Summary Statement: December 31, 1862 – Wisconsin’s Batteries

The last state with entries in the fourth quarter, 1862 summary statements was Wisconsin.  During the war, the Badger State provided thirteen light batteries.  One of those, the 13th Battery, would not be organized until December 1863 and thus falls outside scope for this post.  But the other twelve should be accounted for.  The summary carries six returns for those batteries on hand at the end of 1862, plus an additional line for weapons assigned to the 3rd Wisconsin Cavalry.

0084_Snip_Dec62_WI_1

With a few gaps to fill in, here are the Wisconsin batteries:

  • 1st Battery:  Reporting at New Orleans with six 20-pdr Parrotts.  The location was valid for August 1864, when the return was received in Washington.  As of the end of 1862, Captain Jacob T. Foster’s battery was employed with Sherman’s forces in the action at Chickasaw Bayou (Third Division, Right Wing, Thirteenth Corps).  Foster’s men fired 2,380 rounds in three days there.  Foster reported his men were very fatigued after the battle, “…the guns were handled as rapidly as light artillery, whereas they are in fact siege pieces, and should have at least 175 men to maneuver there.”  Foster’s gunners would be in action again less than two weeks later at Arkansas Post.
  • 2nd Battery:  No return.  Captain Ernst F. Herzberg commanded this battery at the end of 1862, but was replaced by  Charles Beger within the first week of the new year. The battery served at Camp Hamilton, outside Fortress Monroe, Virginia, at this time of the war.
  • 3rd Battery: No return.  Lieutenant Cortland Livingston took this battery into action at Stones River, as part of Third Division, Left Wing, Fourteenth Corps (Army of the Cumberland).  The battery fired 358 rounds in the battle.
  • 4th Battery: No return.  Was also at Camp Hamilton, Virginia.  Captain  John F. Vallee commanded this battery.
  • 5th Battery: No return.  Captain Oscar F. Pinney was mortally wounded on the first day at Stones River.  Lieutenant Charles B. Humphrey assumed command.  The battery was in First Division, Right Wing, Fourteenth Corps. The battery fired 726 rounds and lost one gun in the battle.
  • 6th Battery: At Cartersville, Georgia with two 6-pdr field guns, two 12-pdr field howitzers, and two 3.80-inch James Rifles.  Another case of a location derived from a later reporting date.  In this case the battery was at Cartersville in October 1864.  In December 1862, the “Buena Vista Battery” was operating in northern Mississippi as part of Seventh Division, Thirteenth Corps.  Captain Henry Dillon commanded.
  • 7th Battery: At Jackson, Tennessee with two 6-pdr field guns and one 12-pdr field howitzer.  Lieutenant Galen E. Green commanded this battery, which was assigned to the District of Jackson, Thirteenth Corps.  A somewhat sedate assignment at the time for the “Badger State Flying Artillery.”
  • 8th Battery: No return. “Lyons’ Pinery Battery” also supported First Division, Right Wing, Fourteenth Corps at Stones River. Captain Stephen J. Carpenter, in command, was killed on the first day of the battle.  Lieutenant Henry E. Stiles assumed command. The 8th fired 375 rounds in the battle.  It lost a 6-pdr and a 10-pdr Parrott.  At the end of the first day, Stiles reported two guns serviceable (type not specified).
  • 9th Battery: Fort Lyon, Colorado with four 6-pdr field guns and two 12-pdr field howitzers. Captain Cyrus H. Johnson commanded this battery posted in the District of Colorado (alongside McLain’s Colorado Battery, I might add)
  • 10th Battery: At Nashville, Tennessee with six 6-pdr field guns.  Assigned to the Fourth Division, Center Wing, Fourteenth Corps.  Captain Yates V. Beebe’s battery did not see action at Stones River.
  • 11th Battery: No return. An interesting back story to cover this blank line.  Formed in February 1862 as the 11th, this battery was transferred out as Battery L, 1st Illinois Light Artillery.  So we’ve covered them in a previous post.
  • 12th Battery: At Germantown, Tennessee with four 10-pdr Parrotts.  Sort of the reverse happened with this battery. It was formed in Missouri, but under authority of the Wisconsin governor.  Captain William Zickerick commanded the 12th at the end of 1862.  It was part of the Seventh Division, Thirteenth Corps at the time.

And as mentioned, one additional line:

  • 3rd Cavalry:  Reporting at Fort Scott, Kansas with two 12-pdr mountain howitzers.  The company designation appears to be “E.” The 3rd Cavalry had a section of mountain howitzers at the battle of Prairie Grove.  So we might arbitrate the location given in the summary.

So we see the Wisconsin batteries were posted to the Western and Trans-Mississippi theaters and involved with (probably, counting the 3rd Cavalry detachment) three different battles in December 1862.

Moving down to the ammunition pages, here are the smoothbore quantities on hand:

0086_Snip_Dec62_WI_1

And we have some entries to plant question marks next to:

  • 1st Battery: Seventy-one 6-pdr canister.  Now recall that 6-pdr caliber was 3.67-inch diameter, as was 20-pdr Parrott.  So this might be a case of “it fits in the bore, so we must be able to use it….”  to put things simply.  Plant a question mark there.
  • 6th Battery: 131 shot, 238 case, and 146 canister for 6-pdr field gun; 81 shell and 68 case  for 12-pdr field howitzer; 144 cainster for 12-pdr mountain howitzer.  Now 6th Battery was mixed with smoothbore guns, rifled guns, and field howitzers.  But were they using mountain howitzer canister in field howitzers? Or is that last entry a data entry error?  Again, we have a question mark.
  • 7th Battery: 60 shot, 80 case, and 45 canister for 6-pdr field gun; 15 case and 15 canister for 12-pdr field howitzer.  Small quantities might be explained by the battery having only three tubes on hand.
  • 9th Battery: 400 shot, 320 case, and 80 canister for 6-pdr field gun; 150 shell, 190 case, and 62 canister for 12-pdr howitzer.
  • 10th Battery:  598 shot and 550(?) case for 6-pdr field gun.
  • 3rd Cavalry: 69 shell and 7 canister for 12-pdr mountain howitzer.

While the smoothbore section leaves us some questions to ponder, the rifled projectile sections are noticeably empty…. starting with the Hotchkiss columns:

0086_Snip_Dec62_WI_2

Hotchkiss was unknown, apparently, to the Wisconsin men.  Furthermore, Parrott and Schenkl were only a little more familiar:

0087_Snip_Dec62_WI_1A

Well… we can zoom in there…:

0087_Snip_Dec62_WI_1

Two batteries with quantities to mention:

  • 1st Battery: 124 shell, 415 case, and 51 canister of Parrott-patent for 20-pdr Parrott.
  • 12th Battery: 502 shell, 149 case, and 119 canister of Parrott-patent for 10pdr Parrott; also 28 Schenkl shot for 10-pdr Parrott rifle.

But nothing further on the Schenkl columns on the next page:

0087_Snip_Dec62_WI_2

So we are left to speculate about what projectiles were on hand for the James rifles.

On to the small arms:

0087_Snip_Dec62_WI_3

For the four batteries reporting quantities:

  • 1st Battery: Sixteen Army revolvers and six horse artillery sabers.
  • 6th Battery: Sixty-six cavalry sabers.
  • 9th Battery: 135 Navy revolvers and twenty-three horse artillery sabers.
  • 10th Battery: Eighteen horse artillery sabers.

Closing this post, we come to the end of the fourth quarter, 1862 summaries. I’m going to take a short break on these posts before starting the first quarter, 1863.  There will be a few “administrative” notes to make as the column headers changed a bit with the new year.  But we’ll continue working through all these rows and columns in a somewhat orderly fashion.

 

 

Advertisements

A Personal Connection to Arkansas Post… and the 29th Missouri

Maybe I should be more in tune with my personal connections to the Civil War. But as I mentioned with respect to my “bushwacker” ancestors, there are just little more than service records to fall back on. If they were the type to spend time recording their experiences, those were all lost with time (as far as my family knows).

As I leafed through my Arkansas Post/Fort Hindman files last week, I came across a page with a circle around the 29th Missouri Infantry and a call out to the name Neitzert. No, Neitzert was not the commander of the regiment. Colonel John S. Cavender commanded the regiment – part of Brigadier General Francis P. Blair, Jr.’s brigade, in Brigadier General Frederick Steele’s division, part of the not-as-of-yet famous Fifteenth Corps (“Forty Rounds”) under Major General William T. Sherman.

The 29th Missouri was a relatively new regiment, one of those formed in the summer of 1862 with Lincoln’s call for 300,000 troops. After organization and training at Benton Barracks in St. Louis, the regiment moved to Cape Girardeau. Later that fall the regiment went down river to join other units gathered for Sherman’s expedition to the Yazoo River. As part of Blair’s brigade, the 29th Missouri assaulted the bluffs and suffered around 180 casualties.

29 Mo Inf Page 7

On January 9, 1863, the regiment was among those arriving downstream of Arkansas Post. The next day, like the rest of Blair’s brigade, they marched and countermarched. Then on January 11, the brigade formed the reserve of Steele’s division, far on the Federal right flank. In the afternoon action, Blair’s brigade followed closely behind the leading brigades, but suffered only minor casualties – and none from the 29th Missouri.

APostFedAssaultLines

Over the next few days, the regiment remained in the area (at times afloat and at others occupying the old Confederate quarters). On January 13th, the regiment was among those detailed to destroy the Confederate works. That evening they boarded a transport heading downriver. Eventually the 29th Missouri, like many others in the “new” Fifteenth Corps, Army of the Tennessee, arrived at Millikin’s Bend to await further orders.

29 Mo Inf Page 8

So who was Neitzert? Brothers John Carl Neitzert and William John Neitzert serving in different companies of the 29th.

John Carl served as a corporal in company I, 29th Missouri. John was born in Prussia. Along with his family, he immigrated and settled in Missouri during the 1840s. According to his discharge papers, he was 34 years old and worked as a storekeeper, in Florence, Missouri, before joining the army in August 1862. In January 1863, unfortunately, John had but a few months to live. He died of typhoid in September.

John Neitzert Page 17

His brother, William, served as a corporal in Company F, 29th Missouri. Like his brother, William emigrated in the 1840s. William also enlisted in August 1862, but listed his trade as “farmer.” And, like his brother, appears to have taken ill in the summer of 1863. However, William survived, spending the rest of the war assigned to hospitals and on furlough. These irregularities in his service record led to some problems receiving a discharge.

Those resolved, William went on to father several children. One of which was Abigail Neitzert who married the nephew of a former Confederate cavalryman (thrice paroled Confederate, mind you). Such would make William my Great-great-great-grandfather. One-hundred and fifty years removed from the Civil War, I am left to wonder what those ancestors experienced. I also wonder if William and Elisha A. Smith ever sat down to talk about the war. But, as far as I know, neither left behind any written record.

And just one more tidbit to consider…. During the operations on the Mississippi through December 1862 and January 1863, the 29th Missouri traveled often on the steamer L.M. Kennett, named for Luther M. Kennett, one time St. Louis mayor and businessman of note. While but happenstance, one of William’s great-great-granddaughters settled in a town named for Luther Kennett. Just a coincidence, I suppose.

150 Years Ago: Countermarching in the sloughs while the Navy works over Fort Hindman

(In series of posts, continuing here and over the next few days, I figure to examine selected details of the battle of Fort Hindman.  For a good overview of the battle, please see the The Battle of Arkansas Post on Civil War Trust’s website or the series of posts at Civil War Daily Gazette.)

As darkness fell on January 9, 1863, Rear Admiral David D. Porter’s gunboats escorted transports with Major General John McClernand’s Army of the Mississippi to a point roughly three miles downstream of Fort Hindman on the Arkansas River. Darkness, rain, and boat handling issues delayed the army’s landing until mid-morning on January 10. Major General William T. Sherman’s Fifteenth Army Corps then had the honor of leading the march to the fort. McClernand’s plan called for one division, led by Brigadier General Frederick Steele, to march around to the north of the Confederate fort, reach the flanks of the defense, and seal off any retreat. Another division, under Brigadier General David Stuart, would move along the right bank of the river directly to the fort, confronting several Confederate defensive lines along the way and drawing attention away from the flanking force.

Envelopment are great when they work, but often difficult to enact. Such was the case 150 years ago today. Looking at the details on a map drawn for the Official Reports, part of the problem facing Steele’s column is spelled “B-a-y-o-u” on the center-right of this close up.

APostPlansForts_A

The swamps, sloughs, and bottom land required Steele’s men to march a wide, circuitous route just to reach the Confederate camps outside the fortifications. Sherman described Steele’s march:

Acting on the best information we could obtain, and guided by negroes, the head of General Steele’s column entered the woods back of Notrib’s farm, which soon became a deep, ugly swamp, but wading through it for about 2 miles in an easterly direction the head of the column reached a field and cabin on hard ground. There, upon questioning closely the occupants of the cabin and some prisoners who gave themselves up, we ascertained that in crossing the swamp we were on the south side of a bayou which in a northeasterly direction extended to Bayou La Cruz, a tributary of the White River, and that to reach the Little Prairie, behind the Arkansas Post, we would have to march a circuit of 7 miles, although in an air-line the distance did not exceed 2.

Brigadier General Charles E. Hovey, commanding the second brigade in Steele’s division, described reaching “an apparently impassable bayou” for which his troops managed to find suitable crossing points. Hovey countered Confederate cavalry along the way. But it was a counter-march order, and not the pickets, that turned his brigade about at 2 p.m. Following behind Hovey’s brigade, Brigadier General Frank Blair, commanding the first brigade of the division, described the out-and-back march through the swamps:

General Hovey’s brigade (the Second) took the advance, the brigade of General Thayer followed, and my brigade brought up the rear of the division. After marching a short distance in this order and penetrating through a slough or swamp I received orders from General Steele to countermarch and form the brigade on a plane near the river. About dark I received orders to advance by a road to the left along the bank of the river. This road was so much encumbered by troops that it was not possible to make much progress, and about midnight I ordered the brigade to bivouac for the night.

While Steele’s division marched around, a brigade of Stuart’s division did clear the river road and close upon the outer fortifications. Despite being unable to challenge the fort, McClernand signaled to Porter that the land forces were in position.

USS Baron DeKalb

The gunboats moved up to challenge the fort. Porter put his ironclad gunboats up front, and used his rifled guns to advantage:

The Louisville, Baron DeKalb, and the Cincinnati will take the lead in attacking Post of Arkansas, and will move up at 9:30 a.m. (if weather will permit), in sight of, but not in range of, the fort. The light-draft vessels will follow to make a show. The Black Hawk will move up to use her two rifle guns at long range.

When the range is obtained by each vessel they will stick up a mark on the bank, opposite which they will remain while firing. The elevating screw must be fitted with a lanyard to the handle, and secured so that the elevation will not alter while firing.

The division of General Sherman will be in a line with our fire, a mile the other side of the Post. It is desirable to drop our shells in or near the fort, that we may not trouble him as he advances. The front casements and forward part of the pilot houses of the ironclads must be covered with tallow or slush; it will make the shot glance.

When the range is obtained, fire as rapidly as can be done with a proper regard for accuracy. Commence with 10-second shell. I will direct when to move up or fall back. If the heavy ammunition should give out, move the rifle guns forward.

The DeKalb will try her range first; 1,330 yards is the bursting point of a 5-second fuse, 10-second, at about 2,700 yards.

That, my friends, is how you bring a gunboat flotilla into action!

coastsurveymap2

The heavy guns in Fort Hindman did land a few hits, but bad powder limited the effectiveness of the defenders. Brigadier General Thomas Churchill, commanding the Confederate forces, offered an impression that, “… the gunboats were compelled to fall back in a crippled condition.” Porter, however, felt his fire was “… very destructive, killing nearly all the artillery horses in and about the fort.” Sensing the batteries silenced, Porter even ordered the tinclad USS Rattler to make a pass of the fort.

USS Rattler

Obstructions at the bend prevented the Rattler from moving past, and not before receiving considerable damage. “All his cabin works were knocked to pieces, and a heavy shell raked him from stem to stern in the hull; strange to say, two heavy shell struck his iron plating (¾-inch) on the bow and never injured it.” With the land forces unable to press the fort, the navy withdrew for the day.

At dusk on January 10, all McClernand had to show for a day of operations against Fort Hindman was a “beachhead” on the Arkansas River.

(Citations from OR, Series I, Volume 17, Part I, Serial 24, pages 754-5, 764, 765, and 780; ORN, Series I, Volume 24, pages 104 and 107-8.)

Arkansas Post’s 150th Plans

Arkansas Post is one of those well off the beaten path Civil War sites. The Federal victory there in January 1863 is most often relegated to a sidebar, if that. But it too has a sesquicentennial. A joint effort between Arkansas Post National Memorial and Arkansas Post State Museum Park, scheduled for January 19-20, recalls the battle of Fort Hindman and how the war affected the river post.

From the national park’s web site:

On Saturday, the park will host guest speakers from 10 am to 1 pm. The morning will also include interpretive programs and an open Confederate camp . A special Memorial Ceremony is at 4 pm near the park gate. On Sunday, the Confederate camp will be open from 10 am to Noon. Arkansas Post State Park Museum and reenacting groups will host simultaneous events near the park. Parking will be at select locations in the town of Gillett with free shuttle service to the activities and back to your vehicle.

More details on the scheduled reenactment are posted on the park website, and found in an article from the Stuttgart (Arkansas) Daily Leader.

From what I read, the planned events are not as extensive as at the “cannon ball” parks. And I am not saying there should be such. After all, to walk the battlefield around Fort Hindman, you’d need to do some water-walking (although the river is down this season).

To me at least, that even smaller sesquicentennial events are getting notice is a good thing.