Summary Statement, 3rd Quarter, 1863 – Miscellaneous Ohio artillery

The last battery in the long list of Ohio independent batteries is the 26th Ohio Independent Battery.  The transformation of “Yost’s Captured Battery” of the 32nd Ohio Infantry into the 26th Ohio Battery… administrative that it was… is a good starting point for discussing a couple of lines from the third quarter 1863 summary statements from Ohio.  These two lines cover infantry regiments reporting, dutifully, about cannon in their possession:


Those two lines, for those who won’t click the image to “embiggin,” read:

  • Company K, 86th Ohio Infantry:  Indicating “Artillery Stores” on hand at Cumberland Gap, Tennessee. The company reported one 6-pdr field gun, two 12-pdr mountain howitzers, one 12-pdr field howitzer, one 3-inch (steel or iron) rifle, and one 3.80-inch James rifle.  I’ll discuss this company and regiment in more detail below.
  • Company H, 71st Ohio Infantry:  Again “artillery stores” on hand.  In this case at Carthage, Tennessee.  The 71st Ohio reported two 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.

Let’s look at these in detail.

86th Ohio Volunteer Infantry

First in the queue and perhaps the most interesting in regard to the background story is this less-well known regiment.  First off, there were two 86th Ohios during the war. The first mustered in the June 1862 as a three month regiment.  They mustered out in late September 1862.  So not the 86th we are looking for here.  The second 86th Ohio mustered (or re-organized, as some sources indicate) as a six-month regiment on July 17, 1863 at Camp Cleveland, Ohio.  The muster was in response to Confederate activity, and akin to the militia and other emergency musters seen in other northern states.  Colonel Wilson C. Lemert (formerly the major of the original 86th) commanded.

The “hot issue” in Ohio at that time was Morgan’s Raid.  So the 86th moved to Camp Tod, Columbus, Ohio, and operated in pursuit of the raiders.  On August 11, the regiment moved to Camp Nelson, Kentucky.  There, the regiment joined Colonel John De Courcy’s brigade which was moving on the Cumberland Gap.  On September 9, the 86th deployed on the Harlen Road, leading into the north side of the gap, along with two guns from the 22nd Ohio Independent Battery, confronting one of the Confederate forts.   Concurrently, other Federal troops deployed to cover approaches on both sides of the gap.  This compelled the Confederates to surrender.  A bloodless victory for Burnside.

And with that surrender, a substantial amount of stores fell into Federal hands.  Captain Henry M. Neil, 22nd Ohio Battery, provided a list of those in a detailed report:


Most of these cannon and ordnance stores were repurposed by the Federals to help establish their garrison in the Cumberland Gap.  And the 86th Ohio was part of that garrison. Matching Neil’s report with the summary, it seems one of the bronze 6-pdr field guns, the two 12-pdr mountain howitzers, and one James rifle were assigned to the 86th. Those are simple, easy matches.

The summary indicates the 86th had a bronze 12-pdr field howitzer, but Neil indicates two iron 12-pdr field howitzer among those captured.  So we have to consider if the clerks in Washington simply tallied an iron howitzer as bronze; if the 86th reported a bronze howitzer where in fact that was an iron howitzer; if Neil got the description wrong; or… if the 86th received a bronze howitzer from another source.

Lastly, Neil did not mention any 3-inch rifles among the captured guns.  Or for that matter any 3-inch ammunition.  I suspect this came from another source (other than the captured lot).  However, we might entertain the possibility that a Confederate 3-inch rifle was among those turned over to the 86th Ohio.  Perhaps a slim possibility.

Either from capture or reorganization, the 86th Ohio had six cannon by the end of September, 1863.  These were commanded by Captain James W. Owens of Company K.  The 86th Ohio remained at the Cumberland Gap through the middle of January 1864.  At that time, they started a long seven day winter march out of the mountains and back to Ohio.  They were mustered out on February 10, 1864.  The cannon, however, were left up at the Cumberland Gap.

71st Ohio Volunteer Infantry

In the words of one historian, this regiment had a checkered wartime service but in the end was “redeemed” in battle. Suffering from a bad reputation after Shiloh and having been captured in August 1862, the regiment was mostly assigned to garrison duties.  In the summer of 1863, the regiment was assigned to First Brigade, Third Division, Reserve Corps, Army of the Cumberland.  The regiment had duties protecting the Louisville & Nashville Railroad, with headquarters at Gallatin, Tennessee.  Colonel Henry K. McConnell commanded.

Carthage, Tennessee, was indeed one of the points garrisoned by the Third Division of the Reserve Corps.  But there are no specific details I’ve found regarding details from the 71st assigned to that garrison.  Though it was a concentration point for Tennessee unionists being formed into regiments.  Furthermore, as Burnside reached Knoxville, Carthage, with its position on the Cumberland River, became an important connection between two armies then operating in Tennessee.

We can confirm that two 3-inch Ordnance rifles were at Carthage, however.  In a January 14, 1864 report on the artillery within the Department of the Cumberland, Major John Mendenhall commented that a lieutenant and thirteen men from the 13th Indiana Battery were at that post with the two rifles. So perhaps, for a short period during the summer and fall of 1863, the 71st Ohio had charge of those guns in Carthage.  If I read the column correctly, and that assignment was to Company H, then Captain Elihu S. Williams of that company was responsible for the guns.

Ammunition reported

Smoothbore first:


  • 86th Ohio: 203 shot, 100 case, and 95 canister for 6-pdr field guns; 6 shot for 12-pdr field guns; 34 shell and 13 case for 12-pdr field howitzers; and 26 canister for either 12-pdr field howitzers or 12-pdr mountain howitzers.

Referencing Neil’s report, it appears the 86th Ohio received only a portion of the overall ammunition stores.  Perhaps only a portion issued for ready use, while the rest remained in centralized magazines?  The presence of shot for 12-pdr field guns opens questions. Neil reported the Confederates had, what would be non-standard, 12-pdr shot for their howitzers.  So is this six 12-pdr shot for field guns? Or for howitzers?  I could see either being the case.

The 71st Ohio reported Hotchkiss rounds for their Ordnance rifles:


  • 71st Ohio Infantry:  43 canister, 9 percussion shell, and 290 fuse shell for 3-inch rifles.

Now back to the Cumberland Gap, where the 86th reported James projectiles on hand:


  • 86th Ohio Infantry: 61 shot and 77 shell for 3.80-inch James.

The questions here, with respect to what Neil reported, is if the shells are percussion shell and if these are “Federal” James projectiles being recaptured…. or Confederate copies.

Neither infantry regiment reported Schenkl projectiles on hand.  And they did not tally any small arms for these detachments.  But I’ve posted those blank pages out of habit.

Before leaving this discussion of Ohio’s non-artillery formations that happened to have cannon on hand, we have one other organization that is not listed on the summary.  In mid-1863, returns from central Tennessee included an organization titled “Law’s Howitzer Battery” or simply “Mountain Howitzer Battery” under Lieutenant Jesse S. Law.

We can trace that battery back to a report from Colonel August V. Kautz, 2nd Ohio Cavalry, written on June 11, 1863 concerning a demonstration made to Monticello, Kentucky a few days before.  A minor affair of only passing interest.  But what concerns us is this accolade:

I must not forget to mention the gallant conduct of Private Jesse Law, commanding the howitzer battery.  This man well deserves a commission, and has been recommended for promotion.

And indeed, Private Law was soon Lieutenant Law. And he remained in charge of four mountain howitzers. This battery supported Kautz’ brigade, First Division, Twenty-Third Corps, which was part of Burnside’s campaign in east Tennessee.  Late in the campaign the battery remained intact, but serving separate from the 2nd Ohio Cavalry.  With that, we can place the howitzers, and Law, somewhere around Knoxville at the close of the third quarter, 1863.  However it appears by the end of the year Law’s howitzers were turned over to some other organization and the Lieutenant resumed cavalry duties.

As for Law himself, I’ve got a lot of information about his career still being complied and organized.  Not ready to post that just yet.  I am fairly confident in saying he was an artilleryvman before the war with Battery G, 4th US.  And he was discharged just after the battle of Antietam.  From there, he enlisted in the 2nd Ohio Cavalry and later received the promotion mentioned above.  Unfortunately, Law didn’t retain those lieutenant bars long.  Law was dismissed from the service in December 1864.  The details of that part of the story I am still working on.



One of Beauregard’s Columbiads recovered from the ocean floor?

I’ve written some in the past about the remarkable find of the steamer Philadelphia. (And note, this is not the gunboat USS Philadelphia which plied the waters around Charleston during the war.) Some time after the Civil War the steamer left Charleston with a load of scrap metal, including several heavy artillery pieces of Confederate vintage. The Philadelphia never made it out of South Carolina waters and sank off the coast. Recently Rufus Perdue discovered the wreck and began recovery of some 25 cannons (!).

I mentioned a Bellonia 10-inch columbiad donated to the South Carolina Military Museum in that earlier post. Recently another of the cannons, this one a Tredegar columbiad of the same caliber, showed up in the news. Earlier this month, WMBF News of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina ran a story about cannons found in recent years, featuring both the Philadelphia cannons and relics from the CSS Pee Dee. Regarding the columbiads, the article notes:

Mr. Rufus Perdue was fishing for grouper off the coast of McClennanville when he discovered the sunken USS Philadelphia. The ship sank under the weight of cannons decommissioned from Charleston after the Civil War, being transported north.

“This is one of about 25 cannons,” Perdue said. “They were shipped out of Charleston at the end of Reconstruction.”

Mr. Perdue unearthed those cannons, which he now proudly displays outside his Murrells Inlet home.

I can’t embed the video from the article here, but please give it a look. I mean really take a look at around the 1:34 mark:


The four digit number on the muzzle stands out in white. Is that 1676? 1678? 1873? Any of those numbers match the Tredegar Gun Book entries for 10-inch columbiads. The first two are of interest to the discussion of Charleston’s defenses in March 1863.

Foundry numbers 1676 and 1678 appear on a receipt list from November 1862. According to the receipt, number 1676 was sent to Cumberland Gap (yes, up in the mountains).

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I’ll have to research a bit to determine if the gun ever got there, and if not where it was redirected.

But number 1678, paired with 1681, were bound for Charleston.

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Keep in mind this table from the Charleston board, which shows three 10-inch columbiads delivered to the First Military District in November of that year.


The J.R. Anderson receipt accounts for all three of the November columbiads – number 1672 delivered by the foundry on November 5 along with the two mentioned above. The receipt also accounts for 10-inch columbiad number 1687 delivered at Richmond in the last days of the month, the forwarded to Charleston in December.

But… if the number is 1873, then it was cast in July 1863 and was a later arrival at Charleston. Either way, the recovered columbiad was likely a participant in the long siege of Charleston.

Vandals at Cumberland Gap

We are closing in on the 150th anniversary of Braxton Bragg’s retreat through Cumberland Gap, which ended the “Heartland Campaign” in Kentucky. So let me call your attention to this unfortunate news story, from, about Cumberland Gap:

Vandals caught on camera damaging Civil War artifacts

BELL COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) – Officials say vandals are damaging historical artifacts used in the Civil War that are on display at the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park.

Park Rangers are now using surveillance cameras to catch those responsible.

The cannon on top of the Pinnacle in the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park is part of history.

“The gun tube itself was used in the Civil War. We’re talking a real artifact here, not just some decoration,” said Chief Ranger Dirk Wiley.

Chief Ranger Wiley says some people are vandalizing the part of history. People are carving initials, names, even profanity into it.

“These are tangible links to our past and it’s very disrespectful to do that to all the soldiers who lost their lives in this conflict,” said Martha Wiley, the Park Historian.

To catch those responsible, Park Rangers set up surveillance cameras. Chief Ranger Wiley says they have already caught five people on video. All face federal charges.

“We do get tired of people vandalizing the cannon and there comes a point you have to do something about it,” Chief Ranger Wiley said.

“These are parts of our history and it does make me very angry to see people just be so casual and just desecrate,” said Martha Wiley.

Officials say this not only damages historical artifacts, they also have to spend money to clean it up.

“In a time when everybody is concerned about the federal budget, where’s our federal money going and where’s it wasted? I can’t think of a bigger waste of time than law enforcement rangers having to constantly keep an eye on the cannons and maintenance workers having to constantly re-paint the cannons,” said Chief Ranger Wiley.

In the court cases, the park is seeking restitution from the accused vandals. Those convicted could also be ordered to pay fines.

Park officials say the internet helped them identify some of the accused vandals. They say some out of state suspects posted pictures of themselves and the cannon on Facebook. (Read full story)

I used that cannon in a profile on the 20-pdr Navy Parrott Rifle, back in September 2010. That cannon has long suffered at the hands of those who have trouble expressing themselves:

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I echo Ranger Wiley’s comments, but would go one further. There are some extant earthworks up on Cumberland Gap too. The park shouldn’t have to take extra measures to protect them. Visitors should have the good sense to respect them.

150 Years Ago: Cumberland Gap

On June 18, 1862, Federal forces under Brigadier General George W. Morgan occupied Cumberland Gap.  Of his success, Morgan wrote:

The enemy evacuated this American Gibraltar this morning at 10 o’clock, and De Courcy’s brigade took possession at 3 this afternoon. The enemy destroyed a considerable amount of his stores, and precipitated several cannon over the cliffs, spiking others, and carried a few away. I believe, however, that seven have been found in position. The tents were left standing, but cut into slits. He had not time to destroy or take a portion of his stores, and they have been taken possession of by the proper officers. The Stars and Stripes were raised by De Courcy, and a national salute was fired in honor of the capture of this stronghold of treason. Each brigade, in the order of its arrival, will on successive days plant its flag at sunset upon the pinnacle of the mountain, accompanied by a national salute.

In my hurried dispatches of this morning I neglected speaking in terms of just praise of the valuable services of Lieutenant Fisher and his brother officers of the Signal Corps, and also of the energy and devotion of Lieutenant-Colonel Munday and his handful of cavalry; but every officer and every soldier has nobly discharged his duty. (OR, Series I, Vol. 10, Serial 10, page 56)

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Fields and Road Trace on the Kentucky side of Cumberland Gap

This was a victory achieved more by sweat and toil than bloodshed.  An important component of Morgan’s command was a battery of heavy Parrott rifles directed by Captain Jacob T. Foster, First Wisconsin Battery.  Foster’s men hauled two 20-pdr and two 30-pdr Parrott Rifles through the hills and right up to the Cumberland Gap.   A passage from Foster’s official report, discussing the movement of guns on June 10, attested to the difficulty moving these heavy guns:

After halting until late in the evening all were closed up, and Wetmore’s Ninth Ohio Battery allowed to pass and make the descent in advance. The 30-pounder guns being so heavy, weighing 8,000 pounds, were left at the top of the mountain, as the descent was too difficult to think for one moment of moving them down in the night.  The 20-pounders, being more nearly allied to light artillery, were moved down the mountain into Powell’s Valley during the night, but not without difficulty, for in many instances would they have been whirled down the rocks but for the constant care and tugging at the ropes by all the men we had…. (OR, Series I, Vol. 10, Serial 10, page 65)

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20-pdr Naval Parrott on display at Cumberland Gap

The capture of Cumberland Gap, at least on the map, secured the last corner of Kentucky. The move opened the door, long called for from Washington, to the east Tennessee and west North Carolina unionists.  It also opened doors into southwest Virginia.  The gap figured prominently in the American mind of the 1800s.  The Civil War generation was not far removed from those who passed through the gap on the Wilderness Road.  Planting the Stars-and-Stripes at the Cumberland Gap was a symbolic victory – setting the link that bound east and west.

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Remains of the fortifications in Cumberland Gap

But this was not the end of Civil War activity at Cumberland Gap.  It would change hands a couple more times with the ebb and flow of the war.

Cumberland Gap

Another of our stops during the recent vacation was Cumberland Gap National Historical Park.  While the park’s interpretation is largely focused on the story of migration and settlement, there are a few sites for those with Civil War interests.

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Pinnacle Overlook from the West Side Visitor Center

Pinnacle road provides access into the saddle of the gap and up to Pinnacle Overlook.  Along the route are pull-offs to view restored sections of the Wilderness Road and Fort McCook.

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Fort McCook - Cumberland Gap

Rifled 6-pdr Field Gun, produced by Marshall & Company in 1861, stands guard over remains of Fort McCook.   The view of Middlesboro is impressive (offering a view of the crater of an ancient meteorite strike).  But the works have suffered from exposure, time, and footsteps (unfortunately).   The marker there provides a map indicating the locations of other works defending Cumberland Gap during the Civil War.

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Cumberland Gap Defenses

Fort McCook covered the western approaches to the Gap.  A little further up, and on the right side of the map, is Fort Lyon.

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Fort Lyon - 20-pdr Parrott Navy Rifle

Fort Lyon overlooked the eastern approaches and the saddle of the Gap.  Fort Lyon is better preserved of the two positions and boasts a 20-pdr Parrott Navy Rifle.

The park offers an extensive and attractive trail system.  A few sources mention additional earthworks on the other ridge lines around the gap.  Unfortunately I did not have time to hike and explore those sites.  So I’ll have to plan another visit, before saying for sure if more earthworks still stand in the Gap.

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Looking East from Pinnacle Overlook

Certainly, the main attractions to Cumberland Gap are the overlooks and the Wilderness Road.  And the story of exploration and westward expansion trump the Civil War events.  For the battlefield stomper, Cumberland Gap offers a few sites – and a great starting point for explorations into southwestern Virginia, northeastern Tennessee, and western Kentucky.