Summary Statement, 2nd Quarter, 1863 – 3rd Rhode Island Heavy Artillery

Readers will be familiar with the 3rd Rhode Island Heavy Artillery due to their service along the South Carolina coast.  Hardly a month passes without mention of that unit here on this blog.  Though the main story-line in the 3rd’s service was operations against Charleston, batteries from the regiment served at times in Florida and Virginia.  And their service often defied the label of “heavy” artillery, as often the gunners served in the field as field artillery proper.

A bit of background on this regiment is in order.  The 3rd Rhode Island Volunteers first mustered as an infantry formation in August 1861.  As they prepared for their first major operation, as part of Brigadier-General Thomas W. Sherman’s expedition to Port Royal, they camped at Fort Hamilton, New York.  While there, under orders from Sherman, the regiment drilled on both heavy and light artillery.  By the time the regiment arrived at Hilton Head, it was for all practical purposes an artillery regiment.  Though the formal change did not occur until December of that year.

Over the months that followed, the 3rd Rhode Island served by batteries and detachments as garrison artillery, field artillery, infantry, and even ship’s complement as needs of the particular moment called.  In the winter of 1863, Battery C was designated a light battery in light of its habitual service.  We’ve seen that reflected in returns from the fourth quarter, 1862 and first quarter, 1863. However, the battery seemed to change armament with each quarter.  I believe this reflects more the “ad hoc” nature of tasking in the theater at that time.  For the second quarter, 1863, we find the guns reported on hand again changed:

0217_1_Snip_RI_3rd

At the end of June, Battery C had just returned from the raid on Darien, Georgia.  They were at Hilton Head on June 30, preparing for transit to Folly Island.  So this tally of two 12-pdr field howitzers may reflect a status as of January 1864, when the return was received in Washington.

This brief line, along with “clerical” lines for Batteries A and B, brings up a couple of facets to the summaries as they relate to the “real” operational situations.  First off, we know, based on official records and other accounts, not to mention photographs, the 3rd Rhode Island had more than just a couple of howitzers.  We must also consider the property management within the military and how that was reflected in the reports. The military in general tends to be very anal about tracking property.  For any given item, someone, somewhere is on the hook as the “owner” of said item.  Doesn’t matter if that item is a belt buckle or a cannon.  The “owner” might be a specific unit or could be a facility.  So, in the Civil War and specific to the context of this discussion, that “owner” could be a battery in the 3rd Rhode Island… or it could be the garrison commander at Hilton Head.  However, we rarely, if ever, see those garrison commands reflected in the summaries.  A significant blank that we cannot resolve with satisfaction.

What we can do, in the case of the 3rd Rhode Island, is use primary and secondary sources to provide a glimpse into that blank.  Let’s consider the 3rd Rhode Island by battery at this point in time of the war.  Recall, the 3rd and other units were, at the end of June, preparing for an assault from Folly Island onto Morris Island. Colonel Edwin Metcalf was in command of the regiment, with his headquarters on Hilton Head:

  • Battery A:  On Port Royal Island, under command of Lieutenant Edward F. Curtis (in absence of Captain William H. Hammer), serving as garrison artillery.
  • Battery B:  On Folly Island under Captain Albert E. Greene, having moved from Hilton Head at the end of June.  The battery manned six 10-inch siege mortars.
  • Battery C: Transferring from St. Helena Island to Hilton Head, and thence to Folly Island in the first week of July.  Commanded by Captain Charles R. Brayton.  The battery would man two 3-inch Ordnance Rifles and four 30-pdr Parrotts (along with a detachment from Battery C, 1st US Artillery).  Likely the reported howitzers were in reserve.
  • Battery D: Part of the original garrison sent to Folly Island in April.  Under the command of Captain Robert G. Shaw and manning eight 30-pdr Parrotts.
  • Battery E: On Hilton Head, serving as garrison artillery under Captain Peter J. Turner (who was serving as a staff officer, thus one of his lieutenants was in temporary command).
  • Battery F: On Hilton Head, serving as garrison artillery under Captain David B. Churchill.
  • Battery G: Stationed at Fort Pulaski and under Captain John H. Gould.
  • Battery H: On Hilton Head, serving as garrison artillery under Captain Augustus W. Colwell.  Would deploy to Morris Island in July.
  • Battery I:  On Folly Island under Captain Charles G. Strahan.  The battery manned four 20-pdr Parrotts.
  • Battery K: On Hilton Head, serving as garrison artillery under Lieutenant Horatio N. Perry.
  • Battery L: On Hilton Head, serving as garrison artillery under Captain Jeremiah Lanhan.
  • Battery M:  Part of the force on Folly island, under Captain Joseph J. Comstock.  They manned four 10-inch siege mortars and five 8-inch siege mortars.

Thus we see the 3rd Rhode Island was spread between garrison duties and advanced batteries preparing for a major offensive from Folly Island.  Those on the north end of Folly Island, overlooking Light House Creek, were armed with a variety of field guns, heavy Parrotts, and mortars.  Only the former category would have been covered by the summaries, as they existed in June 1863.  And what we have to work with is, based on official reports at the time, inaccurate.

But that’s what we must work with!  Turning to the smoothbore ammunition:

0219_1_Snip_RI_3rd

  • Battery C: 156 shell, 214 case, and 132 canister for 12-pdr field howitzer.

One might think no rifled projectiles would be on hand… but perhaps related to the two 3-inch rifles reported on Folly Island and manned by Battery C, we find some Hotchkiss projectiles on hand:

 

0219_2_Snip_RI_3rd

  • Battery C: 48 canister and 108 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.

No ammunition reported on the next page, of Dyer’s, James, or Parrott patents:

0220_1_Snip_RI_3rd

But some Schenkl on hand:

0220_2_Snip_RI_3rd

  • Battery C: 100 shell for 3-inch rifles.

As for small arms:

0220_3_Snip_RI_3rd

  • Battery C: Forty-eight Army revolvers and 102 cavalry sabers.

I suspect, given the varied nature of the 3rd Rhode Island’s duties, the other batteries had a large number of small arms on hand also.  But because of the selective record, we don’t have the details.

Just to say we discussed ALL the Rhode Island artillery, let me mention two other heavy artillery regiments.  The 5th Rhode Island Infantry was reorganized as the 5th Rhode Island Heavy Artillery on May 27, 1863.  Stationed at New Berne, North Carolina, Colonel George W. Tew commanded the reorganized regiment.

Though not organized, we can trace the story of another heavy artillery regiment back to June 1863.  In response to the emergency developing in Pennsylvania, the governor of Rhode Island authorized Colonel Nelson Viall (formerly of the 1st Rhode Island Infantry) to form a six-month regiment.  Designated the 13th Rhode Island, recruitment was slow due to the war situation, small bounties, and the draft.  By July, the War Department decided no more six-month regiments would be accepted and insisted on a three-year enlistment standard.  With that, the 13th was disbanded and in its place the 14th Rhode Island was authorized.  That formation, which began organization in August, was a US Colored Troops Regiment of heavy artillery.

 

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108th Day of the Siege – Enemy Opened Fire : 2nd Major Bombardment of Fort Sumter

On this day in 1863, around 12:30 PM, the Federal batteries on Morris Island along with two monitors in the main ship channel, opened a massive bombardment of Fort Sumter.  As detailed back during the sesquicentennial, that eruption marked the start of the Second Major Bombardment of the fort.  Those “major” and “minor” bombardments, along with “desultory” bombardments, were defined by the Confederates on the receiving end.  Though the periods track well with Federal operational accounts.  And this “major” was indeed a rather substantial bombardment by any measure. Between October 26 and December 6, the Federals fired over 18,000 rounds at Fort Sumter.  That’s not counting shots fired at other points in and around Charleston during the same period, which was no small number.

The following morning, subscribers to the Charleston Courier saw this lead on the second column of the front page:

CharlestonCourier_Oct_27_63_Vol_LXI_Issue19607_P1_Col2

Notice how this news was titled and categorized.  This was the 108th day, going back to July 10, of the siege of Fort Sumter and for all practical purposes Charleston itself.  This is a point I drive home in presentations about the war around Charleston.  The siege of Fort Sumter was the longest battle of the war, running from the summer of 1863 through February 1865.  And by extension, the campaign against Charleston was the longest of the war, if we take into account the blockade operations beginning in May 1861.  The citizens of Charleston, the Confederates defending Charleston, and the Federals on Morris Island all counted those days.

The full article read:

News from the Islands.

One Hundred and Eighth Day of the Siege – Enemy Opened Fire

The enemy on Morris’ Island having completed his preparations, about half-past 10 o’clock, Monday morning, opened a vigorous fire from Batteries Gregg and Wagner, with seven guns mounted in the former and four in the latter, all of heavy calibre, being mostly two and three hundred pounder Parrotts.  The heaviest fire was directed on Fort Sumter.  Out of one hundred and eighty-eight shots fired from Morris’ Island at Fort Sumter during the day, one hundred and sixty-five struck the fort and twenty-three passed over.  Two of the guns on Battery Gregg devoted their entire attention to Fort Johnson, which also received an occasional shot from Battery Wagner.

Forts Moultrie and Johnson, and batteries Marion, Simkins and Cheves, kept up a spirited reply.  The firing on both sides ceased about dark.  The enemy threw some ten or fifteen shots and shells from a twelve pounder Parrott, mounted on Gregg, at Battery Bee and Fort Moultrie, but did no damage.  Two monitors, which rounded Cummings’ Point, were also engaged, and fired some ten shots at Sumter.  No casualties to the garrisons or injuries to the works are reported at any of the forts or batteries.

The fire from Fort Moultrie and the batteries upon the advanced Monitors and the enemy’s works, was excellent, and it is believed did considerable execution.  It was reported that one of the enemy’s guns burst in Battery Gregg early in the action Monday morning on the third or fourth trial.

The firing is expected to be renewed this morning.  With the exception of the two Monitors engaged there was no change in the position of the fleet.

The newspaper report is noteworthy in the details.  However, Federal sources insist the bombardment began around noon, and not earlier.  And there is not mention of a burst gun on that day from Federal accounts (although, one is recorded as bursting the following day).  Usually, and I doubt this day’s report was any exception, the Courier’s writers blended information obtained from Confederate officers along with what their reporters saw first hand.  After all, the war was happening, day and night, right outside their windows.

On the other side of the battle line, the 3rd Rhode Island Heavy Artillery was very active, handling the big guns. From their regimental history:

Please notice the handling of one of those guns.  The piece has just recoiled from the last firing, and is out of battery; it is instantly depressed to a level; up step the spongers; back and forth, with a rolling twist, goes the sponge, and it is withdrawn; up rises the great bag-like cartridge and is entered; quickly the rammers drive it home to the clean, moist, but warm chamber; stout men lift the great conical shell and pass it into the black lips of the monster; and again the rammers bend to their work and drive back the projectile upon the powder; now the gunners heave the piece into battery; the sergeant looks to and adjusts the training, right or left; now he turns to secure again his proper and exact elevation, and makes his allowance for windage; the primer is entered; the lanyard is attached, and the gunner, standing behind the traverse, waits order.  The officer cries: “Ready!  Fire!” Hold your ears.  Note the smoke – an aerial maelstrom and cataract, with voice of an earthquake.  See that black spot traveling on its parabolic journey.  Ha! How smokes and tumbles the rebel wall.  Up go the loyal cheers and the boys pat their gun.

This work would continue, shot after shot, day after day, through the first week of December.  Some days the fire would slack to only a hundred or so rounds, particularly toward the first week of December.  But in those early days of the Second Major Bombardment, the tallies often reached 900 or 1000 rounds a day.

Such was the start of a loud phase in a long battle.

(Citations from Charleston Courier, October 27, 1863, page 1, column 2; Frederic Denison, Shot and Shell: The Third Rhode Island Heavy Artillery Regiment in the Rebellion, 1861-1865, Providence, R.I.: Third Rhode Island Artillery Veterans Association, 1879, page 195.)

 

Two stories I hope are interpreted with the Reconstruction Era National Monument

Officially announced as we entered the Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend, President Obama created the Reconstruction Era National Monument, along with several other monuments at historic sites related to the advancement of civil rights.  From the official fact sheet:

Reconstruction Era National Monument: Located in coastal South Carolina, the new Reconstruction Era National Monument encompasses four sites throughout Beaufort County that tell the vibrant story of the robust community developed by freed former African American slaves in the Reconstruction Era South.  This designation includes the Brick Baptist Church and Darrah Hall at the existing Penn Center on St. Helena Island as well as the Old Firehouse in downtown Beaufort and parts of Camp Saxton in Port Royal where the Emancipation Proclamation was read on New Year’s Day in 1863. These sites establish the first unit of the National Park System focused on telling the story of Reconstruction.

And that brand-new Monument already has its official website.  I’m impressed with the direction taken.  As I’ve pointed out before, there is a tendency to compartmentalize Reconstruction as if a separate, stand-alone chapter.  We should properly see a story-arc that connects the Civil War through to Civil Rights … and right up to our doorsteps today.  And Beaufort County, South Carolina is a perfect place to demonstrate that continuity.   Reconstruction of that county stated during the Civil War.  And the turns of Reconstruction into the post-war era may be traced readily across various sites in the county.

I am pleased to see the inclusion of Mitchelville and Fort Howell in the Monuments list of “Places to See.”  These immediately call to mind the military role within Reconstruction.  We often forget, despite being largely a political event, Reconstruction was in part a military operation.  And one that deserves deep study as a military operation.  Certainly as those military activities often directly contributed, or in some cases detracted from, the advancement of Civil Rights.  Furthermore, many of the military experiences from that period which deserve study.  There are lessons learned applicable even today.  (Dare I remind readers the very lengthy “reconstruction” engagements still ongoing in places such as Afghanistan?)

Several places within the Beaufort Historic District will no doubt get attention. Mention of the Baptist Church brings to mind one important story I’d like to see highlighted with the interpretation. After the battle of Port Royal Sound, November 1861, much of the county was occupied by Federal forces.  Many white residents fled inland, leaving behind a population of former slaves.  Those numbers swelled as more slaves escaped through the lines, or were brought to freedom by the Federals.  And that population turned, as people will in trying times, to their religious convictions for support.  Working among the freemen, Reverend Solomon Peck worked to establish a church, using the Old Baptist Meeting House among other places.  Seeking formal sanction for assuming control of the structures, Peck wrote to President Lincoln.  And Lincoln replied along the lines that if the majority of the members of the church still present (on the island) are indeed loyal to the United States Government, then they are entitled to use the facilities.  After all they would be “the church” in standing.

Doesn’t sound like a big deal. But when you look at it through the lens of history, it is. This is a level of equality not normally extended at that time.  So long as the persons were loyal … says nothing of citizenship, but loyal… then the government would recognize a legal standing.  The government recognized them as the body of a church.  Legally.  And what dovetails nicely in this story is the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation in the church, to freedmen, at the start of January, 1863.

Another story that I would much wish to see used in the interpretation of the new Monument comes from the military side in those Civil War years.  Frederick Denison, of the 3rd Rhode Island Heavy Artillery, recorded an episode that occurred outside Beaufort as the regiment garrisoned the island, in the spring of 1863:

We are here tempted to record a little military anecdote.  While Lieutenant [Edward] Waterhouse was on duty near Beaufort, having occasion to ride across the island in a carriage, he invited a staff-officer of the Regulars to ride with him.  Meeting a private of a colored regiment who paid the required salute, the Lieutenant properly returned it, when the following dialog ensued:

Regular: “Do you salute niggers?”

Lieutenant: “He is a soldier and saluted me.”

Regular:  “I don’t care for the regulations.  I swear I won’t salute a nigger.”

Lieutenant: “I obey the regulations and return a soldier’s salute.”

Regular: “Curse such regulations. I’ll never salute a nigger; and I don’t think much of any one that will.”

Lieutenant: (Coolly reining in his horse).  “You can get out and walk, sir.”

The snob tried his shoe-leather on the sand, a wiser man, we may hope, and with a higher idea of both the Lieutenant and the polite colored soldier.

You see, the Emancipation Proclamation might say the slaves are free. Constitutional amendments might guarantee their freedom, citizenship, and right to vote.  And those freedmen might even wear the uniform and carry a musket.  But real equality is not pressed down by the government.  It’s achieved at the personal level.  When the Lieutenant Waterhouses of the Army saw fit to treat every USCT private in the same manner as any other private in the Army, there is an equality to speak of.

The simple exchange of salutes might seem small in the grand scheme of things.  But that salute was but a small example of a larger sentiment building among those serving in the department.  Those USCT soldiers would earn the respect and admiration of many for deeds on Morris Island during the summer which followed. There would be plenty of those “regular staff-officer” types, at the time and the century that followed, who would not catch on.  Thankfully, over the span of the next 100 years, there were more of the Lieutenant Waterhouses who did.

(Citation from Frederic Denison, Shot and Shell: The Third Rhode Island Heavy Artillery Regiment in the Rebellion, 1861-1865, Providence, R.I.: Third Rhode Island Artillery Veterans Association, 1879, page 150.)

Thanksgiving at Fort Pulaski, November 1862

I’ve always been fascinated with stories of how soldiers marked Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Those being holidays with religious backdrops, lacking the civic tones seen with some other holidays, the observances tend to move individuals away from soldierly thoughts.  Thanksgiving, in particular, asks the soldier to think about what he (or now days, she) is thankful for.  Away from home; in deplorable conditions; performing difficult, if not dangerous, work… what’s to be thankful for?  But in my experience, soldiers always find a way to reconcile the holiday with their situation.

Consider the Federal troops garrisoning coastal outposts in South Carolina and Georgia in the autumn of 1862.  They were posted to some backwater theater.  More of their comrades fell victim to disease than bullets.  They’d suffered through a summer and fall of setbacks in the field.  And the winter months promised no respite.  But men of the posted to Fort Pulaski found a way to reconcile their situation with the observance of Thanksgiving that November, as the 3rd Rhode Island Heavy Artillery historian recalled:

The day of national Thanksgiving – first made national by President Lincoln – one of the good, unforeseen results of the war, was joyfully hailed in the army as it was at our homes.  For its observance, and to enjoy a day of relaxation from the stern duties of war, a program was arranged for a “Grand Thanksgiving Fete and Festival, given by the Officers of the Garrison of Fort Pulaski, Ga., Nov. 27, 1862.”

Invitations were sent to different parts of the Department, and especially to Hilton Head.  The day was propitious and cool. Three steamers conveying guests from Hilton Head reached the fort at noon, and found a cheering reception.  At the entrance of the fort was an arch with the emblazoned word “Welcome.”….

Ft Pulaski 3 Aug 11 1330

Over the sally-port was the name “Mitchell,” suitably draped, and near by the names “Brannan” and “Terry.”….

Fort Pulaski 5 May 10 196

Over the officers’ quarters and the doors of the casemates were mottoes, wreaths, arches, and stars; and the walls were festooned.  All needful preparations had been made for “a feast of reason and flow of soul.”

Savannah 5 May 10 225

In addition to the feast, the garrison conducted “festive exercises, amusements, and enjoyments“:

Target Practice. – three competitors from each company.  Distance 200 yards. Best string in three shots each.  First prize – Gold Medal, valued at $25. Second prize – Silver Medal, valued at $15. Third prize – Bronze Medal, valued at $10.

Rowing Match. – Distance one mile around a stake-boat and return. First prize – Purse of $10.  Second prize – purse of $5. Third prize – Purse of $2.50.

Hurdle Sack Race. – 100 yards and return; over three hurdles 50 yards apart and 18 inches high.  First prize – Purse of $10. Second prize – Purse of $5.

Wheelbarrow Race. – Competitors blindfolded, trundling a wheelbarrow once across Terre-plein.  First prize – Purse of $10.  Second prize – Purse of $5.

Meal Feat. – Exclusively for Contrabands; hands tied behind the back, and to seize with the teeth a $5 gold piece dropped in a tub of meal.  Six competitors to be allowed five minutes each to accomplish the feat.  Prize, $5.

Greased Polk. – Pole to be 15 feet high.  Prize, $10.

Greased Pig. – To be seized and held by the tail. Three competitors from each company.  Prize, pig.

Burlesque Dress Parade. – Each Company will be allowed to enter an equal number of competitors for each prize.

thanksgiving-festivities-at-fort-pulaski-georgia-november-27th-1862_1

The chronicler mentioned the most applause came for the sack race and meal feat. “When one of the wolly-headed contraband boys raised the $5 from the flour, the cheers rent the air.”  He also observed, “The mock dress-parade was inimitably comic

The festivities included a proper dress parade, in proper uniform, by the garrison.  And later that evening a ball.  The 3rd Rhode Island Minstrel Band and 48th New York band played at intervals throughout the day and into the evening.

… The officer’s table, near a hundred feet in length, was on the terre-plein.  Company G [3rd Rhode Island] had a superb table in their quarters – four casemates – lighted with four chandeliers; while the walls were decorated with wreaths and illuminated with mottoes; “Maj. Gen. Burnside, the R.I. hero;” “Maj.Gen. George B. McClellan (likeness) Commander-in-Chief of the U.S.A.;” “Colonel N.W. Brown. – the father of the Regiment – we mourn his loss;” “3rd R.I.H.A.., Co. G., Slocum Avengers;” “Lieut. Blanding, the star of the R.I. Boys,” “Gov. Sprague (seal of the State).”  It may be guessed that the spoils of Bluffton aided in setting out the tables and furnishing the quarters.  The piano as well as the minstrel band performed for the “light fantastic toe.” Oyster suppers, pies, lemonade – if nothing more spirited – kept up the evening cheer and rounded out the  rare Thanksgiving-day.

But there was more than just feasting and festivities for Thanksgiving Day that year. While the soldiers were reconciling their thankfulness with service far removed from their homes, there were many experiencing a Thanksgiving for the first time.  Brigadier-General Rufus Saxton, the Military Governor of the Department of the South, issued a proclamation in that regard.  And that proclamation deserves separate, focused treatment… which I’ll save for a post of its own.  For now, let us consider all the activities of that day in 1862 as the soldiers observed Thanksgiving.

And let us also consider us, now 154 years removed from those festivities, the place where the soldiers celebrated.  We can visit that place today and walk the battlefield that was turned into garrison.  And we can look upon the places where these games and the feast took place.  We can be thankful that Fort Pulaski survived Hurricane Matthew, though requiring repairs, for future generations.

(Citations from Frederic Denison, Shot and Shell: The Third Rhode Island Heavy Artillery Regiment in the Rebellion, 1861-1865, Providence, R.I.: Third Rhode Island Artillery Veterans Association, 1879, pages 125-6.)

Summary Statement, 1st Quarter, 1863 – Rhode Island’s Light Batteries

When transcribing the summary statements, I like to see clean entries where clerks have recorded returns for all listed batteries.  Such reduces questions to some manageable level.  And that is what we see with the Rhode Island volunteers for the first quarter, 1863:

0140_1_Snip_RI

Not exactly crisp, however.  We see one entry was delayed until 1864.  And we have two station entries that are blank.  Still, better than many we’ve encountered.  As with the previous quarter, we have two parts to consider for the Rhode Island artillerymen.  We start with the 1st Rhode Island Artillery Regiment:

  • Battery A: At Falmouth, Virginia with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles. Captain William A. Arnold remained in commanded this battery,  supporting Second Division, Second Corps.
  • Battery B: No station given, but with six 12-pdr Napoleons. Battery was also assigned to Second Division, Second Corps and was thus also at Falmouth.  When Captain  John G. Hazard became the division’s artillery chief, Lieutenant T. Frederick Brown assumed command (the move occurred at the end of the winter months).
  • Battery C: No station given, but with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  Captain Richard Waterman commanded this battery, assigned to First Division, Fifth Corps. The battery was also in the Falmouth area.
  • Battery D: At Lexington, Kentucky  with six 12-pdr Napoleons. Captain  William W. Buckley commanded this battery assigned to Second Division, Ninth Corps.  Recall this division was among the troops dispatched wet to Kentucky, with Burnside, during the winter months.
  • Battery E: At Falmouth with six 12-pdr Napoleons.  Captain Pardon S. Jastram’s battery remained with First Division, Third Corps.
  • Battery F: At New Berne, North Carolina with six 10-pdr Parrotts (shed of two howitzers reported in the last quarter). Captain James Belger commanded this battery, part of the Artillery Brigade, Eighteenth Corps.
  • Battery G: Falmouth, Virginia with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles. Assigned to Third Division, Second Corps, then at Falmouth.  Captain George W. Adams assumed command prior to the Chancellorsville Campaign.
  • Battery H: At Union Mills, Virginia with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles. Assigned to Casey’s Division, Twenty-second Corps from the Defenses of Washington.  Captain Jeffrey Hazard commanded this battery.

Moving down a lot of blank lines, we have one battery from the 3rd Rhode Island Heavy Artillery that was serving in the light artillery capacity:

  • Company C: At Beaufort, South Carolina with four 12-pdr field howitzers, having turned in it’s mix of Parrotts and 24-pdr field howitzers.  Captain Charles R. Brayton was in command, assigned to the Tenth Corps.

The Rhode Island batteries were somewhat uniform, with the few mixed batteries refitting from the previous quarter.  Such makes the ammunition listings predictable:

0142_1_Snip_RI

Four batteries of smoothbores… but only three listings:

  • Battery B: 288 shot, 96 shell, 388(?) case, and 96 canister for Napoleons.
  • Battery E: 288 shot, 96 shell, 288 case, and 96 canister for Napoleons.
  • Battery C, 3rd Artillery: 426 shell, 549 case, and 164 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.

So no ammunition reported for Battery D.  And two very suspiciously uniform lines for Battery B and E.  Battery C, by the way, had plenty of ammunition on hand.

Moving to the rifled columns, we saw four batteries with 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  Correspondingly, four batteries reported Hotchkiss projectiles in that caliber:

0142_2_Snip_RI

Quantities reported were all for 3-inch rifles:

  • Battery A:  195 canister, 57 percussion shell, 467 fuse shell, and 509 bullet shell.
  • Battery C: 120 canister, 251 percussion shell, 193 fuse shell, and 603 bullet shell.
  • Battery G: 239 canister, 104 percussion shell, 211 fuse shell, and 461 bullet shell.
  • Battery H: 120 canister, 250 percussion shell, 280 fuse shell, and 582 bullet shell.

We saw one battery with Parrott rifles.  And there is one entry line to consider:

0143_1A_Snip_RI

  • Battery F: 1,293 shell, 171 case, and 134 canister for 10-pdr Parrotts.

Yes, 1,293 shells…. 215 shells per gun in that battery.

The only “strays” in this set are on the Schenkl columns:

0143_2_Snip_RI

Two batteries reporting quantities:

  • Battery A: 157 Schenkl shells for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery G: 181 Schenkl shells for 3-inch rifles.

Other than a few open questions (particularly with Battery D, moving to the Ohio Valley, not reporting ammunition on hand) these are “clean”.  So on to the small arms.

0143_3_Snip_RI

By Battery:

  • Battery A: Four Army revolvers, twenty Navy revolvers, and thirty-nine horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery B: Twenty-five horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery C: Eight Navy revolvers and twelve horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery D: Eight Army revolvers, twelve Navy revolvers, and eighteen horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery E: Seventeen Navy revolvers.
  • Battery F: Sixteen Army revolvers, eighty-eight Navy revolvers, twenty cavalry sabers, and nine horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery G: Fourteen Army revolvers and eighteen horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery H: Twenty Army revolvers and thirty-two horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery C, 3rd Artillery: Forty-nine Navy revolvers and 120 cavalry sabers.

There were two batteries included within these summaries which lacked any direct affiliation with the Army of the Potomac (Battery D was leaving that army, being transferred west).  Those two batteries, Battery F and lone heavy battery serving as light, were posted to backwater assignments.  Those two batteries reported a larger quantity of small arms on hand, as they assumed some non-artillery roles in the line of duty.

Summary Statement: December 31, 1862 – Rhode Island’s Light Batteries

Despite being a small state, Rhode Island offered significant contributions to the Federal war effort during the Civil War.  In terms of artillery, the state provided a regiment of light batteries, three heavy artillery regiments, and a few non-regimented batteries.  The latter were mustered by mid-1862 and thus fall outside the scope of our review of the Ordnance Department’s summaries.  Of the heavy regiments, one battery was outfitted as a light battery.  And that battery – Company C, 3rd Rhode Island Heavy Artillery – served in South Carolina and will be familiar to readers.   Given those particulars, we have nine batteries to consider for the fourth quarter, 1862 summaries:

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From the top, we start with the eight batteries of the 1st Rhode Island Light Artillery.  All but these of these were serving in the Army of the Potomac at the time:

  • Battery A: At Falmouth, Virginia with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles. Captain William A. Arnold commanded this battery supporting Second Division, Second Corps.
  • Battery B: No return. Battery was also assigned to Second Division, Second Corps.  It was under the charge of Captain  John G. Hazard. This storied battery had six 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery C: No return.  Assigned to First Division, Fifth Corps, Captain Richard Waterman commanded this battery.  They had six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles on hand during the battle of Fredericksburg.
  • Battery D: At Newport News, Virginia with six 12-pdr Napoleons.  The battery was actually at Falmouth at the end of 1862.  Newport News is the location of the battery in March 1863, when the return was received in Washington.  Captain  William W. Buckley commanded this battery assigned to Second Division, Ninth Corps.
  • Battery E: At Falmouth with six 12-pdr Napoleons.  Captain Pardon S. Jastram’s battery supported First Division, Third Corps.
  • Battery F: At New Berne, North Carolina with two 12-pdr field howitzers and four 10-pdr Parrotts.  Captain James Belger commanded this battery, which was assigned to the newly-formed Eighteenth Corps at the time.
  • Battery G: No return. Charles Owen’s battery was part of Third Division, Second Corps, then at Falmouth.  However, Lieutenant Crawford Allen is listed as the commander at the end of the year.The battery had six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles at Fredericksburg, firing 230 rounds.  More on those later.
  • Battery H: At Fairfax Station, Virginia with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  Assigned to Casey’s Division from the Defenses of Washington.  Captain Jeffrey Hazard commanded this battery.

Several spaces below is the lone entry for the Third Artillery’s Company C.  Referring back to Denison’s history of the regiment, he records for February 23, 1863 (as close a point I can find relative to the end of 1862):

The position of the regiment at this time were as follows: The head-quarters, with eight companies, within the entrenchments on Hilton Head, two of which were in Fort Welles; two companies – one heavy (A) and one light (C) – at Beaufort, A in Battery Stevens; one company (L) in the fort at Bay Point; one company (G) in Fort Pulaski.

This was, of course, well before the operations of 1863 on Morris Island and other points outside Charleston which would involve the 3rd Rhode Island.  But we see specifically that Company C was organized as light artillery.  For them we see:

  • Company C: At Hilton Head, South Carolina with two 24-pdr field howitzers and two 10-pdr Parrotts.  I think Captain Charles R. Brayton was in command of the company at this time.

The company was, of course, assigned to the Tenth Corps (a relatively new designation at the time).  And we know them to be actually act Beaufort, thanks to Denison’s account.  While we can take the battery’s reported armament as accurate, keep in mind the battery’s assigned weapons, as did all in the Department of the South, varied.  Furthermore, some of the other batteries in the 3rd Rhode Island would operate field weapons later in 1863.  Also keep in mind the batteries in the theater would man some interesting “weapons”… to say the least:

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Moving forward to the ammunition columns, allow me to refer to that heavy company as “Company C”, to differentiate from the light batteries.  There was no report from Battery C, so we have some room to avoid redundancy.

For smoothbore ammunition:

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We have three batteries reporting quantities:

  • Battery E:  288 shot, 96 shell, 288 case, and 96 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery F: 120 shell, 151 case, and 18 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • Company C:  175 shell, 90 case, and 80 canister for 24-pdr field howitzers.

So we don’t have quantities for batteries B and D which we know had Napoleons on hand.

For rifled projectiles, starting with Hotchkiss patents:

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Only one line to work with here:

  • Battery A:  110 percussion shell, 450 fuse shell, and 434 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.

Moving over to the next page, consider the Dyer’s and Parrott’s patent projectiles:

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From the Dyer’s columns only one battery reported quantities:

  • Battery H:  720 shrapnel for 3-inch rifle.

In terms of Parrott projectiles:

  • Battery F: 175 shell, 75 case, and 54 canister for 10-pdr Parrott.
  • Company C: 240 shell, 189 case, and 60 canister for 10-pdr Parrott.

Lastly, we turn to the Schenkl projectiles:

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Just one to consider:

  • Battery H:  360 shell and 120 canister for 3-inch rifles.

Before we move on to the small arms, consider what we are missing here.  Batteries C and G, with 3-inch rifles, did not have a filed return.  But let’s not allow them to remain silent due to that administrative issue.  Both commanders filed reports from the Battle of Fredericksburg, and both offered comments on their guns and ammunition.  Captain Owen, of Battery G, wrote:

During the five days, I expended about 230 rounds of ammunition.  The Hotchkiss shell and case shot is the only variety upon which I can rely.  The Dyer ammunition generally misses the groove, and the Hotchkiss percussion bursts in the piece.

Captain Waterman, of Battery C, went further in his report to discuss the guns and packing material:

It may be proper to state that, from the experience of the last nine days, as well as from ten months’ active service with the 3-inch gun, I consider it inferior at ranges of from 900 to 1,500 yards to the 10-pdr Parrott gun.

The Schenkl percussion and the Hotchkiss fuse shells worked to entire satisfaction.

The ordnance ammunition with metallic packing failed in almost every instance to ignite the fuse, and I consider it worthless when explosion constitutes the chief value of the projectile.  As solid shot, the ordnance shrapnel was serviceable in the cannonade of Fredericksburg.

A couple of opinions to weigh on the scales.

On to the small arms:

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By battery:

  • Battery A: Twenty-four Army revolvers and thirty-nine horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery D: Twelve Navy revolvers and eighteen horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery E: Fourteen Navy revolvers.
  • Battery F: 104 Navy revolvers and nine horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery H: Twenty Army revolvers and twenty horse artillery sabers.
  • Company C: Fifty Navy revolvers, 120 cavalry sabers, and one horse artillery saber.

The pattern seen here was for batteries operating in the side theaters to have more small arms.  Given the service of both and detailed duties, that follows logically.

April 14, 1865: The war turns full circle as “the same dear flag” is raised over Fort Sumter

By all contemporary accounts, April 14, 1865 was a momentous day at Fort Sumter.  For weeks, Federal authorities planned a ceremony at the fort, timed to the fourth anniversary of the surrender which started the Civil War.  Dignitaries, reporters, sketch artists, and photographers gathered for the much anticipated moment.  And, thanks to the latter, we have a wealth of photographs dated to April 1865 from the Charleston area.

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As I draft this post, the Library of Congress’ website is throwing some odd errors with thumbnails.  Otherwise I’d fill this post with images taken on, or about, April 14, 1865 at Charleston.

One of those photographs, taken at Fort Strong, a.k.a. Battery Wagner, captured members of the 3rd Rhode Island Heavy Artillery going through inspection.

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On Morris Island, members of the 3rd Rhode Island Heavy Artillery prepared to play a role in the ceremonies.  Having served through the long siege of Fort Sumter and Charleston, the 3rd was aptly tasked to provide details of honor guards and, most prominently, manned the guns to fire ceremonial salutes.

The 3rd Rhode Island regimental history recorded the day’s events:

April 14. At the hour named the army, the navy, the national authorities of Washington, dignitaries of every civil and professional rank, and eminent strangers – a multitude of notables – by war-ships, transports, and boats, landed on the war-swept walls.  Full 3,000 persons, men and women, crowded on the ruin.  And now commenced the services: –

I. Prayer by Rev. Matthias Harris, Chaplain United States Army, who offered the prayer at the raising of the flag when Major Anderson removed his command from Fort Moultrie to Fort Sumter, Dec. 27, 1860.

II. Reading the Scriptures by Rev. R. S. Storrs, Jr., D.D., and the audience alternately, from sheets prepared at The New South office, and distributed for use. The selected portions were [Palms 126, 47, 98, and part of 20]; closing with a doxology. A profound impression was made by this reading, following the Chaplain’s prayer, that recalled the past.

III. Reading of Major Anderson’s dispatch to the Government, dated Steamship Baltic, off Sandy Hook, April 18, 1861, announcing the fall of Fort Sumter. The reading was by Brevet Brig.-Gen. E. D. Townsend, Assistant Adjutant General, United States Army.

IV. At the full hour of noon – all things in readiness – the battlements thronged with excited beholders – Major Anderson again lifted to its lawful place on the walls and to the breath of heaven, the same dear flag that floated during the assault of 1861.  Who can describe the scene? Who can utter the deep feelings that choked the bravest men and wet the eyes of all the thousands present.

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V. And now came the eloquence of artillery. Rhode Island opened the ponderous lips and spoke the thundering notes. Lieut. J.E. Burroughs and his men (Company B), pronounced the “one hundred” with the guns of Sumter. Capt. J.M. Barker and his command, Company D, answered with the national salute from Morris Island. Lieut. C.H. Williams and his men, Company B, responded from Sullivan’s Island.  And the air-reading chorus came in from the guns of Fort Johnston. Meanwhile, what cheers and tears, what joys and shouts, what waving of flags, hats, and handkerchiefs. Memorable hour!  Exultantly did our veterans emphasize it, and count it an honor to handle the captured heavy guns in avenging the flag of the free and the brave.

We need not ask how this music sounded to the Charlestonians. Where now was historic disgrace and shame?

VI. The band – the joyous band – struck and played as never before, while the host of army, navy, and citizens present, joined in singing The Star Spangled Banner.

“O say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light” –

…. …. ….

Like a billow of inspiring sound rolled the chorus: –

“And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave

O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.”

Such a rapturous hour was worth fighting for. How the hearts of all soldiers, and of the loyal millions in our land, beat with a thankful unutterable joy that our flag’s humiliation was now canceled.

Aloft, behold their banner rose!

Fit the ensign for the land we prize;

A flag the breezes fond, caress,

The flag that freemen ever bless,

And stars of heaven delight to kiss;

Henceforth in spotless fame to wave,

The pledge of freedom to the slave,

The standard of the free and brave.

A history, Dear Flag, is thine,

Sung on the mountain and the sea;

Thy folds, like heaven’s pure stars, shall shine

Till earth is lit with Liberty.

VII. Now followed the eloquent, patriotic, inimitable address by Rev. Henry Ward Beecher; the vast multitude hanging on his lips, and well-nigh the fort itself, rocking to the greatness of his thoughts and the grandeur of the occasion.

VIII. The whole host, led by the band, in the grand tune of Old Hundred, then lifted up to the heaven the doxology: –

“Praise God, from whom all blessings flow.”

IX. The closing prayer of thanksgiving and the benediction were by Rev. R. S. Storrs, Jr., D.D.

Poets have been moved to sing of sieges. We wonder if, in the bright years to come, a poet will not arise to celebrate in melodious phrase, the scenes of Sumter and the siege of Charleston.

At least to my knowledge, no poet has done so.  And the reason was not to any failing of the moment.

The ceremony was designed from the start to celebrate the grand victory over the rebellion and showcase the triumph of the Union.  This was, with all the bunting and bands, a “Mission Accomplished” moment. The scene was perfect.  And there were ample number of scribes, artists, and photographers to record the moment.  The ceremony was intended to serve notice for all – the rebellion was crushed.  This was to be the “big news” of the week.

But at 10:15 that evening, everything changed.  What happened at Fort Sumter on April 14, 1865 was eclipsed to rate only passing comment.

(Citation from Frederic Denison, Shot and Shell: The Third Rhode Island Heavy Artillery Regiment in the Rebellion, 1861-1865, Providence, R.I.: Third Rhode Island Artillery Veterans Association, 1879, page 308-9.)