819-39, 5.82-inch bore.
    • 8-inch siege howitzer, Model 1841-61.
  • Siege guns, Rifled, Cast Iron:
    • 4.5-inch siege gun, Model 1861.
    • 12-pdr siege gun, Model 1839-40, 4.62-inch bore.
    • 18-pdr siege gun, Model 1839-40, 5.3-inch bore.
    • 24-pdr siege gun, Model 1819-39, 5.82-inch bore.
  • Mortars, Cast Iron:
    • 24-pdr Coehorn, bronze, 5.82-inch bore.
    • 8-inch siege, Model 1841-61.
    • 10-inch siege, Model 1841-61.

Before we get too excited here, the summaries did not include “installation” property. So we won’t see a weapons that were assigned to a particular fort. Only those assigned directly to a battery. That’s also why we don’t see the seacoast weapons listed here.

The right side leaf of the first page covers Class II (Artillery Carriages) and begins Class III (Artillery Implements and Equipment):

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Note the field carriages are categorized by size, and listed as “with limber, complete.” Caissons, forges and wagons round out the field carriage sub-category. Following that, to the right, are siege carriages and mortar beds. The Class III listings start with breech sights, then move to baskets and buckets. Alphabetized for easy reference.

The left leaf of page two continues the Class III listings, with fuse implements, gunners’ implements, harnesses, lanterns, lanyards, muzzle sights, and pendulum hausses:

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The right side of page two has more of these Class III items. Pointing boards, portfire cases and shears, powder funnels and measures, priming wires, prolonges, quions (for mortars and siege guns), rammers and staves, sponge covers, sponges and rammers, sponges and staves,…

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Page 3 has the last of the Class III items – more sponges and staves, tangent sights, tarps, and a few other items listed alphabetically:

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But immediately to the right of that we have Class IV (projectiles, unprepared) and Class V (prepared projectiles):

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While we likely won’t discuss all those Class III implements in any detail, we shall list the projectiles, unprepared and prepared, when looking at the battery-level summaries. This portion of the header was all for smoothbore rounds ranging from the 6-pdr through to the 32-pdr field howitzer, and including the siege guns. The prepared rounds were all strapped and fixed.

Continuing to the right side of page 3, the smoothbore prepared projectiles included more spherical case, canister, and stands of grape (though only for the siege guns, mind you!):

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But the remainder of these columns, from about mid-way across, are for rifled projectiles – Dyers (in 3-inch caliber) and Hotchkiss. For the latter, we see shot and time fuse shell in calibers from 2.6-inch (Wiard) to 4.5-inch (for the big siege guns). Note separate columns for 2.9-inch and 3-inch Parrotts.

Class V (projectiles) continues to the next page:

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The Hotchkiss columns continue with percussion fuse shells, case shot (or bullet shell), and canister. Then to the right are James patent projectiles – shot, shell, and canister. I believe the clerks chose to combine the Tatham’s canister into the James columns here. To my chagrin, we have a lone column held over on this side of the page for 10-pdr, 2.9-inch Parrott shot. Which means I’ll have to either join a header here… or have some extra text when describing entries. As the rest of the Parrott rounds are separated by the center of the page:

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The Parrot types range through shot, shell, case, and canister in calibers including 10-pdrs (both 2.9-inch and 3-inch separately), 20-pdr, and 30-pdr Parrotts; then also including 24-pdr rifled siege guns.

To the right of the Parrotts are Schenkl columns. Shot and shell listed with calibers for 10-pdr Parrott, 3-inch rifles, 3.67-inch Wiard (or 6-pdr rifled), 3.80-inch James, 4.5-inch siege rifles, 12-pdr rifled siege guns, and even the 18-pdr rifled siege guns.

Page 5 begins with the Schenkl case shot listings:

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But after those seven columns is a long list of “miscellaneous patents.” Oh goodie! But instead of grouping by inventor or source, these are arranged by type – shot, shell, case, and canister. Those carried by column are Absterdam, Boekel, McIntyre, and Stafford & Ward. And there are columns for “enemy’s patent” indicating possession (if not proof of actual use) of Confederate ordnance.

Lastly, over on the far right of this page, are two columns for “War rockets, Hales’s” in both 2-inch and 3-inch sizes.

The other side of page five turns to Class VI – Small Arms:

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No more of the generic “carbine” or “musket” columns. Instead, the clerks had to tally Ballard’s, Burnside’s, Maynard’s, Sharps’, and Spencer’s carbines. Likewise, Enfield, Sharps, Spencer, and Springfield muskets. Pistols are carried by caliber and manufacturer… well at least Colt and Remington. The list of all possible pistol manufacturers deserves its own blog.

To the right of the edged weapons is Class VII – Accouterments, Appendages, etc. This page has artillery and cavalry accouterments. Page six will continue with infantry accouterments that happened to be used by the artillerymen:

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The rest of the left side of page six handles appendages, for both rifles and pistols, and then equipment for the horses.

On the right side of page six is something we will be interested in tracking – Class VIII – Ammunition for small arms and powder for both small arms and artillery:

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These columns cover cartridge bags for various caliber cannon and the cartridges for small arms, which continue onto page seven:

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Continuing with Class VIII are listings for fuses, bagged powder, and miscellaneous items. The latter includes fireballs for the mortars, matches, friction primers, percussion caps, portfires, and torches.

Class IX on the right of that header is for artillery machines, meaning block, chocks, and gun gins.

The remainder of these headers cover more and more of the minutia that were needed by a battery (field or siege, as the case may be) in service. I won’t bore you with more of those listings. But I have posted the headers for reference:

  • Page 7, right half: Class X – parts of any articles related to carriages and artillery harnesses.
  • Page 8, left half: Class X continued, parts of artillery harnesses, draught harnesses, ladle heads, rammer heads, and sponge heads.
  • Page 8, right half: More Class X, sponge heads and sponges. Then the start of the section on general materials including cloth, rope, and thread.
  • Page 9, left half: General materials – ironmongery and leather. Heating materials (including candles). Laboratory supplies. Paints and oils.
  • Page 9, right half: Veterinary instruments and horse medicines.
  • Page 10, right half: Tools and utensils, “A” through “H”.
  • Page 10, left half: Tools and utensils, “K” through “W”.

As you can see, the change to the summary form requires some retooling of my templates to show the entries. But the basic system is still in play – snips for each grouping within the state entries, covering the guns, projectiles, and small arms. But I believe we can add in the cartridges and powder without much additional effort.

Look for the start of the December 1863 summaries next week. And keep in mind the timing here – right on the anniversary of when many of these returns were submitted to Washington.

Mahan on Artillery Tactics, Part 2: The “Place” of Artillery

Let us continue focused on this discussion of Dennis H. Mahan’s thoughts of artillery tactics, in the pre-Civil War context. In the previous post, we noted some of the context to the label of “tactics” in the Civil War-era manuals. But the key point was what Mahan called the duties of artillery – “… to support and cover the other arms; keep the enemy from approaching too near; hold him in check when he advances; and prevent him from debouching at particular points. ”

I offer a 21st Century sound-byte worthy summary of this as – to deny the enemy commander a course of action. And correspondingly, that would grant the friendly commander a different set of options. That’s my interpretation. So feel free to disagree, and drop a comment. To me, Mahan’s duties boil down to the use of artillery in a way that prevents the enemy from using particular pieces of terrain (in defense), opting to attack by way of a particular approach (in offense), or at least keeping the enemy at greater than musket range. Perhaps another way of putting it – forcing the enemy commander to adopt something other than the simple, apparent plan of action. (And with a complex plan adopted… the enemy commander leaves himself open to all sorts of criticism from later day historians who shall question his ability!)

Mahan continues on, later in his opening chapter, to describe the place of artillery on the battlefield, in his estimation. Initially he described the metaphorical place on the battlefield:

The artillery, which had for a long period, and even still, preserves the character of eminent respectability, has of late years begun to infuse a dash of the dare-devil spirit of the cavalier into its ranks. If it has not yet taken to charging literally, it has, on some recent occasions in our service, shown a well-considered recklessness of obstacles and dangers, fully borne out by justly deserved success.

Some will read this passage and begin shouting about the artillery charge and such. Not even close! Rather what Mahan is suggesting is that artillerymen of his time (the 1840s) were inclined to more aggressive placement on the battlefield, not simply running up within musket range to trade blows with the infantry. So what was that aggressive placement?

Well to start with, Mahan points out that artillery conformed to classifications – heavy and light (with divisions for foot and horse artillery) – each of which had places tailored to their strengths and weaknesses. Heavy artillery, which he categorized as 12-pdr caliber and above, was reserved for batteries of position and “is seldom shifted during the action” Light artillery, being 6-pdr gun and 24-pdr howitzers (!), included foot artillery and horse artillery. Foot artillery being those batteries with the standard allocation of horses, and which the crews marched alongside (usually). Horse artillery, of course, received sufficient animals to allow the crews to ride, and were thus more quickly moved on the field. Both were to “follow the movements of the other arms.”

However, as we well know, those classifications were soon blurred by technological advances – notably “light” 12-pdr guns and rifled artillery. And such brings to mind the “chicken or the egg” debate as to the technological advances driving tactical innovations, or vice-versa. I think Mahan argued “both”:

Improvements both in the materiel and the tactics of artillery have been very marked within late years. Formerly, considered only in the light of an auxiliary on the battle-field, artillery now aspires, and with indisputable claims, to the rank of a principal arm. Its decisive effects, at the late battles on the Rio-Grande, are supported by testimony too emphatic to be overlooked.

Worth noting, in this passage, Mahan left a footnote, not to Captain Samuel Ringgold as one might guess, but rather to Joel R. Poinsett. He gave the former, and late, Secretary of War credit for reforming the US Army and ensuring the the force was ready for the test of combat… and we have discussed his artillery reforms on occasion.

Mahan continued on, lauding the artillerists of his day:

From the studies required of him, the artillerist is well trained to maintained the characteristics of his arm; courage of the highest order, in which the physical is always under the control of the moral element, producing, as necessary result, unbounded devotion to the task assigned; a presence of mind that nothing can disturb; and that coolness which no danger, however appalling, can impair.

Ladies and gentlemen! I give you Marvel’s new super hero! Artilleryman! If nothing else, a description that we should all aspire to.

Turning back to serious matters, we have that question about “place” … not in the metaphorical sense… but as in WHERE to put the cannons. And Mahan got around to that:

The tactical applications of artillery on the field depend on the caliber. To the heavy are assigned the duties of occupying positions for strengthening the weak points of the field of battle; for securing the retreat of the army; for defending all objects whose possession might be of importance to the enemy, as villages, defiles, &c.; and for overturning all passive obstacles that cover the enemy, or arrest the progress of the other arms.

Although the distinction of “heavy” artillery would drop just over a decade after Mahan wrote this passage, the guidance remained valid. More to the point, we see examples of how the artillery might be placed to, as I put it, take away options from the enemy. In particular turning weak points into strong ones, retaining possession of key terrain, and countering passive obstacles.

As for the light artillery:

The light pieces, served by foot-artillery, follow the movements of the infantry; covering the flanks of its position, preparing the way for its onset, and arresting that of the enemy. It is of this that the principal part of the artillery in reserve is composed.

Employed directly to support the infantry, artillery prevented the enemy from arresting (not stopping… words have meaning) the friendly advance. Likewise on defense, the artillery arrested the enemy advance. In both cases, that translates to taking away options open to the enemy commander. Perhaps others will expand that role to MAKING options for the friendly commander… which would also be a good way to put it.

The horse-artillery is held in hand for decisive moments. When launched forth, its arrival and execution should be unexpected and instantaneous. Ready to repair all disasters and partial reverses, it, at one moment, temporarily replaces a battery of foot, and at the next is on another point of the field, to force back an enemy’s column. In preparing the attacks of cavalry, this arm is often indispensable and always invaluable; brought with rapidity in front of a line, or opposite to squares of infantry, within the range of canister, its well-directed fire, in a few discharges, opens a gap, or so shakes the entire mass, that the cavalier finds but a feeble obstacle, where, without this aid, he would in vain have exhausted all his powers.

Three “places” for horse artillery offered as examples: rushed to replace a pressed battery of foot; dispatched to break an enemy assault; or used to prepare the situation for a cavalry charge. In that latter role, the artillery moved forward within canister range… that’s C-A-N-I-S-T-E-R… not grape-shot. And that is considered between 200 and 400 yards. Musket range, before the wide adoption of rifles and mine-balls, was still considered at 100 yards. Arguably, even after technology allowed for more range, the infantry tactics still governed engagements with the musket at 100 yards.

Note that not once does Mahan suggest the artillery should, themselves, charge forward. None of these alleged artillery charges. It simply was not part of the doctrine which he described here. Artillery was not supposed to BE the attacker. Artillery was supposed to make the way easier for the attacker.

Another take-away from this passage is the alignment of the horse artillery. As Henry Hunt would argue during the war, the horse artillery was not simply assigned to support the cavalry. Rather the horse artillery should be a general reserve, used where the situation warrants. If that be supporting the cavalry in its mission, then so be it. But the horse artillery also had a role outside of that. And often that was far more important than simply aiding the defense of distant picket posts.

If nothing else, these passages, across but three pages in the manual, refute many preconceptions about how artillery was to be employed. The guns were not to be wasted simply standing in an augmentation of the infantry line, belching canister. Such would simply be employing the guns with their casualty-creation ability in mind. Instead the artillery was there to influence the battlefield situation, with focus on the cannon’s ability to exert control over a greater distance than capable with the other arms. In such way, we see the value of the artillery – its value as a combat force multiplier – in exponential terms.


(Citations from Dennis Hart Mahan, An Elementary Treatise on Advanced-guard, Out-post, and Detachment Service of Troops, and the Manner of Posting and Handling Them in Presence of an Enemy, New York: John Wiley, 1861, pages 45-7.)