Summary Statement, 2nd Quarter, 1863 – 3rd Rhode Island Heavy Artillery

Readers will be familiar with the 3rd Rhode Island Heavy Artillery due to their service along the South Carolina coast.  Hardly a month passes without mention of that unit here on this blog.  Though the main story-line in the 3rd’s service was operations against Charleston, batteries from the regiment served at times in Florida and Virginia.  And their service often defied the label of “heavy” artillery, as often the gunners served in the field as field artillery proper.

A bit of background on this regiment is in order.  The 3rd Rhode Island Volunteers first mustered as an infantry formation in August 1861.  As they prepared for their first major operation, as part of Brigadier-General Thomas W. Sherman’s expedition to Port Royal, they camped at Fort Hamilton, New York.  While there, under orders from Sherman, the regiment drilled on both heavy and light artillery.  By the time the regiment arrived at Hilton Head, it was for all practical purposes an artillery regiment.  Though the formal change did not occur until December of that year.

Over the months that followed, the 3rd Rhode Island served by batteries and detachments as garrison artillery, field artillery, infantry, and even ship’s complement as needs of the particular moment called.  In the winter of 1863, Battery C was designated a light battery in light of its habitual service.  We’ve seen that reflected in returns from the fourth quarter, 1862 and first quarter, 1863. However, the battery seemed to change armament with each quarter.  I believe this reflects more the “ad hoc” nature of tasking in the theater at that time.  For the second quarter, 1863, we find the guns reported on hand again changed:

0217_1_Snip_RI_3rd

At the end of June, Battery C had just returned from the raid on Darien, Georgia.  They were at Hilton Head on June 30, preparing for transit to Folly Island.  So this tally of two 12-pdr field howitzers may reflect a status as of January 1864, when the return was received in Washington.

This brief line, along with “clerical” lines for Batteries A and B, brings up a couple of facets to the summaries as they relate to the “real” operational situations.  First off, we know, based on official records and other accounts, not to mention photographs, the 3rd Rhode Island had more than just a couple of howitzers.  We must also consider the property management within the military and how that was reflected in the reports. The military in general tends to be very anal about tracking property.  For any given item, someone, somewhere is on the hook as the “owner” of said item.  Doesn’t matter if that item is a belt buckle or a cannon.  The “owner” might be a specific unit or could be a facility.  So, in the Civil War and specific to the context of this discussion, that “owner” could be a battery in the 3rd Rhode Island… or it could be the garrison commander at Hilton Head.  However, we rarely, if ever, see those garrison commands reflected in the summaries.  A significant blank that we cannot resolve with satisfaction.

What we can do, in the case of the 3rd Rhode Island, is use primary and secondary sources to provide a glimpse into that blank.  Let’s consider the 3rd Rhode Island by battery at this point in time of the war.  Recall, the 3rd and other units were, at the end of June, preparing for an assault from Folly Island onto Morris Island. Colonel Edwin Metcalf was in command of the regiment, with his headquarters on Hilton Head:

  • Battery A:  On Port Royal Island, under command of Lieutenant Edward F. Curtis (in absence of Captain William H. Hammer), serving as garrison artillery.
  • Battery B:  On Folly Island under Captain Albert E. Greene, having moved from Hilton Head at the end of June.  The battery manned six 10-inch siege mortars.
  • Battery C: Transferring from St. Helena Island to Hilton Head, and thence to Folly Island in the first week of July.  Commanded by Captain Charles R. Brayton.  The battery would man two 3-inch Ordnance Rifles and four 30-pdr Parrotts (along with a detachment from Battery C, 1st US Artillery).  Likely the reported howitzers were in reserve.
  • Battery D: Part of the original garrison sent to Folly Island in April.  Under the command of Captain Robert G. Shaw and manning eight 30-pdr Parrotts.
  • Battery E: On Hilton Head, serving as garrison artillery under Captain Peter J. Turner (who was serving as a staff officer, thus one of his lieutenants was in temporary command).
  • Battery F: On Hilton Head, serving as garrison artillery under Captain David B. Churchill.
  • Battery G: Stationed at Fort Pulaski and under Captain John H. Gould.
  • Battery H: On Hilton Head, serving as garrison artillery under Captain Augustus W. Colwell.  Would deploy to Morris Island in July.
  • Battery I:  On Folly Island under Captain Charles G. Strahan.  The battery manned four 20-pdr Parrotts.
  • Battery K: On Hilton Head, serving as garrison artillery under Lieutenant Horatio N. Perry.
  • Battery L: On Hilton Head, serving as garrison artillery under Captain Jeremiah Lanhan.
  • Battery M:  Part of the force on Folly island, under Captain Joseph J. Comstock.  They manned four 10-inch siege mortars and five 8-inch siege mortars.

Thus we see the 3rd Rhode Island was spread between garrison duties and advanced batteries preparing for a major offensive from Folly Island.  Those on the north end of Folly Island, overlooking Light House Creek, were armed with a variety of field guns, heavy Parrotts, and mortars.  Only the former category would have been covered by the summaries, as they existed in June 1863.  And what we have to work with is, based on official reports at the time, inaccurate.

But that’s what we must work with!  Turning to the smoothbore ammunition:

0219_1_Snip_RI_3rd

  • Battery C: 156 shell, 214 case, and 132 canister for 12-pdr field howitzer.

One might think no rifled projectiles would be on hand… but perhaps related to the two 3-inch rifles reported on Folly Island and manned by Battery C, we find some Hotchkiss projectiles on hand:

 

0219_2_Snip_RI_3rd

  • Battery C: 48 canister and 108 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.

No ammunition reported on the next page, of Dyer’s, James, or Parrott patents:

0220_1_Snip_RI_3rd

But some Schenkl on hand:

0220_2_Snip_RI_3rd

  • Battery C: 100 shell for 3-inch rifles.

As for small arms:

0220_3_Snip_RI_3rd

  • Battery C: Forty-eight Army revolvers and 102 cavalry sabers.

I suspect, given the varied nature of the 3rd Rhode Island’s duties, the other batteries had a large number of small arms on hand also.  But because of the selective record, we don’t have the details.

Just to say we discussed ALL the Rhode Island artillery, let me mention two other heavy artillery regiments.  The 5th Rhode Island Infantry was reorganized as the 5th Rhode Island Heavy Artillery on May 27, 1863.  Stationed at New Berne, North Carolina, Colonel George W. Tew commanded the reorganized regiment.

Though not organized, we can trace the story of another heavy artillery regiment back to June 1863.  In response to the emergency developing in Pennsylvania, the governor of Rhode Island authorized Colonel Nelson Viall (formerly of the 1st Rhode Island Infantry) to form a six-month regiment.  Designated the 13th Rhode Island, recruitment was slow due to the war situation, small bounties, and the draft.  By July, the War Department decided no more six-month regiments would be accepted and insisted on a three-year enlistment standard.  With that, the 13th was disbanded and in its place the 14th Rhode Island was authorized.  That formation, which began organization in August, was a US Colored Troops Regiment of heavy artillery.

 

Summary Statement, 2nd Quarter, 1863 – 1st Regiment, US Regulars

So to start the review of the summary statements from the second quarter, 1863, the First Regiment of the US Artillery is appropriately at the front of the queue:

0168_1_Snip_1stUS

The batteries of the First were detailed to assignments across various theaters of war, though not to the Trans-Mississippi.  Looking at the administrative details by battery:

  • Battery A – Reporting at Port Hudson, Louisiana with four 12-pdr Napoleons and two 3-inch rifles.  A location change from the previous quarter, but their charges remained the same. Captain Edmund C. Bainbridge remained in command of this battery, assigned to First Division, Nineteenth Corps. Of note, Bainbridge also served as the division’s artillery chief.
  • Battery B – At Hilton Head, South Carolina with four 12-pdr field howitzers, and adding two 3-inch rifles (over the previous quarter’s report).  Lieutenant Guy V. Henry commanded this battery, assigned to Tenth Corps.  Henry temporarily served as the Chief of Artillery, Department of the South, from around June 19 through the first week of July.  But no “fill in” battery commander is indicated on the records.
  • Battery C – At Fort Macon, North Carolina with a dim annotation I interpret as “inf’y service”.  However, the line does not tell the whole story. A detachment from Battery C, under Lieutenant James E. Wilson, served in the Tenth Corps, and would be active in South Carolina.
  • Battery D – No change from the previous quarter.  At Beaufort, South Carolina with four 3-inch rifles. Lieutenant John S. Gibbs assumed command of the battery.  Though co-located with Battery M, the two were officially listed separately in organizational returns.
  • Battery E – Reporting at, if I am reading this right, Manchester, Pennsylvania with four 3-inch rifles.  If my read of the location column is correct, this is an excellent “snapshot in time” of a battery on campaign… at least for the location column, keeping in mind the return was not received until August 11, 1863. Of course, Captain Alanson Randol was in command of this battery, which was merged with Battery G (below), as part of the 2nd Brigade of Horse Artillery, Cavalry Corps, Army of the Potomac.
  • Battery F – Port Hudson, Louisiana with six 12-pdr Napoleons. Under Captain Richard C. Duryea, this battery served Third Division, Nineteenth Corps.  Duryea is also listed as commanding the division’s artillery at this time.
  • Battery G – No report.  Dyer’s has Battery G’s personnel serving with Battery E at this time.
  • Battery H – At Warrenton, Virginia with six 12-pdr Napoleons. The location is an obvious error.  The battery had moved from Third Corps to the Artillery Reserve after Chancellorsville. So the location might more accurately be Frederick, Maryland.  Captain Chandler P. Eakin commanded the battery.  Though just two days into the next quarter he was severely wounded, with Lieutenant Philip D. Mason assuming the role.
  • Battery I – No return.  But we are familiar with Lieutenant George Woodruff’s battery, which brought six 12-pdr Napoleons into action at Gettysburg.  They were assigned to Second Corps.
  • Battery K – Another difficult to read location entry.  I cannot make out the town, but the state is “MD”.  So we might also presume this to be a report reflecting an “on campaign” position, as of June 30.  The battery reported six 3-inch Ordnance rifles.  -Also with 2nd Brigade of the Horse Artillery, supporting the Cavalry Corps, Captain William Graham was the commander.
  • Battery L – Reporting at Port Hudson, Louisiana with four 12-pdr Napoleons and two 10-pdr Parrotts. Captain Henry W. Closson’s battery was in Forth Division, Nineteenth Corps.
  • Battery M – At Beaufort, South Carolina with four 12-pdr Napoleons (losing two 3-inch Ordnance rifles from the previous quarter).  Captain Loomis L. Langdon lead this battery,  assigned to the Tenth Corps.

As mentioned in the preface, as the transition between the second and third quarter of 1863 came at a critical stage of the war, we need to consider the “receipt at ordnance office” date with these details.  For the 1st US batteries providing returns, six were not received until August of that year.  Two more arrived in September.  Another in December.  And not until April 1864 did Battery F’s return arrive at the Washington offices.  (As indicated above, there were two missing battery returns.)

All of which is good background to keep in mind.  The particulars that were not tracked on the form speak to how the data arrived for entry into the form.  With that in mind, let us look at the tallies for projectiles.  Starting with the smoothbore ammunition:

0170_1_Snip_1stUS

The preponderance of entries were for 12-pdr Napoleon rounds.

  • Battery A: 40 shot, 56 shell, 110 case, and 33 canister for 12-pdr Napoleon.
  • Battery B: 400 shell, 500 case, and 100 canister for 12-pdr field howitzer.
  • Battery F: 448 shot, 300 shell, 382 case, and 200 canister for 12-pdr Napoleon.
  • Battery H: 288 shot, 96 shell, 288 case, and 96 canister for 12-pdr Napoleon.
  • Battery K: One (1) shot for 12-pdr Napoleon.  As this battery had only 3-inch rifles, we have to ask if this is just a stray mark… or the battery lugged around a single Napoleon shot for… perhaps… bowling?
  • Battery L: 236 shot, 8 shell, 182 case, and 40 canister for 12-pdr Napoleon.
  • Battery M:  475 shot, 138 shell, 494 case, and 96 canister for 12-pdr Napoleon.

Aside from the question about Battery K, there is also a question about some reported quantities.  As related in the preface to this quarter, we have to ask for the batteries in action at Gettysburg if these are quantities on hand June 30?  Or for some other point after the battle?  And I would submit that question need be assess on a battery-by-battery basis.

Moving to the rifled projectiles, we note the number of Ordnance rifles results in a healthy sheet for Hotchkiss patent types:

0170_2_Snip_1stUS

Looking down by battery:

  • Battery A: 12 canister and 202 percussion shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery B: 280 canister, 422 percussion shell, 227 fuse shell, and 275 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery D: 86 canister, 50 percussion shell, 176 fuse shell, and 150(?) bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery E: 60 canister, 180 percussion shell, and 360 bullet shells for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery K: 60-canister and 56 bullet shells for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery M:  12 canister, 12 percussion shell, 24 fuse shell, and 20 bullet shells for 3-inch rifles.

First off, Battery M must have retained a small quantity of rounds on hand after transferring it’s 3-inch rifles to another battery.

The other question that springs to mind is regarding the low numbers reported for some batteries, such as Battery K.  We might speculate if that reflects the quantity on hand after a battle or major campaign.  But that’s speculation.

For the next page, we can cut down to the colums on the far right:

0171_1A_Snip_1stUS

Let us focus first on the Parrott columns:

  • Battery L: 150 shell and 220 canister for 10-pdr Parrott.
  • Battery M:  130 case for 10-pdr Parrott.

Once again, we find Battery M with ammunition that will not fit its guns.

Moving over to the right, there is one entry here for Schenkl projectiles:

  • Battery L: 20 shot for 10-pdr Parrott.

Then on the next page of Schenkl projectiles, two numbers to consider:

0171_2_Snip_1stUS

  • Battery B: 100 shells for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery K: 127 shells for 3-inch rifles.

This explains some of the shortages noted on the Hotchkiss page.  But we see batteries mixing the two types of projectiles, against the better wishes of General Hunt.

Lastly we move to the small arms:

0171_3_Snip_1stUS

Yes, we see a bunch of write-in column headers here!  Only one of which applies to this set of batteries:

  • Battery A: Nine Army revolvers and 119 horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery B: One-hundred Army revolvers, seven cavalry sabers, and 153(?) horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery D: 123 Army revolvers, eight cavalry sabers, and 107 horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery E: Nine Navy revolvers and nine horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery F: Ten Army revolvers, forty-seven cavalry sabers, and twenty horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery H: Twenty-one Navy revolvers and sixteen horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery K: Sixteen Army revolvers, thirty-six cavalry sabers, and seventy-eight horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery L: Four Springfield .58 caliber muskets, sixty-two Army revolvers, eight cavalry sabers, and 107 horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery M: Seventy-seven Springfield .58 caliber muskets, 104 Navy revolvers, nine cavalry sabers, and ninety-five horse artillery sabers.

We’ve discussed in earlier posts the peculiarities of small arms issue to field artillery batteries. Service in the Department of the South, were batteries were detailed to perform many non-artillery tasks, was one factor here.  Still, the batteries of the 1st US Regiment would seem to be armed to the teeth!

Summary Statement, 1st Quarter, 1863 – 1st Regiment, US Regular

As I was working up the illustrations to start the next round of summary statements, I reviewed the entries for the 4th quarter, 1862 in order to gauge where the presentation had evolved. The 1st US Regulars Regiment, being the the “lead off” post, suffered as my effort had not fully evolved. I will make up for that as we lead off the entries for the 1st quarter of 1863.

Getting started on the quarter’s summary, consider what was happening in at the reporting period – administratively from January 1 to March 31, 1863.  The armies in the Western Theater went through major organizational changes.  The Army of the Cumberland, after Stones River, went from a three-wing formation to one of three corps – the Fourteenth, Twentieth, and Twenty-third.  Likewise, the Army of Tennessee also transformed from wings and divisions into corps.  Complicating the organization’s evolution was the short-lived Army of Mississippi under Major-General John McClernand. Not until late January was Major-General U.S. Grant able to implement his planned (in the previous November) reorganization into four corps – the Thirteenth, Fifteenth, Sixteenth, and Seventeenth. All this not to downplay the significant activity within the Army of the Potomac in Virginia during this same period.  One change being the departure of Ninth Corps to the Department of Ohio. All the while the “side” theaters, such as Louisiana or South Carolina, also saw organizational changes.  So while there were few battles during the first three months of 1863, the shakeup of organizations moved batteries around in the order of battle.

The batteries of the 1st US Artillery Regiment served in Virginia, South Carolina, and Louisiana. as reflected in the first page of their summary:

0092_Snip_1stUS_1

Looking at these batteries in detail:

  • Battery A – Reporting at Camp Mansfield, Louisiana (outside New Orleans) with four 12-pdr Napoleons and two 3-inch rifles.  Captain Edmund C. Bainbridge remained in command of this battery.  The reporting location was probably valid for January.  By March the battery was in the field as the Nineteenth Corps prepared to move on Port Hudson.  Battery A appears to have split equipment with Battery F (below) around this time.
  • Battery B – At Hilton Head, South Carolina with four 12-pdr field howitzers.  Lieutenant Guy V. Henry commanded this battery, assigned to the Department of the South’s Tenth Corps.
  • Battery C – At Fort Macon, North Carolina with a dim annotation I interpret as “inf’y service”.  However, the line does not tell the whole story. As winter closed, Battery C was transferred to Hilton Head.  Lieutenant Cornelius Hook was in command.
  • Battery D – Beaufort, South Carolina with four 3-inch rifles.  Lieutenant  Joseph P. Sanger’s name is associated with this battery, but I don’t have confirmation that he was indeed was the commander. Battery D was paired with Battery M on organizational returns.
  • Battery E – At Falmouth, Virginia with four 3-inch rifles.  Captain Alanson Randol was in command of this battery supporting Third Division, Fifth Corps.  Sometimes cited as combined Batteries E and G (see below).  Later, in May, the battery transferred to the Artillery Reserve… but that part of the story for another day.
  • Battery F – No report, but known to be posted in the defenses of New Orleans under Captain Richard C. Duryea, before assigned to Third Division, Nineteenth Corps for the Port Hudson campaign.
  • Battery G – No report.  Dyer’s has Battery G’s personnel serving with Batteries E and K at this time.  However, during the late winter, Lieutenant E.W. Olcott had the guidon, at least on one organizational return.
  • Battery H – At Falmouth, Virginia with six 12-pdr Napoleons.  Serving with Second Division, Third Corps at the time. Lieutenant Justin E. Dimick was the battery commander.
  • Battery I – At Falmouth, Virginia with six 12-pdr Napoleons.  Lieutenant George Woodruff commanded this battery from the Second Corps’ artillery park.
  • Battery K – At Falmouth, Virginia with six 3-inch Ordnance rifles.  Assigned to the Artillery Reserve, Captain William Graham was the commander. However, with Graham pulled to head the brigade, Lieutenant  Lorenzo Thomas, Jr. appears as the commander on organizational tables from the later part of the winter.
  • Battery L – Reporting at Port Hudson, Louisiana with four 12-pdr Napoleons and two 10-pdr Parrotts. Captain Henry W. Closson’s battery was in Forth Division, Nineteenth Corps.  They were part of a column advanced as a diversion against Port Hudson in March 1863.  So perhaps the location is possibly … maybe … accurate. However, I submit the location is also correct for July of 1863, when the report was received in Washington.
  • Battery M – At Beaufort, South Carolina with four 12-pdr Napoleons and two 3-inch Ordnance rifles.  Captain Loomis L. Langdon lead this battery.  It was also one of the batteries assigned to the Tenth Corps, and familiar to those of us following the Charleston campaigns.

One other portion of the 1st Artillery to mention, though they don’t appear on the summaries.  The Headquarters of the regiment appears in dispatches as at Fort Warren, Massachusetts.

Looking back at the previous quarter’s returns, we see a few changes at the battery level. Batteries E and K exchanged their Napoleons for Ordnance Rifles. Down in South Carolina, where cannons were scarce, some cross leveling may have taken place.  Battery B lost two 3-inch Rifles, while Battery D gained a pair. Battery B also gave up two Napoleons as  Battery M added two (they replaced two 24-pdr howitzers).  Stripped of its “good” guns, Battery B worked four 12-pdr field howitzers.  Not changing armament, Batteries A, H, I, and L reported the same types and quantities from the previous quarter.

Looking to the ammunition tables, we start with the smoothbore projectiles:

0094_Snip_1stUS_1

Rather healthy reports here, but some question marks:

  • Battery A – 520 case shot and 168 canister for 12-pdr Napoleon.
  • Battery B – 250 shell, 250 case, and 78 canister for 12-pdr field howitzer.
  • Battery E – 128 shot, 60 shell, 196 case, and 184 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons. Are we to assume the battery had these quantities still on hand after exchanging for rifles?
  • Battery H – 299 shot, 96 shell, 279(?) case, and 96 canister for 12-pdr Napoleon.
  • Battery I – 96 shell, 240(?) case, and 296(?) canister for 12-pdr Napoleon.
  • Battery L – 272 shot, 64 shell, 204 case, and 56 canister for 12-pdr Napoleon.
  • Battery M – 485 shot, 150 shell, 506 case, and 110 canister for 12-pdr Napoleon.

Moving to the rifled projectiles, we start with the Hotchkiss section:

0094_Snip_1stUS_2

Four batteries reporting:

  • Battery A – 42 shot, 114 canister, 170 percussion shell, 340(?) fuse shell, and 120 bullet shell for 3-inch rifle…. all for two guns.
  • Battery D – 86 canister, 60 percussion shell, 96 fuse shell, and 150 bullet shell for 3-inch rifle.
  • Battery K – 39 fuse shells in 3-inch rifle.
  • Battery M – 12 canister, 12 percussion shell, 24 fuse shell, and 20 bullet shell for 3-inch rifle.

Moving to the next page, there are entries for Dyer’s and Parrott’s projectiles:

0095_Snip_1stUS_1

One battery with Dyer’s:

  • Battery K – 133(?) 3-inch shrapnel.

As for Parrotts:

  • Battery L: 320 10-pdr Parrott shell.
  • Battery M: 120 10-pdr Parrott case.  And remember that the battery had 3-inch rifles, not Parrott rifles.

There was but one battery reporting Schenkl projectiles:

0095_Snip_1stUS_2

And plenty of them:

  • Battery K – 805 shell and 130 canister for 3-inch rifle.

One has to wonder what had been under that battery’s Christmas tree.

Lastly, the small arms reported:

0095_Snip_1stUS_3

Note the two penciled columns here.  “Sharps’ Carbine Cal .52” and “Springfield Cal. 58.”  Only the later factors into the 1st US returns:

  • Battery A – Ten Army revolvers and 59 horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery B – 84 Springfield rifles, 100 Army revolvers, seven cavalry sabers, and seventy horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery D – 125 Army revolvers, eight cavalry sabers, and 107 horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery E – Fourteen Navy revolvers and fourteen horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery H – Twenty-two Navy revolvers and sixteen horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery I – Twelve Navy revolvers and twenty-six horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery K – Sixteen Army revolvers, thirty-nine cavalry sabers, and eighty-one horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery L – Four Springfield rifles, 62 Army revolvers, eight cavalry sabers, and 107 horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery M – 85 Springfield rifles, 103 Army revolvers, one Navy revolver, nine cavalry sabers, and 104 horse artillery sabers.

Recall the small arms considerations for artillery service.  We see Batteries B, D, and M, all serving in South Carolina, were armed to the teeth.  And of course those batteries were often required to pull duties normally assigned to infantry troops in the larger field armies.  However, it is fair to point out that by late summer of 1863, some of the infantry in South Carolina were pulling duties normally assigned to artillery… as the big guns on Morris Island required crews.

Summary Statement: December 31, 1862 – Rhode Island’s Light Batteries

Despite being a small state, Rhode Island offered significant contributions to the Federal war effort during the Civil War.  In terms of artillery, the state provided a regiment of light batteries, three heavy artillery regiments, and a few non-regimented batteries.  The latter were mustered by mid-1862 and thus fall outside the scope of our review of the Ordnance Department’s summaries.  Of the heavy regiments, one battery was outfitted as a light battery.  And that battery – Company C, 3rd Rhode Island Heavy Artillery – served in South Carolina and will be familiar to readers.   Given those particulars, we have nine batteries to consider for the fourth quarter, 1862 summaries:

0075_Snip_Dec62_RI_1

From the top, we start with the eight batteries of the 1st Rhode Island Light Artillery.  All but these of these were serving in the Army of the Potomac at the time:

  • Battery A: At Falmouth, Virginia with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles. Captain William A. Arnold commanded this battery supporting Second Division, Second Corps.
  • Battery B: No return. Battery was also assigned to Second Division, Second Corps.  It was under the charge of Captain  John G. Hazard. This storied battery had six 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery C: No return.  Assigned to First Division, Fifth Corps, Captain Richard Waterman commanded this battery.  They had six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles on hand during the battle of Fredericksburg.
  • Battery D: At Newport News, Virginia with six 12-pdr Napoleons.  The battery was actually at Falmouth at the end of 1862.  Newport News is the location of the battery in March 1863, when the return was received in Washington.  Captain  William W. Buckley commanded this battery assigned to Second Division, Ninth Corps.
  • Battery E: At Falmouth with six 12-pdr Napoleons.  Captain Pardon S. Jastram’s battery supported First Division, Third Corps.
  • Battery F: At New Berne, North Carolina with two 12-pdr field howitzers and four 10-pdr Parrotts.  Captain James Belger commanded this battery, which was assigned to the newly-formed Eighteenth Corps at the time.
  • Battery G: No return. Charles Owen’s battery was part of Third Division, Second Corps, then at Falmouth.  However, Lieutenant Crawford Allen is listed as the commander at the end of the year.The battery had six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles at Fredericksburg, firing 230 rounds.  More on those later.
  • Battery H: At Fairfax Station, Virginia with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  Assigned to Casey’s Division from the Defenses of Washington.  Captain Jeffrey Hazard commanded this battery.

Several spaces below is the lone entry for the Third Artillery’s Company C.  Referring back to Denison’s history of the regiment, he records for February 23, 1863 (as close a point I can find relative to the end of 1862):

The position of the regiment at this time were as follows: The head-quarters, with eight companies, within the entrenchments on Hilton Head, two of which were in Fort Welles; two companies – one heavy (A) and one light (C) – at Beaufort, A in Battery Stevens; one company (L) in the fort at Bay Point; one company (G) in Fort Pulaski.

This was, of course, well before the operations of 1863 on Morris Island and other points outside Charleston which would involve the 3rd Rhode Island.  But we see specifically that Company C was organized as light artillery.  For them we see:

  • Company C: At Hilton Head, South Carolina with two 24-pdr field howitzers and two 10-pdr Parrotts.  I think Captain Charles R. Brayton was in command of the company at this time.

The company was, of course, assigned to the Tenth Corps (a relatively new designation at the time).  And we know them to be actually act Beaufort, thanks to Denison’s account.  While we can take the battery’s reported armament as accurate, keep in mind the battery’s assigned weapons, as did all in the Department of the South, varied.  Furthermore, some of the other batteries in the 3rd Rhode Island would operate field weapons later in 1863.  Also keep in mind the batteries in the theater would man some interesting “weapons”… to say the least:

00749a

Moving forward to the ammunition columns, allow me to refer to that heavy company as “Company C”, to differentiate from the light batteries.  There was no report from Battery C, so we have some room to avoid redundancy.

For smoothbore ammunition:

0077_Snip_Dec62_RI_1

We have three batteries reporting quantities:

  • Battery E:  288 shot, 96 shell, 288 case, and 96 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery F: 120 shell, 151 case, and 18 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • Company C:  175 shell, 90 case, and 80 canister for 24-pdr field howitzers.

So we don’t have quantities for batteries B and D which we know had Napoleons on hand.

For rifled projectiles, starting with Hotchkiss patents:

0077_Snip_Dec62_RI_2

Only one line to work with here:

  • Battery A:  110 percussion shell, 450 fuse shell, and 434 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.

Moving over to the next page, consider the Dyer’s and Parrott’s patent projectiles:

0079_Snip_Dec62_RI_1

From the Dyer’s columns only one battery reported quantities:

  • Battery H:  720 shrapnel for 3-inch rifle.

In terms of Parrott projectiles:

  • Battery F: 175 shell, 75 case, and 54 canister for 10-pdr Parrott.
  • Company C: 240 shell, 189 case, and 60 canister for 10-pdr Parrott.

Lastly, we turn to the Schenkl projectiles:

0079_Snip_Dec62_RI_2

Just one to consider:

  • Battery H:  360 shell and 120 canister for 3-inch rifles.

Before we move on to the small arms, consider what we are missing here.  Batteries C and G, with 3-inch rifles, did not have a filed return.  But let’s not allow them to remain silent due to that administrative issue.  Both commanders filed reports from the Battle of Fredericksburg, and both offered comments on their guns and ammunition.  Captain Owen, of Battery G, wrote:

During the five days, I expended about 230 rounds of ammunition.  The Hotchkiss shell and case shot is the only variety upon which I can rely.  The Dyer ammunition generally misses the groove, and the Hotchkiss percussion bursts in the piece.

Captain Waterman, of Battery C, went further in his report to discuss the guns and packing material:

It may be proper to state that, from the experience of the last nine days, as well as from ten months’ active service with the 3-inch gun, I consider it inferior at ranges of from 900 to 1,500 yards to the 10-pdr Parrott gun.

The Schenkl percussion and the Hotchkiss fuse shells worked to entire satisfaction.

The ordnance ammunition with metallic packing failed in almost every instance to ignite the fuse, and I consider it worthless when explosion constitutes the chief value of the projectile.  As solid shot, the ordnance shrapnel was serviceable in the cannonade of Fredericksburg.

A couple of opinions to weigh on the scales.

On to the small arms:

0079_Snip_Dec62_RI_3

By battery:

  • Battery A: Twenty-four Army revolvers and thirty-nine horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery D: Twelve Navy revolvers and eighteen horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery E: Fourteen Navy revolvers.
  • Battery F: 104 Navy revolvers and nine horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery H: Twenty Army revolvers and twenty horse artillery sabers.
  • Company C: Fifty Navy revolvers, 120 cavalry sabers, and one horse artillery saber.

The pattern seen here was for batteries operating in the side theaters to have more small arms.  Given the service of both and detailed duties, that follows logically.

Marching Through Georgia, December 12, 1864: Focus on Fort McAllister

On December 12, 1864, a fast steamer headed north out of Port Royal Sound.  On board were messages from Major-General John Foster and Rear-Admiral John Dahlgren, both citing messages carried by Captain William Duncan from Major-General Oliver O. Howard.  Word of Major-General William T. Sherman’s arrival at Savannah would bring some authoritative information for the newspapers which had been speculating upon speculation.  More important, the news triggered actions at the bases in South Carolina and Georgia.  At Hilton Head depots and on boats in Port Royal Sound were supplies of all sorts, all earmarked for Sherman’s men.  But to get those supplies to Sherman, the Federals needed a port facility, even a small one.  While the forces off shore might transport the goods, it was up to Sherman’s men to force a break in the Confederate coastal defenses through which those could flow.  The focus thus turned to Fort McAllister on the Ogeechee River.

But that is not to say the rest of the lines around Savannah were inactive.  To the contrary, December 12 was a day of much activity.  On the Savannah River, Colonel Ezra Carman’s brigade supported the slow movement of the 3rd Wisconsin to Argyle Island.  Having only one raft capable of carrying 12 men at a time, the process had taken nearly a full day, and was still not complete that morning.  However, the Federal raft was not the only vessel plying the river that morning.

Earlier on December 10th, Flag-Officer William W. Hunter passed up the Savannah with the CSS Sampson and CSS Resolute, with orders to guard the Charleston & Savannah Railroad bridge.  There, Hunter joined with the CSS Macon, which had been harassing the Federals on the march.  On the 11th, Hunter received orders to destroy the bridge and retire to aid in defense of Savannah.  After destroying the bridge that day, Hunter waited until 7 a.m. on the 12th to descend the river:

When opposite Argyle Island we obtained information from a man on shore that the Yankees were at a mill farther down, grinding.  He stated that he did not think there was any artillery. As we went along we saw at the different places smoking ruins. After we passed the mill, at Tweedside, situated on a back river a short distance, where we saw the enemy, as above stated, we were opened upon by one or more light batteries of Parrott guns, posted upon a bluff in the bend of the river, which we had to approach head-on, and entirely commanding the channel, apparently supported by infantry, and about 1,000 or 1,200 yards distant.

The guns firing at Hunter’s gunboats were those of Captain Charles Winegar, Battery I, First New York Light Artillery.  They were stationed at the Colerain plantation just below a sharp bend of the main river channel:

MarchDec12_GunboatFight

Winegar later reported:

On the morning of the 12th day of December, about 8 o’clock, the enemy’s gunboats made their appearance…. After an engagement of about three-quarters of an hour, from 2,400 to 2,700 yards, they were forced to retire up the river, leaving their tender behind disabled, together with her officers and crew, numbering about 30, our expenditure of ammunition being 138 rounds.

Although Hunter’s gunboats carried rifled 32-pdr guns and certainly had the weight of firepower to their advantage, the river channel prevented them from bringing that to bear.

Winegar was able to engage almost immune from any broadsides. Attempting to retire upriver, Hunter’s boats ran into each other.  As result, the Resolute was disabled and drifted to Argyle Island.  The vessel proved to be a valuable addition for the Federals and was soon employed transporting troops and forage across the river.  Hunter, however, retired his remaining gunboats up to the cover of Wheeler’s Cavalry.  Yet another combat force was taken off the map for the Confederates, unable to influence the events to follow.

Elsewhere along the lines the Federals continued to press up close to the Confederate lines in order to gain the measure of the defenses.  The Right Wing continued to adjust lines due to the shift prompted by the late arrival of the Fourteenth Corps.  Likewise the Fourteenth Corps had to develop their place in line. Though some commanders at the brigade and division levels saw opportunities and asked for permission to attack, none were granted.  Very clear was Sherman’s intent, perhaps seasoned from experiences earlier in the war.  Sieges were operations of patience and time.  Sherman would act to ensure his army had plenty of both.

The one commodity that Sherman did worry about running low on was fodder for his animals.  Orders went down on December 12 to dismount anyone not absolutely necessary for operations.  Various men who’d mounted themselves during the march turned in horses.  In addition, all those animals needed in supply operations would be centrally held.  Typical were the orders for the Fifteenth Corps:

All the teams and cattle will be ordered up to their respective divisions, and will be parked and corralled with a view to the convenience of forage.  As the article will become very scarce during our stay, the greatest economy in the use of it is recommended, and the collecting and distributing of the same must be well systematized within the divisions to prevent waste.

As for the troops, while many complained the columns still had plenty of issue rations – hardtack and such – for the men.  Of course, the men were in preference to what Georgia had provided during the earlier weeks.

Further south, Brigadier-General H. Judson Kilpatrick had Colonel Eli Murray’s brigade of cavalry slip over the Canoochee River.  Murray reached McAllister’s plantation and pushed scouts out to within a couple miles of Fort McAllister.

MarchDec12_FtMcAllister

Later in the day, Kilpatrick reported to Sherman:

I met the enemy’s picket near the railroad, and chased Major Anderson, the commanding officer at Fort McAllister, back to his fort. From one of his escort captured, I learn that the fort is garrisoned by five companies, two of artillery and three militia; in all, about 200 men none of whom, however, have ever been under fire. There is a deep broad ditch to cross on entering the fort, and considerable opposition no doubt, will be met with. There is a low swamp about one mile this side the fort; a battery of four guns covers the road leading through this swamp…

Kilpatrick went on to suggest his forces might force their way into the fort:

… by forcing this battery to retire, a charging party could follow it directly into the fort, and the affair would be over. I did not intend, general, to attempt the capture of the fort by a sudden dash, but I intended to deliberately storm the works. I have old infantry regiments, armed with Spencer rifles, who could work their way up to within easy range and force every man to keep his head beneath the parapet, and, finally, force my way into the fort–of course, I intended to maneuver my troops as infantry.

Sherman, however, wanted Kilpatrick to begin scouting further south and look to possibly making contact with the fleet at one of the other riverways along the coast.  The cavalry chief took those orders and moved out the next day.

Opposite Fort McAllister, some distance away, the signal station at Cheves’ rice mill remained vigilant watching the Confederates while at the same time looking for the Federal fleet.  Throughout the day, a section of 20-pdr Parrotts from Captain Francis DeGress’ Battery H, 1st Illinois Light Artillery, supported by part of Battery H, 1st Missouri Light Artillery, sparred with the Confederate gunners.  Neither side did little more than annoying the other.

Instead of a cavalry rush, Sherman wanted to use the infantry to ensure the act was completed quickly.  Howard detailed Second Division, Fifteenth Corps, under Brigadier-General William B. Hazen, for the task.  The selection had significance.  The core of that division were a few veteran regiments which had served in Sherman’s division at Shiloh back in April 1862.  It had subsequently been part of Fifteenth Corps, under Sherman, during the Vicksburg Campaign.  Among the division’s previous commanders was Major-General Frank P. Blair, Jr., by then in charge of the Seventeenth Corps.  Not only was the Second Division somewhat “Sherman’s own” but it embodied the long story that was the Western Theater.  To battle honors that included Shiloh, Corinth, Chickasaw Bluffs, Vicksburg, Chattanooga, Resaca, Kennesaw, and Atlanta, the division would add another the next day – Fort McAllister.

Considering the March by way of Markers, today there are two entries discussing specific events on December 12.  One at Port Wentworth discusses the gunboat-artillery fight.  Another at Richmond Hill notes Kilpatrick’s scout.

(Citations from OR, Series I, Volume 44, Serial 92, pages 357, 685 and 698; ORN, Series I, Volume 16, page 357.)

November 29, 1864: Delays at Boyd’s Neck; Prelude to disaster at Honey Hill

While Major-General William T. Sherman’s armies made their way through Georgia in the closing days of November 1864, operations far away from his columns reflected the ripples caused by the March to the Sea.   In central Tennessee, actions at Spring Hill and Franklin by Lieutenant-General John B. Hood were in part justified as an effort to cause Sherman pause, if not recall.  As we well know, and other correspondents will likely discuss in detail, Hood’s operation failed at many levels. And along the South Carolina coast, an operation born of Sherman’s request turned into a disaster for the Department of the South.

As mentioned earlier, Major-General John Foster sent an operation up the Broad River out of Hilton Head. However, while the expedition would proceed towards the Charleston & Savannah Railroad, Foster had not detailed the objective of the mission.  Was the operation just a demonstration, or something more?

To accomplish this vaguely defined operation, Foster assigned two brigades to Brigadier-General John Hatch, the most experienced commander in theater at that time.  The order of battle was:

  • Brigadier-General Edward Potter’s brigade consisted of the 25th Ohio; 56th, 127th, 144th and 157th New York; and  32nd and 35th USCT.  Total of over 3,000 men.
  • Colonel Alfred Harwell’s brigade with the 54th and 55th Massachusetts; and 26th, 34th, and 102nd USCT.  Total of just over 1,000 men.
  • Fleet Brigade under Commander George Preble with a battalion of sailors and another of Marines (total of 360 men), supported by a battery of eight 12-pounder boat howitzers.
  • Artillery Brigade under Lieutenant-Colonel William Ames with Batteries B and F, 3rd New York and Battery A, 3rd Rhode Island, bringing eight 12-pdr Napoleons and three 10-pdr Parrott rifles.
  • A company from the 1st New York Engineer Battalion and a company of the 4th Massachusetts Cavalry.

Many of these regiments were veteran units, having served long in the department.  However, they had rarely operated in the field as part of a brigade or larger formation.  For most, the operations the previous July were the last such field movements.

In addition to the landing brigade, the Navy provided the steamers USS Mingoe, USS Pontiac, USS Sonoma, USS Harvest Moon, USS Pawnee, USS Winona, and USS Wissahickon.  Supporting were the tugs USS Pettit and USS Daffodil.  (This drew a significant number of vessels off the blockade of Charleston, which correspondingly gave opening to increased activity by blockade runners.)  Rear-Admiral John Dahlgren himself would lead the naval force.

The tactical plan was very much straight forward, and along the lines of Hatch’s original plan.  The force would move by boat to Boyd’s Neck.  Engineers would build a dock to allow disembarkation of the artillery and horses.  From there the expedition would move inland towards Grahamville and thence to the railroad.

HoneyHill_NavMovement

Foster wanted to start this operation on November 27.  But logistics and other factors delayed the launch until the evening of November 28.  The troops boarded the vessels under cover of darkness.  At 2:30 a.m. on November 29, the ships proceeded into Port Royal Sound.  Almost from the start, problems arose.  The Wissahickon ran aground in the sound.  A dense fog rolled in to cover the waters.  Despite a detailed signal plan from Dahlgren, the fog prevented the ships from maintaining contact.  In the confusion, several army steamers ventured up the Chechesse River (dashed line on map above).  When Dahlgren arrived at the designated landing point at 8 a.m. (#1 on the map below), he had only five of his six steamers and none of the troop transports.  Slowly the other vessels trickled into position.

HoneyHill1

The Naval Brigade landed at 9 a.m. and secured the immediate area.  Hatch did not arrive at Boyd’s Neck until well after sunrise.  At 11 a.m. the Army’s landings commenced. Just happened that one of the last ships to arrive had on board the engineer detachment assigned to build the dock.  Not until 2 p.m. was the dock in place to land artillery and horses.  Around that time, Foster arrived to check the progress.  But within two hours both he and Dahlgren departed for Hilton Head, leaving Hatch to his tasks.

While waiting for the Army’s troops to disembark, Preble began moving his detachment inland to secure a cross roads (Point #2 on the map).  When he arrived, Preble took a road to the right, thinking that the direct route to Grahamville.  Along the way, the Naval Brigade encountered Confederate skirmishers, driving them along towards Bee’s Creek (Point #3).

The Confederates in sector were part of the 3rd Military District of South Carolina under Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Colcock.  The skirmishers encountered by Preble were from the 3rd South Carolina Cavalry, and were practically the only mobile force available in the sector (Colcock had under his command several fixed batteries closer to the railroad, but no infantry).  But the skirmishers had served their purpose.  As had happened on several occasions during the fighting along the South Carolina Coast, an alert from the advanced pickets allowed the Confederates time to move reinforcements by train.  At that time, Major-General Gustavus W. Smith with around 1,800 of the Georgia troops shifted from Macon, was just arriving in Savannah.  When Lieutenant-General William Hardee explained the situation to Smith, the Georgia officer agreed to continue his trains on to the threatened sector.

Meanwhile, once ashore, Potter’s Brigade moved to support Preble’s forces. Not until around dusk did Potter realize the mistaken route taken.  At that time he recalled his brigade and the naval forces. Returning to the intersection, the Federals again took the wrong road.  This time taking the left road past Bolan’s Church, Potter marched into the evening with designs on Grahamville.  Realizing this second misdirection, Hatch now recalled the men (Point #4).  Not until 2 a.m. the next morning did the Federals go into bivouac back near the cross roads.

November 29th was a story of bad luck and miscues for the Federals.  With over 5,000 men in position to move directly on the railroad, fog, delays, and misdirected marches contributed to a net advance of only a few miles.  The railroad remained in Confederate hands.  For perhaps the one time since the start of Sherman’s march, Confederate leaders were reacting directly to a threat.  Unlike the defenses elsewhere which lacked coordination and central control, on the evening of November 29th just north of Savannah, the defense of the railroad was falling into place.

Hatch, not knowing of Smith’s move to reinforce, looked forward to an advance of seven miles to the railroad on November 30.  In between Hatch and his objective was a low ridge called Honey Hill.

A demonstration “to cut the Charleston and Savannah Railroad”: Plans leading to Honey Hill

Give or take a day, 150 years ago at this time Major-General John Foster received a letter sent on November 13, 1864 by Major-General Henry Halleck in Washington.  For the most part, the letter told Foster what he already knew:

Major-General Sherman expects to leave Atlanta on the 16th instant for the interior of Georgia or Alabama, as circumstances may seem to require, and may come out either on the Atlantic coast or the Gulf. If the former, it will probably be at Savannah, Ossabaw Sound, Darien, or Fernandina. Supplies are being collected at Hilton Head, with transports to convey them to the point required. Supplies are also collected at Pensacola Bay, to be transported to any point he may require on the Gulf. Should Sherman come to the Atlantic coast, which I think most probable, he expects to reach there the early part of December, and wishes you, if possible, to cut the Charleston and Savannah Railroad near Pocotaligo about that time. At all events a demonstration on that road will be of advantage. You will be able undoubtedly to learn his movements through rebel sources much earlier than from these headquarters, and will shape your action accordingly.

By the last days of November, Foster, like everyone else from Atlanta to Charleston, knew Sherman was on the march.  And it was clear Sherman was not going to a Gulf Coast port.  But where on the Atlantic?

What’s important here is the chain of events.  Foster had already started planning to meet this request even before receiving it.  He had solicited a proposal from Brigadier-General John Hatch for an operation up the Broad River towards Grahamville  – receiving that on November 21 at the latest.  On the 22nd, Foster received Halleck’s order.  On the same day, Foster issued orders to implement Hatch’s proposal.  Then on November 25, Foster replied that he’d received Halleck’s order and was executing.

Halleck’s orders were not restrictive to a simple demonstration.  He set an objective – cut the railroad.  Hatch’s proposal, likewise, had an objective – gain the railroad.  The main difference between those objectives was the actions proposed after gaining possession of the railroad.  Halleck wanted a demonstration that impeded Confederate movement.  Hatch looked to create a beachhead that could use the railroad to support future operations.  To say the two were one and the same would be a misstatement.

The orders Foster issued on November 22, to Hatch and to Brigadier-General E. P. Scammon (commanding in Florida), contained lengthy details.  He specified the number of troops, to be drawn from strong, seasoned regiments.  He specified each man would carry “his blanket, overcoat, rubber blanket or shelter-half, and one extra pair of good socks.”  Foster specified each man would carry 20 rounds with another 100 rounds per man brought along in crates.  The force would have a battery of artillery in support.  Plus he wanted as many mounted men as possible brought along.

The operation would draw from Morris Island, Hilton Head, and Florida all the troops not absolutely necessary for manning the lines.  This was a reach for a department already strapped for resources.  But a gamble worth taking considering the Confederate forces in theater would be drawn inland to face Sherman.

But the one thing lacking in all of Foster’s details was the objective.  To Hatch, he simply said, “fully concur with you in your views as to the point of attack.”  To Scammon, he simply said, “I am, therefore, getting ready to make an attack upon some point of the enemy’s line, so as to aid [Sherman].”  To Halleck, he responded, “I am preparing to carry out your instructions.”  At no point, in the written record, did Foster reconcile any differences between Halleck’s objective and that proposed by Hatch.

Foster did set a date for execution – November 27.  Later this backed off to the 28th.  While the objective might be ill-defined, the operation would go forward.  If it succeeded, the Federals would finally cut the railroad connecting Charleston and Savannah.  Since mid-1862 the Federals had attempted, without success, to do just that.  Such would limit the Confederates’ ability to shift troops in defense of threatened sectors.

But was this a realistic objective?  Could the forces at hand reach the railroad? Hold the railroad? And, that accomplished, would it aid Sherman’s advance?

All good questions that queue up some more blog posts.

At the same time Foster’s response was leaving Hilton Head for Washington, Halleck penned another order for the Department of the South.  The order issued on November 23rd would not arrive for another ten days:

Lieutenant-General Grant directs that the expenditure of ammunition upon Charleston and Fort Sumter be discontinued, except so far as may be necessary to prevent the enemy from establishing new batteries at the latter place. This is not intended to prohibit the throwing of occasional shell into Charleston, if circumstances should require. The object is to economize ordnance stores.

The focus of operations in the Department of the South was changing.  Savannah and Charleston were still prizes.  But those would be gained from the land side.

(Citations from OR, Series I, Volume 35, Part II, Serial 66, page 328; Volume 44, Serial 92, pages 525-6, 535, and 547.)