Mortars and shells wanted at the front: Importance of vertical fires at Petersburg

We often read the Petersburg siege demonstrated the emergence of “modern war” in some fashion.  The “coffee table book” history draws the the comparison between Virginia trenches of 1864-5 to French trenches of 1915-8.  There is some resemblance, but no more than any functional nature would derive.  Men can only dig a hole in theContinue reading “Mortars and shells wanted at the front: Importance of vertical fires at Petersburg”

June 4, 1864: Mortars to the front

Even though June 3, 1864 at Cold Harbor is best recalled as an infantryman’s fight, as mentioned yesterday, the Fifth Corps artillery launched over eighteen tons of ordnance towards the Confederate lines.  While massed batteries, as done with great effect just miles to the south at Malvern Hill in 1862, was not an applicable tacticalContinue reading “June 4, 1864: Mortars to the front”

“The Coehorn mortars were employed wherever circumstances would permit”: Mortars at Spotsylvania

When the Army of the Potomac broke winter quarters in early May 1864, the Artillery Reserve brought along a somewhat novel weapon – 24-pdr Coehorn mortars. Eight of these mortars, with 100 shells each, traveled with the reserve park, manned by Company E, 15th New York Heavy Artillery.  Of their performance and utilization, Brigadier-General HenryContinue reading ““The Coehorn mortars were employed wherever circumstances would permit”: Mortars at Spotsylvania”