Mahan on Artillery Tactics, Part 4: More on the Defense

Let us continue the discussion of artillery as used on the defense, according to Mahan. And we again turn to Chapter II, verse 151…..

Those positions for batteries should be avoided from which the shot must pass over other troops, to attain the enemy. And those should be sought for from which a fire can be maintained until the enemy has approached even within good musket-range of them.

Outpost, 60-1.

Common sense at play here. Fuses are not fail-proof, no matter how good the quality control is at the arsenal. Short rounds were a concern then as they are today. A further concern was the ballistic path of the sabot used behind many projectiles. Though made of wood, that could still injure or kill. With the introduction of rifled guns, another concern entered play – the lead or soft iron sabots often sheered off after the projectile left the muzzle. Those fragments took less predictable paths.

The other part of this is the desired effect of allowing the cannon to engage right up to… and inside of… musket range. The “skirmisher” community will note that Mahan was writing this passage before the rifled-musket was in widespread use. However, we should note that well into the Civil War, 100 yards was still considered the effective range of those rifled-muskets, as the practitioners were focused on volley fire effects as opposed to the effective range of individual weapons.

Where the wings of a position are weak, batteries of the heaviest caliber should be placed to secure them.

Outpost, 61.

Another sensible suggestion here. But one that must play with earlier passages that dictated the bigger caliber pieces be placed on “the more retired points” as opposed to advanced positions. Looking back at the “taking away a course of action from the enemy” mindset, those batteries assigned to support the flanks would be there to remove an option to attack on a flank. Such implies, generally speaking, that in the defense the flanks should be tucked in or refused. I would not argue against that as a general application, but certainly not submit flanks should always be refused. Given terrain or other factors, one might extend a flank position to cover the front of the main defensive line…. you know… like in those simple entrenchments that Mahan wrote of in other volumes.

Thus far, Mahan has placed the light batteries (shall we say the “mounted” batteries?) and the heavy (or “foot”) batteries. What about the horse artillery?

A sufficient number of pieces – selecting for the object in view horse-artillery in preference to any other – should be held in reserve for a moment of need; to be thrown upon any point where the enemy’s progress threatens danger; or to be used in a covering the retreat.

Outpost, 61.

Stomp your feet here to ensure all the cavalrymen hear and heed this. Horse artillery, in the defensive, was not simply attached to the cavalry for support of the troopers doing what ever it is they do on the defensive. Instead, the horse artillery was a reserve force to be used when pressed. If we turn again to “taking away courses of action” then here we are considering how an enemy commander would follow up behind initial success. If that assault has indeed achieved a lodgement on the main defensive line, the next step would involve pressing reinforcements forward to enlarge gains and break the line. The counter, Mahan proposes here, is the rapid, flying batteries of horse artillery introduced to seal that fissure.

And if that cannot be attained, at least have those horse artillery batteries in position to dissuade the enemy from following up with a close pursuit. A handful of well placed shells from the horse artillery should at least cause pause.

Everything thus far we might summarize as “use common sense and good judgement.” But the next paragraph is where the armchair generals will set up and start typing comments….

The collection of a large number of pieces in a single battery, is a dangerous arrangement; particularly at the onset of an engagement. The exposure of so many guns together might present a strong inducement to the enemy to make an effort to carry the battery; a feat the more likely to succeed, as it is difficult either to withdraw the guns, or change their position promptly, after their fire is opened; and one which, if successful, might entail a fatal disaster on the assailed, from the loss of so many pieces at once.

Outpost, 61.

Yes, at first glance, Mahan is laying out an argument against massing artillery on the battlefield. And our latter-day Stonewall Jacksons are quick to point out massed artillery is often the key to victory!

The important part of this passage is “large number of pieces in a single battery.” This is a “battery” not as an organizational unit, but as a position. Reading as such, this is a warning about putting multiple batteries in one contiguous position. If those guns are not arrayed as discussed at earlier points in this discussion of artillery on defense, then such a collection would be a vulnerable, tempting target. Placing the guns hub to hub is not “massing the guns.” But arranging those guns, in accordance to the guides presented by Mahan, is.

What I’d contend is that Mahan was not arguing against what Henry Hunt would do at Malvern Hill. Just the opposite. Prior to July 1, 1862, Hunt organized and emplaced the artillery into a fine example of what Mahan encouraged through these couple of pages on defensive arrangements. Go through the checklist – good engagement ranges, cleared fields of fire, complementing postings, light batteries advanced, heavy batteries retired, wings protected, infantry kept clear of the guns, and all well supported. And that arrangement allowed Hunt to introduce fresh batteries and withdraw tired ones, with relative ease. Thus, what Hunt had at Malvern Hill was not a “large number of pieces in a single battery” but instead a massing of combat power on a good position which maximized the capabilities of the artillery. Famously, one year and two days later, Hunt will accomplish the same feat on another battlefield while defending Cemetery Ridge. We might easily turn to the other side of the war and point to good use of massed artillery at Fredericksburg.

I think what Mahan is arguing against in this passage is actually instances like Missionary Ridge. One might say the Confederate artillery positions on that ridge were well placed for a siege in which their fire would be focused on distant Federal lines. The problem was no proper adjustment was made when that position transformed, due to the shifting of tactical situations, to a defensive one. And so that checklist that Hunt met on those hot July days was not met on that autumn day outside Chattanooga – dead space under the guns even past musket range, no complementary postings, no advanced or retired positions, infantry lines interspersed with the artillery, and little room to move the batteries around. And if we circle back to the “taking away a course of action from the enemy” notion here, I’d posit this counter-intuitive thought with a wry smile: the position on Missionary Ridge was so bad that it invited Federal commanders to accept and pursue a direct assault as a course of action. And as a demonstration, at that!

The last paragraph in this section on defensive arrangements for artillery strikes to the logistics of keeping those guns feed:

In all defensive dispositions the ammunition should be most carefully husbanded. A fire should never be opened until the enemy is within good range; and, when once opened, be continued with perseverance and coolness up to the last moment in which it can be made effective.

Outpost, 61.

I’ve mentioned this a time or two before, expressed as “staying power” of the guns. By this I mean the time for which the gun can remain at a position and actively part of the battle before having to replenish ammunition. Obviously many factors come into play here. Not the least of which is the number of rounds in the ammunition chests (in other words, the smaller-bore weapons had more rounds to shoot, all things being equal… yet another reason to have those big guns at retired positions). As we alluded to above (and at other places on this blog), Hunt and other good artillery commanders mitigated this with a good system to rotate batteries in and out of the line. Hunt also devised a very healthy system to push full ammunition chests up to the points where needed. Such adds another requirement here to those “good position” checklists, in that we must also consider allocating space to allow all the traffic needed in order to maintain a position “up to the last moment.”

And I stress “staying power” over perhaps the cyclic rate of fire. More so than simple weight of metal, it was the paced, deliberate, and measured fire which was desired. So let’s cast off these notions that artillery was just there to belch out canister, send smoke into the air, and make a lot of noise. The impact of those big guns, particularly on the defense, was to shape the flow of the battle… taking away courses of action available to the enemy.

(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 60-1.)


Summary Statement, 3rd Quarter, 1863 – Iowa’s batteries

Iowa provided four light batteries to the Federal cause during the Civil War. Three of those were on active service at the end of September, 1863.  The fourth was mustering and organizing that fall.  For the third quarter, 1863, the summaries offer four entry lines:


Three batteries and one artillery section reported with the 2nd Iowa Cavalry.  I’ll include the 4th Battery here for “administrative” discussions:


  • 1st Iowa Battery: No report.  After the fall of Vicksburg, the 1st Iowa Battery participated in operations against Jackson, Mississippi.  After that operation, the battery fell back to the Big Black River Bridge were it camped for most of the summer.  At the end of September, the 1st Iowa Battery moved with its parent formation, First Division, Fifteenth Corps to Memphis, as part of the relief column sent to Chattanooga.  Captain Henry H. Griffiths commanded, however he also served as division artillery chief.  In his place Lieutenants William H. Gay and James M. Williams led the battery. In the previous quarter, the battery reported four 6-pdr field guns and two 12-pdr field howitzers.  Later in the fall, the battery’s guns were completely worn out.  They would receive a full complement of 10-pdr Parrott rifles in December.
  • 2nd Iowa Battery: Reporting from Vicksburg, Mississippi with two 6-pdr field guns and two 12-pdr field howitzers. The battery remained with Third Division, Fifteenth Corps and spent the summer at Big Black River Bridge.  It was still there at the end of September.  As Captain Nelson T. Spoor served as division artillery chief, Lieutenant Joseph R. Reed commanded this battery.
  • 3rd Iowa Battery: At Little Rock, Arkansas with four 6-pdr field guns, three 12-pdr field howitzers, one 3-inch Ordnance Rifle, and one 10-pdr Parrott.  Yes, nine cannon! Captain Mortimer M. Hayden remained in command.  The battery served in the Department of Eastern Arkansas and participated in Steele’s Little Rock expedition (Third Division) in September.  When Hayden briefly served as division artillery chief, Lieutenant Melville C. Wright held temporary command.
  • 4th Iowa Battery:  Not listed.  Still organizing at Davenport, Iowa.  Captain Philip H. Goode received his commission and command of battery on September 12, 1863. He’d previously served with Company F, 15th Iowa Infantry.
  • 2nd Cav. Arty. Stores.” –  A location of Memphis, Tennessee and with two 12-pdr mountain howitzers, and attributed to a lieutenant.  Colonel Edward Hatch commanded the regiment.  But with Hatch in command of a brigade of cavalry, part of Sixteenth Corps, operating out of Memphis, Lieutenant-Colonel William P. Hepburn stood in.  The regiment saw much service scouting and chasing Confederate raiders in west Tennessee that summer and early fall.  Hatch would mention, specifically, Lieutenant Perry L. Reed in charge of two howitzers in a dispatch later in November.  So he is the leading candidate for the “lieutenant in charge of stores.”


In the previous quarter, we saw the 41st Iowa Infantry reported a 12-pdr mountain howitzer in their charge at far away Fort Pierre, in the Dakota Territories.  No mention of it here.  But no doubt that mountain howitzer was still in use somewhere on the frontier, if not by the Iowans.

Those particulars out of the way, we can move to the “feed” for those cannons, starting with the smoothbores:


Three lines to consider:

  • 2nd Battery: 57 shot, 42 case, and 80 canister for 6-pdr field guns; 74 shell, 20 case, and 60 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • 3rd Battery: 371 shot,  319 case, and 102 canister for 6-pdr field guns; 269 shell, 276 case, and 62 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • 2nd Iowa Cavalry: 148 shell, 212 case, and 144 canister for 12-pdr mountain howitzers.

Moving to the rifled projectiles, first the Hotchkiss type:


  • 3rd Battery: 40 percussion shell, 40 fuse shell, and 60 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.

And that same battery had Parrotts on hand:


  • 3rd Battery: 354 shell, 240 case, and 60 canister for 10-pdr Parrotts.

We have no Schenkl or Tatham projectiles to account for, so let us move directly on to the small arms:


Two lines to consider:

  • 2nd Battery: Four cavalry sabers.
  • 3rd Battery: Three Navy revolvers, two cavalry sabers, and nine horse artillery sabers.

A rather clean accounting for the Iowa cannoneers.  With the exception of the missing return for the 1st Battery, we have most of the I’s dotted and T’s crossed… down to Lieutenant Reed’s pair of mountain howitzers.



All those captured guns from Missionary Ridge

I have not blogged about Chattanooga through the sesquicentennial of that battle. Mostly because I was unable to make an expedition that way during the fall to refresh my photographic archives.  Lots of cannon stories and interesting subjects for “walk arounds.”  But I’ve not visited since the late 1990s, and don’t have good pictures to back up the posts.

That said, let me pull up one familiar wartime artillery photographs taken at Chattanooga which featured artillery:


I count eighteen tubes in this view.  All 12-pdr Napoleons.  Some with the straight muzzle of Confederate manufacture.  Others with a muzzle swell, which could be captured Federal (but not in this case) or those of early Confederate manufacture.

Captain Thomas G. Baylor, Chief of Ordnance for the Army of the Cumberland provided a by-type listing of guns that Army captured at Chattanooga.  Since the photo carries the caption linking to that particular field army, let us figure odds are good the weapons in the photo are among those listed in Baylor’s report.  Baylor tallied:

  • Eight 6-pdr guns
  • Thirteen 12-pdr light field guns, Confederate pattern
  • Six 12-pdr light field guns, Leeds & Company, New Orleans
  • Three 12-pdr field howitzers
  • One 3-inch rifle, Confederate pattern
  • Four 10-pdr Parrott rifles, 2.9-inch bore
  • Two rifled 6-pdrs with 3.67-inch bore
  • One James rifle with 3.8-inch bore
  • Two 24-pdr siege guns.

A grand total of forty guns. That does not count a handful of weapons captured by other formations (outside of the Army of the Cumberland) in the battle.  Aside from the siege guns, no real surprises here.  The Army of the Tennessee had benefited from  the battlefield captures from Chickamauga.  With the defeat on Missionary Ridge, the Army of Tennessee lost almost a third of its artillery.  And a substantial portion of the guns remaining were off near Knoxville in another ill-fated endeavor.

So eighteen of the nineteen Napoleons show up in that photo (maybe I miscounted or maybe one is tucked away at the end of the line).  That’s almost five (four gun) batteries of the preferred Napoleons.  And all of those Napoleons recorded by Baylor were Confederate manufacture.  That was like a solid punch in the gut to the southern war effort.  All the time and resources allocated to producing those fine guns ended up a naught.  Another photo of that line of Napoleons, taken from a different angle, best illustrates that point:


The markings are out of focus.  But looking close at the trunnion on the second gun in the row, there’s a three line manufacturer stamp.


Sort of reminds me of the stamp used by Augusta Arsenal:

Pitzer Woods 10 Aug 08 461

The fourth gun also teases with an out of focus stamp:


If I had to venture a guess, I’d say Leeds & Company.  But that would be a wild guess.

Others who have interpreted this photo pick out the stencil on the carriage trail for the first gun in the line:


“Macon Arsenal // 1863 // GA.”

So total up the cost to produce one bronze gun tube, a carriage, limber, implements, and such.  Multiply that by nineteen.  There’s the cost of that line of guns in dollars in cents to the Confederate war effort.

And by the way, those nineteen guns?  That would represent about 5% of the total Confederate bronze Napoleon production through the entire war.  All in a nice row, but under new ownership.  No doubt a few of them destined for a return to the battlefield… but as static displays long after the sounds of war disappeared.

(Baylor’s report appears in OR, Series I, Volume 31, Part II, Serial 53, pages 99-100.)

The value of the leader’s reconnaissance: Brown’s Ferry

“Did you conduct a leader’s recon?”

That’s a question often asked during post-exercise assessments in today’s Army.  The leader’s reconnaissance holds a key position in the troop leading procedures and mission planning.  That holds true from squad to battalion level (though the scope of operations from brigade higher tend to make a leader’s reconnaissance impractical).  The Ranger Handbook explains the importance of the leader’s reconnaissance:

The plan must include a leader’s reconnaissance of the objective…. During his reconnaissance, the leader pinpoints the objective, selects reconnaissance, security, support, and assault positions for his elements, and adjusts his plan based on his observation of the objective.

Now in context, the Bible… er… Ranger Handbook focuses on small unit patrol operations.  But considering a modern day infantry company might hold a position assigned to a Civil War-era corps, the fundamentals translate well to historical situations. And, the leader’s reconnaissance concept applies to any mission. Particularly a river crossing.

That in mind, consider the report of Brigadier-General William B. Hazen describing his command’s preparation for the landings at Brown’s Ferry on October 27, 1863:

On the morning of the 25th instant, I reported, by order of the commanding officer of the Fourth Army Corps, to the chief engineer of this army for instructions, and was then briefly informed, for the first time, of the duty to be assigned me, and the method of performing it, which was to organize fifty squads of 1 officer and 24 men each, to embark in boats at Chattanooga and float down the river to this point, a distance, by the bends of the river, of 9 miles, and land upon its left bank, then occupied by the enemy, making, thereafter, immediate dispositions for holding it, while the remaining portions of my brigade, and another one, should be speedily sent over the river in the same boats to re-enforce me; the movement was to be made just before daylight, on the morning of the 27th.

So, Hazen “received the mission” as the Ranger Handbook would define such.   Hazen included a set of maps, with one showing the area around Moccasin Bend where this important mission would take place.  Notice Brown’s Ferry on the left, downstream from Chattanooga and Lookout Mountain:


What next?

The 25th was employed in organizing my parties, each being placed in charge of a tried officer. On the morning of the 26th, I,in company with the chief engineer, visited the place where it was desired to effect the landing, and from the opposite bank found the position as represented below [second and third illustrations in this post].

Hazen would impress any Ranger School instructor at this point.  He started necessary arrangements within his command.  Then, he went to the location where his brigade would effect the landing, put eyes on the objective, and came up with a detailed plan.  AND he included a drawing for us 150 years later to review (with blue arrows indicating point A and B from Hazen’s report):


Hazen’s described his plan:

It was desired that I should land and occupy the two hills to the left of the house. There was a picket post at this point; also in the depression between the two hills. It was thought best to organize a party of 75 men, who should be the first to land, and at once push out upon the road that comes in at the house, clearing and holding it, while half the first organized force should be landed simultaneously at each of the two gorges (A and B), who should immediately push up the hills, inclining to the left and following the crests till they were wholly occupied. Each party of 25 was to carry two axes, and, as soon as the crest should be reached, a strong line of skirmishers was to be pushed out and all the axes at once put at work felling a thick abatis. The remainder of the brigade was to be organized, and, being ready on the opposite bank, armed and provided with axes, was to be at once pushed over, and, also deployed in rear of the skirmishers, were to assist in making the abatis. Positions were also selected for building signal fires, to guide us in landing.


Hazen not only described what his command would do once landing, but also included instructions for follow on forces.  But Hazen didn’t just stop after completing a sound plan based on a good reconnaissance.  He made sure key subordinates knew what they were up against.

I afterward selected tried and distinguished officers to lead the four distinct commands, who, in addition to being instructed fully as to the part they were to take in the matter, were taken to the spot, and every feature of the bank and landings made familiar to them. They, in turn, just before night, called together the leaders of squads and each clearly instructed what his duties were, it being of such a nature that each had, in a great degree, to act independently, but strictly in accordance to instructions.

So how did the execution fare?

At 12 o’clock at night the command was awakened and marched to the landing and quietly embarked, under the superintendence of Col. T. R. Stanley, of the Eighteenth Ohio Volunteers. At precisely 3 a.m. the flotilla, consisting of fifty-two boats, moved noiselessly out. I desired to reach the point of landing at a little before daylight, and soon learned that the current would enable me to do so without using the oars. After moving 3 miles we came under the guns of the enemy’s pickets, but keeping well under the opposite shore were not discovered by them till the first boat was within 10 feet of the landing, when the pickets fired a volley harmlessly over the heads of the men. The disembarkation was effected rapidly and in perfect order, each party performing correctly the part assigned it with so little loss of time that the crest was occupied, my skirmish line out, and the axes working before the re-enforcements of the enemy, a little over the hill, came forward to drive us back.

That is how one effects a major river crossing under the enemy’s guns.  A Good plan, well developed with an on the spot evaluation of options.  A Plan disseminated down to the squad level, who also were given a chance to see the objective and understand what was expected.  As often happens when operations are planned and coordinated well, small elements of luck aided the attackers.

Despite resistance from Law’s Brigade, commanded by Colonel William Oates, Hazen held the lodgement with assistance of Brigadier-General John B. Turchin’s Brigade.  By the afternoon of October 27, a pontoon bridge spanned the Tennessee River.  Overall the Federals took 39 casualties to gain this important river crossing. The Confederates lost 21 contesting the landing.  By securing Brown’s Ferry, Hazen controlled an important link on the “Cracker Line” supplying Chattanooga.  Coupled with a later (shall we say sluggish) advance by Major-General Joseph Hooker into the Wauhatchie Valley, the siege of Chattanooga became porous, if not lifted.

Hazen’s river crossing, in my opinion, deserves a place in the army manuals as an example of what good planning, reconnaissance, and coordination can achieve on the battlefield.

(Hazen’s report appears in OR, Series I, Volume 31, Part I, Serial 54, pages 82-5.)

Minty’s Bad Day

Several episodes between the battles of Chickamauga and Chattanooga deserve attention as we think about how operations in east Tennessee played out through the fall of 1863.  I’ve mentioned the railroads and waterways that brought reinforcements to Chattanooga.  And while the Federals were working hard to reinforce and supply Chattanooga, the Confederates were (while not fighting amongst themselves) trying just as hard to interdict the supply lines to Chattanooga.

In early October, Confederate cavalry raids buzzed about Tennessee like bees over a flower garden.  The largest of these was a raid led by Major-General Joseph Wheeler with a couple of understrength, worn out cavalry divisions.  Wheeler aimed to move to cross well upstream of Chattanooga and then strike the overland supply lines behind Waldon’s Ridge.  From there he could turn on Murfreesboro and the railroad which was at that time bringing reinforcements from the Army of the Potomac.

Wheeler, with a little delay, started his raid on October 1, 1863. Civil War Daily Gazette is doing a good job of explaining the movements and actions of this raid.  So I refer you there for maps and background details.

Two aspects of this raid have always intrigued me.  Again, turning to the movement of the Eleventh and Twelfth Corps at this same time, I wonder how those men felt about the raid.  Not so much if they were surprised at receiving such a warm reception.  Rather, as veterans who’d dealt with the likes of General J.E.B. Stuart and Colonel John Mosby, how did they compare Wheeler and the western cavalrymen?  I’ve not seen any formal comparisons in the wartime sources.  Would be interesting to, perhaps, settle some bar-side arguments about who was the better cavalry leader.

Another point about this raid involves one of my personal favorites – Colonel Robert H.G. Minty.  Eric Wittenberg has a short “forgotten cavalrymen” post on Minty.  I’ve mentioned his actions at Reed’s Bridge opening the battle of Chickamauga.  Like Eric, I consider Minty one of the best Federal cavalry brigade commanders of the war.  But often overlooked is Minty’s relief from command during the Wheeler-Roddy Raid.

On October 6, Brigadier-General Robert Mitchell had the first and second divisions of the Cavalry Corps, Army of the Cumberland, in direct pursuit of Wheeler.  The previous day, Wheeler had demonstrated in front of Murfreesboro.  Now the Confederates were turning south for the Tennessee River.  Along the way, Wheeler intended to damage to the railroad lines between Murfreesboro and the Duck River.  All through October 6 the cavalry sparred on the roads southwest of Murfreesboro.


The pursuit continued the next day, with both sides having crossed over the Duck River.  Brigadier-General George Crook, commanding the Second Division of Mitchell’s cavalry, took up the pursuit towards Farmington.  After some mounted charges that drove Wheeler’s troopers back, Crook felt the opportunity to at last corner his foe.

About three-fourths of a mile from Farmington I found him posted in force in a dense cedar thicket. I at once dismounted my infantry, deploying them on each side of the road. When I attacked Davidson’s division in the morning, breaking through it, part of his column went to the right. Fearing that it would turn my flank I sent back instructions to Colonel Minty, whose position was in the rear of the column, to move to the right and anticipate them.

I supposed that Colonel Minty had carried out my instructions, but when I arrived at Farmington I learned from one of my staff officers, much to my chagrin and surprise, that Colonel Minty was not with me. …

Finding the enemy vastly superior to me, I left one regiment of cavalry to protect my rear, holding the other two regiments as a support to the infantry, the country being impracticable for the cavalry to operate in.

Crook went on to explain how the Confederate artillery and cavalry pressed his position, only halted by fire from the Chicago Board of Trade Battery’s guns followed by a charge of Crook’s attached infantry.

Had Colonel Minty, with his brigade, been there at the time the enemy broke, I should have thrown him on the left flank, and as things turned out since, I would have captured a large portion of [Wheeler’s] command, together with all his artillery and transportation.

Likewise, Mitchell noted Minty’s late movement in his report of the day’s activity:

I neglected to mention that in the morning, while returning from Shelbyville to join the First Division, I found Colonel Minty’s brigade still in camp, he claiming that he had had no orders to move out.  I immediately ordered him to move at once and join his command, knowing that General Crook had intended and supposed he had marched, and that he was in his place with his command.

As result of this, Minty was relieved of command.  Minty’s First Brigade was combined with Colonel William W. Lowe’s Third Brigade, with Lowe assuming overall command.  Minty had gone from hero to scapegoat in just over two weeks.

Minty would demand a court-martial on the charges leveled for his actions of October 7.  In February 1864 he was acquitted. I don’t have access to the court-martial proceedings.  But secondary sources allude to confusion about Crook’s orders (wouldn’t be the only time, now would that?) and specifically what was directed.

Minty returned to command of his brigade that spring.  He led it in the Atlanta Campaign, and occasionally held the temporary post of division command.  The following spring, Minty’s brigade was part of Brigadier-General James Wilson’s cavalry raid. In May 1865, Minty was involved with the capture of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, with his 4th Michigan Cavalry getting credit … or at least part thereof.

Before October 7, 1863, Minty’s resume looked good.  I would argue that had the incident outside Farmington not taken place, Minty would have risen to full command of a division and likely played a leading role in either the east or west.  Instead, one black mark on the record stalled Minty’s rise.

(Citations from OR, Series I, Volume 30, Part II, Series 51, pages 670 and 686-7.)