Tag Archives: Falmouth

Summary Statement: December 31, 1862 – Connecticut, California, and Delaware Volunteer Batteries

The majority of artillery batteries employed by Federal forces during the Civil War were volunteer formations from the states.  Indeed, with the initial call for troops, there were more volunteer artillery batteries than needed.  Because the states were responsible for organizing and in some cases equipping these batteries, there were many variations – organization, training, equipage, and others.  Most of the “workable” variations were flushed out by the end of 1862.  As I’ve discussed before, senior artillerists focused on organization and training as early as the summer of 1861.  But the Federals were stuck with some of these variations, for better or worse.

From the administrative perspective, the naming of units is perhaps the most annoying to the researcher.  Some states conformed to the same conventions as the regulars – regiments with lettered batteries.  Others simply went with an ordinal number for each battery (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.).  Some states, New York for instance, used both. There were separate regimental systems for “light” and “heavy” artillery.  And… and… some states just seemed to adopt a “whatever” approach.  Thus the volunteer batteries were often cited by different names in reports.  Add to the confusion the practice of calling the battery by the commander’s name (or mustering officer’s name) in the field.  Makes one glad the alternate designations section appears in each OR volume.

That aside, there were also interesting variations with the equipment used by these volunteer batteries.  We’ll see more hand-written column headers as we proceed.  And those lead to some interesting research trails to say the least.

That preface out of the way, let us look at summary statements, alphabetically by state.  The first being from the states of Connecticut, California, and Delaware… Um… did I say alphabetical?  I guess the ordnance clerks winged it:


Over to the far right, we see a written column – “Siege Gun 1861, 4.5 in bore, …..”  I don’t know what the last line in that nomenclature is, but know that the weapon cited was one of my favorite – the 4.5-inch rifle.

So let’s break down the list starting with Connecticut.  Note the first two are the “light” batteries for field duty (see above about the different regimental systems here… more confusion for the light readers!).  The third is a battery from the “heavies” assigned for field duty:

  • 1st Battery, Connecticut Field [Light] Artillery – Beaufort, South Carolina with two 12-pdr field howitzers and six 3.80-inch James rifles.  The 1st Battery was assigned to the Department of the South.
  • 2nd Battery, Connecticut Field [Light] Artillery – Occoquan, Virginia with two 12-pdr field howitzers and four 3.80-inch James rifles.  Officially part of the Military District of Washington, the 2nd Battery was assigned to duty at Wolf Run Shoals.
  • Battery B, 1st Connecticut Heavy Artillery – Falmouth, Virginia with four 4.5-inch siege rifles.  This battery was assigned to the Artillery Reserve, Army of the Potomac.

And of course that last battery’s duty is well known.  I will venture to guess you’ve seen those guns before:

No mention in the summary of Battery M, 1st Connecticut Heavy, which was also assigned to the reserves at this time.  The two batteries were for all intents combined during their service in the field.

Moving out to California, one line is offered.  But it is not for a battery, but rather for 3rd California Volunteer Infantry having “stores in charge” that included two 6-pdr field guns and two 12-pdr mountain howitzers.  These were at Camp Douglas, Utah.  Keep in mind that the 3rd US Artillery had men assigned out west without artillery.  Yet we have the 3rd California Infantry with artillery without artillerists.  Go figure.

The last in this set that I’ve carved out of the summary is designated 1st Battery Delaware Artillery, Field.  That battery was sometimes known as Nield’s Independent Artillery, for it’s commander Benjamin Nields.  At the reporting date, it was stationed at Camp Barry in the District of Columbia.  They reported two 12-pdr field howitzers and four 3-inch steel rifles.  Wait… 3-inch steel rifles?  Perhaps some of those Singer, Nimick, and Company rifles?  Or one of the even more “exotic” weapons of more experimental nature?  I doubt either to be the case.  Looking forward a bit, a June 1864 report from the Official Records, when the battery was assigned to the Department of the Gulf, indicated four 3-inch Ordnance Rifles and two 12-pdr Napoleons:


Yes, enough time transpired between the two data points that guns may have changed out.  But I would submit it is more likely the wrong column was used in the summary due to a mistake at some point in the data gathering.

We’ve seen a lot of interesting entries from the first page of the summary.  The ammunition pages offer a few more.  However the smoothbore entries are as one might expect:


  • 1st Connecticut Light: 12-pdr field howitzer projectiles – 142 shells, 254 case, and 72 canister.
  • 2nd Connecticut Light: 12-pdr field howitzer – 120 shells, 160 case, and 31 canister.
  • 3rd California Infantry: 6-pdr field gun projectiles – 112 shot, 106 case, and 112 canister; 12-pdr mountain howitzer – 144 shell, 120 case, and 144 canister.
  • 1st Delaware: 12-pdr field howitzer – 26 shell, 54 case, and 20 canister.

For the rifled projectiles, we start with Hotchkiss patent:


  • 1st Connecticut Light: 6-pdr 3.80-inch projectiles – 120 Hotchkiss percussion shell, 120 Hotchkiss fuse shell, and 518 Hotchkiss bullet shell (case).
  • 2nd Connecticut Light: 6-pdr 3.80-inch – 70 Hotchkiss fuse shell and Hotchkiss 168 bullet shell (case).
  • 1st Delaware:  3-inch projectiles – 77 Hotchkiss canister and 340 Hotchkiss bullet shell (case).

Note the quantities for the 1st Connecticut.

As with yesterday’s discussion with the Parrott projectiles, keep in mind that different inventors modified their projectiles to fit in their competitor’s cannons.  Here we see Hotchkiss projectiles that fit into the James rifles.  More Hotchkiss  patent and the James Patent on the next page:


  • 1st Connecticut Light: 6-pdr 3.80-inch – 200 Hotchkiss canister and 235 James canister.
  • 2nd Connecticut Light: 6-pdr 3.80-inch – 50 (or 80?) Hotchkiss canister.

And rounding out the rifled projectiles, those of the Schenkl patent:


  • 1st Connecticut Light: 6-pdr 3.80-inch – 1,078 Schenkl shells.
  • 2nd Connecticut Light: 6-pdr 3.80-inch – 316 Schenkl shells.
  • 1st Delaware: 3-inch – 94 Schenkl shells.

Notice the variety of patent-types within the two Connecticut batteries.  Recall that mixing such types caused problems in the field.

And of course the quantities.  All told the 1st Connecticut Light had 2271 projectiles.  Their friends in the 2nd had but 604 (or 634, if I misread the one line).  At some point I will pull the numbers and make observations about the “load-out” for a battery, circa December 1862.  I suspect the 1st Connecticut will break the bell curve.

Last note about the projectiles – there are no entries for 4.5-inch to cover the heavy Connecticut battery.  So we are left not quantifying how well stocked (or not) those guns on the Rappahannock really were.

And finally, the small arms:


The handwritten column headers deserve some clarification.  From left to right, I read these as “Carbine”, “Springfield, Cal .58”, and <something> “Cal .58”.  Your guess is as good as mine about the third column.  It will come into play with the next installment, as for now there were no entries there for Connecticut, California, or Delaware.  Also note, further to the right, that the revolver calibers are replaced with “Army” and “Navy” :

  • 1st Connecticut Light: 135 Navy revolvers, 13 cavalry sabers, 46 horse artillery sabers, and 86 foot artillery sabers.
  • 2nd Connecticut Light: 20 Navy revolvers, 122 horse artillery sabers.
  • 1st Delaware: 24 Army revolvers and 142 horse artillery sabers.

No entries for the California infantry, presuming those small arms were carried against a regimental return elsewhere.

Again, roll the numbers around.  Nearly every man in the 2nd Connecticut and 1st Delaware had their own swords, though pistols were in shorter supply.  However, the 1st Connecticut, stationed in South Carolina, must have issued a revolver and sword for every man!

150 years ago: Moving trains by water to supply the army

Yesterday I left off noting that armies on the move need support in order to keep up momentum.  Even without suggesting General Sumner should have crossed the Rappahannock and occupied Fredericksburg – just to stay in front of Fredericksburg – the Army of the Potomac needed logistic support.  To continue the offensive, the army needed everything from axle grease to hard tack to bullets, and even more in-between.

However by early November 1862, the logistic tail following the Army of the Potomac lay back along the Orange & Alexandria Railroad.  Engines and their rolling stock worked the rails extending to the southwest of Alexandria.  With the change of objective, the army no longer needed depots at places like Manassas Junction or Warrenton.  Rather the army needed a line running due south towards Fredericksburg.  For General Ambrose Burnside’s plan to reach Richmond through Fredericksburg to work, the rail road had to move.  Problem was the old Fredericksburg railroad was not in shape to support anything, having suffered damage due to the war.  And even if built, railroaders feared the line was exposed to irregular activity.

To resolve the problem, the U.S. Military Railroad came up with a novel solution.  General Herman Haupt wrote of this in his reminiscences:

The reconstruction of the wharves and track from Acquia Creek to Fredericksburg was prosecuted with unprecedented expedition.  It was on November 10 that I directed W.W. Wright to hold himself in readiness to commence work so soon as General Halleck should decide upon its necessity. It was November 11 when a telegram was sent to Colonel Belger at Baltimore to provide canal boats, and five days later, November 17, considerable progress had already been made in the work of reconstruction.  The Superintendent reported that, in five days after commencement, a section of the wharf 1,000 feet long was completed, and a locomotive and cars landed and trains commenced running to Potomac Creek.  In five days more trains were running to the Rappahannock.

The Schuylkill barges answered admirably, and thus was formed a new era in Military Railroad transportation.  Two of these barges were placed parallel to each other and long timbers bolted transversely.  The length of the barges was sufficient for eight tracks carrying eight cars, and two such floats would carry the sixteen cars which constituted a train.

In this way hundreds of loaded cars were transferred from the advanced location of the Army, on the Orange & Alexandria Railroad, loaded on the floats, towed sixty miles to Acquia Creek, transferred from river to rail, and sent to Falmouth without break of bulk, in about the same time required to march the army across the country by land.  Supplies were at Falmouth as soon as there were forces there for their protection.

We might fact-check Haupt’s claim about the arrival of supplies and troops coinciding.  Still the point made is valid – the railroad system shifted with remarkable speed and flexibility.  While the repair of port facilities was certainly nothing new, the use of barges to move the rolling stock was a new practice at the military operational level.

One wartime photo shows a pair of barges, as described by Haupt, with eight box-cars loaded.

Rolling stock on barges

Another wartime photo shows perhaps a variation on the theme – three lashed barges with more tracks.

Three barge floats

I’ll defer to the railroading experts out there.  But this seems to me a likely means to transport the heavier locomotives.

As a “trained” logistician, I’d point out the genius of this operation was not just floating the rolling stock, but alluded to in Haupt’s closing – no breaking of bulk cargo.  In other words, the cars were packed at a depot or warehouse and then shipped directly to the front without cross packing.  Such was a significant time savings. And time is everything when discussing transportation and logistics in the military context.

Fast forward a little over eighty years.  Different location, similar logistic problem, but larger scale.  For the armies going into Normandy in June 1944, logistic support was more so a monumental task.  A modern mechanized army requires more than just hay and hardtack.  No doubt, you’ve seen the D-Day documentaries that cite tens of millions of tons of supplies going ashore at the Mulberry harbors.  But just getting those supplies to the beach didn’t meet the needs of the front line soldier.  As the beachhead enlarged and extended, the supplies had to be transported over one-hundred miles (excuse me… kilometers) to the front line areas.  As with the Civil War days, the logisticians needed to save time by avoiding the practice of breaking bulk.  So they did this:

Rails allowed the LST to carry the cars from English ports to the French beaches.  There the LST opened its bow doors and the stock rolled down onto a pre-fabricated line across the beach.

Take away the trucks and helmets, and you have a scene not too far removed from Acquia Landing in November 1862.

150 Years Ago: “…the consequence of getting astride of a river…”

On this day (November 17) in 1862, elements from the Right Grand Division of the Army of The Potomac arrived at Falmouth, Virginia and looked across the Rappahannock River on Fredericksburg.  General Edwin V. Sumner commanded those Federal troops.  Later, in sworn testimony to the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War, Sumner recalled:

On my arrival here, on the 17th of November, a battery of artillery on the other side of the river opened upon us the moment a portion of my troops appeared on the ridge back of Falmouth. I immediately put a battery into position, and, I think, in not to exceed fifteen minutes, they drove every man on the other side from the guns, and they ran off and left four guns on the field.  My orders were to advance and hold Falmouth, not to cross.  But the temptation was so strong to go over and take those guns the enemy had left at one time I actually gave the order to cross the fort at all events and seize the guns and occupy the city.  But on reflection I concluded I was rather too old a soldier to disobey a direct order; and there was another reason too: I had had little too much experience on the peninsula of the consequence of getting astride of a river to risk it here.  For these two reasons I revoked my order that night.

That night I sent a note to General Burnside, who was some eight or ten miles distant, asking him if I should take Fredericksburg in the morning should I be able to find a practicable ford, which, by the way, I knew when I wrote the note that I could find.  The General replied, through his chief of staff, that he did not think it advisable to occupy Fredericksburg until his communications were established, and, on reflection, I myself thought that he was right; that it was prudent and proper to have bridges ready before we occupied Fredericksburg.  I think I could have taken that city and the heights on the other side of it any time within three days after my arrival here if the pontoons had been here, for I do not think there was much force of the enemy here up to that time.

Sumner continues to detail the delays moving supplies and pontoons from Acquia Landing (he mentions “creek” but is referring to the facilities at the landing) up to the positions at Falmouth, and the need to rebuild railroad lines.  Those words – “temptation”, “practicable”, “prudent”, and “proper” – are the sounds of a campaign reaching an unexpected pause.

Considering the actions of November 17, 1862, a lot of armchair generals will mention the need for momentum.  Some will conjure up the scene from the Patton movie where the general with his shiny helmet and riding crop berates a subordinate from across a river.  Yes, there’s a lot to be said about getting over the river.  But there’s also a lot to be said about STAYING over the river.