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!

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“The distance transported is nearly 1,400 miles, about equally divided between land and water. ” Strategic Moves in the Winter of 1865

By January 1865, even a biased observer of the Civil War would have to agree the final acts were due to play out within months.  But before the curtain would open on the next rounds, several actors had to move about on the stage.  As some of the fall 1864 campaigns reached conclusions, the demands of January 1865 prompted movement of troops across theaters.  Both Federal and Confederate troops were in motion that month.  There are three movements which I’d highlight as rather important to the last phases of the Civil War.

I’ve mentioned one of those movements in brief already.  The Second Division, Nineteenth Army Corps, under Major-General Cuvier Grover, were veterans of the vicious fall campaigns of 1864 in the Shenandoah Valley.  But in January 1865, Grover’s men were designated to be the new garrison of Savannah, Georgia.  The division departed Camp Sheridan, outside Winchester, Virginia, on January 7, 1865.  From there, the troops moved by railroad to Camp Carroll, Baltimore, Maryland.  This first leg of the journey was about 100 miles.

The division’s second leg was by steamers from Baltimore to Savannah – some 625 miles, give or take.  The division arrived in Savannah on January 20.  This freed up the division of Major-General John Geary (Second Division, Twentieth Corps) for the movement into South Carolina.  And thus the force that Major-General William T. Sherman had marched through Georgia in the fall of 1864 remained intact for similar treatment of South Carolina.   Grover’s men spent the last winter of the war at the enviable posting of Savannah.

The second troop movement to consider is that of the Twenty-third Army Corps.  The lone formation in the Army of the Ohio, Major-General John Schofield’s troops were veterans of the Atlanta and Franklin-Nashville Campaigns.  And at the start of January 1865 they were south of Nashville.  From the big overview, Schofield’s troops were extra chess pieces on the far side of the board, better employed on the Atlantic Coast.  But Schofield could not simply march the direct route through to the Carolinas.  Instead their route was opposite that taken by the Eleventh and Twelfth Corps in the fall of 1863.

The key individual in the Twenty-third Corps movement was Colonel Lewis Parsons, Chief of Rail and River Transportation.  On January 11, 1865, Parson’s received an order from Assistant Secretary of War Charles A. Dana:

It having been decided that the Twenty-third Army Corps, Major-General Schofield commanding, shall be transferred from the Tennessee to the Chesapeake, you will immediately proceed westward, and take the general supervision and management of its transportation.

Dana advised Parsons to use boat transportation, if practical, to Parkersburg, West Virginia. But if needed, the rail system should be leveraged.  Parsons wasted no time, departing Washington on the same day.

A railroad man before the war, Parsons hedged his bets and contacted “several trustworthy gentlemen intimately connected with the management of Western railroads” to have sufficient rolling stock to move the troops if the situation arose.  Initial estimates called for boat (or rail) capacity to move 10,000 men.  But by January 18, Parsons realized the number was in reality 20,000! Adjusting, Parsons shuffled resources to meet the demands.

The first leg was movement by river boat from Clifton, Tennessee to Paducah, Kentucky. The second leg, along the Ohio River, used over fifty steamboats to move the troops to Cincinnati, Ohio.  At first Parsons planned to move the troops by rail from there because of river conditions.  But as the boats arrived, on January 21-23, ice in the river cleared up.  So the boats pressed on for over 300 more river miles to Wheeling, West Virginia (well past Parkersburg, by the way) where they transferred to the rail-cars.

Though moving from Wheeling to Washington by rail, a harsh winter stood in the way of the next leg of the journey.  To avoid unnecessary delays caused by stops to prepare rations, Parsons had local quartermasters, or the railroad operatives themselves, stage cooked meals ready to serve the troops.  Parsons personally supervised the loading of the last trains on the west side of the Appalachians on January 31.  “I took the train and reached [Washington] on the night of the 1st instant, where, on the following day, I found upon the banks of the Potomac the Twenty-third Army Corps safely encamped.”

Parson reflected on the achievement:

The distance transported is nearly 1,400 miles, about equally divided between land and water. The average time of transportation, from the embarkation on the Tennessee to the arrival on the banks of the Potomac, was not exceeding eleven days; and what is still more important, is the fact that during the whole movement not a single accident has happened causing loss of life, limbs, or property, except in the single instance of a soldier improperly jumping from the car under apprehension of danger….

And keep in mind, I’m offering only the “Cliff Notes” version here.  Parson’s report, including attachments, runs some sixty pages within the Official Records.  Parsons earned a promotion to Brigadier-General that winter.

But while Parson’s job was done, the Twenty-third Corps was still moving.  Within days some troops moved again to Annapolis, Maryland where they boarded ocean-going transports headed to North Carolina.  And here the movement met its first major snag.  Several of the transport vessels were not outfitted to handle troops.  Regardless, the troops went south… some cases on cargo vessels.  Schofield, now in command of the Department of North Carolina and having placed Major-General Darius Couch in command of the corps, directed the Twenty-third Corps to Cape Fear.  The Corps Third Division arrived at Fort Fisher on February 9.  But the remainder arrived in serials.  The last of the corps did not complete the journey until February 28 (with the last elements disembarking at Morehead City, North Carolina).  Though the movement by sea was slow in comparison to Parsons’ charge, elements of the corps arrived in time to take part in the final operations at Wilmington.

The last major movement I’ll mention here is on the other side of the lines.  The start of the new year found the Army of Tennessee somewhat beaten, but still in being.  And an army that “is” is still an army.  However, that army was most needed in South Carolina.  So orders came forth to move some parts of the army eastward. I’ll step past the organizational changes and such details in this post.  But for comparison to Federal activities, let me summarize the movements of Major-General Benjamin Cheatham’s Corps, as recorded by one of the corps’ staff officers, Major Henry Hampton.   On January 27, the corps left Meridian, Mississippi by rail.  Making stops at Demopolis, Selma, and Montgomery, the Corps moved through Alabama from January 29 to February 3.  Starting at Columbus, Georgia on February 3, the troops were able to ride by train to Milledgeville.  On February 7, Hampton recorded:

Left Milledgeville in a storm of rain and rode horseback twenty-five miles, bivouacking near Colonel Lane’s, two miles from Sparta.

Of course, staff officers ride while infantry march.  But using the much maligned  Confederate rail system, some of which Sherman had wrecked only a few weeks earlier, from Mississippi to central Georgia, many footsteps were saved.  Indeed, for Cheatham’s men to reach Augusta, Georgia, the only leg were no railroad existed was the forty-five or so miles from Milledgeville to rail stops on the Georgia Railroad.  By February 10, Hampton reported camping across the Savannah River in South Carolina.  Such was a feat that one could argue rivaled the movements facilitated by Parsons … when one considers what resources were available to the Confederates.

Three movements.  Three substantial troop formations placed at new locations on the map.  All accomplished within weeks.  Although the war was winding down, the troops were still in motion.

(Citations from OR, Series I, Volume 47, Part I, Serial 98, pages 1080-1; Part II, Serial 99, pages 215, 216-7, 219.)