Summary Statement, 4th Quarter, 1863 – 1st Missouri Light Artillery

The 1st Missouri Light Artillery Regiment began the war as the 1st Missouri Infantry, a three month unit. As infantry, the regiment organized in April 1861 and served in the early war campaigns in Missouri. After Wilson’s Creek, during the month of September, the regiment was reorganized as artillery, one of many creative administrative activities during the first year of the war by authorities in Missouri. The first commander of the regiment was Colonel Francis P. Blair, Jr. However, Representative Blair was not with the regiment for long, being absent for his duties in Washington. Blair, of course, accepted a volunteer commission as a general and went on to gain fame in many of the war’s important campaigns, ending the war as commander of the Seventeenth Corps. Not many artillery regiments can boast a major-general from their ranks.

When Blair accepted his general’s commission, Lieutenant-Colonel Warren S. Lothrop replaced him as the regimental colonel, with date of rank to October 1, 1862. At the end of 1863, Lothrop was the overall artillery chief for Sixteenth Corps. Looking to the rest of the staff, Lieutenant-Colonel Albert M. Powell was artillery chief for Seventeenth Corps; Major George Henry Stone was artillery chief for Left Wing of the Sixteenth Corps; and Major Thomas Maurice was artillery chief for First Division, Seventeenth Corps. Thus we see the 1st Missouri was well represented in staff positions, and fully employed.

For the line batteries, we have this section of the summary to consider:

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  • Battery A: At New Iberia, Louisiana with two 6-pdr field guns, one 12-pdr Napoleon and three 12-pdr field howitzers.  Captain George W. Schofield remained in command.  However, Schofield was at the time detached on his brother’s (Major-General John Schofield) staff. Furthermore, George was due to be promoted in the 2nd Missouri Artillery.  In his absence, Lieutenants Charles M. Callahan and Elisha Cole alternated at head of the the battery.  The battery remained with Third Division, Thirteenth Corps.
  • Battery B:  No return. Captain Martin Welfley’s battery remained with Second Division of the Thirteenth corps.  Welfley had reported two 12-pdr field guns and four 12-pdr field howitzers earlier in the previous winter.  Records are not clear if those were still on hand as of September 1863 or those had been exchanged. With the division, the battery was part of the Rio Grande Expedition that began in October. At the end of the year, the battery was in Brownsville, Texas.
  • Battery C: Reporting from Vicksburg, Mississippi with four 12-pdr field howitzers.  Captain Charles Mann was promoted to major at the start of November, and sent on recruiting duties. Lieutenant Wendolin Meyer led the battery until Captain John L. Matthaei was appointed (January 17, 1864, post-dated to October). The battery remained with First Division, Seventeenth Corps (under Major Maurice mentioned above).  The battery was part of an expedition to Canton, Mississippi in October. But otherwise remained at Vicksburg through the end of the year.
  • Battery D:  At Scottsboro, Alabama, with three 6-pdr field guns, two 12-pdr field howitzers, one 24-pdr field howitzer and two 3-inch rifles.  The battery, under Captain Henry Richardson was assigned to Corinth, transferred to Fourth Division, Fifteenth Corps at the start of October. Richardson was the division artillery chief, with Lieutenant Byron M. Callender leading the battery. The battery participated in the battles around Chattanooga in November and then the relief of Knoxville. But in December, the battery moved to the Huntsville area.
  • Battery E: Reporting at Brownsville, Texas with two 10-pdr Parrotts and two 12-pdr Whitworth 3.5-inch rifles. The latter were were “Fawcett Rifled Iron Gun, Cal. 3.5.” from earlier accounting.  Captain Joseph B. Atwater remained in command of the battery, assigned to Second Division, Thirteenth Corps. The battery was still with the division for the Rio Grande Expedition in October. They were stationed at Brownsville and DeCrow’s Point well into the next year.
  • Battery F: At DeCrow’s Point, Texas (opposite Fort Esparanza at Cavallo Pass, entering Matagorda Bay) with two 3.80-inch James Rifles and four 3.5-inch Whitworth Rifles (as above, these were earlier identified as Fawcett rifles). Captain Joseph Foust remained in command, and the battery assigned to Second Division, Thirteenth Corps.  As with Battery E, this battery participated in the Rio Grande Expedition and other operations on the Texas coast that fall.
  • Battery G: Reporting from Chattanooga, Tennessee with six 12-pdr Napoleons.  Captain Henry Hescock, commanding the battery, was in a Confederate prison. In his place, Lieutenant Gustavus Schueler lead the battery. With reorganizations to the Army of the Cumberland, the battery moved to Second Division, Fourth Corps. After the battles around Chattanooga, the battery became part of the garrison of that place.
  • Battery H: At Pulaski, Tennessee with six 12-pdr Napoleons. Captain Frederick Welker’s battery was part of Second Division, Sixteenth Corps, guarding the railroad lines from Nashville to Decatur. In addition to his battery duties, Welker was also the division artillery chief.
  • Battery I:  No report. In the previous quarter, the battery reported a varied assortment: two 6-pdr field guns, one 12-pdr field howitzers, two 10-pdr Parrotts, and one 4.62-inch rifle (likely a 12-pdr “heavy” field gun, rifled using the James system). I suspect this battery “slimmed down” for field duty in the fall of 1863. Captain Benjamin Tannrath commanded the battery, assigned to Second Division, Sixteenth Corps, alongside Battery H. And likewise, Battery I guarded the railroad lines near Decatur, Alabama.
  • Battery K: At Little Rock, Arkansas with four 10-pdr Parrotts. Captain Stillman O. Fish remained in command of this battery, assigned to Third Division of what soon became the Seventh Corps, Department of Arkansas. Of note, Lieutenant Charles Green of the battery was detached serving with Battery F, 2nd US Artillery.
  • Battery L: At Rolla, Missouri with two 12-pdr field howitzers and two 3.67-inch rifles. Captain Junius G. Wilson McMurray commanded the battery, but he was absent on leave. Lieutenant Charles Stierlin let the battery instead. During this time, the battery was accused of “depredations upon civilians,” for which Stierlin was charged for failing to keep discipline in the battery. Lieutenant John Steffins (appearing on some rolls as Stephens) stepped into this “cloudy” situation with Battery L. At the end of December, the battery moved from Rolla to Springfield.
  • Battery M: At Vicksburg, Mississippi with four 10-pdr Parrotts.  This battery remained assigned to the First Division, Seventeenth Corps. Captain James Marr was now the battery commander, but due to illness on detached service in St. Louis. Lieutenant John H. Tiemeyer led the battery in his place.

A busy ammunition section to consider as we start with the smoothbore rounds:

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  • Battery A: 294 shot and 262 case for 6-pdr field guns; 50 shot, 40 shell, and 102 case for 12-pdr Napoleons; 270 shell and 380 case for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • Battery C: 240 shell and 240 case for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • Battery D: 83 shot and 107 case for 6-pdr field guns; 48 shell for 24-pdr field howitzers.
  • Battery G: 102 shot, 170 shell, and 289 case for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery H: 288 shot, 96 shell, and 288 case for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery L: 58 shell and 64 case for 12-pdr field howitzers.
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  • Battery A: 71 canister for 6-pdr field guns; 84 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers; and 26 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery C: 128 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery D: 157 canister for 6-pdr field guns; 7 case and 24 canister for 24-pdr field howitzers.
  • Battery G: 183 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery H: 96 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery L: 79 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.

To the right are the first of the Hotchkiss projectile columns:

  • Battery D: 48 time fuse shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery F: 75 shot and 505 time fuse shell for 3.5-inch rifles; 10 shot and 34 time fuse shell for 3.80-inch rifles.
  • Battery L: 87 shot for 3.67-inch rifles.

More Hotchkiss on the next page:

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  • Battery D: 45 percussion fuse shell, 54 bullet shell, and 40 canister for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery E: 44 percussion fuse shell and 80 canister for 3.5-inch rifles.
  • Battery F: 342 percussion fuse shell and 209 canister for 3.5-inch rifles; 181 percussion fuse shell and 48 canister for 3.8-inch rifles.
  • Battery L: 110 percussion fuse shell and 71 canister for 3.67-inch rifles.

To the right of those are columns for James projectiles:

  • Battery F: 16 shot, 15 shell, and 54 canister for 3.80-inch rifles.

The last column on the right are three entries for 10-pdr Parrott Shot:

  • Battery E: 60 shot for 10-pdr Parrott.
  • Battery K: 20 shot for 10-pdr Parrott.
  • Battery M: 126 shot for 10-pdr Parrott.

The Parrott rounds continue on the next page:

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  • Battery E: 190 shell, 115 case, and 35 canister for 10-pdr Parrott.
  • Battery K: 66 shell, 238 case, and 112 canister for 10-pdr Parrott.
  • Battery M: 265 shell, 373 case, and 130(?) canister for 10-pdr Parrott.

The next entries are on the small arms columns:

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  • Battery A: Nine Colt navy revolvers and twenty-five cavalry sabers.
  • Battery C: Two Colt navy revolvers and four horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery D: Eight Colt army revolvers and thirty cavalry sabers.
  • Battery E: Twenty-three Colt army revolvers and four cavalry sabers.
  • Battery F: One Colt army revolver, two Colt navy revolvers, and thirteen cavalry sabers.
  • Battery G: Seven Colt army revolvers and seven cavalry sabers.
  • Battery H: Twenty-three Colt army revolvers, three Colt navy revolvers, and sixty-three horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery K: Three Colt navy revolvers.
  • Battery L: Eighteen Colt army revolvers and thirty-one cavalry sabers.
  • Battery M: Four Colt army revolvers and seven cavalry sabers.

Two entries on the cartridge bag columns:

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  • Battery F: 114 cartridge bags for 6-pdr James.
  • Battery L: 140 cartridge bags for 6-pdr field guns/12-pdr field howitzers.

Lastly the page for pistol cartridges, fuses, powder, and miscellaneous items:

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  • Battery A: 950 navy pistol cartridges.
  • Battery C: 60 paper fuses and 400 friction primers.
  • Battery D: 1,660 army pistol cartridges.
  • Battery F: 350 friction primers.
  • Battery G: 1,250 friction primers.
  • Battery H: 10 yards of slow match.
  • Battery K: 200 paper fuses, six yards of slow match, and 520 percussion caps for pistols.
  • Battery L: 200 paper fuses.
  • Battery M: 130 army pistol cartridges, 50 paper fuses, and 90 friction primers.

From Chattanooga to the Rio Grande, the 1st Missouri Light Artillery finished off a busy year of 1863 with most of the batteries in good shape. However, the 2nd Missouri, their sister regiment, was going through a full reorganization. In the next installment we will track that process.

150 Years Ago: Sound of the guns at Prairie Grove

NOTE:  This post is focused on the Federal artillery at the battle of Prairie Grove.  For more background information on the battle, I refer you to Civil War Daily Gazette’s entry or the Civil War Trust resource page for Prairie Grove.

On this day (December 7) in 1862, one of the westernmost battles of the Civil War took place at Prairie Grove, Arkansas. We don’t often think of artillery in the Trans-Mississippi, yet just as at Pea Ridge the “King of Battle” played an important role.

After the long, rapid march from Springfield, Missouri, Brigadier General Francis Herron advanced from Fayetteville towards the advanced position of Brigadier General James Blunt at Cane Hill to the southwest. Before he could link with Blunt, Herron ran into Confederate Major General Thomas Hindman’s defensive position outside Prairie Grove.

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View Shoup’s Lines at Prairie Grove

Hindman chose good ground to defend. On the right side of the line, facing the advance of Herron’s Federals, were four batteries – Blocher’s, Marshall’s, and West’s Arkansas batteries along with Bledsoe’s Missouri battery. All told, these batteries fronted six 6-pdr field guns and four 12-pdr howitzers.

When Herron’s column reached Illinois Creek, they came under the Confederate guns. First throwing Captain David Murphy’s Battery F, 1st Missouri Light Artillery over a ford, Herron then moved the remainder of his force over. Rapidly, Herron established a gun line by adding the other three batteries under his command. These were Lieutenant Joseph Foust’s Battery E, 1st Missouri; Captain Frank Backof’s Battery L, 1st Missouri; and Lieutenant Herman Borris’s Battery A, 2nd Illinois Light Artillery. Twenty guns in total – four 10-pdr Parrotts, six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles, six James Rifles, one 6-pdr field gun, and three 12-pdr howitzers.

In his battle report, Foust described the initial phase of the action:

Arriving at the ford of the creek, I was ordered to halt out of sight of the enemy, and to advance and open the battery upon a signal to be given from Captain Murphy’s battery.

We went into action at the signal, under a terrible fire from the enemy while crossing the ford. About the third round the enemy’s guns were silenced. Another battery on our left having got our range, we were compelled to change position to the front….

In his report, Murphy elaborated further about the fire effects noting, “The fire was so well directed that the enemy retired, minus caissons, horses, and one piece disabled.” With the Confederate batteries silenced, and their infantry taking cover, Herron advanced his infantry. Backof’s and Foust’s batteries moved forward to support this assault.

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View of the Confederate position from Herron’s line of advance

Backof wrote:

After silencing the enemy’s battery on the hill in front of us, I advanced 200 yards, flanked on the left by the Twentieth Wisconsin Volunteers and by the Ninety-fourth Illinois on the right, and sustained an effectual artillery fire at the enemy’s position (which they moved several times) for three hours. In the same time [the infantry] made a charge…on the hill and through the woods surrounding; meanwhile the shells of my battery did great execution amongst the enemy.

But the Federal infantry found themselves outnumbered when they closed with the Confederates on the hill. When the infantry fell back, Backof covered the retreat with canister. In the melee two of Backof’s guns were disabled (though he later reported only one out of action at the end of the day). His losses were one man killed, two wounded, and eight horses.

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Confederate artillery position at Prairie Grove

Also in this forward position and facing Confederate attacks, Foust wrote:

At this time the enemy attempted to charge our lines, when the whole battery opened on them with canister, and they fell back in confusion. The infantry attempted to charge the hill, but were repulsed by an overwhelming force of the enemy, when we again forced them back with canister. Again the infantry attempted to carry the hill, but were driven back the second time, when we covered their retreat once more with canister, driving the enemy back again to the wood. The enemy seeing the battery without support, made a great effort to take it, but were driven back by the battery.

Herron summarized the defense of these guns,

Never was there more real courage and pluck displayed, and more downright hard fighting done, than at this moment by the above-named batteries. Advancing to within 100 yards of the guns, the rebels received a fire that could not be withstood, and retreated in disorder, receiving, as they ran, a terrible fire, causing great slaughter among them.

Foust would lose also eight horses, along with two men killed and six wounded. Herron would single out Foust for heroism during the repulse of the Confederate attacks.

At this phase of the battle, action shifted to the Federal right flank. Blunt had “moved to the sound of the guns,” quite literally, and arrived to smash into the Confederate left. There three Federal batteries also played an important role there, first defeating the Confederate artillery and then breaking up the infantry. Just as on Herron’s side of the field, the Federal artillery not only outnumbered the Confederates, they outgunned them with six 10-pdr Parrotts, four James Rifles, five 6-pdrs, and one 12-pdr howitzer. In the thick of the action, Captain John Rabb of the 2nd Indiana Battery, recalled,

A heavy musketry fire was then brought to bear on my command. I answered with canister. For fifteen minutes my men stood firm, firing their pieces with terrible precision, making roads in the ranks of the enemy, which were quickly filled by fresh men from the rear. Three times they advanced in heavy force upon the battery, but were driven back to the wood with heavy loss.

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Overlook of the west side of the Prairie Grove battlefield

In the engagement, Borris reported firing 320 rounds from his two cannons. Foust fired “562 rounds of shot, shell, and canister.” Muprhy’s gunners fired 510 shells and solid shot. That is a lot of iron going downrange… particularly for a “small” battle in the Trans-Mississippi.

Prairie Grove is one of the best preserved battlefields outside of the National Park System. It is a bit out of the way, but worth the drive to visit. For those who haven’t, I’ve posted many of the historical markers on the battlefield in HMDB as a virtual tour.

(Citations from OR, Series I, Volume 22, Part I, Serial 32, pages 100, 106, 112, 124,128-9, and 136.)