Summary Statement, 4th Quarter, 1863 – 2nd Illinois Artillery

At the end of 1863, Colonel Thomas S. Mather remained the commander of the 2nd Illinois Light Artillery. Mather had been Chief of Staff for Major-General John McClernand. But with that officer’s relief during the Vicksburg Campaign, Mather had hitched his wagon to a falling star. Mather would go on to serve in other staff positions while remaining the colonel of the regiment. As for the rest of the regiment, batteries served in the Mississippi River Valley in Kentucky, Tennessee, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

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  • Battery A:  No report. The battery remained with First Division, Thirteenth Corps (minus one detached section).  Captain Herman Borris remained in command.  Starting the fall at Carrollton, Louisiana, the battery supported some campaigning in October and November through west Louisiana. At the end of December the battery was assigned to the Defenses of New Orleans. At some point in the fall, the first section of the battery, which had served on detached service in Missouri, rejoined the command.
  • Battery B: No report. Captain Fletcher H. Chapman commanded the battery, part of the Sixteenth Corps and assigned to the District of Corinth. The battery would move to Memphis when Corinth was abandoned in January.
  • Battery C: At Fort Donelson, Tennessee with four 3.80-inch James Rifles. Captain James P. Flood’s was assigned to Third Division, Reserve Corps, Army of the Cumberland. But with that corps disbanded with the army’s reorganization, the garrison was part of the District of Nashville, Department of the Cumberland.
  • Battery D: Indicated at Grand Junction, Tennessee with four 3.80-inch James Rifles. Captain Charles S. Cooper remained in command of this battery, then assigned to Fifth Division, Sixteenth Corps, out of the Memphis District.
  • Battery E: No report. In the previous quarter, this battery was at Carrollton, Louisiana with three 6-pdr field guns and one 12-pdr field howitzer.  Captain George L. Nipsel, promoted in the late summer, commanded the battery, which was assigned to Third Division, Thirteenth Corps, Department of the Gulf. After supporting campaigns in west Louisiana during the fall, the battery was assigned duty at Plaquemine, Louisiana, District of Baton Rouge. Lieutenant Emil Steger was acting commander at the close of the quarter.
  • Battery F: Indicated at what appears to be Hebron, Mississippi with two 6-pdr field guns and two 12-pdr field howitzers.  The battery was assigned to Fourth Division, Seventeenth Corps with Captain John W. Powell in command. But with him serving as division artillery chief, Lieutenant Walter H Powell led the battery. During the fall, the battery participated in an expedition into Louisiana (Harrisonburg). Then returned to Nachez, which is the actual battery location at the close of the year. Hebron, may be a contraction of New Hebron and a place associated with the Meridian Campaign. Thus may allude to the battery location in February 1864, when the report was filed.
  • Battery G: At Columbus, Kentucky with four rifled 6-pdr (3.67-inch) guns. Captain Frederick Sparrestrom commanded this battery. After duty in Vicksburg and Memphis through the summer and early fall, the battery was assigned to District of Columbus, Sixteenth Corps (with duty at times in Union City, Tennessee).
  • Battery H: Reporting at Clarksville, Tennessee  two 6-pdr field guns and four 3.80-inch James Rifles. Captain Henry C. Whittemore remained in command.  With the reorganization of the department’s Reserve Corps, the battery was listed in the garrison of Clarksville, District of Nashville, Department of the Cumberland.
  • Battery I:  At Chattanooga, Tennessee, turning in an assortment of weapons for six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  Captain Charles M. Barnett commanded this battery, assigned to Second Division, Fourteenth Corps.
  • Battery K: No report.  This battery, under Captain Benjamin F. Rodgers, was at Natchez at this time of the war. A series of reorganizations brought the battery back to Fourth Division, Seventeenth Corps. In the new year, the battery would be assigned to the Defenses and Post of Natchez.
  • Battery L: Listed at Vicksburg with four 3.80-inch James Rifles. Part of Third Division, Seventeenth Corps. Captain William H. Bolton commanded.
  • Battery M: No report. In the previous quarter, the battery reported four 3.80-inch James Rifles and a location of Greenville, Tennessee.  Captain John C. Phillips command this battery, which assigned to the Twenty-third Corps, Army of the Ohio. Confederate advances in east Tennessee, in October, forced the withdrawal of Federal forces east of Knoxville, and that included Battery M. And around that time, Phillips was recalled to Nashville on other duties, leaving Lieutenant W.C.G.L. Stevenson in command. The battery was sent out in support of two regiments of cavalry scouting for Confederate raiders. This force was camped four miles outside Rogersville, Tennessee on November 6 when attacked by Confederates under Brigadier-General William E. Jones. Ill-prepared, outnumbered, and outmaneuvered, the force was all but destroyed. The battery spiked their guns. Survivors who were not captured reassembled under Phillips and assigned duty at Camp Nelson, Kentucky. Such events explain the lack of reporting for this battery.

Moving on to the ammunition and stores reported, we begin with smoothbore rounds:

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  • Battery F: 184 shot and 135 case for 6-pdr field guns; 120 shell and 133 case for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • Battery H: 166 shot and 140 case for 6-pdr field guns.
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  • Battery F: 28 canister for 6-pdr field guns and 31 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • Battery H: 42 canister for 6-pdr field guns.

On the right side of this page are the Hotchkiss columns for rifled projectiles:

  • Battery C: 100 shot and 68 shell (time fuse) for 3.80-inch James rifles.
  • Battery G: 566 shell (time fuse) for 3.67-inch rifles.
  • Battery H: 10 shot for 3.80-inch James rifles.
  • Battery I: 222 shell (time fuse) for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery L: 123 shell (time fuse) for 3.80-inch James rifles.

Additional Hotchkiss on the next page:

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  • Battery C: 385 shell (percussion fuse) and 346 canister for 3.80-inch James.
  • Battery G: 80 canister for 3.67-inch rifles.
  • Battery H: 32 canister for 3.80-inch rifles.
  • Battery I: 125 shell (percussion fuse) and 286 canister for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery L: 161 shell (percussion fuse) and 60 canister for 3.80-inch rifles.

Moving to the right, we see James projectiles also on this page:

  • Battery C: 7 shot, 24 shell, and 2 canister for 3.80-inch rifles.
  • Battery D: 45 shot, 203 (?) shell, and 60 canister for 3.80-inch rifles.
  • Battery H: 105 shot, 242 shell, and 214 canister for 3.80-inch rifles.
  • Battery L: 128 shell and 129 canister for 3.80-inch rifles.

On the next page we focus on the Schenkl projectiles:

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  • Battery D: 64 shot and 128 shell for 3.80-inch rifles.
  • Battery I: 252 shot for 3-inch rifles.

One last entry for Schenkl on the next page:

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  • Battery D: 64 case shot for 3.80-inch rifles.

Turning now to the small arms reported:

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  • Battery C: Seventy-four Colt army revolvers, four cavalry sabers, and six horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery F: Twenty-three Colt army revolvers and twenty-three cavalry sabers.
  • Battery H: Fifty-four Colt army revolvers and seven cavalry sabers.
  • Battery I: Thirteen Colt navy revolvers and fifteen horse artillery sabers.

Notice, no long guns…. On the next page there are cartridge bags reported:

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  • Battery C: 728 6-pdr or 12-pdr bags.
  • Battery D: 540 James rifle bags.
  • Battery G: 746 6-pdr or 12-pdr bags.

The last page lists small arms cartridges, fuses, primers, and other materials:

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  • Battery C: 1,880 army revolver cartridges; 1,150 friction primers; and 503 percussion caps.
  • Battery D: 222 navy revolver cartridges and 660 friction primers. (We might wonder if there are some un-reported revolvers with Battery D.)
  • Battery F: 1,010 army revolver cartridges and 365 friction primers.
  • Battery G: 566 paper fuses and 895 friction primers.
  • Battery H: 1,000 army revolver cartridges; 1,200 friction primers; 50 yards of slow match; and 500 percussion caps.
  • Battery I: 460 paper fuses and 1,694 friction primers.
  • Battery L: 800 friction primers.

At the close of 1863 the 2nd Illinois was sort of at an organizational cross-roads. Batteries from this regiment had participated in several of the important western campaigns of the year, in some cases playing an important role. Some would continue at the fore of the 1864 campaigns. But many of these batteries were sent to garrison duties. Some, such as Battery M, would never serve as a battery again. By the end of the year, enlistments would come due. Instead of recruiting up to full strength, the state consolidated many of these batteries. So this “snapshot” by way of the ordnance summary is in some ways a last good look at the unit as a full organization.

Summary Statement, 3rd Quarter, 1863 – 2nd Illinois Artillery Regiment

Before the war, Thomas Scott Mather was the state Adjutant General, where he demonstrated good organizational and administrative skills.  During the first fall of the war, Mather accepted the colonelcy of the 2nd Illinois Artillery.  As with most field artillery regiments, the 2nd never marched as a whole.  And thus the position of regimental commander was more so an administrative post.  But the rank gave Mather the ability to serve in other capacities.  For a time he was Chief of Staff for General John McClernand.  Later Mather served as the Inspector General for the Department of the Susquehanna.  For this “faithful and meritorious services” Mather received a brevet to brigadier-general at war’s end.

For the third quarter of 1863, Mather’s batteries appeared as such on the summaries:

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A “western theater” regiment:

  • Battery A:  No report. The battery remained with Fourteenth (or First, after reconciliation) Division, Thirteenth Corps.  When Captain Peter Davidson promoted to major in the spring, Lieutenant Herman Borris, promoted to captain that April, moved up to command the battery (though Lieutenant Frank B. Fenton lead the battery during the Vicksburg Campaign).  The battery remained with the division as the corps was transferred to the Department of the Gulf.  At the end of September, the battery was at Carrollton, Louisiana.
  • Battery B: Indicated at Fort Donelson, Tennessee with four 3.80-inch James rifles. The location reported is possibly a transcription error, and should be applied to Battery C (below) along with the four James rifles.  Captain Fletcher H. Chapman commanded.  Champman’s battery remained part of the Sixteenth Corps and assigned to the District of Corinth.
  • Battery C: No report.  Captain James P. Flood’s battery remained at At Fort Donelson, Tennessee with four 3.80-inch James Rifles, assigned to the Third Division, Reserve Corps, Army of the Cumberland.
  • Battery D: Indicated at Memphis, Tennessee with four 3.80-inch James Rifles. Captain Charles S. Cooper remained in command of this battery, assigned to First Division, Sixteenth Corps, covering Memphis at the time.
  • Battery E: Reported at Carrollton, Louisiana with three 6-pdr field guns and one 12-pdr field howitzer.  After Vicksburg, Lieutenant George L. Nipsel’s battery transferred to Third Division, Thirteenth Corps, which was subsequently assigned to the Department of the Gulf.
  • Battery F: Indicated at Natchez, Mississippi with two 6-pdr field guns and two 12-pdr field howitzers.  The battery was assigned to Fourth Division, Seventeenth Corps in the post-Vicksburg reorganizations. Captain John W. Powell remained in command, but with him serving as division artillery chief, Lieutenant Walter H Powell led the battery.
  • Battery G: At Vicksburg, Mississippi with four rifled 6-pdr guns. Captain Frederick Sparrestrom commanded this battery, assigned to Third Division, Sixteenth Corps.
  • Battery H: Reporting at Clarksville, Tennessee  two 6-pdr field guns and four 3.80-inch James Rifles. Captain Henry C. Whittemore assumed command of the battery at the end of June.  Battery assigned to Third Division, Reserve Corps, Army of the Cumberland, and performing garrison and escort duties.
  • Battery I:  Under siege at Chattanooga, Tennessee with two 12-pdr Napoleons, two 10-pdr Parrotts, and two 3.80-inch James Rifles.  Captain Charles M. Barnett commanded this battery.  It was assigned to Second Division, Reserve Corps, Army of the Cumberland.
  • Battery K: No report.  This battery, under Captain Benjamin F. Rodgers, had been with Seventeenth Corps at the start of the year.  It transferred to the Sixteenth Corps when serving at Vicksburg.  And after that siege, transferred to the Thirteenth Corps (Fourth Division).   At this time, the battery was on garrison duties at Natchez.
  • Battery L: Listed at Vicksburg with four 3.80-inch James Rifles. Part of Third Division, Seventeenth Corps.  Captain William H. Bolton commanded.
  • Battery M: Reporting at Greeneville, Tennesse with four 3.80-inch James Rifles.  Captain John C. Phillips command this battery, which assigned to Fourth Division, Twenty-third Corps, Army of the Ohio.

Tennessee, Mississippi, and Louisiana – but varied service and duties.

Looking to the smoothbore ammunition reported:

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Four batteries reporting:

  • Battery E: 204 shot, 164 case, and 203 canister for 6-pdr field guns; 34 shell, 60 case, and 34 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • Battery F: 184 shot, 135 case, and 28 canister for 6-pdr field guns; 120 shell, 133 case, and 31 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • Battery H: 176 shot, 150 case, and 42 canister for 6-pdr filed guns.
  • Battery I: 43 shot, 52 shell, 95 case, and 90 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.

Moving to the rifled projectiles, the Hotchkiss are first:

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No 3-inch Ordnance rifles, but a scattering of rounds for the 3.80-inch and 3.67-inch rifles:

  • Battery B: 100(?) shot, 430 percussion shell, and 68 fuse shell for 3.80-inch James.
  • Battery G:  110 percussion shell and 955 fuse shell for 3.67-inch (6-pdr) rifles.
  • Battery I: 46 shot and 108(?) bullet shell for 3.80-inch James.
  • Battery L: 161 percussion shell and 123 fuse shell for 3.80-inch James.
  • Battery M: 40 shot, 50 percussion shell, 240 fuse shell, and 150 bullet shell for 3.80-inch James.

Let us break the next page down into sections for clarity.  Starting with a pair of Hotchkiss columns carried over to that page:

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  • Battery B: 250 canister for 3.80-inch James.
  • Battery G: 100 canister 3.67-inch (6-pdr) rifles.
  • Battery L: 60 canister for 3.80-inch James.
  • Battery M: 55 canister for 3.80-inch James.

As expected, many entries for the James projectiles:

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  • Battery B: 24 shell and 2 canister for 3.80-inch James.
  • Battery D: 45 shot, 203 shell, and 60 canister for 3.80-inch James.
  • Battery H: 115 shot, 252 shell, and 214 canister for 3.80-inch James.
  • Battery I: 108 canister for 3.80-inch James.
  • Battery L: 128 shell and 128 canister for 3.80-inch James.

We have only one battery with Parrott rifles:

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  • Battery I: 27 shot, 131 shell, 185 case, and 64 canister for 10-pdr Parrotts.

The last page of the rifled projectiles contains columns for Schenkl and Tatham:

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Two batteries with quantities of Schenkl to report:

  • Battery D: 64 shot, 128 shell and 64 case for 3.80-inch James.
  • Battery I: 42 shell for 3.80-inch James.

But over to the far right is one line for Tatham’s canister:

  • Battery H: 32 canister for 3.80-inch James.

Lastly, we turn to the small arms:

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By battery:

  • Battery B: Five (?) Army revolvers, nine Navy revolvers, four cavalry sabers, and six (?) horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery E: Eight Army revolvers, twenty-four cavalry sabers, and forty foot artillery swords.
  • Battery F: Twenty-two Army revolvers and twelve cavalry sabers.
  • Battery H: Fifty-four Navy revolvers and seven cavalry sabers.
  • Battery I: Seven Army revolvers, twenty-three Navy revolvers and thirty horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery M: Twenty Army revolvers and twenty horse artillery sabers.

That concludes our look at the 2nd Illinois Artillery and their third quarter, 1863 returns.  Next are the independent batteries and “others” from Illinois.

150 Years Ago: Sound of the guns at Prairie Grove

NOTE:  This post is focused on the Federal artillery at the battle of Prairie Grove.  For more background information on the battle, I refer you to Civil War Daily Gazette’s entry or the Civil War Trust resource page for Prairie Grove.

On this day (December 7) in 1862, one of the westernmost battles of the Civil War took place at Prairie Grove, Arkansas. We don’t often think of artillery in the Trans-Mississippi, yet just as at Pea Ridge the “King of Battle” played an important role.

After the long, rapid march from Springfield, Missouri, Brigadier General Francis Herron advanced from Fayetteville towards the advanced position of Brigadier General James Blunt at Cane Hill to the southwest. Before he could link with Blunt, Herron ran into Confederate Major General Thomas Hindman’s defensive position outside Prairie Grove.

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View Shoup’s Lines at Prairie Grove

Hindman chose good ground to defend. On the right side of the line, facing the advance of Herron’s Federals, were four batteries – Blocher’s, Marshall’s, and West’s Arkansas batteries along with Bledsoe’s Missouri battery. All told, these batteries fronted six 6-pdr field guns and four 12-pdr howitzers.

When Herron’s column reached Illinois Creek, they came under the Confederate guns. First throwing Captain David Murphy’s Battery F, 1st Missouri Light Artillery over a ford, Herron then moved the remainder of his force over. Rapidly, Herron established a gun line by adding the other three batteries under his command. These were Lieutenant Joseph Foust’s Battery E, 1st Missouri; Captain Frank Backof’s Battery L, 1st Missouri; and Lieutenant Herman Borris’s Battery A, 2nd Illinois Light Artillery. Twenty guns in total – four 10-pdr Parrotts, six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles, six James Rifles, one 6-pdr field gun, and three 12-pdr howitzers.

In his battle report, Foust described the initial phase of the action:

Arriving at the ford of the creek, I was ordered to halt out of sight of the enemy, and to advance and open the battery upon a signal to be given from Captain Murphy’s battery.

We went into action at the signal, under a terrible fire from the enemy while crossing the ford. About the third round the enemy’s guns were silenced. Another battery on our left having got our range, we were compelled to change position to the front….

In his report, Murphy elaborated further about the fire effects noting, “The fire was so well directed that the enemy retired, minus caissons, horses, and one piece disabled.” With the Confederate batteries silenced, and their infantry taking cover, Herron advanced his infantry. Backof’s and Foust’s batteries moved forward to support this assault.

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View of the Confederate position from Herron’s line of advance

Backof wrote:

After silencing the enemy’s battery on the hill in front of us, I advanced 200 yards, flanked on the left by the Twentieth Wisconsin Volunteers and by the Ninety-fourth Illinois on the right, and sustained an effectual artillery fire at the enemy’s position (which they moved several times) for three hours. In the same time [the infantry] made a charge…on the hill and through the woods surrounding; meanwhile the shells of my battery did great execution amongst the enemy.

But the Federal infantry found themselves outnumbered when they closed with the Confederates on the hill. When the infantry fell back, Backof covered the retreat with canister. In the melee two of Backof’s guns were disabled (though he later reported only one out of action at the end of the day). His losses were one man killed, two wounded, and eight horses.

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Confederate artillery position at Prairie Grove

Also in this forward position and facing Confederate attacks, Foust wrote:

At this time the enemy attempted to charge our lines, when the whole battery opened on them with canister, and they fell back in confusion. The infantry attempted to charge the hill, but were repulsed by an overwhelming force of the enemy, when we again forced them back with canister. Again the infantry attempted to carry the hill, but were driven back the second time, when we covered their retreat once more with canister, driving the enemy back again to the wood. The enemy seeing the battery without support, made a great effort to take it, but were driven back by the battery.

Herron summarized the defense of these guns,

Never was there more real courage and pluck displayed, and more downright hard fighting done, than at this moment by the above-named batteries. Advancing to within 100 yards of the guns, the rebels received a fire that could not be withstood, and retreated in disorder, receiving, as they ran, a terrible fire, causing great slaughter among them.

Foust would lose also eight horses, along with two men killed and six wounded. Herron would single out Foust for heroism during the repulse of the Confederate attacks.

At this phase of the battle, action shifted to the Federal right flank. Blunt had “moved to the sound of the guns,” quite literally, and arrived to smash into the Confederate left. There three Federal batteries also played an important role there, first defeating the Confederate artillery and then breaking up the infantry. Just as on Herron’s side of the field, the Federal artillery not only outnumbered the Confederates, they outgunned them with six 10-pdr Parrotts, four James Rifles, five 6-pdrs, and one 12-pdr howitzer. In the thick of the action, Captain John Rabb of the 2nd Indiana Battery, recalled,

A heavy musketry fire was then brought to bear on my command. I answered with canister. For fifteen minutes my men stood firm, firing their pieces with terrible precision, making roads in the ranks of the enemy, which were quickly filled by fresh men from the rear. Three times they advanced in heavy force upon the battery, but were driven back to the wood with heavy loss.

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Overlook of the west side of the Prairie Grove battlefield

In the engagement, Borris reported firing 320 rounds from his two cannons. Foust fired “562 rounds of shot, shell, and canister.” Muprhy’s gunners fired 510 shells and solid shot. That is a lot of iron going downrange… particularly for a “small” battle in the Trans-Mississippi.

Prairie Grove is one of the best preserved battlefields outside of the National Park System. It is a bit out of the way, but worth the drive to visit. For those who haven’t, I’ve posted many of the historical markers on the battlefield in HMDB as a virtual tour.

(Citations from OR, Series I, Volume 22, Part I, Serial 32, pages 100, 106, 112, 124,128-9, and 136.)