Summary Statement, 4th Quarter, 1863 – New Hampshire

New Hampshire was represented by one line in the fourth quarter summary for 1864. That one line accounted for the lone field battery from the state:

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  • 1st Light Battery: At Brandy Station with four 3-inch Ordnance Rifles. The battery remained under command of Captain Frederick M. Edgell. In October the battery transferred out of the Third Brigade, Reserve Artillery to the Third Corps, Army of the Potomac. And with that formation, they were in winter quarters during the February when their return was submitted.

Allow me to expand upon this battery’s service through the fall a bit, as we have space to do so and… well… anytime we have a Brandy Station story I like to pontificate. The winter quarters was the 1st New Hampshire’s fourth visit to Brandy Station, if my count is correct. The first being at the opening of the 2nd Manassas Campaign, in the late summer of 1862, as part of Pope’s command.

Going forward to 1863, as part of the Reserve artillery, the battery passed through Brandy Station, and Culpeper at the close of the Gettysburg Campaign. Of course, that stay ended when Confederates initiated the Bristoe Campaign. In November, the Army of the Potomac crossed the Rappahannock into Culpeper County again. And on November 8, Edgell’s battery fought around Brandy Station. I’ll let his words summarize the engagement:

My battery marched with the reserve batteries of the Third Corps, on the morning of the 7th. Crossed the river at Kelly’s Ford at dark the same day and took position with the Second Division, reporting to General Prince. On the morning of the 8th, reported to General Carr, Third Division, and marched with his advanced brigade, arriving at the railroad at 10 a.m. About noon the enemy were found posted with artillery on a ridge east of the railroad and about a mile north of Brandy Station. One section of my battery was ordered up, and opened on the enemy with shell at about 2,000 yards distance. This, with the advance of our skirmishers, caused them to retire after firing a few rounds. My section immediately occupied the position, but finding the enemy out of range, pushed on and took position in the edge of the wood to the left of and near Brandy Station. The enemy now opened, with two 20-pounders and two smaller guns, at about 1,800 yards distance, to which we replied, and they again retired. My remaining section now came up and took position to the right of the railroad, and fired a few shots at bodies of the enemy’s cavalry, but with what effect is not known. This closed the operations for the day.

My battery expended in the whole affair 56 rounds of percussion and time shell, but a strong wind blowing across the line of fire much impaired its accuracy.

I have no casualties to report.

OR, Series I, Volume 29, Part I, Serial 48, page 573

Captain George E. Randolph, commanding the artillery brigade of Third Corps, recorded in more detail the number and type of rounds fired by the New Hampshire gunners – 20 Schenkl case, 10 Schenkl shell, and 30 Hotchkiss fuse (time or percussion not specified) shell. Randoph said 60 rounds, while Edgell said 56. Perhaps the New Hampshire battery fired four additional rounds on the previous day. Randolph went on to relate Edgell complained about the Schenkl percussion fuses, as they failed to burst on occasion. But added “I was surprised at this, for I have seldom known them to fail.” However, he did note the other batteries did not seem to have a problem.

After the fight on November 8, the Army of the Potomac pressed the Army of Northern Virginia out of Culpeper for the last time in the war. That, in turn, setup the Mine Run Campaign with the Federals moving over the Rapidan into the Wilderness. After the anti-climatic close of that campaign, the Army of the Potomac returned to Culpeper for winter quarters. First Sergeant Samuel S. Piper later described, in a service narrative for the state’s Adjutant General, the battery’s quarters as, “at Brandy Station, Va., on the plantation of the Hon. John Minor Botts.” Piper went on to call it the best camp the battery ever had. While I have not seen a photo of the New Hampshire battery in those quarters, we do have a photo of Auburn, Botts’ house on the plantation:

I am not certain exactly where the Third Corps’ artillery park was that winter. Likely between Auburn and the railroad station. Readers will recall Auburn still stands. Hopefully some future owner will recognize the significance of the structure and restore the house to its past prominence.

There are two other formations from New Hampshire that we should mention here. Both were employed as heavy artillery, and thus didn’t have cannon or stores of their own to report:

  • 1st New Hampshire Heavy Artillery Company: Not listed. Garrison of Fort Constitution, Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Captain Charles H. Long remained in command.
  • 2nd New Hampshire Heavy Artillery Company: Not listed.  Garrison of Fort McClary, Portsmouth Harbor, across the entrance in Maine. Captain Ira M. Barton commanded. 

Both companies spent the winter months guarding Portsmouth. In May, both moved to Washington, D.C. to replace the other “heavies” sent forward to the front lines. Later, those two companies formed the nucleus of a full regiment of New Hampshire heavy artillery formed starting in the late summer of 1864.

The stories aside, we turn to the ammunition reported. No smoothbore, so we can move right to the Hotchkiss columns:

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  • 1st Light Battery: 169 Hotchkiss time fuse shell for 3-inch rifles.

On to the next page for more Hotchkiss rounds:

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  • 1st Light Battery: 26 percussion fuse shell, 182 bullet shell, and 80 canister for 3-inch rifles.

The next page tallies those Schenkl shells that Edgell complained of:

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  • 1st Light Battery: 180 shell for 3-inch rifles.

And another Schenkl entry on the next page:

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  • 1st Light Battery: 145 case shot for 3-inch rifles.

Turning to the small arms:

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  • 1st Light Battery: Eight Colt army revolvers, seven Colt navy revolvers, and twelve cavalry sabers.

Cartridge bags reported on the next page:

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  • 1st Light Battery: 12 cartridge bags for 3-inch rifles.

Lastly, pistol cartridges, fuse, primers, and other items:

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  • 1st Light Battery: 200 navy caliber pistol cartridges; 485 paper fuses; 1,300 friction primers; 23 yards of slow match; 500 pistol percussion caps; and 5 portfires.

One might call attention to the lack of metallic fuses reported here. Edgell complained about the Schenkl fuses in November. Then in February had no tallies. Had he discarded the object of his ire? I don’t think so. It seems the returns counted the rounds, with fuses, as a whole unit. And the columns on this page were used to account for fuses issued separate from the projectile. Regardless, we have Edgell reporting both Hotchkiss and Schenkl, a mix not preferred by Brigadier-General Henry Hunt in charge of the Army of the Potomac’s artillery.

Raccoon Ford Solar Farm update: Victory along the Rapidan, but follow through needed to complete win

Let me pass along an update on the threat to the Rapidan Fords, mentioned earlier this month.

Cricket Solar, the project aimed at placing a large-scale solar farm in southern Culpeper County, formally withdrew their conditional use permit on August 26. Spokesperson for the project indicated Cricket Solar was taking the action in order to “ensure that any project proposed represents Cricket’s best effort to address community concerns.” Which in essence means the project could not reconcile their plan with valid concerns and objections. A sizable number of those concerns were the impact on historical resources. The irony in the case of this solar farm project is the main “pro” argument in its favor was to create renewable energy alternatives in order to preserve natural resources… yet the cost of developing that renewable energy option was the destruction of natural and historical resources!

Yes, this is a win for preservation. However, I think we need to apply some lessons learned from our study of the Civil War in this situation. A battle is won, to be sure. But that victory is but a fleeting moment in the campaign to reach an objective. How many Civil War generals won significant victories on the field, only to see that victory ring hollow due to delayed pursuit and failure to follow through toward the strategic goals?

The goal here, for me as a preservationist (and I trust you too, reader) is to ensure places like Raccoon Ford are not perpetually under threat of development. We should not need to queue up, year after year, the same discussion about preserving these places – Brandy Station, Cedar Mountain, Morton’s Ford, Hansbrough Ridge, and Raccoon Ford. These places should instead be recognized for the intrinsic value possessed … and thus preserved and entrusted to future generations.

But how to do that?

I submit that preservation efforts are much like those wartime campaigns we study. Each effort must have stages and phases leading ultimately that goal of preservation. And in that light, our next step forward should renewed calls to establish a state park in Culpeper County that covers, at minimum, the Brandy Station and Cedar Mountain battlefields.

Consider – the discussion of the Cricket Solar project brought the area’s Civil War history back to the fore. Specifically, we’ve seen localized discussion about what did happen “in my back yard.” Call it “renewed” interest… or in many cases a “newfound” interest (which is rewarding, for those of us engaged in the discussion). With that rise in interest, there is now a ready made foundation for follow on public discussion. Poll after poll taken indicated the citizenry of the county preferred to preserve these sites, be that motivated by interest in history or concern for the environmental impact. Those sentiments logically lead to renewed efforts for a state park. Then, ultimately, a seed for further preservation of the county’s important historic sites.

No, I’m not advocating for the entire county to be placed “under glass” or some other starry-eyed notion. Rather that attention be paid to those sites deserving preservation. We should, in this age, be able to recognize good stewardship techniques that balance and moderate development while protecting what needs to be preserved. In the case of Culpeper County, the best stewardship technique, in my opinion, takes the form of a state park.

We should follow up our victory this week with decisive action. Now is the time for the American Battlefield Trust and allies to renew the push for a Brandy Station and Cedar Mountain Battlefields state park. It is time to move this campaign forward!

Virginians! Time to make a call, for the Brandy Station and Cedar Mountain Battlefields

This post goes out to all readers in Virginia…. and to those who have relatives and friends in Virginia.

I bring to your attention a set of budget amendments – 363 #7s, 363 #8s, and
363 #12h – presently under consideration by the state legislature. Each of these carry the explanation:


This amendment directs DCR to make recommendations as to the potential suitability of Brandy Station and Cedar Mountain Battlefield as potential recreational areas or state or regional parks and report its findings to the House Appropriations and Senate Finance Committees by October 1, 2019.

These are “budget neutral” amendments that would direct the state Department of Conservation and Recreation to review options to create a park comprising of the Brandy Station and Cedar Mountain battlefields. In short, this would prompt a study which gets the proverbial foot in the door towards the creation of a battlefield park. And that’s something you’ve heard me campaign towards for some time.

The American Battlefields Trust has made it easy for Virginians to reach their representatives to express thoughts about these amendments, as well as a few others related to preservation efforts in our state. As the Trust says, a couple of phone calls of support could go a long way – both to getting to our goal of a battlefield park, for those two important battlefield, and for funding other state preservation projects.