Summary Statement, 2nd Quarter, 1863 – Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, and Delaware!

Well, well.  Finally!  In the second quarter of 1863, the bureaucrats of the Ordnance Department finally caught up with those fellows serving the Union out in the vast Trans-Mississippi theater.  Sloppy entries, but at least there are entries:

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Yes, right up top, we see “Arkansas” with two lines – one for an artillery battery and the other for a detachment serving with cavalry.  Below that we see formal headings for Connecticut and Delaware.  However, shoved under the Connecticut header are entry lines for a California cavalry detachment (with a howitzer on hand) and the 1st Colorado Battery.  This pulls several entries off the “Batteries that were overlooked” from the previous quarter.  Huzzah for good record keeping!

Kidding aside, let’s focus first on the batteries from Connecticut and Delaware, which carry over from the previous quarter:

  • 1st Connecticut Light Artillery Battery: Reporting at Folly Island, South Carolina with six 3.80-inch James Rifles.  Captain Alfred P. Rockwell remained in command, with the battery still assigned to Tenth Corps, Department of the South.  However, a more accurate location would be Beaufort, as the battery remained there until later in the summer, when it did move (with other reinforcements) to Folly and Morris Islands in support of the campaign against Battery Wagner.
  • 2nd Connecticut Light Artillery Battery: At Taneytown, Maryland with two 12-pdr field howitzers and four 3.80-inch James Rifles.  The Gettysburg nutcases fanatics students will remind us this was the only Federal battery at Gettysburg with James rifles and 12-pdr field howitzers.  As part of the transfer of garrison troops from Washington to reinforce the Army of the Potomac, Captain John W. Sterling’s battery became part of the 2nd Volunteer Brigade, Artillery Reserve.
  • 1st Delaware Light Artillery Battery: At Camp Barry, Washington, D.C. with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  Captain Benjamin Nields’ battery traveled a lot during the spring and early summer of 1863… but never left the Eastern Theater.  In April, the battery proceeded to Norfolk, where it reinforced the Seventh Corps as Confederates threatened that point and Suffolk.  The battery was still with the Seventh Corps for Dix’s campaign, or demonstration if you prefer, on the Peninsula in June-July.  Then on July 8, the battery was ordered back to Camp Barry in Washington.

Please note we do not see a listing here for Battery M, 1st Connecticut Heavy Artillery, which had on hand 4.5-inch rifles, and were in the field supporting the Army of the Potomac (if not actually at Gettysburg).

With those three batteries out of the way, let’s look to the “new comers” to the form:

  • 1st Arkansas Artillery Battery: At Springfield, Missouri with six 3-inch Ordnance rifles. The battery formed with troops at both Springfield and Fayetteville, Arkansas during the early months of the year.  Fully manned, the battery was posted to Springfield through the summer.  Captain  Denton D. Stark commanded this battery assigned to the District of Southwest Missouri.
  • Detachment of 1st Arkansas Cavalry: At Fayetteville, Arkansas with two 12-pdr mountain howitzers.  This regiment was among those defending Fayetteville against a Confederate attack in April.  I am not sure if the two howitzers were formally assigned to one of the companies.  The regiment, under Colonel Marcus LaRue Harrison, would see duties across Southwest Missouri and Northwest Arkansas through the summer and early fall.  I will save the rest of that story for someone to write on a “To the sound of Clashing Sabers” blog.
  • Detachment of 3rd California Cavalry?: The notation clearly says “Cavalry”… but there was no 3rd California Cavalry.  There was, however, a 3rd California Infantry and it had reported artillery on hand back in December 1862.  However, the location is given as Camp Independence, California.  And it is the 2nd California Cavalry which is most associated with that outpost in the Owen’s Valley.  Let us just say that “A California Detachment” had one 12-pdr mountain howitzer for our purposes.
  • 1st Colorado Artillery Battery: at Camp Weld, Colorado Territory with no cannon reported.  There is an annotation after the state name which is illegible.  Records show this battery posted to Fort Lyon, and under the command of Lieutenant Horace W. Baldwin, at the end of June 1863.  In July the battery moved to Camp Weld.  Not sure what cannon were assigned at this time.  However in December 1863 the battery reported four 12-pdr mountain howitzers.  So that’s the likely answer.

How’s that for “rounding out” the list?  We will see more of these missing batteries and detachments accounted for as we continue through the second quarter, 1863.

That introduction out of the way, let us look to these seven lines from five different states (or territories, as you wish).  Starting with the smoothbore ammunition:

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Three to consider for this page:

  • 1st Arkansas Cavalry: 36 shell, 132 case, and 36 canister for 12-pdr mountain howitzers.
  • 2nd Connecticut Battery: 160 shell, 120 case, and 13 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • California Detachment: 24 shell, 24 case, and 24 canister for 12-pdr mountain howitzers.

Those entries seem in line with expectations.

Looking to the next page, we look at the Hotchkiss rifled projectiles:

0179_2_Snip_AR_CA_CT_DE

Hotchkiss is normally associated with 3-inch rifles.  That holds true here, but there’s also some for the James rifles:

  • 1st Arkansas Battery: 84 canister, 84 percussion shell, 156 fuse shell, and 480 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • 1st Connecticut Battery: 90 percussion shell, 120 fuse shell, and 468 bullet shell for 3.80-inch James rifles (and we’ll see another column of Hotchkiss on the next page).
  • 2nd Connecticut Battery: 49 fuse shell and 191 bullet shell for 3.80-inch James rifles.
  • 1st Delaware Battery: 172 shot, 238 canister, 545 percussion shell, and 121(?) fuse shell for 3-inch rifles.

Very interesting the Delaware battery had so many shot, or “bolts”, on hand.  Particularly given their service in southeastern Virginia. Though it is likely the result of them having on hand what was issued, as opposed to any specific tactical requirement.

Turning to the next page, we can narrow our view down to the extended Hotchkiss, Dyer’s, and James’ columns:

0180_1A_Snip_AR_CA_CT_DE

First off, that left over Hotchkiss entry:

  • 1st Connecticut Battery: 190 canister for 3.80-inch James.

We don’t see many Dyer’s projectiles reported, so this entry is noteworthy:

  • 1st Delaware Battery: 764 shrapnel and 37 canister for 3-inch rifles.

And the James-patent projectiles:

  • 1st Connecticut Battery: 185 canister for 3.80-inch James rifles.
  • 2nd Connecticut Battery: 28 shell and 80 canister for 3.80-inch James rifles.

The variety of projectiles continues as we look on the next page:

0180_2_Snip_AR_CA_CT_DE

Again, the Connecticut batteries.  And again, projectiles for the James rifles.  This time of Schenkl-patent type:

  • 1st Connecticut Battery: 978 shells for 3.80-inch James.
  • 2nd Connecticut Battery: 320 shells for 3.80-inch James.

So the 1st Connecticut had plenty of everything from everyone!

Something in regard to the small arms section, that readers might have picked up on this with some of the earlier posts, is the frequent use of written annotation on the column headers.  Almost every page set will have its own “custom” columns.  We see that here for the top of this page set:

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And one might think with all these Trans-Mississippi units reporting, we’d see a lot of long arms.  Not the case here.  Either those far western artillerists had no small arms, or (more likely) the officers reporting didn’t provide details.  So we’ll look to the three eastern batteries:

  • 1st Connecticut Battery: 135 Navy revolvers, thirteen cavalry sabers, and forty-six horse artillery sabers.
  • 2nd Connecticut Battery: Nineteen Army revolvers and sixteen horse artillery sabers.
  • 1st Delaware Battery: Twenty-four Army revolvers and thirty-one horse artillery sabers.

Yes, I would like to have seen a good accounting for the 1st Arkansas and 1st Colorado batteries here.  Would certainly add to some discussions about reeactor impressions, to say the least!  But from the data we do have presented here, I am most drawn to the 1st Connecticut Battery.  Not only did that battery, posted to South Carolina, have a wide variety of projectiles (by pattern, that is), but also a large number of pistols.

Summary Statement, 2nd Quarter, 1863 – 3rd Regiment, US Regulars

The wartime service of the 3rd US Artillery was, in my opinion, “cushy”.  Several batteries remained on the west coast.  No doubt a vital assignment, ensuring the gold of California remained secure (and that’s not said with any sarcasm).  But since so much of the regiment served as garrison artillery, that left little to report in the Ordnance Returns. Thus a lot of white space for the 2nd quarter of 1863:

0168_1_Snip_3rdUS

We find only four batteries reported having field artillery tubes on hand!

  • Battery A – At Albuquerque, New Mexico with two 12-pdr field howitzers and two 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  Same as the previous quarter.  And, updating my own notes here, Lieutenant John B. Shinn was in command of this battery (brevetted to captain for his service on the initial campaigns in New Mexico).
  • Battery B – Given the annotation “Infy. Stores.”  The battery remained at Fort Point, San Francisco, California.
  • Battery C – No location given, but with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  Part of the Second Brigade of the Horse Artillery, Army of the Potomac.  Lieutenant William D. Fuller was in command.  The battery was not on the field at Gettysburg (and thus often left off some order of battle listings) but was with the Second Brigade, Second Division, Cavalry Corps at Westminster, Maryland.
  • Battery D – At Alcatraz Island, California with the annotation “Infy. Stores.”  Captain William A. Winder, of the 3rd US Artillery, commanded the garrison of Alcatraz at this time of the war.  Under his command were Batteries D, H, and I (which we will mention below).
  • Battery E – No return. Serving in the Department of the South, posted to Folly Island, South Carolina at the end of June.  Lieutenant  John R. Myrick was in command.
  • Battery F – At Warrenton Junction, Virginia with six 12-pdr Napoleons. The location is certainly in error for the June 30th date, but accurate for August when the report was received in Washington.  This battery, combined with Battery K (below), was assigned to the 1st US Regular Brigade, Artillery Reserve, Army of the Potomac, under Lieutenant John G. Turnbull.  So the location was somewhere between Frederick, Maryland and Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
  • Battery G – Fort Turnbull, Connecticut  but without any assigned cannon. The battery had been disbanded the previous fall and was being reorganized with new recruits.  Eventually, Lieutenant Herbert F. Guthrie would command, but I am not certain as to the date of his assignment.
  • Battery H – “Infy. Stores” with location as Alcatraz Island, California.
  • Battery I – Also “Infy. Stores” and at Alcatraz Island.
  • Battery K – Annotated as “with Battery F”.  See that battery’s notes above.
  • Battery L – At Columbus, Kentucky with six 10-pdr Parrotts. Combined with Battery M, below.  Captain John Edwards in command.  The battery was assigned to First Division, Ninth Corps.  At the start of the spring was posted to Kentucky.  In early June, the battery moved with its parent division to reinforce Vicksburg.  And after the fall of Vicksburg the battery was part of the pursuit to Jackson, Mississippi.  So a well-traveled battery.
  • Battery M – “With Battery L” at Columbus.  — At Lexington, Kentucky with six 10-pdr Parrotts.
  • Lieutenant – “Stores in Charge.”  This line tallied various implements and supplies, apparently assigned to a lieutenant of the regiment, but with no location indicated.

So the service details out of the way, we turn to the ammunition reported on hand, starting with smoothbore ammunition:

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Two lines to consider, but not without some notes:

  • Battery A: 148 shot, 112 case, and 216 canister for 6-pdr field guns; 170 shell, 240 case, and 88 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers; and 24 shells for 12-pdr field guns.
  • Battery F & K: 360 shot, 96 shell, 198 case, and 104 canister for 12-pdr Napoleon.

Battery F’s quantities, though with a rather high number of solid shot, are within reason.  But Battery A, out there in New Mexico, held on to ammunition for a pair of 6-pdrs that were no longer on hand.  I’m not going to say the 12-pdr shells there in Albuquerque were for Napoleons or the old 12-pdr heavy field guns.  Regardless, their listing here raises an unresolved question.

Moving to rifled projectiles, we have to consider Hotchkiss types first:

0170_2_Snip_3rdUS

Two batteries up again:

  • Battery A: 96 canister, 144 percussion shell, 110 fuse shell, and 288 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery C: 30 canister and 50 fuse shell for 3-inch rifles.

We can trim the next page to focus only on the Parrott columns:

0171_1A_Snip_3rdUS

That much traveled battery out at Vicksburg:

  • Batteries L & M: 618 shell, 435 case, and 265 canister for 10-pdr Parrotts.

And we have but one entry to consider for Schenkl:

0171_2_Snip_3rdUS

  • Battery C: 18 shells for 3-inch rifles.

That last entry fills up, somewhat, the allocation for Battery C.  But one expect to see more.  The report arrived in Washington in November, 1863.

We move last to the small arms:

0171_3_Snip_3rdUS

Hopefully those numbers are legible.  The original lacked clarity in the column lines. And overall the sheet’s quality diminishes towards the bottom of the page.  Here’s what I transcribe:

  • Battery A: Thirteen carbines, eighty-six Army revolvers, seventy-six Navy revolvers, and eighty-seven horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery C: One carbine, twenty-six Navy revolvers, thirty-five cavalry sabers, and 172 horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery F & K: Thirteen Navy revolvers and forty-five horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery G: Eighty-six horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery L & M: Fifteen Army revolvers and forty-five horse artillery sabers.

I can understand Battery A, out in the far west and given many non-artillery duties, would need carbines, pistols, and sabers.  But Battery C?  That’s a lot of sabers… even for a data entry error!

Aftermath of Hurricane Matthew: Forts survive storm surge; unearthed ordnance

Like many, I have monitored the news from the southeast as Hurricane Matthew over the last few days.  Friends and relatives living in and around the storm’s path all report they are fine and recovering.  The storm left behind a trail of damage and destruction, with over 300 reported deaths in Haiti alone and ten reported in the U.S.

But it could have been much worse.  The eye passed some 20 to 25 miles offshore of Tybee Island.  Later the center of the storm passed thirty miles eastward of Charleston before making landfall further up the coast near Cape Romain, not far from where Hurricane Hugo made landfall in 1989.  While Hugo was rated at category 4 when making landfall, Matthew was falling from category 2 down to 1 before reaching the coast.  Still the track covered a large section of coast from Florida to North Carolina.  As such, we see a lot of familiar place-names in news reports.

From Savannah, footage shows flooding at Fort Pulaski.  At first this appears dramatic… particularly from the view of the reporter (… who’s not yet visited the fort):

fortpulaskihurricanematthew

Yes, the fort is completely isolated, with a significant portion of Cockspur Island under water.  As of this writing, there are no on-site reports.  So we don’t have a full assessment.  But from this view, we can see the interior of the fort was not flooded.  A tree in the interior has fallen and the demilune is wet, but the casemates appear dry.  Relatively that is.  The video didn’t give a close view of the lighthouse further downriver.  Hopefully within a few days the water will drain off… and hopefully any damage is minor.  And this is largely due to the careful placement and construction of the fort. General Joseph Mansfield deserves much credit for the fort’s survival… 170 years after the fact!

Further up the coast, Forts Sumter and Moultrie were also within the storm’s path.  The forts closed and prepared to weather the storm:

No work as of this writing about the status of those forts.  So we are in “wait and see” mode. The storm surge crested to 9.29 feet at Fort Sumter at it’s peak.

However, Fort Sumter is in the news feeds due to a post-storm finding down the coast at Folly Island.  Erosion from the storm unearthed a pile of what appear to be shells:

civil-war-cannonballs

Later reports added, “Authorities announced Sunday night that a number of the cannonballs were detonated by the Air Force and a small amount of them would be transported to the Naval Base.”

I don’t want to “Monday morning quarterback” here.  As I’ve said in the past, handling explosive ordnance is something we must… MUST … allow the experts to manage.  Some will offer, from a safe distance, these were fully inert.  Maybe so.  Maybe not.  “We” were not there, and don’t know all the details.  The individuals on the scene made a risk assessment and deemed action necessary.  We should accept their decision as the call to make.  All I would offer is that EOD teams, such as those called upon to respond at Folly Island, should have access to as much information on Civil War ordnance as possible to further aid their decisions.  Far better to incorporate what is known about the subject into their (EOD) policies and procedures than to openly criticize them for being cautious.  This hurricane killed at least ten here in the US.  And over 600,000 died in the Civil War.  We should not rush to add more to either grim tallies.

The value of this find was not with the actual shells themselves, but rather the context of the location. This site appears to be on the northern end of Folly Beach. Several Federal batteries stood in that area, guarding Lighthouse Inlet (and in July 1863, were used to support landings on Morris Island).  Archaeological surveys of the area have documented well some of the battery locations (as the gentleman in the video notes, the location was known by locals as a place where fortifications stood).  Hopefully this find will add to that knowledge.  Given the location, on eroded beach, it appears sufficient effort was made to document that context.  Perhaps this will spur further archaeological examinations in the area.

For the holidays, lets each rehabilitate some Civil War general… I call Schimmelfennig!

This being the season of giving, I ask what have we given back to the Civil War field of study?  We all “take” from our studies – reading primary and secondary sources, walking the battlefields, and receiving knowledge all around.   But what do we give back in return?  How this season we “clean up” some corner of Civil War study that need be straightened or otherwise put in order?

Consider… Throughout the Sesquicentennial discussions we heard about some major figures from the Civil War being “rehabilitated” by historians.  Most notable is George B. McClellan.  We even heard mention of Joe Hooker.  Though I still lean towards strict twelve step process for Little Mac… someone skipped a few steps with McClellan in my opinion.  This is not a new notion for historians.  During the Centennial, US Grant was “rehabilitated” to some degree, mostly by that magical prose from Bruce Catton.  William T. Sherman was moved but a few shades to the good side of Lucifer himself.  Though we really should recognize the work of British admirers decades earlier, who sort of threw a mirror in our American faces.  However of late Grant is being “un-rehabilitated” back to a mere mortal.

What I have in mind is straight forward and altruistic – pick a figure due “historical rehabilitation.”  Name any figure from the Civil War – general, politician, or other.  Pick a poor figure.  Someone you think has not gotten a fair shake through the historians’ collective pens. Then offer up a few paragraphs explaining why this figure is worth a second look.  Think about it… are there any persons who are completely nonredeemable?  Totally incompetent? Without any merit?  Well… maybe there are some.  But I’d submit that to be a small number within the larger sample set.  Besides, even H. Judson Kilpatrick, Alfred Pleasonton, and Franz Sigel had good days to speak of!

I’ll make the first offering.  This is my target for rehabilitation:

Alexander Schimmelfennig.  Like most, my introduction to Schimmelfennig was the butt end of many jokes about “hiding with the hogs” at Gettysburg.  Schimmelfennig’s stay at the Henry Garlach house has come to epitomize the failings and faults of the Eleventh Corps in the battle.

Over the years, I’ve learned not to add an extra n, making his name an active present tense verb, to Schimmelfennig. Though you might find more than a few cases where I’ve slipped and not corrected.  Furthermore, I’ve come to recognize my characterization of Schimmelfennig’s actions were but one of many collective misunderstandings (being kind… maybe collective ignorance?) about the actions at Gettysburg.  Indeed, our myopic view of that battle has caused no short list of misconceptions.  Schimmelfennig is one of many receiving short treatment, and outright insult, due to the intellectual white elephant, named Gettysburg, stuck to history’s charge.

Let us first be fair about Schimmelfennig at Gettysburg.  Certainly his July 1, 1863 on the field is not fodder for any great story about military prowess and proficiency.  Though it was not an example of bumbling incompetence.  Why was he in the Garlach back yard to start with?  Well it was because, unlike many of his peers and superiors, he was not emulating General Gates’ flight from Camden in search of “high ground” south of town.

And in the two years that followed that stay in the shed, Schimmelfennig demonstrated he was indeed a very capable field commander… in the oft overlooked Department of the South.  I’ve chronicled those activities during the Sesquicentennial… and will mention a few key points here.   Schimmelfennig first went to the department as part of Brigadier-General George Gordon’s 1st Division, Eleventh Corps, sent as reinforcements in late July 1863. The Brigadier-General led a successful demonstration in February 1864 on John’s Island; assumed responsibility for the front against Charleston through the spring and early summer 1864, directing several bombardments of Fort Sumter, and mounting demonstrations to aid the main operations elsewhere;  And played an important role in Foster’s July 1864 “demonstration” that nearly broke through to Charleston.   After returning from leave (recovering from malaria), Schimmelfennig was in command of the forces that captured Charleston on February 18, 1865.

Schimmelfennig readily adapted to situations and was innovative.  He successfully used of Hales rockets in an assault role and urged the troops to use rudimentary camouflage to disguise their activities.  To the many USCT regiments in his command, he offered fair and complementary leadership, advocating for pay equality.  The naval officers working with him, particularly Rear Admiral John Dahlgren, considered Schimmelfennig the better of the Army generals to work with at Charleston.

And we should remember, as if a name like Schimmelfennig would allow us to forget, that the general was not American-born.  Thus he faced much of the institutional bias within the Federal officer corps.  Schimmelfennig, a Prussian, was a veteran of the revolutions and wars of 1848.  Pulling on our historian sensibilities, Schimmelfennig was a bit of a military historian himself, providing context to the conflicts between Russia and Turkey in the years leading up to the Crimean War.

Oh, and I should add, Schimmelfennig “pioneered” the use of petrochemicals to ward off mosquitoes…. Um… by smearing kerosene over his exposed skin while on duty at Folly and Morris Islands.  Not exactly DEET, but you know.  Fine… he was a bit far short of a renaissance man.

At any rate, you get my point – Schimmelfennig’s service is done a dis-service by overly emphasizing those three days in July 1863… or even after weighing in his (and the Eleventh Corps) performance at Chancellorsville months before.  Maybe he was not among Grant’s Generals depicted in Balling’s painting, but Schimmelfennig served with distinction during the war.  He is at least deserving of more consideration than “a brigade commander at Gettysburg.”

That’s my proposed target for rehabilitation.  What’s yours?  And why?

Batteries and forts of the Department of the South, June 1864

On June 8, 1864, First Lieutenant Charles Suter, of the Chief Engineer’s office, submitted a detailed report on the fortifications, and their armaments, throughout the Department of the South.  That lengthy report offers another point of reference with regard to the garrisoning and posturing in the department. So consider this sort of a “resource” post to refer back to in regard to the named forts and batteries.

Summarizing Suter’s report by district, the works listed were:

Northern District.

Morris Island (which I’ve discussed in detail before but some slight changes since April of that year):

FedBatteriesMorrisIsApr1864

  • Fort Putnam – three 100-pdr Parrotts, one 10-inch columbiad, four 30-pdr Parrotts, and two field pieces.
  • Battery Chatfield – one 300-pdr Parrott, two 100-pdr Parrotts, and four 10-inch seacoast mortars.
  • Battery Seymour – eight 10-inch seacoast mortars.
  • Water Battery – two 10-inch columbiads.
  • Battery Barton – two 13-inch seacoast mortars.
  • Fort Strong (old Battery Wagner) – one 200-pdr Parrott, five 100-pdr Parrotts, two 30-pdr Parrotts, six 32-pdr smoothbores, four 12-pdr smoothbores, and two 10-inch seacoast mortars
  • Fort Shaw – two 8-inch seacoast howitzers, five 8-inch siege howitzers, two field pieces, and two 10-inch siege mortars.
  • Battery Purviance – two 42-pdrs and two 30-pdr Parrotts.
  • Black Island battery – two rifled field pieces.

Folly Island (which I haven’t given due attention):

  • Fort Greene – two 30-pdr Parrotts, two 12-pdr gusn, two carronades, and two mortars.
  • Pawnee Landing – one battery with two 30-pdr Parrotts and a second with two 10-pdr Parrotts.
  • White House in center of island – one battery of two 30-pdr Parrotts and a second battery under construction to hold fourteen guns and four mortars.
  • Fort Delafield – two 42-pdr James rifles and three 32-pdr James rifles.
  • Fort Mahan – three 32-pdr James rifles.
  • Long Island battery – a fort with two 20-pdr Parrotts and a large infantry stockade.
  • Cole’s Island – two redoubts, but no artillery in place.
  • Kiawah Island – two redoubts, but with artillery removed.

Middle District

Discussed in an earlier post, though Suter offered more detail as to the armament than the April report.

HiltonHeadDistrictApril64

Hilton Head:

  • Fort Welles – seventeen guns, built to defend against land attack.
  • Fort Mitchel – at the time being dismantled (which was a concern for the Navy).
  • Line of entrenchments across the island.

Saint Helena Island:  Fort Seward with thirteen guns on the west side.  (Suter does not mention the signal station on the east end).

Port Royal Island (all centered around Beaufort):

  • Fort Duane – one 8-inch gun, one 32-pdr gun, four 18-pdr guns, two 24-pdr howitzers, and one 12-pdr howitzer.
  • Battery Burnside – two 8-inch guns, one 30-pdr Parrott, and one 24-pdr gun.
  • Battery Seymour (the second in the district) – two carronades.
  • Battery Saxton – three 8-inch siege howitzers.
  • Battery Brayton – one 10-pdr Parrott and one 24-pdr howitzer.
  • Battery Taylor – two 30-pdr Parrotts, one 10-pdr Parrott, and one 24-pdr gun.

Cockspur Island:

  • Fort Pulaski – Suter did not detail the armament, but much reduced from the year before.
  • Water Battery – two 10-inch columbiads and two 100-pdr Parrotts – used to block the Savannah River from any Confederate sortie.

District of Florida:

These reflected the reduced importance of Florida.

Fernandina: Fort Clinch and a small battery on the main island.  The Federals also maintained a blockhouse at Saint John’s Bluff.

Yellow Bluff: Two small works, one of which mounted a carronade.

Picolata: Block house with two 6-pdr guns.

Jacksonville:  The city was “surrounded by a line of inclosed works” and was the best defended in Florida:

  • Battery Hamilton – open work for field guns.
  • Redoubt Reed – three guns.
  • Redoubt Fribley – four guns.
  • Battery McCrea – platforms for field guns.
  • Battery Myrick – covering the railroad with platforms for guns as needed.
  • Redoubt Hatch – four guns.
  • Redoubt Sammon – three guns.
  • Fort Seymour (yes… three named works for Truman Seymour) – four guns.

Saint Augustine:  Fort Marion, the old Spanish colonial Castillo de San Marcos, stood as the only significant defense.

(Suter’s report is in OR, Series I, Volume 35, Part II, Serial 66, pages 117-119.)

While the Overland and Atlanta Campaigns ground on, demonstrations and presentations at Charleston

I’m not trying to “over hype” the activity around Charleston, South Carolina in 1864.  Truly, Virginia and Georgia were the important theaters of war 150 years ago.  But I’ve grown to enjoy explaining the role played by forces – both Confederate and Federal – in the “sideshow” theater played in the larger efforts.   One example came on May 22, 1864, when Major-General Samuel Jones passed some very explicit orders to Brigadier-General William Taliaferro, commanding Confederate forces on James Island:

Charleston, S. C., May 22, 1864.
Brig. Gen. William B. Taliaferro,
Royall’s House, James Island:

Send back the troops forwarded you as you can spare them. It is important that they leave for Virginia as soon as practicable. Advise the quartermaster here of transportation needed. Display them as conspicuously as you can to the enemy before leaving. A little theatrical arrangement may double the number.

Sam. Jones,
Major-General.

With the fighting in Virginia chewing up infantry a a rate not seen before in the war, every spare infantryman in South Carolina was ordered onto trains heading north.  Some of the troops recently dispatched were the 12th and 18th Georgia Battalions and the 12th South Carolina Infantry Regiment. Departure of some troops was delayed in reaction to Federal probes towards the James Island picket line.   And before those troops went forward on their journey north, Jones wanted to ensure the Federals received a show of force, presenting a false strength in that sector.

The delay of troops was miniscule in comparison to the larger war effort.  But an extra hour in Charleston might mean the difference between a position held, up north in Virginia, and one lost for want of reinforcement. And more importantly, the Federal strategy was one of putting pressure at all possible points.  The more Confederate troops drawn towards Charleston, the less troops were available elsewhere.

Towards that end, Brigadier-General John Hatch, commanding the Department of the South, ordered more demonstrations from the garrisons on Folly and Morris Island.  Orders went down through Brigadier-General Alexander Schimmelfennig to Colonel Leopold von Gilsa on Folly Island… detailed orders:

Colonel: I have received orders this a.m. to make such demon-stations in this district as to cause the enemy to concentrate his forces in Charleston. These demonstrations must be made at once in order to have the desired effect. You will therefore–

First. Order the commanding officer of Long Island to show a number of men in his front, and with unusual life to cross over troops ostensibly, say about 2 o’clock this p.m., to Tiger Island, where they should hide away. He should, however, not send such numbers ever as to make the enemy’s fire on Tiger Island effective. The troops must remain there until late at night; must not return before 12. He should show his boat howitzer up the creek. Should fire from the fort at the enemy’s outposts toward the chimneys at 2 o’clock this p.m.

Second. You will order a strong patrol over to Broad Island. The men should show themselves and remain there until 12 to-night.

Third. You will order the commanding officer of Cole’s Island to cross over at once with a force of, say, at least 60 men, to Battery Island. They should hide away as though taking a position as skirmishers. The howitzer should be taken at once to the fort on the right. A rocket volley should be prepared at the bridge on the right, and at least 30 rockets should be fired away in three volleys. Planks should be ostensibly brought to the bridge on the right, and the bridge on the left should be ostensibly fixed so as to alarm the enemy. The firing from Cole’s Island should commence with the rockets and howitzer at 4 this p.m., and at 6 o’clock musketry fire should commence along the whole line.

Fourth. You will have the troops of the Thirty-second U.S. Colored Regiment ready at the wharf at 2 o’clock and embark them on the steamers ordered there for that purpose. Besides those of the Thirty-second you should have at least 60 veterans on these steamers. Three rocket-boats will be ready at the same time, and the men will report to you.

If the gun-boats should not go up, which they will be requested to do, the expedition will go without them, and start at 2.30 up Stono River. The boats will halt in the neighborhood of Battery Island, and land a small part of these troops there, but on the whole take such a position as to leave the enemy in an uncertainty whether we will land on James or John’s Island.

They will take shelter behind the piles and will lie in the river until late at night, not to leave before 12. The rocket-boat will advance further. You will furnish Captain Jungblut with 40 men, which he will command besides his company. They will attack the farm on the right bank of the Stono River, about 2 miles above Legareville. Captain Jungblut will receive his instructions direct from the general commanding.

Notice the times offered for each phase of this operation.  This was no minor boat raid.  Schimmelfennig’s orders called for an orchestrated and coordinated effort, pretending to be a strong force moving on either James or Johns Island.  On the map, this demonstration appeared roughly as such:

May23-64Demonstrations

The numbered yellow circles correspond to the points given in the orders.  Unfortunately for the 32nd USCT regiment working up the Stono River, the Navy was unable to provide gunboats for support.  Though the force would still continue up the river, remaining in the relatively secure waters near Battery Island.  Patrols, boat howitzers, rocket barrages, and feints… all “to cause the enemy to concentrate his forces in Charleston.”

While Jones presented and postured with forces he was sending away, Schimmelfennig was demonstrating with a force that Hatch felt was barely enough to hold the line.  All small parts of the greater efforts made in a war reaching a crescendo through the spring of 1864.

(Citations from OR, Series I, Volume 35, Part II, Serial 66, pages 101 and 497.)

 

“The enemy opened to-day on Secessionville”: Demonstrations in front of Charleston

While fighting continued at Spotsylvania, Virginia on May 10, 1864, a minor little bombardment took place outside Charleston, South Carolina.  Brigadier-General William Taliaferro reported:

Royall’s, May 10, 1864–9.25 p.m.
Capt. H. W. Feilden,  Assistant Adjutant-General:

Colonel Simonton reports that to-day two barges came from Folly Island with about 20 men, and landed them at the battery on Dixon’s Island near the observatory; the boats soon returned, taking off the same number. This appeared to be a relief for men in the battery, distinct from the usual picket relief, as the men in the battery were not relieved at the time the picket was; it has occurred before, but it is not a daily occurrence. The enemy opened to-day on Secessionville from a small island lying to southeast of Long Island, in the same creek, with two Parrott guns, apparently 20-pounders.

Wm. B. Taliaferro,
Brigadier-General.

The fire came from an advanced position in the marshes between James and Folly Islands.

SecessionvilleBombardMay10_11

The following day, the Federals continued the fires on Secessionville, with the batteries on Morris Island joining in.  There were no reported casualties from either side.  For the Charleston front, this was a small expenditure of powder.  Fort Sumter’s garrison reported ten mortar shells and two Parrott shells fired at the fort on May 10.  But all was quiet on May 11.  Department commander Major-General Samuel Jones downplayed the Federal operations, but ordered additional measures to deter a Federal landing on James Island:

Charleston, S.C., May 11, 1864.
Brig. Gen. William B. Taliaferro,
Royall’s House, James Island:

I do not think the enemy will attempt to assault Secessionville. I have ordered Major Echols to use every exertion to complete the bridges with the least possible delay. Can you not to-night place a field battery under cover, and in position to aid in preventing the approach of parties in boats to Secessionville? Keep me informed. Do not relieve garrison at Sumter to-night.

Sam. Jones,
Major-General.

So were these small bombardments of any significance?  Maybe.  The last line from Jones’ response lends a thread to follow.  The rotation of Fort Sumter’s garrison involved replacing troops ordered to Virginia.  Based on orders received on May 3, Jones was in the process of sending two brigades (Wise’s and Colquitt’s) north to Virginia.  Some of Colquitt’s soldiers departed Fort Sumter on the early morning hours of May 9.

And those troops would not be the last to leave.  Warning Major General Patton Anderson, commanding the District of Florida, Jones wrote that he had “had been compelled under pressing orders from the War Department, to send to Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee, nearly all the effective infantry in this department.”  (And Jones added a note about the capture of “General Seymour, the hero of Olustee” during the fighting at the Wilderness.)

On May 11, General J.E. Johnston inquired with Jones about a brigade needed in Georgia – “Has Jackson’s brigade been ordered to me? If not, when will it be? I want it very much.”

At first glance, the actions in front of Charleston seem minor and meaningless.  But take in the grand view of operations in the spring of 1864. The demonstration by bombardments on May 10-11 served to remind the Confederates in Charleston that a threat still existed. Wise’s and Colquitt’s lead units were already, by that date, employed in Virginia.  But some of their trail units were still on the railroads out of North Carolina.  Time was critical, and any hours lost while reacting to demonstrations was a strategic loss to the Confederates.  In that context, the demonstration in front of James Island that May was another part the Federal spring offensive, and helping to place pressure all across the Confederacy.

Every Confederate remaining – or even paused for an hour – at Charleston added weight to the “hasn’t army enough” strategy.

(Citations from OR, Series I, Volume 35, part II, Serial 66, pages 479-80.)