Summary Statement, 2nd Quarter, 1863 – Batteries from Minnesota

Minnesota provided three light batteries to the Federal cause.  All three of those were on active service at the end of the second quarter, 1863:

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All three offered returns for the quarter, though posted in Washington with some delays:

  • 1st Battery: Received in September 1863, with location of Vicksburg, Mississippi.  This is probably correct, as the battery supported Sixth Division, Seventeenth Corps at this juncture.  In fact, the battery would spend most of its time through the subsequent fall and winter around Vicksburg.  The battery reported two 12-pdr field howitzers and two 3.67-inch (6-pdr) rifles.  Captain William Z. Clayton commanded.
  • 2nd Battery:  For the second quarterly return in a row, we see Chattanooga, Tennessee as the location for this battery.  Certainly valid for a posting date of January 1864.  But as of June 30, 1863, the battery was assigned to First Division, Twentieth Corps, and active on the Tullahoma Campaign through middle Tennessee.  Chattanooga was the objective, but not quite yet reached.  Two 12-pdr Napoleons and four 10-pdr Parrotts were in the battery’s charge.  Lieutenant Albert Woodbury remained in command.  Woodbury would be mortally wounded at Chickamauga later in the summer.  Lieutenant Richard L. Dawley did get the battery off the field, however.
  • 3rd Battery:  Reporting from Fort Snelling, Minnesota with two 6-pdr field guns and six 12-pdr field howitzers (But… see note below).  Captain John Jones commanded this battery assigned to the District of Minnesota, Department of the Northwest.  Far away from the big battles in Mississippi, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania, the 3rd did not have a quiet summer by the lake.  At the end of June, the Battery was among the forces on an expedition against the Sioux.   Lieutenant J. C. Whipple, commanding a section (of howitzers, if my memory is correct), served with distinction at Stony Lake later in July.

Three batteries.  Three different campaigns. No light duty for the Minnesota batteries.

The 3rd Battery’s howitzers deserve some attention… or question marks, perhaps.  We see field howitzers on the cannon summary page.  But later in the summary, we find the ammunition reported was for mountain howitzers.  And Brigadier-General Henry H. Sibley, commanding the expedition against the Sioux, specifically mentioned a section of 6-pdrs and two sections of mountain howitzers in his official report.  I would make the case for four mountain howitzers, and the tally being placed in the wrong column.

Turning to their ammunition, we look at the smoothbore page first:

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All three had some quantities to report:

  • 1st Battery: 74 shell, 128 case, and 90 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • 2nd Battery: 96 shot, 32 shell, 96 case, and 32 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • 3rd Battery:  130 shot, 230 case, and 42 canister for 6-pdr field guns; 60 shell, 224 case, and 84 canister for 12-pdr mountain howitzer.  (That last entry, I’m suggesting is another column entry error and should have been entered one to the right.)

Moving to the rifled projectiles, we saw the 1st Battery reported rifled 6-pdrs.  These were, based on the column entry, REAL 6-pdrs that were rifled.  In other words 3.67-inch caliber.  And that’s the ammunition they reported:

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These on the first page of Hotchkiss projectiles:

  • 1st Battery: 122 shot, 36 percussion shell, and 26 bullet shell for 3.67-inch rifles.

Note the Ordnance Department called this “Wiard” caliber, related to the rifled guns from that inventor.  But we know that caliber pre-dated Wiard’s guns.

More Hotchkiss on the next page, which we will break down into sections:

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  • 1st Battery:  116 canister for 3.67-inch.  Again “Wiard” is the association, but we should properly disassociate from the eccentric inventor.

Moving over to the right, there are some Parrott projectiles to account for:

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  • 2nd Battery:  444 shell, 207 case, and 143 canister for 10-pdr Parrott.

There were no Schenkl or Tatham projectiles reported.  So we move quickly to the small arms:

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By battery:

  • 1st Battery: Two rifles (type, non-specific) and eleven Navy revolvers.
  • 2nd Battery: One Navy revolver and nine cavalry sabers.
  • 3rd Battery: Thirty Army revolvers and 126 cavalry sabers.

3rd Battery must have issued a saber to every man when stepping out on Sibley’s Sioux Expedition.

Looking ahead to the next installments, one might wonder “Where’s Michigan?”  Well the clerks at the Ordnance Department, never ones to be constrained by the alphabet, shifted that state’s batteries to the next page.  That gave room for all the batteries of Missouri to be considered in one contiguous group.

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Rebel bounty: Captured guns at Chickamauga

As the sun rose on September 21, 1863, the Confederates in the Army of Tennessee experienced a rare experience – possession of a battlefield following a clear victory.  Taking inventory of the debris of the battle, Confederate ordnance officers found a substantial amount of artillery equipment – on paper enough cannons to equip over six batteries.

In his report of the battle, Colonel James Barnett detailed the loss of 39 cannons and carriages.  By type these were:

  • Six 3-inch rifles
  • Seven 10-pdr Parrotts
  • Four 12-pdr Napoleons
  • Nine James rifles
  • Six 6-pdr field guns
  • Six 12-pdr field howitzers
  • One 12-pdr mountain howitzer

In addition, Barnett recorded the loss of 13 limbers, 30 caissons, and one battery wagon.  Oh, and thousands of rounds of ammunition.

On the other side of the line, Captain O.T. Gibbs, ordnance officer for the Army of Tennessee, recorded a different quantity and breakdown in his statement of stores received at Ringold, Georgia:

  • Six 3-inch rifles
  • Two 12-pdr Napoleons
  • Eleven James rifles
  • Eight 6-pdr field guns
  • Fifteen 12-pdr field howitzers
  • Seven 12-pdr mountain howitzers
  • Two 24-pdr howitzers

Fifty-one total.  The reason for the discrepancy?  Gibbs tallied the weapons received by his office, including old, worn out, or simply disfavored weapons.  Gibbs also appears to have included in his list guns captured by Federals on the field, then recaptured by the Confederates, and turned in for repairs.  Furthermore, in several cases, the batteries helped themselves to Federal guns and turned in their old weapons to the ordnance depot. (And in at least one case, a battery ‘horded’ a field howitzer without letting the ordnance officers know about it.) In short, Gibbs’ list is far from definitive for the tally of captured guns.  Although it does offer a wealth of details about those guns.

The numbers are interesting on both sides.  Looking first to Barnett’s tally, I consider three types to be “top notch” favored weapons of the Civil War – 3-inch Ordnance Rifles, 10-pdr Parrotts, and 12-pdr Napoleons.  The Federals gave up only seventeen of those.  Or enough for four four-gun batteries (or three six-gun batteries).  The remainder of the lost guns were of less favored types.

Many would return to action in the spring in a different guise – melted down by the Confederate foundries into 12-pdr Napoleons.  Gibbs’ inventory reads like a “who’s who” of ordnance manufacture, with vendors, both north and south, represented:

6-pounder bronze gun, with carriage and limber, made at Greenwood’s,  Cincinnati, Ohio. 1861….

12-pounder howitzer, with carriage and limber, Saint Louis, Mo., Marshall  &Co., 1862….

12-pounder bronze howitzer, with carriage, damaged, A. B. R. & Bro., Vicksburg, Miss….

3-inch iron rifled gun, with carriage and limber, Rome, Ga., Noble &  Bro.. 1862….

12-pounder bronze howitzer and carriage, J. Clark, New Orleans….

A substantial number of weapons turned in to the depot included early war Tredegar products:

12-pounder iron howitzer, with carriage. J. R. & Co., 1861

12-pounder iron howitzer, with carriage. J. R. & Co., 1862

3-inch rifled gun, with carriage, No. 1480, J. R. & Co

The foundry number of the 3-inch rifle matches one invoiced in May 1862:

Page 380b

Although the receipt does not indicate, other weapons cast around that time were iron.  So it leads to the logical inference that #1480 was an iron 3-inch rifle. We might also presume that, just as in the eastern theater, the iron 3-inch rifle and iron 12-pdrs had fallen into disfavor among the gunners of the western theater.  So these were selected for return to the ordnance depot when nice new Yankee cannon were in hand.

With Gibbs’ tally, only three of the “top notch” guns were turned in to the ordnance depot – two Napoleons and one 3-inch Ordnance Rifle.  Two of the Napoleons captured on the field were immediately incorporated into Battery D, 9th Georgia Artillery (Captain Tyler M. Peeples), who turned in the two 24-pdr howitzers seen in Gibbs’ report.   All the Parrott rifles and five of the 3-inch Ordnance Rifles were put to immediate use.  The one 3-inch Ordnance Rifle received at Ringold had the detailed listing of:

3-inch steel rifled gun, U.S., No. 86, P.A. & Co., 817 pounds.

That gun is still around, but on another field.

Gettysburg 199

Where would that be?  Don’t click on the photo… no cheating!

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This gun stands today on Hancock Avenue at Gettysburg, representing Battery H, 3rd Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery.

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Practically a world away from the woods of Northern Georgia.  I’ve long wondered if a swap arrangement might be appropriate.  But then again, every time I pass the gun at Gettysburg, I pause to recall that the war was not ONLY fought for three days in July 1863.

(Barnett’s and Gibbs’ reports are from OR, Series I, Volume 30, Part I, Serial 50, pages 237-9, Part II, Serial 51, pages 40-43.)

150th on the “River of Death” – Chickamauga

The next big round of sesquicentennial events in the western theater puts the spot light on Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park. For the 150th, the park has broken out events in three sets.

September 14-15 – Civil War Timeline and Special Programs:

A Civil War Timeline featuring living historians, guided by park employees, will propel visitors through North Georgia between 1861 and 1864. Living historians and park staff will also present programs at places like Horseshoe Ridge, the Wilder Brigade Monument, and the park visitor center.

A page on the park’s website provides full details.

September 18-20 – 150th Anniversary Ranger-Guided Programs:

On the actual dates of the battle, 150 years later, park historians and rangers will lead a series of “real time” walks covering the same ground soldiers fought upon in 1863.

I like what I see in the schedule of events – from Alexander’s Bridge to Snodgrass Hill.

 

September 21-22 – Special Programs:

Learn about soldiers and families caught in the midst of the battle. Living historians portraying civilians will discuss the impact the fighting had on the lives and on the survival of those living here 150 years ago. Park rangers will also provide programs based upon the lives of individuals portrayed in the new park orientation film, “The Campaign for Chattanooga: Death Knell of the Confederacy.”

The Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra will present a pops concert at the Wilder Brigade Monument on Chickamauga Battlefield on September 21. “This 2013 event will be a special and nostalgic evening for residents and visitors, who are invited to converge on the beloved tower with blankets, camp chairs, picnic baskets and a taste for stirring American music.”

 

Right now September is a big question mark for me, and I cannot commit to attending. I’d love to attend the September 18-20 events in particular. But we’ll have to see how things work out. In lieu of attending, I’d entertain any readers out there who’d like to take a shot at guest blogging and reporting on the activities. Drop a comment if you are interested.

Looking at the September events, I’m reminded that the park staff will have to quickly reset for another round of events that culminate on November 25. No rest for the weary!