Summary Statement, 2nd Quarter, 1863 – New York’s miscellaneous detachments and batteries

Below the second quarter, 1863 listing for the New York independent batteries are three lines derived from returns of separate, non-artillery battery, detachments:

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Recall we discussed a fourth “line” earlier in this series – the 3rd New York Cavalry – as that entry was better placed in the order it appeared on the summaries. These remaining “orphans” include artillery pieces and stores under the charge of a Lieutenant (unit unspecified) and reported by two infantry regiments:

  • “Lieutenant – Stores in Charge”: The unnamed lieutenant was at Gloucester Point, Virginia.  With several artillery batteries, in particular some New York batteries, at that station, one wonders why the stores were not distributed to the artillerists.
  • 100th New York Infantry:   Reporting a pair of 6-pdr field guns at Morris Island, South Carolina.  Of course, as of June 30, the regiment was actually on Folly Island, across the Stono River.  They would land on the southern end of Morris Island on July 10.  These guns were not part of the masked batteries on Folly Island.  More likely the 6-pdrs were assigned to the works securing the southwestern end of the island.
  • 132nd New York Infantry: The regiment was stationed at New Bern, North Carolina at this time.  No cannon on hand. Just stores and equipment.  With so many artillery batteries stationed there, we must again wonder why the infantry was stuck with this charge.

There is, however, one light battery which escaped the tallies of the clerks in Washington.  And that was not due to some administrative oversight.  Rather, that battery’s service, as a mustered “Federal” battery, was very brief.

Colonel William B. Barnes received authorization to recruit the 11th New York Artillery Regiment in February 1863.  Handbills and newspaper announcements proclaimed this regiment would man the fortifications around New York City, with promises of no marches or backpacks.  Good duty if you can get it!  By June, Barnes had upwards of 1,000 recruits at Rochester, New York.

Then the other shoe dropped.  With reports of Confederates moving into Pennsylvania, authorities in Washington and New York reached for any and all resources to meet the threat.  Among those was the 11th New York.  On June 15, orders came for the regiment to report to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  Before that could happen, the mustering officer culled out unfit or otherwise unqualified recruits.  This limited the regiment to just four batteries – A, B, C, and D.

Of those four, only Battery D was equipped as a light battery.  Captain William F. Goodwin recruited his battery with an additional enticement – service with a unique and advanced weapon.  From a notice run in the Albany Evening Journal, on, quite appropriately, June 15:

Goodwin’s Battery. – Capt. Goodwin is recruiting in this city for a Battery to be attached to the 11th Artillery.  His company is nearly half full, and he hopes, in the course of a few weeks, to be in position to take the field.

His guns – his own invention – have been warmly approved by leading artillery officers and accepted by the Government.  They are breech-loaders, and are claimed to have the widest range of any in the world.  They have projected a ball the enormous distance of six miles, and can be fired at the rate of fifteen times a minute.  Capt. G. assures us that they can be fired fifteen hundred rounds without cleaning or swabbing.

Capt. Goodwin is an officer of high character and large experience in the science of gunnery, and his Battery is destined to make its mark.

Artillery enthusiasts know well this song.  Such advanced weapons rarely lived up to the sales pitch hype! The details of this weapon are best saved for a dedicated post.  But Goodwin did provide an illustration of the mechanism with a patent application:

 

GoodwinGun

Goodwin’s design included a breech plug, lined with rubber or other material.  That was forced into a seat with a breech piece swung horizontally on a yoke.  I’ll offer more details separately, but the main point today is this was of Goodwin’s own design.

Goodwin’s Battery, along with the three others, boarded trains for Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on June 17.  In Pennsylvania, the 11th was part of the scratch force assembled to defend Harrisburg.  On July 1, the 11th was ordered to proceed to Carlisle, in reaction to Confederate cavalry, to serve as infantry.  This prompted a mutiny, as the rank and file had not signed up for such. Writing on July 10, Brigadier-General Lorenzo Thomas, in Harrisburg, had unflattering words about the regiment as a whole, but held a favorable impression of Goodwin’s:

… Goodwin’s battery of four 10-pounder rifled breech-loading guns went forward [to Chambersburg] this morning.  The Eleventh New York Heavy Artillery, excepting Goodwin’s battery, which rendered good service, left this morning for New York City, to report to General Wool. This is the regiment which refused to go forward as infantry when the rebels were advancing and near this place.  (OR, Series I, Volume 27, Part III, Serial 45, pages 633-4.)

Thomas’ report confirms Goodwin’s Battery did serve as field artillery during their brief active service. Furthermore, we have some indication as to the caliber of weapon, if indeed those were of Goodwin’s design.  While not precise, the 10-pounder label is often used for 3-inch caliber.

While Batteries A, B, and C of the 11th proceeded back to New York, Battery D briefly served in Pennsylvania.  By the end of July all were back in their home state, serving at Fort Richmond (Battery A), Fort Hamilton (Batteries B and D), and Sandy Hook (Battery C).  The 11th was mustered out shortly afterwards, but remained on state rolls.  Because of the brief, perhaps only six weeks in total, service of Battery D, we do not see them recorded on this summary.

Goodwin’s Battery was still at Fort Hamilton on September 18 when disaster struck.  While practicing, one of the guns discharged prematurely.  Goodwin was badly injured and a private lost his arm when the breech plug blew out the back of the gun.  A report in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, on October 3, lamented, “… it is feared the Captain will lose his eyesight.”

Turning back to the summaries, we find the 100th New York Infantry had ammunition on hand for it’s 6-pdrs:

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  • 100th New York Infantry: 40 shot, 40 case, and 20 canister for 6-pdr field guns.

Ample supply for a couple of guns guarding the approaches to Folly Island.

The 132nd New York had Hotchkiss projectiles on hand:

0211_2_Snip_NY_MISC

  • 132nd New York Infantry: 26 shot, 20 percussion shell, and 40 fuse shell for 2.6-inch rifles, presumably Wiard 6-pdrs.

Further down, we see the unnamed lieutenant at Gloucester Point had his hands full with 3-inch projectiles:

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  • Gloucester Point: 73 Dyer’s shrapnel for 3-inch rifles.

Add to several chests worth of Schenkl shells:

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  • Gloucester Point: 299 Shenkl shell for 3-inch rifles.

As a taxpayer, I am profoundly irritated, 150 years after the fact, at this gross wastage.  Why weren’t these 372 projectiles simply transferred over to the 8th New York Independent Battery?  Instead, some lieutenant wasted his time, and my tax money, accounting for and maintaining this pile of shells!   If only the Ordnance Department were as “vigorous” for accounting of Goodwin’s Battery!

Things never seem to change, do they?

Turning to the small arms we see…..

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Nothing.  Of course, these units would report their small arms on a separate report specifically for infantry weapons.

Thus concludes New York for the second quarter of 1863.  Up next… OHIO!

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Summary Statement, 1st Quarter, 1863 – 5th Regiment, US Regulars

Moving in order now to close out the summary statement pages for the US Regular Artillery batteries, we come to the 5th Artillery:

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When we looked at the Fifth Regiment as part of the fourth quarter, 1862 summaries, the batteries were split between two pages.  Huzzah!  A clerical victory!  And speaking of clerks, the dates on the far left might lend more credence to the data here… we might presume.  Of the twelve batteries, only one does not have a report date registered (reason for that will be seen shortly).  Furthermore, we have nine batteries reporting quantities of what makes a battery something more than a collection of soldiers – cannons!  And at the bottom line, we see an entry for the regimental headquarters.  And we see a relatively straight forward listing of key battery information:

  • Battery A: At Suffolk, Virginia with six 12-pdr Napoleons.  Battery A began the winter under Third Division, Ninth Corps, commanded by Lieutenant George Crabb, outside Fredericksburg. By March, the battery was under Lieutenant James Gilliss, supporting the same division at Suffolk.
  • Battery B: No report. This new battery continued to form-up at Fort Hamilton through the winter and spring of 1863.
  • Battery C: Reporting at Belle Plain, Virginia with six 12-pdr Napoleons. Captain Dunbar R. Ransom commanded this battery supporting Second Division, First Corps.  The battery added two Napoleons over the previous quarter.
  • Battery D: Falmouth, Virginia with six 10-pdr Parrotts. We find Lieutenant Charles Hazlett’s battery supporting First Division, Fifth Corps with the six Parrotts that would go on to some renown on some small hill later in the summer.
  • Battery E: At Fort Hamilton, New Jersey but without cannons.  As with Battery B above, Battery E was still organizing, under regimental headquarters’ charge, at this point in the war.
  • Battery F: White Oak Church, Virginia, with two 12-pdr Napoleons and four 10-pdr Parrotts. Lieutenant Leonard Martin commanded this battery (though Captain Romeyn B. Ayres held command on early winter returns, split between battery and brigade postings).  The battery supported Second Division, Sixth Corps.
  • Battery G: Way out in Baton Rouge, Louisiana with six 12-pdr Napoleons. Lieutenant  Jacob B. Rawles commanded this battery from Second Division, Nineteenth Corps.
  • Battery H: Wintering at Murfreesboro, Tennessee and armed with four 12-pdr Napoleons and two 10-pdr Parrotts. With the reorganization of the Army of the Cumberland, Lieutenant Francis Guenther took his battery to First Division, Fourteenth Corps.
  • Battery I: At Falmouth, Virginia but reporting no cannon.  Lieutenant Malbone F. Watson commanded this battery in support of Second Division, Fifth Corps.  Other records indicate this battery had four 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.
  • Battery K: Also at Falmouth and with four 12-pdr Napoleons.  Lieutenant David H. Kinzie led this battery of the Artillery Reserve, Army of the Potomac.
  • Battery L: Reporting at Winchester, Virginia with six 3-inch rifles. Lieutenant Edmund D. Spooner’s battery joined Milroy’s command at Winchester at the start of spring that year.
  • Battery M: At Yorktown, Virginia with six 12-pdr Napoleons. Captain James McKnight’s battery was unassigned, but part of the Seventh Corps at this phase of the war.
  • Regimental HQ: “Sr. Maj.” maybe?  At any rate, reporting from Fort Hamilton.   For those curious, the equipment on hand included a battery forge, a battery wagon, and a fair quantity of implements, accouterments, and supplies.

So from an organizational perspective, we don’t see a lot of changes with the batteries of the regiment.  Nor any significant changes in cannon reported.

What of the ammunition reported?  Starting with the smoothbore section, as expected we have only 12-pdr Napoleon

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More lines reporting here compared to the previous quarter:

  • Battery A: 192 shot, 96 shells, 288 spherical case, and 192 canister for Napoleons.
  • Battery C: 535 shot, 167 shell, 651 case, and 301 canister in 12-pdr Napoleon.
  • Battery F: 96 shot, 32 shell, 96 case, and 40 canister all for 12-pdr Napoleon.
  • Battery G: 190 shot, 106 shell, 360 case, and 128 canister in 12-pdr Napoleon.
  • Battery H: 173 shot, 64 shell, 175 case, and 100 canister for the Napoleons.
  • Battery K: No quantities reported..
  • Battery M: 283 shot, 87 shell, 274 case, and 96 canister for their Napoleons.

Note that Batteries A, F, and M reported the same quantities from the previous month.  (I probably transcribed the numbers of shot for Battery M incorrectly in that previous quarter.)

Looking to the rifled projectiles, we start with the Hotchkiss variety:

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One battery reporting:

  • Battery L: 120 canister, 120 percussion shell, 240 (or 340) fuse shell, and 720 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.

Battery I is noticeably absent quantities again.

On the next page, no quantities of Dyer’s or James’ appear, but there are Parrott projectiles for those Parrott rifles:

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Three batteries reporting:

  • Battery D:  72 shell, 500 case, and 24 canister for 10-pdr Parrott.
  • Battery F: 160 shell, 320 case, and 96 canister for 10-pdr Parrott.
  • Battery H: 250 shell, 56 case, and 94 canister for 10-pdr Parrott.

Comparing to the previous quarter, Battery D’s and Battery F’s quantities remained the same; and Battery H reported a smaller quantity of 10-pdr shell.

Moving to Schenkl projectiles:

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Two batteries reporting:

  • Battery D: 251 Schenkl shell for 10-pdr Parrott.
  • Battery F:  320 Schenkl shell for 10-pdr Parrott.

Battery D’s quantities did not differ from the previous quarter. Battery F appears to have lost 320 Schenkel 10-pdr shot listed in the last quarter, then gained the same quantity of shell.  Go figure.

Finally we reach the small arms:

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By battery:

  • Battery A: Twenty-nine Army revolvers, one cavalry saber, and sixty-five horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery C: Twenty-seven Army revolvers, twenty-six Navy revolvers, and nineteen horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery D: Twelve Navy revolvers and eight horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery E: One-hundred-and-ten horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery F: Twenty-seven Army revolvers and twenty-four horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery G: Twenty-two horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery H: Sixteen Army revolvers, five Navy revolvers, and thirty-nine cavalry sabers.
  • Battery K: Fifty-eight Army revolvers and sixteen horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery L:  One-hundred-and-fifty horse artillery sabers!
  • Battery M: Twenty-four Navy revolvers and twenty horse artillery sabers.

I can see a use for Battery E, which was still forming, to have a large number of sabers on hand.  We might presume there was a lot of saber drill going on at Fort Hamilton.

But Battery L?  I guess they would put those 150 sabers to good use later in the summer.

The Big Rodmans: 20-inch Rodmans, Part 2

In yesterday’s post on the 20-inch Rodman Gun, I’d mentioned the gun pictured below arrived at Fort Hamilton, New York for testing in the fall of 1864.

20-inch Rodman #1

Compared to the trials of the 15-inch gun, the 20-inch gun received a bit more fanfare – and full coverage in Harper’s Weekly. When first fired on October 26, 1864, those in attendance included the gun’s inventor Major Thomas J. Rodman; Army Chief of Ordnance, Brigadier General Alexander B. Dyer; Captain Henry Augustus Wise, Chief of the Navy’s Bureau of Ordnance; and General W. F. Smith. If illustrations accompanying the Harper’s article are any indication, a rather large crowd of onlookers joined the dignitaries.

“Large” was the word for every aspect of the gun. The gun rested upon a specially built 18 ton carriage from the Watertown Arsenal, which was also designed by Rodman. As a measure of the size of the gun, prior to firing, a man lowered himself into the bore of the gun and wormed down to the vent in order to clear an obstruction. 1

The objective of the test was only to verify the gun could fire the heavy projectiles. Unfortunately I’ve never come across any first hand account or report of the gun’s trials. Most secondary sources point to a caption in Francis Miller’s Photographic History of the Civil War. Although Miller incorrectly identified the photo of the 15-inch prototype as the 20-inch gun, he stated the big gun fired four shots in 1864. Firing a 1,080 pound solid shot, the gun used charges increasing through 50, 75, 100, and finally 125 pounds of powder. According to Miller, tests resumed in March 1867 with four more shots. This time charges of 125, 150, 175, and then 200 pounds, fired at a 25° elevation, propelled shot to a maximum range of 8,000 yards.2

Certainly impressive figures, but with the war winding down that massive iron gun was too much for peacetime budgets. Fort Pitt delivered one more 20-inch gun in 1869. This gun also survives today, on display at Fort Hancock, New Jersey. (And again let me thank Bill Coughlin for the photo.)

20-inch Rodman #2 at Fort Hancock

This gun bears the registry number 2 along with its weight marks of 115,100 pounds. John Alexander Kress inspected this monster gun. Once accepted, #2 went to Fort Monroe. In 1876 the gun went to Philadelphia for the Centennial Exposition.3

20-inch Rodman at Centennial Exposition

From there the gun eventually ended up at Fort Hancock among other heavy guns also undergoing trials in the later decades of the 19th century. Thankfully it was preserved to “guard” the post instead of being discarded.

Although the Army received only two 20-inch Rodmans, the guns significantly influenced post-war planning. Plans considered these largest of guns for the critical locations along the seacoast. Over the years, schemes for the 20-inch guns included more advanced carriages, muzzle loading rifled variants, and even breechloading conversions. None of these progressed far. Army acquisition at the time focused on refinement of weapons which could be mass produced in the event of war (since everyone felt there’d be ample warning before any future war). As such, the 1864 testimony of William Wade, part owner of the Fort Pitt Foundry, is worth note. When asked by the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War, Wade indicated his foundry’s capacity was, “two 10-inch or 8-inch guns per day, three 15-inch guns per week, and two 20-inch guns per month.4

Perhaps we could end the story there, simply saying the two 20-inch Rodmans were great guns that were never called to action. But that’s not the case. In the late 1870’s Peru came shopping for weapons due to heated tensions with Bolivia and Chile. In addition to some of the 15-inch Rodmans, the Peruvians acquired at least on 20-inch Rodman (sometimes noted as a 1000-pdr gun), presumably a surplus weapon at the foundry. During the War of the Pacific, this Rodman, paired with a 20-inch Dahlgren gun also cast by Fort Pitt, was used in defense of the port of Callao. 5 The guns presumably wound up in the hands of the Chileans at that point. Perhaps the big Rodman guns did fire more than a few “test shots” after all.

The legacy of the 20-inch Rodman was to American seacoast defenses in the last decades of the 19th century. While the days of muzzleloading, black powder, smoothbores waned after the Civil War, the range of the 20-inch guns influenced plans. With these larger guns, defenders could control larger expanses of waterways. Instead of just defending the harbor entrances, the Coast Artillery could think about covering likely approaches to the coast. The real change would wait until modern breechloading, rifled, steel guns arrived.

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  1. Harper’s Weekly, Volume VIII, No. 412, November 19, 1864, page 749.
  2. Miller, Francis Trevelyan, The Photographic History of the Civil War: Volume 5 – Forts and Artillery (New York: Review of Reviews, 1911), page 137.
  3. Ingram, J.S., The Centennial Exposition Described and Illustrated (Philadelphia: Hubbard Brothers, 1876), page 146.
  4. Testimony of William Wade, “Heavy Ordnance,” Report of the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War at the Second Session, Thirty-Eighth Congress (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1865), page 86.
  5. Markham, Sir Clements R., The War Between Peru and Chile, 1879-1882 (London: Sampson Low, Marston, and Company, 1882) page 186.