The last battery in the long list of Ohio independent batteries is the 26th Ohio Independent Battery. The transformation of “Yost’s Captured Battery” of the 32nd Ohio Infantry into the 26th Ohio Battery… administrative that it was… is a good starting point for discussing a couple of lines from the third quarter 1863 summary statements from Ohio. These two lines cover infantry regiments reporting, dutifully, about cannon in their possession:
Those two lines, for those who won’t click the image to “embiggin,” read:
- Company K, 86th Ohio Infantry: Indicating “Artillery Stores” on hand at Cumberland Gap, Tennessee. The company reported one 6-pdr field gun, two 12-pdr mountain howitzers, one 12-pdr field howitzer, one 3-inch (steel or iron) rifle, and one 3.80-inch James rifle. I’ll discuss this company and regiment in more detail below.
- Company H, 71st Ohio Infantry: Again “artillery stores” on hand. In this case at Carthage, Tennessee. The 71st Ohio reported two 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.
Let’s look at these in detail.
86th Ohio Volunteer Infantry
First in the queue and perhaps the most interesting in regard to the background story is this less-well known regiment. First off, there were two 86th Ohios during the war. The first mustered in the June 1862 as a three month regiment. They mustered out in late September 1862. So not the 86th we are looking for here. The second 86th Ohio mustered (or re-organized, as some sources indicate) as a six-month regiment on July 17, 1863 at Camp Cleveland, Ohio. The muster was in response to Confederate activity, and akin to the militia and other emergency musters seen in other northern states. Colonel Wilson C. Lemert (formerly the major of the original 86th) commanded.
The “hot issue” in Ohio at that time was Morgan’s Raid. So the 86th moved to Camp Tod, Columbus, Ohio, and operated in pursuit of the raiders. On August 11, the regiment moved to Camp Nelson, Kentucky. There, the regiment joined Colonel John De Courcy’s brigade which was moving on the Cumberland Gap. On September 9, the 86th deployed on the Harlen Road, leading into the north side of the gap, along with two guns from the 22nd Ohio Independent Battery, confronting one of the Confederate forts. Concurrently, other Federal troops deployed to cover approaches on both sides of the gap. This compelled the Confederates to surrender. A bloodless victory for Burnside.
And with that surrender, a substantial amount of stores fell into Federal hands. Captain Henry M. Neil, 22nd Ohio Battery, provided a list of those in a detailed report:
Most of these cannon and ordnance stores were repurposed by the Federals to help establish their garrison in the Cumberland Gap. And the 86th Ohio was part of that garrison. Matching Neil’s report with the summary, it seems one of the bronze 6-pdr field guns, the two 12-pdr mountain howitzers, and one James rifle were assigned to the 86th. Those are simple, easy matches.
The summary indicates the 86th had a bronze 12-pdr field howitzer, but Neil indicates two iron 12-pdr field howitzer among those captured. So we have to consider if the clerks in Washington simply tallied an iron howitzer as bronze; if the 86th reported a bronze howitzer where in fact that was an iron howitzer; if Neil got the description wrong; or… if the 86th received a bronze howitzer from another source.
Lastly, Neil did not mention any 3-inch rifles among the captured guns. Or for that matter any 3-inch ammunition. I suspect this came from another source (other than the captured lot). However, we might entertain the possibility that a Confederate 3-inch rifle was among those turned over to the 86th Ohio. Perhaps a slim possibility.
Either from capture or reorganization, the 86th Ohio had six cannon by the end of September, 1863. These were commanded by Captain James W. Owens of Company K. The 86th Ohio remained at the Cumberland Gap through the middle of January 1864. At that time, they started a long seven day winter march out of the mountains and back to Ohio. They were mustered out on February 10, 1864. The cannon, however, were left up at the Cumberland Gap.
71st Ohio Volunteer Infantry
In the words of one historian, this regiment had a checkered wartime service but in the end was “redeemed” in battle. Suffering from a bad reputation after Shiloh and having been captured in August 1862, the regiment was mostly assigned to garrison duties. In the summer of 1863, the regiment was assigned to First Brigade, Third Division, Reserve Corps, Army of the Cumberland. The regiment had duties protecting the Louisville & Nashville Railroad, with headquarters at Gallatin, Tennessee. Colonel Henry K. McConnell commanded.
Carthage, Tennessee, was indeed one of the points garrisoned by the Third Division of the Reserve Corps. But there are no specific details I’ve found regarding details from the 71st assigned to that garrison. Though it was a concentration point for Tennessee unionists being formed into regiments. Furthermore, as Burnside reached Knoxville, Carthage, with its position on the Cumberland River, became an important connection between two armies then operating in Tennessee.
We can confirm that two 3-inch Ordnance rifles were at Carthage, however. In a January 14, 1864 report on the artillery within the Department of the Cumberland, Major John Mendenhall commented that a lieutenant and thirteen men from the 13th Indiana Battery were at that post with the two rifles. So perhaps, for a short period during the summer and fall of 1863, the 71st Ohio had charge of those guns in Carthage. If I read the column correctly, and that assignment was to Company H, then Captain Elihu S. Williams of that company was responsible for the guns.
- 86th Ohio: 203 shot, 100 case, and 95 canister for 6-pdr field guns; 6 shot for 12-pdr field guns; 34 shell and 13 case for 12-pdr field howitzers; and 26 canister for either 12-pdr field howitzers or 12-pdr mountain howitzers.
Referencing Neil’s report, it appears the 86th Ohio received only a portion of the overall ammunition stores. Perhaps only a portion issued for ready use, while the rest remained in centralized magazines? The presence of shot for 12-pdr field guns opens questions. Neil reported the Confederates had, what would be non-standard, 12-pdr shot for their howitzers. So is this six 12-pdr shot for field guns? Or for howitzers? I could see either being the case.
The 71st Ohio reported Hotchkiss rounds for their Ordnance rifles:
- 71st Ohio Infantry: 43 canister, 9 percussion shell, and 290 fuse shell for 3-inch rifles.
Now back to the Cumberland Gap, where the 86th reported James projectiles on hand:
- 86th Ohio Infantry: 61 shot and 77 shell for 3.80-inch James.
The questions here, with respect to what Neil reported, is if the shells are percussion shell and if these are “Federal” James projectiles being recaptured…. or Confederate copies.
Before leaving this discussion of Ohio’s non-artillery formations that happened to have cannon on hand, we have one other organization that is not listed on the summary. In mid-1863, returns from central Tennessee included an organization titled “Law’s Howitzer Battery” or simply “Mountain Howitzer Battery” under Lieutenant Jesse S. Law.
We can trace that battery back to a report from Colonel August V. Kautz, 2nd Ohio Cavalry, written on June 11, 1863 concerning a demonstration made to Monticello, Kentucky a few days before. A minor affair of only passing interest. But what concerns us is this accolade:
I must not forget to mention the gallant conduct of Private Jesse Law, commanding the howitzer battery. This man well deserves a commission, and has been recommended for promotion.
And indeed, Private Law was soon Lieutenant Law. And he remained in charge of four mountain howitzers. This battery supported Kautz’ brigade, First Division, Twenty-Third Corps, which was part of Burnside’s campaign in east Tennessee. Late in the campaign the battery remained intact, but serving separate from the 2nd Ohio Cavalry. With that, we can place the howitzers, and Law, somewhere around Knoxville at the close of the third quarter, 1863. However it appears by the end of the year Law’s howitzers were turned over to some other organization and the Lieutenant resumed cavalry duties.
As for Law himself, I’ve got a lot of information about his career still being complied and organized. Not ready to post that just yet. I am fairly confident in saying he was an artilleryvman before the war with Battery G, 4th US. And he was discharged just after the battle of Antietam. From there, he enlisted in the 2nd Ohio Cavalry and later received the promotion mentioned above. Unfortunately, Law didn’t retain those lieutenant bars long. Law was dismissed from the service in December 1864. The details of that part of the story I am still working on.