Summary Statement, 3rd Quarter, 1863 – Ohio Independent Batteries, Part 2

Twenty-six independent batteries from Ohio, recall?  But only twenty-four of those might properly be called “complete” as Ohio batteries.  We looked at what the first dozen of those were doing in the third quarter, 1863.  So we turn now to the remainder:

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Looking at each battery in detail:

  • 13th Battery: Not listed.  Most histories indicate this battery was never fully organized and ceased to exist, officially, in April 1862. But that’s not exactly accurate.  The battery did organize and saw action at Shiloh.  There it lost five of six guns (for a good, brief discussion, see this article).  As the battery fell into disfavor (and likely was the scapegoat for the poor performance of a division commander…) it was disbanded. The men and equipment remaining were distributed to other Ohio batteries (namely the 7th, 10th, and 14th Batteries).
  • 14th Battery: Reporting at Corinth, Mississippi with two 12-pdr Napoleons and four 3-inch Ordnance rifles. The battery was part of Second Division, Sixteenth Corps.   Captain Jerome B. Burrows remained in command.  In November, the battery was part of the “Left Wing” of the corps, advanced to Lynnville, in south-central Tennessee to guard the sensitive supply lines in that area.
  • 15th Battery: At Natchez, Mississippi with four 6-pdr field guns.  Captain Edward Spear, Jr. remained in command.  The battery was in Fourth Division, Sixteenth Corps at the end of the Vicksburg campaign. And it took part in the Jackson Campaign which followed.  Transferred in late July, with the division, to the Seventeenth Corps, it formed part of the garrison of Natchez. The battery took part in an expedition to Harrisonburg, Louisiana in September.
  • 16th Battery: Reporting at Carrollton, Louisiana with four 12-pdr Napoleons and two 3.80-inch James Rifles. Captain Russell P. Twist remained in command.  The battery was with Third Division, Thirteenth Corps, recently transferred to the Department of the Gulf.  In late September, the battery transferred to Berwick Bay (Morgan City), southwest of New Orleans, for garrison duty.
  • 17th Battery: At Vermilion Bridge, Louisiana with six 10-pdr Parrotts. The battery was assigned to Tenth Division (re-designated Fourth), Thirteenth Corps.  When transferred to the Department of the Gulf, the battery was assigned to the garrison at Brashear City (Morgan City), Louisiana.  Later the battery moved to the location given in the return. The battery was among the forces used in the Teche Expedition in October. Captain Charles S. Rice remained in command.
  • 18th Battery: No report.  Captain Charles Aleshire’s battery was in First Division, Reserve Corps, Army of the Cumberland, and had six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  The battery saw action on September 18, supporting the division along the Ringold Road. And was in action again on September 20 on Snodgrass Hill on the left end of the Federal line. With the general withdrawal that evening, the battery returned to Chattanooga.
  • 19th Battery: At Knoxville, Tennessee with six 12-pdr Napoleons.  Captain Joseph C. Shields commanded this battery, assigned to the Twenty-third Corps.  After contributing to the pursuit of Morgan in July, the battery was among the forces under General Burnside’s East Tennessee Campaign.
  • 20th Battery: Reporting, in May 1864, at Nashville, Tennessee with two 12-pdr field howitzers and four 3-inch Ordnance rifles. However, the battery actually had two 12-pdr Napoleons, not field howitzers. The entry is a clerical data-entry error. The battery remained under Captain [John T.] Edward Grosskopff  and assigned to assigned to Second Division, Twentieth Corps. And the battery was with that division at Chickamauga. Grosskopff reported firing 85 rounds of ammunition at Chickamagua.  In terms of material, he lost only one caisson.  The location for this battery, for the end of the quarter, is accurately Chattanooga.
  • 21st Battery: At Greenville, Tennessee with four 12-pdr Napoleons.  Captain James W. Patterson commanded.  Recall this battery was organized in April 1863.  After assisting with the pursuit of Morgan in July, the battery remained at Camp Dennison, Ohio, through much of the summer. Only in September did they move to Camp Nelson, Kentucky.  They arrived in Greenville, as the return indicates, around the first of October. The battery was part of the “Left Wing Forces” of the Ninth Corps.
  • 22nd Battery: No report.  The battery began the quarter stationed at Camp Chase, Ohio, where they’d just received their full complement of six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  Commanded by Captain Henry M. Neil, the battery would not move out of Ohio until mid-August.  After spending time at Camp Nelson, the battery was dispatched with other forces to the Cumberland Gap, as part of the “Left Wing Forces” of the Ninth Corps.  According to the department returns at that time, Neil was serving as Artillery Chief for the Second Division, Ninth Corps.  And in his absence, Lieutenant Amos B. Alger led the battery.
  • 23rd Battery: Not listed. This battery was formed from the 2nd Kentucky Infantry and later became the 1st Kentucky Independent Light Battery. Only mentioned here due to “placeholder” status.
  • 24th Battery:  At Cincinnati, Ohio with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  Officially mustered on August 4, this battery was posted to Camp Dennison until September 22, when they moved to Cincinnati.  Captain John L. Hill commanded.
  • 25th Battery: Reporting from Little Rock, Arkansas, in May 1864, with two 3-inch Ordnance rifles and four 3.67-inch rifles.  Captain Julius L. Hadley remained in command.  Assigned to First Cavalry Division, Department of Southeast Missouri, the battery served on expeditions into northeast Arkansas in July.  In August, the battery was among the forces sent toward Little Rock as part of Steele’s Expedition.
  • 26th Battery:  At Vicksburg, Mississippi, with no cannon reported. An interesting unit history, originally being a company in the 32nd Ohio Infantry, that I alluded to in the last quarter.  Briefly, detailed to artillery service earlier in the war, but still under the 32nd Infantry, the battery was captured at Harpers Ferry in September 1862.  Exchanged, the “battery” resumed infantry duties.  That is until during the siege at Vicksburg when captured Confederate cannon were assigned to the regiment.  “Yost’s Captured Battery”, named for Captain Theobold D. Yost, served in the siege lines, being highly regarded by senior officers.  And after the fall of Vicksburg the men of this temporary battery were detached to Battery D, 1st Illinois and the 3rd Ohio Independent Battery.  Yost would command the Illinois battery for a short time that summer. Not until December was the 26th formally authorized.  While not officially a battery at the end of September 1863, the men would would form the 26th were indeed stationed around Vicksburg.

Those details established, we turn to the smoothbore ammunition:

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Six lines to consider:

  • 14th Battery:  60 shot, 32 shell, 106 case, and 50 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • 15th Battery: 220 shot, 132 case, and 220 canister for 6-pdr field guns.
  • 16th Battery: 44 shot, 123 shell, 169 case, and 48 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • 19th Battery: 74 shot, 230 shell, 269 case, and 234 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • 20th Battery: 47 shot and 39 shell for 12-pdr Napoleons; 32 case and 32 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.  As with the issue mentioned above for this battery, the howitzer ammunition tallies are likely a data-entry error and should be 12-pdr Napoleon rounds.
  • 21st Battery: 276 shot, 126 shell, 164 case, and 128 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.

Moving to the Hotchkiss page:

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A mix of calibers here:

  • 14th Battery: 147 canister, 355 percussion shell, and 276 fuse shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • 16th Battery: 88 shot, 70 fuse shell, and 304 bullet shell for 3.80-inch rifles.
  • 20th Battery: 168 canister, 227 percussion shell, and 351 fuse shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • 24th Battery: 48 shot, 168 canister, 120 percussion shell, and 290 fuse shell for 3-inch rifles.  Yes, the seldom reported Hotchkiss solid shot for 3-inch rifles!
  • 25th Battery: 116 canister, 85 percussion shell, 43 fuse shell, and 65 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles; 112 shot, 291 percussion shell, and 158 fuse shell for “12-pounder” 3.67-inch rifles.

Two entries in the Hotchkiss columns on the next page:

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  • 16th Battery: 104 canister for 3.80-inch rifles.
  • 25th Battery: 216 canister for 3.67-inch rifles.

No James projectiles reported, for what it is worth.

But one battery with Parrott guns:

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  • 17th Battery: 48 shot, 677 shell, 155 case, and 363 canister for 10-pdr Parrott.

We turn then to the Schenkl page:

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  • 24th Battery: 720 case for 3-inch rifles.
  • 25th Battery: 37 shell and 46 case for 3-inch rifles.

Lastly, we have the small arms reported on hand:

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By battery:

  • 14th Battery: Thirty army revolvers and thirty horse artillery sabers.
  • 15th Battery: Eight cavalry sabers.
  • 16th Battery: Twenty-four navy revolvers and two cavalry sabers.
  • 17th Battery: Eight army revolvers.
  • 19th Battery: Thirty navy revolvers and twelve cavalry sabers.
  • 20th Battery: Eight army revolvers and ten horse artillery sabers.
  • 21st Battery: Twenty-eight navy revolvers and thirteen horse artillery sabers.
  • 24th Battery: Thirty army revolvers and thirty horse artillery sabers.
  • 25th Battery: Twenty-six navy revolvers and fourteen cavalry sabers.

That concludes the Ohio independent batteries.  Next we will look at a couple of lines below those listings, covering artillery reported from infantry regiments.  And I’ll mention a couple that escaped notice of the Ordnance officers.

 

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Driving Dixie Down: Stoneman’s Raid breaks out of the mountains – March 21-29, 1865

I think anyone who has spun the AM radio dial during a long night drive will find Virgil Caine a familiar name:

For many of us growing up in the 1970s, that was largest dosage of Civil War history outside the class room.   (Yes… I know the song was released in 1969.  Do I lose cool points for admitting a fondness for the Joan Baez cover? )

Those of us with a fine appreciation for historical details might quibble over the accuracy of the lyrics.  But such is the way of poets and songwriters, as they ply their craft.  Any rate, in those opening lines, Robbie Robertson and Levon Helm laid out the name we need to follow – Major-General George Stoneman.

Stoneman was the quintessential “old cavalryman.”  But he had a lackluster wartime record by the winter of 1865.  Two spectacular failed raids were at the top of his resume.  The assignment to lead a raid out of East Tennessee into North Carolina was for all practical purposes Stoneman’s last opportunity for redemption.  The objective of this raid evolved with time.  Early in the winter, Major-General William T. Sherman simply suggested a diversionary raid into western North Carolina to detract both from Sherman’s planned advance into South Carolina and, at Sherman’s urgings, an infantry advance by Major-General George Thomas into Alabama.  Lieutenant-General Ulysses S. Grant opted to refine that scope somewhat, with an objective of the railroad behind Columbia, South Carolina, to directly contribute to Sherman’s advance.  (And there’s a “what if” to ponder.)

But those plans were overtaken by events.  Stoneman could not get his force organized for movement prior to the middle of March.  Just the logistics of getting troops, horses, and supplies in the right place delayed the start.  Further disrupting the launch, the same rains which pinned Sherman’s march from the Catawba to the Cape Fear Rivers served to likewise hinder Stoneman’s preparations.   By the time Stoneman was ready to start, his objectives were refined to the railroad between Christansburg and Lynchburg, in Virginia, with a threat to Danville.  Such would cut off Richmond from raw materials – particularly salt and other minerals – in Southwest Virginina.  I would submit no other major operation in the Civil War had such swings in objectives before the first movement.  Coming this late in the war, this was as much a raid of “because we can.”

Stoneman’s command for this raid was officially the District of East Tennessee.  The main striking arm was a cavalry division under Brigadier-General Alvan Gillem.

Short version of his biography – Gillem was a East Tennessee unionist with personal connections right up to the Vice-President.  Gillem’s division consisted of three brigades with a supporting battery of artillery:

  • 1st Brigade, Colonel William Palmer, with the 10th Michigan, 12th Ohio, and 15th Pennsylvania Cavalry.
  • 2nd Brigade, Brigadier-General Simeon Brown, with the 11th Michigan and 11th and 12th Kentucky.
  • 3rd Brigade, Colonel John Miller, with the 8th, 9th, and 13th Tennessee Cavalry.
  • Battery E, 1st Tennessee Light Artillery, Lieutenant James Regan.

All told, Gillem had around 4,000 men.

Backing up Gillem’s cavalry, a column of infantry and artillery under Brigadier-General Davis Tillson would move to secure the passes over the mountains and repair railroads through which the column would be resupplied.  Tillson’s command consisted of two brigades and seven artillery batteries, numbering around 4,500 men.  Of note, Tillson’s command contained the 1st US Colored Heavy Artillery, serving as infantry, and several formations of Tennessee and North Carolina unionists.

Logistics and weather finally permitted the raid to get underway on March 21, aptly as the battle of Bentonville was winding down.  While I don’t have space, nor the grounding, to cover this raid in the detail provided for Sherman’s Marches, I would offer a view of Stoneman’s Raid from a high level so that readers might appreciate the movements within the context of other events 150 years ago.  To wrap up this, the first in a series on the raid, let me cover the first nine days of movement, to bring us up to March 29, 1865.

StonemanFirst

Oh… big map again… I’ll have that on sale at the gift shop if you’d like…. OK, let me break that into three phases so it is easier to sort out.  And please not these are not precise as to all the roads and camps used by the raiders.

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The initial movement out of Knoxville stepped out, as mentioned, on March 21.  The cavalry lead the column, followed by Tillson’s infantry which repaired the railroad as they moved.  The column moved along the Tennessee & Virginia Railroad to Strawberry Plains, Morristown to reach Bull’s Gap in Bays Mountain on March 24.

StonemanMar24_26

At Bull’s Gap, Stoneman received word of Confederate forces occupying Jonesborough along his intended line of march.  To counter that force and maneuver them out of place, Stoneman dispatched Miller’s Brigade on a northern course towards the Holston River, with orders to get behind the Confederate position somewhere south of Carter’s Depot. The remainder of Gillem’s force went directly towards Jonesborough.  Tillson’s infantry followed up the railroad line.  The move had the intended effect.  After some light skirmishing, the Confederates fell back in the direction of Bristol, Tennessee.  On March 26, the cavalry columns were beyond Jonesborough near Elizabethton, while Tilson’s infantry camped a day’s march from Greenville on the rail lines.  Tilson would remain in that area for three days before disbursing his forces further east.

StonemanMar26_29

Stoneman made a treacherous crossing, with some of his men moving at night, over Stone Mountain to cross into North Carolina on March 27. Hearing of a gathering of North Carolina guards, Stoneman dispatched Major Myles Keogh in command of a detachment from the 12th Kentucky Volunteer Cavalry to Boone. Keogh “surprised and routed the rebels, killing 9 and capturing 68” after entering town around 10 a.m. on March 28.

Reporting from Boone that day, Stoneman told Thomas of his success thus far into the raid, but determined to alter his plans.   “I shall be compelled to alter slightly from the proposed route on account of the great scarcity of forage and subsistence for the men.”  Instead of moving up the New River Valley from Boone, Stoneman preferred to move across the Blue Ridge and strike Wilkesborough.  The Yadkin River Valley offered much better grazing for his horses.

Stoneman, who loved to divide his forces for these movements, did so again when leaving Boone in two columns starting mid-day on the 28th.  Brown’s Brigade, with Miller’s following, moved through Watuga Gap, passing Blowing Rock, and down to the headwaters of the Yadkin River.  That force came across Patterson’s Factory at the foot of the mountains.  Before leaving, the Federals destroyed the yarn factory.  This column continued towards Wilkesborough on the south side of the Yadkin on March 29th.

Palmer’s Brigade reached Deep Gap on the evening of the 28th, then crossed over the Blue Ridge. The next morning, Palmer’s three regiments descended upon Wilkesborough on the 29th.  There the 12th Ohio Cavalry overwhelmed a small home guard force to take possession of the town.

Again, I’m working at a “quick” pace through Stoneman’s Raid. There are certainly fine points I’m skipping with an accelerated discussion of events.  Stoneman’s Raid, 1865, by Chris Hartley is among the recent book-length treatments of the subject, and which I’d recommend.  Much of my appreciation for the campaign was gained by running around photographing historical markers.  Speaking of which, North Carolina has several which relate to the events mentioned in this post – Boone, Blowing Rock, Patterson’s Mill, Deep Gap, and Wilkesboro.

(Citations from OR, Series I, Volume 49, Part I, Serial 103, pages 330-1; Part II, Serial 104, page 112.)