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.

Alabama

  • 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

Connecticut

  • 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.

Delaware

Illinois

Indiana

Louisiana

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

Maine

  • 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). 

Maryland

  • 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.

Massachusetts

  • 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).

Missouri

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

Mississippi

  • 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.

Ohio

  • 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.

Pennsylvania

  • 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.

Tennessee

  • 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.

Vermont

  • 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.

Wisconsin

  • 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!

Summary Statement, 3rd Quarter, 1863 – Rhode Island’s batteries

As we have discussed for the previous quarters, the small state of Rhode Island mustered a total of four artillery regiments for the Federal cause.  FOUR!

However, three of those regiments were heavy artillery.  And that means only the 1st Rhode Island Light Artillery earns significant space in the summaries.  For the third quarter, we find every battery in that regiment (A through H) offered a return.  In addition Battery C, 3rd Rhode Island Heavy Artillery was serving as light artillery.  Thus nine batteries on the summary list:

0289_1_Snip_RI

Colonel Charles H. Tompkins (not to be confused with the US Regulars cavalry officer), commanded the 1st Rhode Island Light Artillery and doubled as the Chief of Artillery, Sixth Corps.  And all eight of his batteries gave reports for the quarter:

  • Battery A: “In the field” with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  Captain William A. Arnold remained in command of this battery,  supporting Second Corps.  Their “in the field” location at the end of September was Culpeper County, Virginia.
  • Battery B: Also “In the field,” but with six 12-pdr Napoleons. Battery B also served in Second Corps’ artillery brigade, and thus was also in Culpeper at this time.  Captain  John G. Hazard of this battery was the corps artillery chief.  In his place, Lieutenant William S. Perrin commanded.
  • Battery C: Reporting at Warrenton, Virgnia, with six 10-pdr Parrotts.  Captain Richard Waterman commanded this battery supporting the Sixth Corps.
  • Battery D: At Loudon, Tennessee with six 12-pdr Napoleons. Captain William W. Buckley commanded this battery.  Assigned to First Division, Twenty-third Corps through this quarter (but would return to the Ninth Corps, specifically First Division, in October)
  • Battery E: Reporting at Culpeper, Virginia with six 12-pdr Napoleons.  The battery remained with Third Corps. Captain George E. Randolph, of this battery, was in command of the corps’ artillery brigade.  Lieutenant John K. Bucklyn commanded the battery in his place.
  • Battery F: At Newport News, Virginia with six 12-pdr Napoleons (vice 10-pdr Parrotts reported in the last quarter). Captain James Belger commanded this battery, though he was at the time on extended leave recovering from a wound and on recruiting duty.  In his place Lieutenant Thomas Simpson commanded. The battery spent the summer assigned to the Defenses of New Berne, North Carolina.  And they supported several reconnaissance operations during those months.  In October the battery was ordered to NewPort News.
  • Battery G: Reporting at Warrenton with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles. Captain George W. Adams remained in command.  And the battery remained assigned to the Sixth Corps.
  • Battery H: At Fort Scott, Virginia with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles. Assigned to the Twenty-second Corps from the Defenses of Washington.  Captain Jeffrey Hazard resigned in August.  Lieutenant Charles F. Mason stood in as commander in his absence.  Lieutenant Crawford Allen, Jr. would transfer from Battery G in December, and receive the captaincy.

Rhode Island would not form any other batteries within the 1st Artillery Regiment.

The last line in this section is for a battery in the 3rd Rhode Island Heavy Artillery.  This regiment, as readers will recall, served in the Department of the South at this time, providing garrison troops for Fort Pulaski, Hilton Head, Beaufort, and Folly Island.  But more importantly, the regiment provided troops for the siege of Battery Wagner.  One battery of this regiment was designated a light battery and appears on the summary:

  • Battery C: Reporting on Morris Island, South Carolina with two 12-pdr field howitzers and four 3-inch Ordnance Rifles. Captain Charles R. Brayton remained in command.

We’ll cover the remainder of this regiment in a latter post focused on heavy artillery.

Guns need ammunition.  And the Rhode Island batteries reported plenty.  We start with the smoothbore:

0291_1_Snip_RI

  • Battery B, 1st RI: 192 shot, 64 shell, 192 case, and 64 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery E, 1st RI: 288 shot, 96 shell, 284 case, and 96 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery F, 1st RI: 400 shot, 160 shell, 360 case, and 144 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery C, 3rd RI: 120 shell, 214 case, and 92 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.

For the rifled guns, we start with the Hotchkiss rounds:

0291_2_Snip_RI

  • Battery A, 1st RI: 175 canister, 57 percussion shell, 533 fuse shell, and 509 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery G, 1st RI: 199 canister, 124 percussion shell, 149 fuse shell, and 334 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery H, 1st RI: 120 canister and 231 percussion shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery C: 3rd RI: 180 canister, 84 percussion shell, 468 fuse shell, and 539 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.

I’ll break down the next page into sections for clarity.  Starting with an entry for Dyer’s patent projectiles:

0292_1D_Snip_RI

  • Battery G, 1st RI: 34 shell for 3-inch rifles.

And the Parrott columns:

0292_1P_Snip_RI

  • Battery C, 1st RI: 491 shell, 367 case, and 122 canister for 10-pdr Parrott.

And there were plenty of Schenkl projectiles reported:

0292_2_Snip_RI

  • Battery A, 1st RI: 64 shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery G, 1st RI: 146 shell and 33 case for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery H, 1st RI: 260 shell and 589 case for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery C, 3rd RI: 104 shell and 173 case for 3-inch rifles.

The last set of columns we review are the small arms:

0292_3_Snip_RI

  • Battery A, 1st RI: Four army revolvers, nineteen navy revolvers and thirty horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery B, 1st RI: Twenty horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery C, 1st RI: Seven navy revolvers and twelve horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery D, 1st RI: Eight army revolvers, twelve navy revolvers, forty-five cavalry sabers, and five horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery E, 1st RI: Twelve navy revolvers and one horse artillery saber.
  • Battery F, 1st RI: 102 army revolvers and twenty horse cavalry sabers.
  • Battery G, 1st RI: Eight navy revolvers, ten cavalry sabers, and seventeen horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery H, 1st RI: Twenty army revolvers and thirty-six horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery C, 3rd RI: Forty-eight army revolvers, fifty-three cavalry sabers, and seventy-nine horse artillery sabers.

The Rhode Island batteries leave us with few questions.  The only question I pose what ammunition Battery D had on hand for its Napoleons?  Perhaps this nearly complete accounting from the Rhode Island batteries reflects the number of its officers then serving as artillery chiefs.

The Christmas Bombardment of Charleston

The Christmas of 1863 will long be remembered by those who passed the day in the City of Charleston….” said the writer at the Charleston Mercury.  Reporting on the Christmas Morning bombardment of the city, the Mercury reporter detailed:

For hours before the eastern sky was streaked with the first grey tints of morning, the cold night air was rent by other sounds than the joyous peals from the belfry and the exploding crackers of exhilarated boys.

At one o’clock, a.m., the enemy opened fire upon the city.  Fast and furiously were the shells rained upon the city from five guns – three at Battery Gregg, one at Cummings’ Point, and one at the Mortar Battery.  The shelling was more severe than upon any former occasion, the enemy generally throwing from three to five shells almost simultaneously.  Our batteries promptly and vigorously replied to the fire, but without their usual effect in checking the bombardment, which was steadily maintained by the Yankees during the remainder of the night and all the following morning, until about half-past twelve o’clock.  Up to that hour no less than 134 shells had been hurled against the city. – There was no more firing until about five o’clock in the afternoon, when one more shell was fired.  On Sunday [December 27] morning about three o’clock, four shells were thrown in quick succession.  There had been no further firing up to a late hour last night.

Remarkably, the Mercury and the Charleston Daily Courier declined to portray the bombardment in sensational… or dare I say horrific, terror-stricken… terms.  While a detestable disturbance on a day designated for peaceful reflection, there was no outright condemnation.  Perhaps that was due to the Confederate ambush of the USS Marblehead occurring the same “peaceful” morning.  Neither side designed a peaceful Christmas that year.

From the Federal side, the regimental history of the 3rd Rhode Island Heavy Artillery looked back at the episode years later:

Dec. 24. “Twas the night before Christmas,” but all in the house was stirring as lively as a cat for a mouse.  We were hurling shell and our Yankee sort of Greek fire into the city of Charleston.  We sent a shell every five minutes from our 200-pounder Parrotts in Fort Chatfield.  This music kept up an animated dance among the rebels, and they answered us to the best of their ability. About midnight we could see three fires in the city; two of them quite close together, and within the range of our pieces.  We inferred, what we afterwards learned, that our shells had occasioned the conflagration, at least in part, and the Charlestonians had a sever task in subduing the flames.  This loss to the city was a very heavy one.

The Confederate military records don’t record the caliber of projectiles fired at Charleston.  But those records do offer a good tally of the shots fired.  Colonel Alfred Rhett, commanding the 5th Military District, including Charleston, reported 150 shots fired at the city on Christmas Day.  134 of those reached the city.  And 16 fell short.  There is no indication how many or what percentage of those landing in the city were duds.  Other Confederate authorities placed the number of shells failing to explode between 40% and 50%.   Given the number of unexploded shells found in Charleston in the 150 years since the war, those estimates were probably not far off.

Charleston 4 May 10 115

The shell in the photo above was found on Broad Street in Charleston.  The street seemed to be in the “beaten zone” where a majority of Federal projectiles landed.

Charleston was on the receiving end of Federal artillery fire starting the previous August.  After the Swamp Angel burst, Federal fired occasional shots into Charleston through September and October.  More so to test ranges than for any specific objective.  In November a total of 77 shots reached the city, with another ten falling short according to Confederate observers.  Those were spread out between November 16 and 27, with no more than twenty in any one given day.

But in December, the Federals increased the firing on Charleston, with activity almost every day:

  • December 1: 8 shots.
  • December 2: 19 shots.
  • December 3: 32 shots.
  • December 5: 8 shots.
  • December 8: 6 shots.
  • December 11: 8 shots.
  • December 12: 4 shots.
  • December 14: 7 shots.
  • December 15: 10 shots.
  • December 16: 1 shot (with one more missing).
  • December 20: 20 shots reaching and 11 falling short.

Certainly the Federals had found the range.  Keep in context this attention on Charleston came as the Second Major Bombardment came to a close.

Major Henry Bryan, Assistant Inspector-General on General P.G.T. Beauregard’s staff, completed a detailed examination of all bombardments of Charleston through the end of 1863, submitting his findings on January 6, 1864.  In that report, Bryan noted the Christmas Day bombardment was responsible for, “the burning of six buildings and a cotton press…, by a fire originating from the explosion of a shell, and the destruction of some medical stores….”  Bryan added, referring generally to all bombardments of the city up to that time, “It has further caused considerable social distress by obliging thousands of persons in the lower part of the city, in order to avoid danger, to leave their homes and close their hotels, and seek refuge in the upper portion of the city or the interior of the state.”   And those abandoned properties were exposed to vandalism and theft.

Lieutenant George Walker, Confederate Engineers, assisted Bryan in the report and produced a map showing where each shell had landed in Charleston, “designated roughly by specks of red paint the locality where each shell fell, the extreme points where shells struck being connected by straight red-ink lines.”  Unfortunately, I’ve never seen a copy of that map in any archives or other collections.  If it is out there, I’d love to examine those “specks of red paint.”  However, even without seeing Walker’s map, we can surmise the captain’s work was good, given the level of detail and precision of Bryan’s reporting.

There are several threads to follow in regard to the bombardment of Charleston.  First off, Bryan’s report deserves a close look.  And I intend to give it due space in follow up blog posts.

Another thread to follow is how the effects of these bombardments were reported in Confederate papers.  In correspondence to authorities in Richmond, Beauregard clearly reports fires, damage, and causalities due to Federal bombardments.  Though he shrugs them off.  To the public, however, the newspapers arranged the news to keep the Federal bombardment separate from the fires caused.  Censorship?  Perhaps, as the Federals were seeking out Charleston papers for intelligence.  Spin control?  Very likely….

We should also consider how these bombardments, including Christmas Day, were justified and accepted from the military side.  Beauregard wasted no time protesting the bombardments.  And Gillmore rested his actions on justifications agreed upon in earlier correspondence.  It seems both sides agreed, mutually, that Charleston was a fair target.  After the fact, 150 years later, many will cry the bombardment broke the rules of war… and might even level allegations of war crimes.  But at the time, such talk was not in the air.  How did that come about?  It’s a long line of logic, deserving fuller discussion.

Lastly, as this is “To the Sound of the Guns” and we talk about what wonderful things artillery can do on the battlefield, we should also discuss how these Parrott rifles were able to fire on targets 8000 to 9000 yards distant.

So more to follow.

(Citations from Charleston Mercury, December 28, 1863, page 2 column 1; 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 206-7;  and OR, Series I, Volume 28, Part I, Serial 46, pages 682-3.)

Summary Statement, 2nd Quarter, 1863 – Heavy Artillery

Let me give the heavy artillery batteries, battalions, and regiments their due for this quarter of the summary.  While looking at each of the state sections, we’ve mentioned a few of these batteries.  But not the whole.  The omission, by those at the Ordnance Department, was mostly due to bureaucratic definitions than any overt action.

Briefly, the summary statements we are reviewing here are focused only on ordnance rated as “field artillery.” A further qualification is that only units assigned roles to use field artillery (as in for use as “mobile” artillery) are included.  So, IF a field howitzer was assigned to a fort’s garrison, AND that howitzer was considered part of the fort’s armament, and not part of the garrisoning unit’s property, THEN it was accounted for in a different set of sheets for accounting.  Such means a great number of field artillery pieces, not to mention the siege, garrison, and seacoast artillery, escapes mention in these summaries.  And we don’t have, to my knowledge, a full record for those anywhere in the surviving documents.  However, I would point out that in 1864 the Ordnance Department began using a common form to account for field, siege, garrison, and seacoast artillery.

But for the second quarter of 1863, that accounting is lacking in the known records.  We do have a handful of “heavies” that were assigned roles which required mobile artillery.  And those were mentioned as we proceeded through the summary.  For sake of completeness, let me list all the heavy units in service as of June 1863 and match those to summary lines where mentioned.  Keep in mind the varied service of these formations.  Traditionally, these were assigned to garrison fortifications.  But wartime contingencies would see the “heavies” employed as infantry or even cavalry were needed.  And those needs would evolve as the war continued.

By unit, ordered by state (these are regiments unless otherwise noted):

  • 1st Connecticut Heavy Artillery:  As mentioned earlier, Batteries B and M served with the Army of the Potomac, in 2nd Volunteer Brigade, Artillery Reserve.  They, and their 4.5-inch rifles, were left behind and missed Gettysburg (though were active in the pursuit which followed).  The remainder of Colonel Henry L. Abbot’s regiment served in Third Brigade of the Defenses South of the Potomac (DeRussy’s Division, Twenty-Second Corps), defending Washington, D.C.  Regimental headquarters were at Fort Richardson.
  • 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery: Serving at this time as the 19th Connecticut Infantry (designation would change in November 1863) under Lieutenant Colonel Elisha S. Kellogg, and assigned to Second Brigade, DeRussy’s Division, Twenty-Second Corps.  Companies B, F, and G manned Fort Ellsworth; Company A assigned to Redoubt A (in that sector); Company D to Redoubt B; Companies C and K to Redoubt C; and Companies E, H, and I were in Redoubt D.
  • 1st Indiana Heavy Artillery: Assigned to the Department of the Gulf, the regiment was in First Division, Nineteenth Corps (having converted from the 21st Indiana Infantry earlier in the year).  We discussed Batteries A and E and their work at Port Hudson.  Colonel John A. Keith commanded, with detachments at Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
  • 1st Maine Heavy Artillery: Second Brigade, Defenses North of the Potomac, Twenty-Second Corps under Colonel Daniel Chaplin.  Batteries assigned mostly to the defenses on the west side of Washington, and along the Potomac.
  • 1st Massachusetts Heavy Artillery: 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 the brigade.
  • 2nd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery:  Authorized in May 1863, this regiment, under Colonel Jones Frankle, would not complete formation until later in the fall.
  • 1st Massachusetts Heavy Artillery Battalion: 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.  In addition the 3rd and 6th unassigned companies also appear in the list of garrison troops around Boston.
  • 1st New Hampshire Heavy Artillery: This regiment, commanded by Colonel George A. Wainwright, would not officially form until later in July.
  • 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.
  • 4th New York Heavy Artillery:  Under Colonel Henry H. Hall, this regiment formed the Fourth Brigade, DeRussy’s Division, Defenses South of the Potomac.  Detachments manned Fort Marcy and Fort Ethan Allen.
  • 5th New York Heavy Artillery:  Assigned to the defenses of Baltimore, Maryland, as part of the Middle Department.  Commanded by Colonel Samuel Graham, but with Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Murray in charge of two battalions then at Baltimore.  Another battalion, under Major Gustavus F. Merriam, appears on the returns for First Brigade, DeRussy’s Division, South of the Potomac.
  • 6th New York Heavy Artillery:  Assigned to the First Division, Eighth Corps.  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.
  • 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, staying there until August 3.
  • 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 was all of the Third Brigade, Defenses North of the Potomac, Twenty-Second Corps.  Commanded by Colonel Alexander Piper.  One battalion (four companies) moved from the defenses of New York to Washington in June, joining the rest of the regiment. Their service was mostly on the southeast side of the perimeter around the Anacostia.
  • 11th New York Heavy Artillery:  We discussed their saga in an earlier post.  Colonel William B. Barnes’ regiment was still forming when thrust into the Gettysburg Campaign.
  • 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, and 16th New York Heavy Artillery:  These regiments were all authorized by the spring of 1863, but in various states of organization at the end of June.
  • 3rd New York Heavy Artillery Battalion: Also known as the German Heavy Artillery.  Under Lieutenant-Colonel Adam Senges, and assigned to Second Brigade, DeRussy’s Division, Twenty-Second Corps, on the south side of the Potomac.  This battalion was, later in the year, consolidated into the 15th New York Heavy Artillery, and came under Colonel Louis Schirmer.  For some reason, Schirmer’s name is associated with the command as early as June 1863.
  • 1st Ohio Heavy Artillery: Lieutenant-Colonel Chauncey G. Hawley’s command garrisoned Covington, Kentucky as part of Twenty-third Corps, Department of Ohio.
  • 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: We discussed Battery H and their “impressed” service at Gettysburg. While that battery was on detached service (Baltimore, then pushed out to guard the railroad), the remainder of the regiment served out of Fort Monroe providing detachments for garrisons in the Department of Virginia. Colonel Joseph Roberts commanded.
  • 3rd Rhode Island Heavy Artillery: We looked at this regiment, assigned to the Department of the South, in detail earlier.  Colonel Edwin Metcalf commanded the regiment
  • 5th Rhode Island Heavy Artillery:  Colonel George W. Tew commanded this regiment, serving in North Carolina, and being reorganized from an infantry formation.
  • 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.
  • 1st Wisconsin Heavy Artillery:  Only Battery A of this regiment was mustered as of the end of June 1863. Captain Andrew J. Langworthy’s battery was assigned to the defenses of Alexandria, within DeRussy’s Division, Twenty-second Corps.
  • 1st Tennessee Heavy Artillery (African Descent): I mentioned this regiment briefly at the bottom of the Tennessee section. 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): Also mentioned in the Tennessee section, this regiment, under Colonel Charles H. Adams, was forming up in June 1863.  The regiment would later be designated the 4th US Colored Troops Heavy Artillery.
  • 1st Alabama Siege Artillery (African Descent): Organized from the contraband camps around LaGrange, LaFayette, and Memphis, Tennessee starting on June 20, 1863. Captain Lionel F. Booth appears to be the ranking officer in the regiment in those early months.  The regiment would later be designated the 6th US Colored Troops Heavy Artillery, and then later the 11th USCT Infantry.
  • 1st Louisiana Heavy Artillery (African Descent):  Later in the year designated the 1st Corps de Afrique Heavy Artillery.  And still later in the war becoming the 10th US Colored Heavy Artillery.  And at times, the regiment appears on the rolls as the 1st Louisiana Native Guards Artillery (a name also associated with another USCT formation).  This regiment served throughout the war in the defenses of New Orleans, in the Department of the Gulf.

Yes, a lengthy post.  But this summarizes the status of over thirty regiments.  As you might deduce from reading the entries, the service of the “heavies” was weighted to the defenses of Washington, D.C.  However, the “heavies” also garrisoned places such as Baltimore, Boston, New Orleans, and other remote points.

Some other trends one might note – a good number of these regiments formed in the spring and summer of 1863.  We can, in some cases, link that to the draft and those seeking light service.  But at the same time, let us not “Shelby Foote” our way through these units.  At the time of mustering, the Army wanted troops for garrison defense.  And that was a valid requirement, given the posture at the time.

Lastly, it is important to also frame the context of the four USCT regiments listed above.  These were largely formed out of contraband camps.  And their duties were, for the most part, to provide garrison troops that would free up the white volunteers for service in the field.  But, as the course of events played out, one of those regiments would defend Fort Pillow in April 1864.

So much for easy duty in those heavy regiments!

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.

 

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 started during the Civil War.  And the evolution of the Reconstruction into the post-war era may be readily traced 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 deserve study, in part, as lessons 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.)