Summary Statement, 4th Quarter, 1863 – New York Independent Batteries, Part 1

After a long break, let us resume this line of march. Picking up where we left off with in the New York section of fourth quarter summary statements for 1863. Next up are the independent batteries and miscellaneous lines:


No we won’t try to jump all thirty-six lines at once. Rather in batches, as was our convention, starting with the first dozen:


Of those first dozen, eight offered returns. Three of which were timely, posted within thirty days. However, one was tardily received in August. And for the data received, we see a lot of familiar placenames:

  • 1st Independent Battery: At Brandy Station, Virginia with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.   Captain Andrew Cowan remained in command of the battery, assigned to Sixth Corps, Army of the Potomac.
  • 2nd Independent Battery:  No return.  The original battery mustered out on June 13, 1863.  Captain Wolfgang Bock received authority to recruit a reorganized 2nd Independent Battery.  However, on October 14, that authority was revoked and men recruited into the new 2nd were instead was made part of the 15th New York Heavy Artillery.
  • 3rd Independent Battery: Also at Brandy Station, Virginia and now with six 12-pdr Napoleons. The battery was also part of Sixth Corps, under Captain William A. Harn.
  • 4th Independent Battery: No return.  With Lieutenant William T. McLean in command, the battery was discontinued on December 4, 1863.  Remaining men of the battery transferred to the 5th New York Battery, 15th New York Battery, and to Battery B, 1st New York Light Artillery. In addition, one officer and 40 enlisted transferred to the 1st New York Engineers. At the time the battery disbanded, it was assigned six 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • 5th Independent Battery: Also at Brandy Station.  Reporting with six 20-pdr Parrotts.  Captain Elijah D. Taft remained in command of this battery, in the Second Volunteer Brigade, Artillery Reserve.
  • 6th Independent Battery: At Camp Barry, District of Columbia with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles. Captain Joseph W. Martin held command of this battery, assigned to the First Brigade, Horse Artillery, Army of the Potomac.  So, as of the end of December 1863, the battery was actually at Brandy Station. The reporting location reflects the date of posting – June 1864 – when the battery was reassigned to the Defenses of Washington.
  • 7th Independent Battery: At Norfolk, Virginia with two 12-pdr Napoleons and six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles. Captain Peter C. Regan’s battery was part of the Department of Virginia and North Carolina.
  • 8th Independent Battery: At Gloucester Point, Virginia with  six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  Captain Butler Fitch commanded this battery, also in the Department of Virginia and North Carolina. 
  • 9th Independent Battery: Fort Reno, District of Columbia with no reported cannon. Captain Emil Schubert remained in command.  Battery assigned to the Twenty-Second Corps, defending Washington, serving as heavy artillery. 
  • 10th Independent Battery: No Return. This battery was broken up the previous summer. A detachment remained, under Lieutenant Charles T. Bruen, and served in the Washington Defenses through June of 1864.
  • 11th Independent Battery: No return.  Detachments from this battery served with Battery K, 1st New York Light.  Captain John E. Burton was busy bringing this battery back up to strength. In January 1864 the battery, fully manned, would re-appear in the Army of the Potomac’s order of battle, in the Second Volunteer Brigade, Artillery Reserve.
  • 12th Independent Battery: At Brandy Station, Virginia reporting six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles. The battery remained with Third Corps, under Captain George F. McKnight.

Traversing on to the ammunition columns, we start with the smoothbore rounds:

  • 3rd Battery: 288 shot, 96 shell, and 288 case for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • 7th Battery: 41 shot, 46 shell, and 89 case for 12-pdr Napoleons.

More rounds to count on the next page:

  • 3rd Battery: 96 canister for 12-pdr Napoleon.
  • 5th Battery: 91 canister for 6-pdr field guns.
  • 7th Battery: 65 canister for 12-pdr Napoleon.

The 5th Battery line offers an interesting question. What would they need with smoothbore canister in a battery of big Parrott rifles? Well, I again go to my “if it fits the bore, it is of some use” speculation. 3.67-inches is the caliber of the 20-pdr Parrott. I’ll offer that until a better explanation is proffered.

To the right are rifled projectiles. First the Dyer Patents:

  • 8th Battery: 321 Dyer shell and 650 Dyercase for 3-inch rifles.

And further right, Hotchkiss:

  • 1st Battery: 3 Hotchkiss shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • 6th Battery: 10 Hotchkiss shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • 7th Battery: 223 Hotchkiss shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • 12th Battery: 142 Hotchkiss shell for 3-inch rifles.

More Hotchkiss from the next page:

  • 1st Battery: 7 shell, 432 case, and 120 canister, all for 3-inch rifles.
  • 6th Battery: 28 case and 93 canister for 3-inch rifles.
  • 7th Battery: 56 shell, 566 case, and 132 canister for 3-inch rifles.
  • 8th Battery: 40 case and 175 canister for 3-inch rifles.
  • 12th Battery: 9 shell, 116 case, and 67 canister for 3-inch rifles.

The next page has entries for Parrott and Schenkl rounds:


First the Parrotts:

  • 5th Battery: 75 shell and 74 case for 20-pdr Parrott. Note, no canister.

Then the Schenkl:

  • 1st Battery: 217 shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • 5th Battery: 215 shell for 3.67-inch rifles.
  • 6th Battery: 544 shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • 8th Battery: 44 shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • 12th Battery: 90 shell for 3-inch rifles.

More Schenkl on the next page:

  • 1st Battery: 420 case for 3-inch rifles.
  • 5th Battery: 202 case for 3.67-inch rifles.
  • 6th Battery: 15 case for 3-inch rifles.
  • 12th Battery: 200 case for 3-inch rifles.

Turning next to the small arms:

  • 1st Battery: 15 Colt navy revolvers and 6 horse artillery sabers.
  • 3rd Battery: 4 Colt navy revolvers and 9 cavalry sabers.
  • 5th Battery: 25 Colt army revolvers and 21(?) horse artillery sabers.
  • 6th Battery: 103 Colt army revolvers, 10 Colt navy revolvers, and 10 cavalry sabers.
  • 7th Battery: 18 Colt navy revolvers and 17 horse artillery sabers.
  • 8th Battery: 13 Colt navy revolvers and 20 horse artillery sabers.
  • 9th Battery: 84 Springfield .58 caliber muskets and 6 foot officer’s swords.
  • 12th Battery: 28 Colt army revolvers and 8 horse artillery sabers.

The next page, we see the tally of cartridges:

  • 5th Battery: 572(?) cartridge bags for 20-pdr Parrott.
  • 6th Battery: 166 cartridge bags for 3-inch rifles.
  • 8th Battery: 81 cartridge bags for 3-inch rifles.
  • 9th Battery: 2000 musket cartridges and 170 of something… in a column with no title?
  • 12th Battery: 987 cartridge bags for 3-inch rifles.

The last page we cover tallies pistol cartridges, powder, fuses, and other items:

  • 3rd Battery: 600 navy pistol cartridges; 1,480 friction primers; 17 pounds of quick match; and 29 yards of slow match.
  • 5th Battery: 161 paper fuses.
  • 6th Battery: 370 navy pistol cartridges; 154 paper fuses; and 921 friction primers.
  • 7th Battery: 46 army and 550 navy pistol cartridges and 420 paper fuses.
  • 8th Battery: 444 navy pistol cartridges; 360 paper fuses; and 760 friction primers.
  • 12th Battery: 100 army pistol cartridges; 290 paper fuses; 1,515 friction primers; 50 yards of slow match; and 100 percussion caps.

In the snapshot of time, that was the end of 1863, the records of these first twelve of the New York Independent batteries speak to the intensity of war in that year. Batteries disbanded and mustered out. Others recruiting up to replace losses. And the rest armed after a hard season of campaigning, preparing for the worst the next year would offer.

Summary Statement, 3rd Quarter, 1863 – Heavy Artillery

For the last post of this blogging year, we have the last post in the series covering the summary statements of the third quarter of 1863. This is simply an administrative summary of the heavy artillery units in Federal service at the end of that quarter. Some of these did appear in the summary statements, usually offering little more than a location. In this installment, we’ll expand upon that a bit with the aim (which will fall short, no doubt) to have at least mention of all Federal units designated as artillery which were serving at that time of the war.

The reality of the heavy artillery service is those units were by intent garrison troops. So in effect part artillery, but also part infantry. Both being on the “heavy” side of things. Not a lot of marching. Not a lot of combat. But a lot of drill and other propriety. And if artillery was crewed by the unit, those were typically considered property of the installation (be that a fort or other post) and not owned by the unit – for accounting purposes that is. Over my years of research, I’ve only seen a handful of these installation ordnance returns. The form was different, usually completed by an actual ordnance officer. I would presume from there the summaries were kept on a separate ledger. And I’ve never seen that ledger… if such exists.

All that means is we are left simply accounting for units, assignments, and duty locations. And even then we must acknowledge the list will be incomplete. Some infantry units served, for all practical purposes, as heavy artillery. And, particularly in the New England states, un-mustered militia units often pulled duty in the seacoast fortifications. So there are a lot of hairs to split in order to claim a full, complete accounting. For now, let us just focus on units mustered as, and thus designated as, heavy artillery. And we’ll look at those by state.


  • 1st Alabama Siege/Heavy Artillery (African Descent): This unit had a date with destiny at a place called Fort Pillow… though under a different name. Initially organized in June 1863, from contrabands in Tennessee and Mississippi, by the end of September four companies were part of the Corinth, Mississippi garrison. No regimental commander was appointed until the spring 1864. The regiment would then be redesignated to the 6th US Colored Heavy Artillery (and after Fort Pillow, to the 7th US Colored Heavy Artillery; and in 1865 to the 11th USCT Infantry). The four companies, and commanders, at Corinth for the end of the third quarter were:
    • Company A: Captain Lionel F. Booth
    • Company B: Captain John H. Baker
    • Company C: Captain William T. Smith
    • Company D: Captain Delos Carson


  • 1st Connecticut Heavy Artillery: As mentioned earlier, Batteries B and M served with the Army of the Potomac, in 2nd Volunteer Brigade, Artillery Reserve.  The remainder of Colonel Henry L. Abbot’s regiment transferred to Second Brigade of the Defenses South of the Potomac (DeRussy’s Division, Twenty-Second Corps), defending Washington, D.C.  Regimental headquarters were at Fort Richardson. Abbot pulled double duty as the brigade commander.
  • 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery: Also serving in Second Brigade of the Defenses South of the Potomac. This regiment was under Lieutenant-Colonel Elisha S. Kellogg.





  • 1st Louisiana Heavy Artillery (African Descent): A placeholder entry in the summaries. See post for details.


  • 1st Maine Heavy Artillery: Under Colonel Daniel Chaplin, was part of the defenses of Washington, D.C., assigned to the north side of the Potomac.  The regiment had detachments in Maine on recruiting duties and at the seacoast fortifications (mostly recruits being trained up for duty). 


  • Company A, 1st Maryland Heavy Artillery: Details of this unit are scarce. Not exactly sure when it began to organize. By mid-1864, the entire regiment numbered only fifty men. As it failed to fully organize, those present were assigned to duties around Baltimore.


  • 1st Massachusetts Heavy Artillery Regiment: Assigned to First Brigade of the Defenses South of the Potomac – DeRussy’s Division, Twenty-Second Corps.  Colonel Thomas R. Tannatt commanded the regiment, and also commanded, temporarily, the brigade.
  • 2nd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery Regiment: Freshly formed under Colonel Jones Frankle, this regiment left Massachusetts during the first weeks of September. Headquarters were going to New Berne, North Carolina. But the companies would serve at different stations throughout North Carolina and tidewater Virginia.
  • 1st Battalion, Massachusetts Heavy Artillery: This battalion was formed with four previously independent batteries and served primarily at Fort Warren, Boston harbor.  The four companies were originally the 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 5th unassigned heavy companies (becoming Companies A, B, C, and D respectively).  Major Stephen Cabot commanded this consolidated battalion. 
  • 3rd Company, Massachusetts Heavy Artillery: At Fort Independence, Boston, under Captain Lyman B. Whiton. Mustered into Federal service in January 1864 (as part of 3rd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery).
  • 6th Company, Massachusetts Heavy Artillery: Under Captain John A.P. Allen at Fort at Clark’s Point, New Bedford, Massachusetts. Would not actually muster into Federal service until May 1864 (as part of 3rd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery) .
  • 7th Company, Massachusetts Heavy Artillery: Unattached, but serving alongside the 1st Battalion at Fort Warren. Captain George S. Worchester commanded. Mustered into Federal service in August 1864 (as part of 3rd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery).
  • 8th Company, Massachusetts Heavy Artillery: Captain Loring S. Richardson commanded. Boston garrison. Mustered into Federal service in August 1864 (as part of 3rd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery).
  • 9th Company, Massachusetts Heavy Artillery: Captain Leonard Gordon commanded. Boston garrison. Mustered into Federal service in August 1864 (as part of 3rd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery).
  • 10th Company, Massachusetts Heavy Artillery: Commanded by Captain Cephas C. Bumpas. Boston garrison. Mustered into Federal service in September 1864 (as part of 3rd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery).
  • 11th and 12th Companies, Massachusetts Heavy Artillery: These companies were still organizing at the close of September 1863. They were, like the others, earmarked for garrison duty around Boston. Not mustered into Federal service until October-November 1864 (as part of 3rd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery).


  • 2nd Missouri Artillery: As detailed in the summary post, this regiment was reorganizing and transforming from garrison artillery to light artillery.


  • 1st Mississippi Heavy Artillery (African Descent): Formed at Vicksburg in September. Colonel Herman Lieb commanded. Later became the 5th US Colored Heavy Artillery.
  • 2nd Mississippi Heavy Artillery (African Descent): Formed at Natchez in September, we looked at this regiment as a possible explanation for an entry line with the Mississippi Marine Brigade. Colonel Bernard G. Farrar commanded. Later became the 6th US Colored Heavy Artillery (a duplicate of the 1st Alabama Siege Artillery, above).

New Hampshire

  • 1st Company New Hampshire Heavy Artillery: Under Captain Charles H. Long, this battery formed in the spring of 1863 and was mustered into service at the end of July. The company garrisoned Fort Constitution. In 1864, this company, along with the 2nd, below, became the nucleus for the new 1st New Hampshire Heavy Artillery Regiment.
  • 2nd Company New Hampshire Heavy Artillery: Organized in August and mustered in September, this company garrisoned Fort McClary, Kittery Point, New Hampshire. Captain Ira M. Barton commanded.

New York

  • 2nd New York Heavy Artillery:  We discussed Colonel Joseph N. G. Whistler’s regiment while covering a lone entry for Battery L (which later became the 34th New York Independent Battery).  The 2nd New York Heavy was assigned to First Brigade, DeRussy’s Division, South of the Potomac. While Whistler commanded the brigade, Major William A. McKay led the regiment.
  • 4th New York Heavy Artillery:  Assigned to the Fourth Brigade, DeRussy’s Division, Defenses South of the Potomac.  Detachments manned Fort Marcy and Fort Ethan Allen. When Colonel Henry H. Hall was promoted to Brigadier-General, Captain John C. Tidball, of the regular army, was commissioned at the regimental commander in August.
  • 5th New York Heavy Artillery:  This regiment served by battalions at different postings. Colonel Samuel Graham, of the regiment, commanded the Second Brigade of Baltimore’s defenses. Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Murray was in charge of two battalions of the regiment in that brigade.  Third Battalion, under Major Gustavus F. Merriam, was in the defenses of Washington in First Brigade, DeRussy’s Division, South of the Potomac.
  • 6th New York Heavy Artillery:  Colonel J. Howard Kitching commanded.  The regiment was part of the Harpers Ferry garrison before the Gettysburg Campaign, and soon brought into the Army of the Potomac. At the time of the Bristoe Campaign, the regiment was serving as ammunition guards and handlers for the Army of the Potomac.
  • 7th New York Heavy Artillery: Second Brigade, Defenses North of the Potomac, Twenty-Second Corps under Colonel Lewis O. Morris (who also commanded the brigade).
  • 8th New York Heavy Artillery: Under Colonel Peter A. Porter, this regiment had garrison duty at Forts Federal Hill, Marshall, and McHenry around Baltimore, as part of Eighth Corps, Middle Department.  On July 10, the regiment moved forward to Harpers Ferry. On August 3, the regiment returned to Baltimore.
  • 9th New York Heavy Artillery: Second Brigade, Defenses North of the Potomac, Twenty-Second Corps under Colonel Joseph Welling.
  • 10th New York Heavy Artillery: This regiment formed the Third Brigade, Defenses North of the Potomac, Twenty-Second Corps.  Commanded by Colonel Alexander Piper. 
  • 11th New York Heavy Artillery:  We discussed their saga in an earlier post.  Colonel William B. Barnes’ regiment was still forming and incomplete when thrust into the Gettysburg Campaign. The total number of men mustered was about a battalion strength. Returning to New York in mid-July, the regiment helped suppress the draft riots. Afterward, the companies of the regiment served the forts around the harbor. However, with the end of July and regiment not forming out to full strength, the men were transferred at replacements to the 4th New York Heavy and the regiment disbanded.
  • 12th New York Heavy Artillery: Colonel Robert P. Gibson began recruiting this regiment in March, 1863. Never fully recruited, the state revoked the authorization and the men were transferred to the 15th New York Heavy.
  • 13th New York Heavy Artillery: Recruited by Colonel William A. Howard starting in May 1863, this regiment mustered by company and served by company and battalion detachments. First Battalion, with Companies A, B, C, and D, under Major Oliver Wetmore, Jr., departed for Norfolk in October.
  • 14th New York Heavy Artillery: Colonel Elisha G. Marshall recruited and organized this regiment starting in May 1863. Mustering by company, only six were in service by mid-October. Those mustered were initially assigned to the defenses of New York City.
  • 15th New York Heavy Artillery: Also authorized in May 1863, Colonel Louis Schirmer commanded this regiment. The nucleus of this regiment was the 3rd Battalion New York (German) Heavy Artillery, which had served from the fall of 1861, mostly in the Washington defenses. On September 30, that battalion (five companies) was consolidated with new recruits originally from the 12th Heavy to form the 15th Heavy. They were assigned to Fourth Brigade, DeRussy’s Division, South of the Potomac (with Schirmer commanding the brigade).
  • 16th New York Heavy Artillery:  Colonel Joseph J. Morrison began organizing this regiment in June 1863. Receiving men from the 35th Independent Battery and other organizations, the 16th Heavy began mustering in September. Companies A, B, and C left the state for Fort Monroe in October.
  • 9th Independent Battery: Assigned to Fort Reno, in the defenses of Washington.
  • 20th Independent Battery: Part of the garrison of Fort Schuyler, New York.
  • 28th Independent Battery: Also assigned to Fort Schuyler.


  • 1st Ohio Heavy Artillery: Originally the 117th Ohio Infantry, this regiment changed to heavy artillery in May 18663. Colonel Chauncey G. Hawley, who was promoted in August, commanded this regiment. They garrisoned Covington, Paris, and other posts in Kentucky as part of Twenty-third Corps, Department of Ohio. In October, the regiment moved to cover posts in Tennessee.
  • 2nd Ohio Heavy Artillery: Under Colonel Horatio G. Gibson, this regiment began mustering, by company, in July 1863. By the end of September, all twelve were in service. The companies initially served at Covington Barracks, but were soon detailed to other posts in Kentucky.


  • 2nd Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery:  (the 112th Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers.) Under Colonel Augustus A. Gibson and assigned to First Brigade, Defenses North of the Potomac.  Regimental headquarters at Fort Lincoln.
  • 3rd Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery: Since Battery H appeared in the summaries as a light battery, we discussed this regiment’s service in detail in an earlier post. Colonel Joseph Roberts commanded.
  • Ermentrout’s Battery: This militia battery, mustered during the Gettysburg Campaign, was mustered out at the end of August.

Rhode Island

  • 3rd Rhode Island Heavy Artillery: Battery C of this regiment appeared in the summaries, equipped as a light battery.  The remainder of the regiment served as heavy artillery in support of the Department of the South (which has been chronicled at length on this blog….) Colonel Edwin Metcalf commanded the regiment.
  • 5th Rhode Island Heavy Artillery:  Colonel George W. Tew commanded this regiment, the serving the defenses of New Berne, District of North Carolina.
  • 14th Rhode Island Heavy Artillery (African Descent): Organized on August 28, 1863, Colonel Nelson Viall commanded (some correspondence indicates a rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, as the regiment was only battalion strength at this time of the war). While forming, the regiment remained at Providence, Rhode Island. By the end of the year, one battalion would sail for Louisiana.


  • 1st Tennessee Heavy Artillery (African Descent): Colonel Ignatz G. Kappner commanded this regiment, at the time more of battalion strength, garrisoning Fort Pickering in Memphis. The regiment later became the 3rd US Colored Troops Heavy Artillery.
  • 2nd Tennessee Heavy Artillery (African Descent): This regiment, under Colonel Charles H. Adams, served at Columbus, Kentucky.  The regiment would later be designated the 4th US Colored Troops Heavy Artillery.


  • 1st Vermont Heavy Artillery:  Colonel James M. Warner commanded this regiment, assigned to First Brigade, Defenses North of the Potomac, Twenty-second Corps.  Batteries garrisoned Forts Totten, Massachusetts, Stevens, Slocum, and others.


  • Company A, 1st Wisconsin Heavy Artillery:  Captain Andrew J. Langworthy’s battery was assigned to the defenses of Alexandria, within DeRussy’s Division, Twenty-second Corps.
  • Company B, 1st Wisconsin Heavy Artillery: Captain Walter S. Babcock’s company did not leave Wisconsin until September 1863. It was assigned duty at Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
  • Company C, 1st Wisconsin Heavy Artillery: Still organizing in Wisconsin under Captain John R. Davies. This company moved to Chattanooga in October.
  • Company D, 1st Wisconsin Heavy Artillery: Would muster in November and then move to New Orleans.

US Colored Troops Heavy Artillery

  • 1st US Colored Heavy Artillery: Would organize in February 1864 at Knoxville.
  • 2nd US Colored Artillery: Light batteries organized starting in 1864.
  • 3rd US Colored Heavy Artillery: See 1st Tennessee Heavy Artillery (African Descent).
  • 4th US Colored Heavy Artillery: See 2nd Tennessee Heavy Artillery (African Descent).
  • 5th US Colored Heavy Artillery: See 1st Mississippi Heavy Artillery (African Descent).
  • 6th US Colored Heavy Artillery: Two units held this designation. The 2nd Mississippi Heavy Artillery (African Descent) and the 1st Alabama Siege/Heavy Artillery (African Descent). The former would retain the designation.
  • 7th US Colored Heavy Artillery: The 1st Alabama Siege/Heavy Artillery (African Descent), assigned this designation after de-conflicting the duplication mentioned above. And to further confuse things, initially the 1st Louisiana Heavy Artillery (African Descent) was given this designation before using the 10th US Colored Heavy Artillery.
  • 8th/11th US Colored Heavy Artillery: See 14th Rhode Island Heavy Artillery (African Descent), but would change to the 11th US Colored Heavy Artillery, as a new regiment with this designation was raised in Paducah, Kentucky, in April 1864.
  • 10th US Colored Heavy Artillery: See 1st Louisiana Heavy Artillery (African Descent), formerly the 1st Corps de Afrique Heavy Artillery.
  • Others: The 9th, 12th, and 13th US Colored Heavy Artillery were all new regiments formed in 1864. The 14th US Colored Heavy Artillery, also formed in 1864, began as the 1st North Carolina Heavy Artillery (African Descent). All to be detailed in later quarter summaries.

In closing, please pardon the lengthy resource post. Much of this was derived from raw notes in my files. And as you can see, particularly with the USCT regiments, lead into interesting discussions about designation changes.

On to the summaries for the fourth quarter of 1863! See you in 2019!

“The Coehorn mortars were employed wherever circumstances would permit”: Mortars at Spotsylvania

When the Army of the Potomac broke winter quarters in early May 1864, the Artillery Reserve brought along a somewhat novel weapon – 24-pdr Coehorn mortars.

Seven Days 26 May 12 170

Eight of these mortars, with 100 shells each, traveled with the reserve park, manned by Company E, 15th New York Heavy Artillery.  Of their performance and utilization, Brigadier-General Henry Hunt provided a single sentence in a section of his report on the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House:  “From the 8th to the 16th the Coehorn mortars were employed wherever circumstances would permit of their use, and always with good results…”  The results were so good, in fact, that by June, every corps in the army received their own allotment of Coehorns.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Hunt saw these light mortars as a means to provide fire support in a particular niche not served by the normal field guns (and for which he did not think howitzers could provide).  Recall the Coehorns had provided remarkable support during the siege on Morris Island the previous summer.  And were requested, but not provided, for the siege at Vicksburg – where ersatz wooden mortars filled in.

That niche, defined, was to lay explosive projectiles on a position shielded from direct line of sight, and thus fire.  Such a tactical requirement was seldom of great importance in a pitch battle, with maneuvering forces.  But where the armies sat in close proximity for days on end, and fortifications grew up to protect those forces, the mortar’s high angle fire was of great importance.  So 150 years ago today, with the armies tangled in a series of entrenchments in Spotsylvania County, those eight Coehorns were arguably more useful than a couple batteries of 3-inch rifles.

There was one other suggestion for vertical fire made by Hunt prior to the campaign which might rank as novel… or perhaps even bizarre.  I’ll take a look at that in a later post.  But as a teaser, think a “gun-howitzer-mortar.”

(Citation from OR, Series I, Volume 36, Part I, Serial 67, page 286.)