Summary Statement, 2nd Quarter, 1863 – Pennsylvania’s Emergency Batteries

Last post, I mentioned the Pennsylvania militia and emergency batteries appearing on the Federal order of battle during the crucial summer months of 1863.  While those batteries escaped mention in the summaries, in the interest in cataloging ALL the artillery batteries from Pennsylvania, I do wish to at least name the organizations for reference.

To properly frame this, let’s turn to a proclamation issued by Governor Andrew G. Curtain on June 12, 1863.  At that time, the War Department had just created two new departments – Department of the Monongahela (also called Western Pennsylvania) including parts of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio; and Department of the Susquehanna, or Eastern Pennsylvania.  Major-Generals William T.H. Brooks and Darius N. Couch, respectively, commanded these departments.  This was all in response to a growing emergency as reports indicated a large Confederate force was on the move north.  In that proclamation, Curtain urged:

I earnestly invite the attention of the people of Pennsylvania to the general orders issued by these officers on assuming the command of their respective departments. The importance of immediately raising a sufficient force for the defense of the State cannot be overrated. The corps now proposed to be established will give permanent security to our borders. I know too well the gallantry and patriotism of the freemen of this Commonwealth to think it necessary to do more than commend this measure to the people, and earnestly urge them to respond to the call of the General Government, and promptly fill the ranks of these corps, the duties of which will be mainly the defense of our own homes, firesides, and property from devastation.

And the people of Pennsylvania did respond.  Over thirty-five regiments (though not “full” in terms of the number of companies) and numerous independent infantry companies formed up, in addition to cavalry battalions and companies.  The artillery component was eleven batteries, most of which existed as militia before the declaration of the emergency.

We find the administrative details of these batteries in Samuel P. Bates’ History of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-5, Volume V, and from the returns provided by Brooks and Couch.  I’ll combine some details from those sources for this listing of batteries:

  • Frishmuth’s Battery: The Philadelphia Union Battery commanded by Benoni Frishmuth.  Mustered on June 26 and discharged on August 1.  Four officers and 100 men.  The battery had four guns, “the private property of [Frishmuth’s] company.”  A return from July 10 places the battery at Harrisburg, part of a brigade led by Brigadier-General William Hall, New York National Guard. Then on July 31, the battery was back in Philadelphia.
  • Miller’s Battery: Philadelphia Howitzer Battery. Commanded by Captain E. Spencer Miller.  Mustered June 19 and discharged July 25.  Three offices and 99 men.  This battery served in Brigadier-General William F. Smith’s division of the Susquehanna Department.  They supported the movement to Carlisle and subsequent pursuit of the Confederates.  Smith’s report indicates the battery had four pieces.
  • Landis’ Battery: 1st Philadelphia Battery. Captain Henry D. Landis’ battery mustered on June 27, serving until discharged on July 30.  Three officers and 105 men.  Also from Philadelphia and also assigned to Smith’s division.  This battery saw action at Sporting Hill and Carlisle.  Returns at the end of July place the battery at Chambersburg.
  • Joseph Knap’s Battery: Captain Joseph M. Knap had recently mustered out from Battery E, Pennsylvania Light Artillery (which is the connection to the “original” Knap’s Battery).  But he responded to the governor’s call, leading a battery of five officers and 121 men, which mustered on June 27.  They mustered out on August 16.
  • Ermentrout’s Battery: Captain William C. Ermentrout’s was a company of heavy artillery.  Mustered on July 3, and discharged on August 25, the company numbered five officers and 144 enlisted.  The battery formed in Reading and saw service around Camp Curtain and Harrisburg.
  • Guss’s Battery: Chester County Artillery. Commanded by Captain George R. Guss.  The battery consisted of five officers and 144 enlisted.  It mustered on July 3 and was discharged on August 25.  At the end of July, this battery was at Reading, Pennsylvania.
  • Fitzki’s Battery: Second Keystone Battery with Captain Edward Fitzki in command.  Five officers and 138 enlisted mustered with this battery, starting on July 6. The battery mustered out on August 24.  Fitzki had served with Battery G, 1st Pennsylvania earlier in the war. Returns place the battery at Camp Curtain and Harrisburg during July.
  • Woodward’s Battery: Captain William H. Woodward’s battery mustered on July 8.  Unlike these other batteries, Woodward’s was not mustered out until November 4, 1863, just short of a full six month enlistment.  The battery mustered with three officers and 128 enlisted.  Returns through July have the battery unattached and serving at Philadelphia.
  • Tyler’s Battery: Park Battery. Captain Horatio K. Tyler, who’d served earlier in the war with an infantry regiment, commanded this battery.  Mustered on July 16, the battery consisted of four officers and 138 enlisted.  In late August, the battery was in Colonel James Mulligan’s Brigade serving in West Virginia.  The battery remained in service until January 28, 1864.
  • Robert Nevin’s Battery: (Not to be confused with John Nevin’s Battery H, Pennsylvania Light.) Captain Robert J. Nevin’s battery mustered sometime in the first week of July and numbered five officers and 147 men.  On July 10, the battery was on the returns for Camp Curtain.  Then in late August, the battery reported a posting at Philadelphia.  It was armed with four 12-pdr Napoleons and two 3-inch Ordnance Rifles. During the fall, the battery was posted to West Virginia.  On January 7, 1864, the battery was mustered out in Philadelphia, but most of the men, including Nevin, would re-enlist for three years.  As such unit was re-designated Battery I, Pennsylvania Light Artillery.

Also, we might list Captain Matthew Hasting’s Keystone Battery which was on duty at Camp Barry until the end of June.  That battery appears on Bates’ list as a militia battery, though was actually on service in Washington, D.C.  As mentioned in the earlier post, the battery mustered out on August 20.

From the perspective of a “bean counting” clerk at the Ordnance Department, only four of these batteries were mustered prior to the end of the second quarter reporting period (June 30).  And only three of these batteries would be in Federal service at the end of third quarter (September 30).  So this gives the clerks a clean alibi for not allocating lines on the summary.  Their tracking was still not thorough, however, as they would allocate only one line to the three batteries for the third quarter (which we must wait to discuss).

Regardless of the administrative particulars which prevented the inclusion of the emergency batteries on the summaries, I offer them here as to help paint a more complete picture.  While briefly serving, it was service at a time of a crisis.  And the batteries appear on orders of battle for formations thrown into that crisis.  Their story also allows us to consider the structure of state and local militia organizations in relation to the more familiar volunteer organizations in Federal service.

(Citations:  OR, Series I, Volume 27, Part III, Serial 44, page 233; Serial 45, pages 79-80.)

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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:

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  • 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!