Summary Statement, 4th Quarter, 1863 – New Hampshire

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

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

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

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

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

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

I have no casualties to report.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On to the next page for more Hotchkiss rounds:

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

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

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

And another Schenkl entry on the next page:

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

Turning to the small arms:

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

Cartridge bags reported on the next page:

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

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

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

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

Summary Statement, 3rd Quarter, 1863 – New Hampshire’s battery

In the summaries for the previous quarters, I’ve combined New Hampshire’s entries along with other states for brevity.  After all, there’s just one line to consider, and that is a very uncomplicated line.  We find that same entry line, for New Hampshire’s lone light battery for the third quarter, 1863:

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And that line remained uncomplicated for the third quarter:

  • 1st Light Battery: Reporting at Culpeper, Virginia with four 3-inch Ordnance Rifles. Captain Frederick M. Edgell remained in command.  And the battery remained with the Third Volunteer Brigade, Artillery Reserve, Army of the Potomac.

But there were a couple other artillery formations from New Hampshire in existence at the end of September.   Though neither would warrant mention on the summaries:

  • 1st New Hampshire Heavy Artillery Company: Not listed. On April 17, 1863, Charles H. Long received a captain’s commission and authority to recruit a heavy artillery company to man Fort Constitution, defending Portsmouth harbor.  The company formally mustered on July 22 of that year.
  • 2nd New Hampshire Heavy Artillery Company: Not listed.  Authorized in August 1863.  Captain Ira M. Barton appointed commander.  Mustered into service on September 17, 1863. This battery also garrisoned the defenses of Portsmouth, detailed to Fort McClary, on the Maine side of the harbor.

Eventually all three of these companies would be part of the same regiment – the First New Hampshire Heavy Artillery Regiment – in the fall of 1864.

So we return to focus on that one uncomplicated entry line, moving to the ammunition. No smoothbore ammunition to report so we move to the Hotchkiss page:

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  • 1st Light Battery:  80 canister, 38 percussion shell, 209 fuse shell, and 182 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.

No Dyer, James, or Parrott rounds to consider.  So we turn to the Schenkl:

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  • 1st Light Battery: 163 shell and 125 case for 3-inch rifles.

And those were Schenkl rounds that Edgell spoke ill of in his Gettysburg report.

Turning to the small arms:

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  • 1st Light Battery: Five army revolvers, eight navy revolvers, and thirteen cavalry sabers.

That wraps up the New Hampshire section.  We’ll move to another single line entry in the next installment – New Mexico!

Summary Statement, 1st Quarter, 1863 – New Hampshire and New Jersey Batteries

The next set of entries in the first quarter, 1863 summaries cover volunteer batteries from the states of New Hampshire and New Jersey.  New Hampshire provided one light battery during the war.  And that is listed for the quarter.  New Jersey had only provided two such batteries up to that time (but three others were to form later).  So for these two states there are three entry lines:

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For the New Hampshire battery:

  • 1st Battery: At Belle Plain, Virginia with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  Captain Frederick M. Edgell’s battery was in First Division, First Corps, Army of the Potomac.

And for the two New Jersey batteries:

  • Battery A: White Oak Church, Virginia with six 10-pdr Parrotts.  The battery supported First Division, Sixth Corps. When Captain William Hexamer fell ill during the winter, Lieutenant Augustine N. Parsons assumed command of the battery.
  • Battery B: Potomac Creek, Virginia with six 10-pdr Parrotts. In January 1863, Captain A.Judson Clark commanded this battery, assigned to Second Division, Third Corps.  During the winter, the battery transferred to First Division of the corps.  When Clark took command of the artillery brigade in that formation, Lieutenant Robert Sims held command of the battery.

No surprises with the administrative details.  And we see only rifled guns were on hand with these three batteries. Thus we draw a blank page when looking at smoothbore ammunition:

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Turning to the rifled projectiles, only the New Hampshire battery reported Hotchkiss-patent types:

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  • 1st New Hampshire: 126 canister, 182 percussion shell, 538 fuse shell, and 360 bullet shell for 3-inch rifle.

On the next page, we can narrow the focus down to just Parrott-patent and Schenkl-patent entries:

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And those are only for the New Jersey batteries:

  • Battery A, New Jersey: 530 shell, 360 case, and 134 canister of Parrott patent for 10-pdr Parrott.  And 70 shot of Schenkl-patent for the same 10-pdr Parrotts.
  • Battery B, New Jersey:  380 shell, 340 case, and 146 canister of Parrott patent for 10-pdr Parrott.

Continuing with Schenkl columns on the next page:

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  • Battery B, New Jersey: 360 Schenkl shell for 10-pdr Parrott.

I would call attention to the types of projectiles reported here.  In this case, we have three batteries which are part of the main field army of the Eastern Theater.  One would assume these were well supplied.  And we see healthy quantities of shell, case, and canister.  But only one battery reported bolt or solid shot.  Yet, we know the leaders in the artillery formation of that army – namely Brigadier-General Henry Hunt – expressed a preference for the use of solid shot.

What would explain a shortage of solid shot?  Perhaps we are seeing the gap between intentions and the capabilities of the logistic system.  And perhaps extending that gap was the higher use, based on the chief’s instructions, of solid projectiles.  But short of some complaint by, say Hunt, to the Ordnance Department, there is no direct evidence to blame this on the supply system.  As with much in the summaries, we have numbers. And numbers are figures, yet not necessarily information.

And to close, we look at the small arms:

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By battery:

  • 1st New Hampshire: Twenty-nine Navy revolvers and nine cavalry sabers.
  • Battery A, New Jersey: Fifteen Army revolvers and twenty-seven horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery B, New Jersey: Eighteen Navy revolvers and sixteen horse artillery sabers.

Of note, in the last quarter Hexamer’s Battery reported over a hundred sabers. Over the winter, the battery lost many of those – presumably turned in as unnecessary.

Summary Statement: December 31, 1862 – Batteries from New Hampshire and New Jersey

Today we move back east for the summaries – New Hampshire and New Jersey.  In contrast to the messy Missouri entries, with gaps and questions to address, those lines for New Hampshire and New Jersey are relatively clean.

Between those two states, there were but three lines to consider.  New Hampshire provided one field battery for service during the war.  New Jersey would eventually provide five batteries, but as of December 1862 only two were in existence.  The New Hampshire battery is referenced as “the 1st”.  The New Jersey batteries are mentioned as both lettered and numbered batteries.  I’ll conform to the convention used in the summary statement here – lettered batteries.

Three easy entry lines to consult:

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All batteries supporting the Army of the Potomac:

  • 1st Battery New Hampshire Light Artillery: At Potomac Creek, Virginia with four 3-inch Ordnance Rifles. Lieutenant Frederick M. Edgell’s battery supported First Division, First Corps.
  • Battery A, New Jersey Light Artillery: At White Oak Church, Virginia with six 10-pdr Parrott rifles.  Captain William Hexamer’s battery was, same as the New Jersey Brigade, part of First Division, Sixth Corps.
  • Battery B, New Jersey Light Artillery: At Falmouth, Virginia with six 10-pdr Parrott Rifles.  Commanded by Captain A. Judson Clark, Battery B supported Third Corps.

Rifles… rifled guns.  And we see empty columns on the smoothbore ammunition section:

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Somewhat interesting breakdown for the rifled projectiles.  First section of those columns listed Hotchkiss patent projectiles:

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For the New Hampshire battery, and them only, we see 3-inch Hotchkiss types – 90 canister, 182 percussion shell, 228 fuse shell, and 340 bullet shell.

Now over to the Parrott and first half of the Schenkl patent columns:

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Only the New Jersey batteries reported quantities on this side of the line:

  • Battery A: 10-pdr Parrott patent – 410 shell, 360 case, and 134 canister.  Also 70 10-pdr Parrott shot, made to Schenkl’s patent.
  • Battery B: 10-pdr Parrott patent – 530 shell, 340 case, and 146 canister.

Looking across to the other Schenkl columns:

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More listings:

  • New Hampshire Battery: 70 Schenkl shells for 3-inch rifle.
  • Battery A, New Jersey: 120 Schenkl shells for Parrott 10-pdr.
  • Battery B, New Jersey: 160 Schenkl shells for Parrott 10-pdr.

We might raise an eye at the mix of Schenkl with the Hotchkiss and Parrott patent projectiles. But nothing out of the ordinary.  Actually these three batteries seem to have a clean allocation compared to some we’ve seen.

Down to the small arms:

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By battery:

  • New Hampshire: 39 Navy revolvers and 12 cavalry sabers.
  • Battery A, New Jersey: 15 Army revolvers and 123 horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery B, New Jersey: 18 Navy revolvers and 17 horse artillery sabers.

Not a lot of question marks or even remarks to add with respect to these three batteries.

Next up… a lot of New York batteries!

Case-shot, shell, and canister at Kelly’s Ford: Ammunition analysis

Yesterday’s post about the employment of Pratt’s 4.5-inch Rifles at Kelly’s Ford ran a little long.  And there’s one more interesting angle to look at, given the records from the engagement. The participants provided a remarkably well detailed list of ammunition expended in the engagement.  While not a major battle, the action at Kelly’s Ford on November 7, 1863 is a good case for reviewing what ammunition the battery commanders and section commanders selected for the tactical requirements.

Captain George Randolph provided a list of ammunition expenditures, by type, in his report of the action.  Let us start with the 10th Massachusetts:

  • Schenkl case-shot, 3-inch – 300
  • Hotchkiss percussion shell, 3-inch – 40
  • Hotchkiss fuse shell , 3-inch – 50
  • Schenkl percussion shell, 3-inch – 10

The total given by Randolph – 400 rounds – does not match that reported by Captain J. Henry Sleeper – 459 rounds.  So either eight ammunition chests, with fifty rounds each, of 3-inch projectiles were used up.  Or a little over nine were used.  Of course the expenditure does not indicate any canister or bolts were fired.  So there were more than just eight or nine chests opened up.

And you are also thinking about Brigadier-General Henry Hunt’s concerns about mixing different rifled projectile types.  Sleeper had his Schenkl and Hotchkiss shells all mixed in.  Regardless, it was the case-shot Sleeper and his gun-chiefs selected most for their targets.  In his report, Sleeper mentions firing on a brick mill building where Confederate sharpshooters were posted.  He later replied to Confederate artillery attempting to drive his battery off.  After the Confederate artillery retired, Sleeper fired on Confederate infantry that attempted to reform on the hills beyond Kelly’s Ford.  Based on the wording of his report, and that of Randolph’s, the battery engaged those infantry targets for the longest period of the engagement.  So it is logical to presume that is when most of the Schenkl case-shot were fired -targeting infantry inside a wood line.

As mentioned yesterday, Captain Franklin Pratt’s Battery M, 1st Connecticut Artillery fired but 15 Schenkl shells with percussion fuses.  These were fired at brick buildings where the Confederate infantry sheltered and later on the Confederate battery.

Moving next to Lieutenant John Bucklyn’s Battery E, 1st Rhode Island artillery, Randolph indicated they fired a total of 181 shots from their 12-pdr Napoleons:

  • Solid shot, light 12-pdr – 80
  • Spherical case, light 12-pdr – 72
  • Shell, light 12-pdr – 24
  • Canister, light 12-pdr  – 5

Bucklyn’s guns went into battery about 300 yards from the ford itself.  Their first targets were the skirmishers on the distant bank.  When Captain John Massie’s Confederate guns opened upon Slepper’s battery, Bucklyn turned his Napoleons on that target. Likely most, if not all, of the solid shot fired were expended at those targets.

Later, when supporting the Federal infantry crossing at the ford, Bucklyn fired a few rounds of canister.  Again, let me pick at how, and how few of, the canister were used. Five rounds fired to cover the advance of the infantry.  Bucklyn’s guns fired those so close that he later lamented the death of one of the friendly infantry, “but they were so nearly between me and the enemy, the accident could not have been avoided.”  Or what we’d call today “Danger Close.”  Keep in mind the maximum effective range of the canister rounds was between 300 and 400 yards.  If Hunt’s earlier complaints were valid, then the canister was designed with engagements at that range in mind.  So let’s dispense with the notion canister was only a defensive projectile.   At Kelly’s Ford those canister rounds were useful in the offensive because of their “reach.”  But of course, with the crossing effected so quickly (as compared to say a crossing at the same point on March 17, 1863), only five canister were needed.

One other note about Bucklyn’s expenditure.  In his report he complained, “I found my fuses very unreliable; some shell did not burst at all, while others burst soon after leaving the gun. I could place no dependence on them.”  Those 12-pdr shells used Boremann fuses.  Randolph seemed perplexed by this issue, “for I have seldom known them to fail.”

Finally, and this is a bonus round, Captain Frederick Edgell’s 1st New Hampshire Battery fired sixty rounds during a separate action on November 8:

  • Schenkl case-shot, 3-inch – 20
  • Schenkl percussion shell, 3-inch – 10
  • Hotchkiss time fuse shell, 3-inch – 30

about a mile north of Brandy Station, a section of Edgell’s guns deployed and opened fire on a Confederate battery at the range of 2,000 yards.  After a few rounds, the Confederate battery fell back.  Edgell then moved up to the “left of and near Brandy Station.”  There at a range of 1,800 yards, Edgell’s 3-inch rifles traded shots with two 20-pdr Parrotts and two smaller rifles.  Edgell reported expending 56 rounds, while Randolph recorded an even 60.  The preference, Edgell’s 3-inch rifles firing in counter-battery mode, was shell, with some case-shot mixed in for good measure.

From the expenditure figures for these four batteries in two engagements, consider these preferences:

  • 3-inch rifle firing on troops in the woods – case shot.
  • 3-inch rifle firing counter-battery – shell
  • 12-pdr Napoleon firing counter-battery – solid shot, though the preference cannot be stated for a fact.
  • 12-pdr Napoleon firing in direct support of infantry advance – canister, within range limitations.
  • 4.5-inch Rifle – shell at anything.

There’s a lot more I could suggest or speculate towards.  But what I see with the artillery employment and ammunition expenditures is a lesson in how Civil War era armies effectively employed artillery in the offensive.  The guns firing over the Rappahannock on November 7, 1863 (and those later firing around Brandy Station on November 8) succeeded in pushing the opposing forces back and then kept them back.  That accomplished, the infantry was able to conduct their most important mission on the battlefield – occupy terrain.

(Sources, OR, Series I, Volume 29, Part I, Serial 49, pages 566-574.)