Summary Statement, 2nd Quarter, 1863 – Heavy Artillery

Let me give the heavy artillery batteries, battalions, and regiments their due for this quarter of the summary.  While looking at each of the state sections, we’ve mentioned a few of these batteries.  But not the whole.  The omission, by those at the Ordnance Department, was mostly due to bureaucratic definitions than any overt action.

Briefly, the summary statements we are reviewing here are focused only on ordnance rated as “field artillery.” A further qualification is that only units assigned roles to use field artillery (as in for use as “mobile” artillery) are included.  So, IF a field howitzer was assigned to a fort’s garrison, AND that howitzer was considered part of the fort’s armament, and not part of the garrisoning unit’s property, THEN it was accounted for in a different set of sheets for accounting.  Such means a great number of field artillery pieces, not to mention the siege, garrison, and seacoast artillery, escapes mention in these summaries.  And we don’t have, to my knowledge, a full record for those anywhere in the surviving documents.  However, I would point out that in 1864 the Ordnance Department began using a common form to account for field, siege, garrison, and seacoast artillery.

But for the second quarter of 1863, that accounting is lacking in the known records.  We do have a handful of “heavies” that were assigned roles which required mobile artillery.  And those were mentioned as we proceeded through the summary.  For sake of completeness, let me list all the heavy units in service as of June 1863 and match those to summary lines where mentioned.  Keep in mind the varied service of these formations.  Traditionally, these were assigned to garrison fortifications.  But wartime contingencies would see the “heavies” employed as infantry or even cavalry were needed.  And those needs would evolve as the war continued.

By unit, ordered by state (these are regiments unless otherwise noted):

  • 1st Connecticut Heavy Artillery:  As mentioned earlier, Batteries B and M served with the Army of the Potomac, in 2nd Volunteer Brigade, Artillery Reserve.  They, and their 4.5-inch rifles, were left behind and missed Gettysburg (though were active in the pursuit which followed).  The remainder of Colonel Henry L. Abbot’s regiment served in Third Brigade of the Defenses South of the Potomac (DeRussy’s Division, Twenty-Second Corps), defending Washington, D.C.  Regimental headquarters were at Fort Richardson.
  • 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery: Serving at this time as the 19th Connecticut Infantry (designation would change in November 1863) under Lieutenant Colonel Elisha S. Kellogg, and assigned to Second Brigade, DeRussy’s Division, Twenty-Second Corps.  Companies B, F, and G manned Fort Ellsworth; Company A assigned to Redoubt A (in that sector); Company D to Redoubt B; Companies C and K to Redoubt C; and Companies E, H, and I were in Redoubt D.
  • 1st Indiana Heavy Artillery: Assigned to the Department of the Gulf, the regiment was in First Division, Nineteenth Corps (having converted from the 21st Indiana Infantry earlier in the year).  We discussed Batteries A and E and their work at Port Hudson.  Colonel John A. Keith commanded, with detachments at Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
  • 1st Maine Heavy Artillery: Second Brigade, Defenses North of the Potomac, Twenty-Second Corps under Colonel Daniel Chaplin.  Batteries assigned mostly to the defenses on the west side of Washington, and along the Potomac.
  • 1st Massachusetts Heavy Artillery: Assigned to First Brigade of the Defenses South of the Potomac – DeRussy’s Division, Twenty-Second Corps.  Colonel Thomas R. Tannatt commanded the regiment, and also commanded the brigade.
  • 2nd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery:  Authorized in May 1863, this regiment, under Colonel Jones Frankle, would not complete formation until later in the fall.
  • 1st Massachusetts Heavy Artillery Battalion: This battalion was formed with four previously independent batteries and served primarily at Fort Warren, Boston harbor.  The four companies were originally the 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 5th unassigned heavy companies (becoming Companies A, B, C, and D respectively).  Major Stephen Cabot commanded this consolidated battalion.  In addition the 3rd and 6th unassigned companies also appear in the list of garrison troops around Boston.
  • 1st New Hampshire Heavy Artillery: This regiment, commanded by Colonel George A. Wainwright, would not officially form until later in July.
  • 2nd New York Heavy Artillery:  We discussed Colonel Joseph N. G. Whistler’s regiment while covering a lone entry for Battery L (which later became the 34th New York Independent Battery).  The 2nd New York Heavy was assigned to First Brigade, DeRussy’s Division, South of the Potomac.
  • 4th New York Heavy Artillery:  Under Colonel Henry H. Hall, this regiment formed the Fourth Brigade, DeRussy’s Division, Defenses South of the Potomac.  Detachments manned Fort Marcy and Fort Ethan Allen.
  • 5th New York Heavy Artillery:  Assigned to the defenses of Baltimore, Maryland, as part of the Middle Department.  Commanded by Colonel Samuel Graham, but with Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Murray in charge of two battalions then at Baltimore.  Another battalion, under Major Gustavus F. Merriam, appears on the returns for First Brigade, DeRussy’s Division, South of the Potomac.
  • 6th New York Heavy Artillery:  Assigned to the First Division, Eighth Corps.  Colonel J. Howard Kitching commanded.  The regiment was part of the Harpers Ferry garrison before the Gettysburg Campaign, and soon brought into the Army of the Potomac.
  • 7th New York Heavy Artillery: Second Brigade, Defenses North of the Potomac, Twenty-Second Corps under Colonel Lewis O. Morris (who also commanded the brigade).
  • 8th New York Heavy Artillery: Under Colonel Peter A. Porter, this regiment had garrison duty at Forts Federal Hill, Marshall, and McHenry around Baltimore, as part of Eighth Corps, Middle Department.  On July 10, the regiment moved forward to Harpers Ferry, staying there until August 3.
  • 9th New York Heavy Artillery: Second Brigade, Defenses North of the Potomac, Twenty-Second Corps under Colonel Joseph Welling.
  • 10th New York Heavy Artillery: This regiment was all of the Third Brigade, Defenses North of the Potomac, Twenty-Second Corps.  Commanded by Colonel Alexander Piper.  One battalion (four companies) moved from the defenses of New York to Washington in June, joining the rest of the regiment. Their service was mostly on the southeast side of the perimeter around the Anacostia.
  • 11th New York Heavy Artillery:  We discussed their saga in an earlier post.  Colonel William B. Barnes’ regiment was still forming when thrust into the Gettysburg Campaign.
  • 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, and 16th New York Heavy Artillery:  These regiments were all authorized by the spring of 1863, but in various states of organization at the end of June.
  • 3rd New York Heavy Artillery Battalion: Also known as the German Heavy Artillery.  Under Lieutenant-Colonel Adam Senges, and assigned to Second Brigade, DeRussy’s Division, Twenty-Second Corps, on the south side of the Potomac.  This battalion was, later in the year, consolidated into the 15th New York Heavy Artillery, and came under Colonel Louis Schirmer.  For some reason, Schirmer’s name is associated with the command as early as June 1863.
  • 1st Ohio Heavy Artillery: Lieutenant-Colonel Chauncey G. Hawley’s command garrisoned Covington, Kentucky as part of Twenty-third Corps, Department of Ohio.
  • 2nd Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery:  (the 112th Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers.) Under Colonel Augustus A. Gibson and assigned to First Brigade, Defenses North of the Potomac.  Regimental headquarters at Fort Lincoln.
  • 3rd Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery: We discussed Battery H and their “impressed” service at Gettysburg. While that battery was on detached service (Baltimore, then pushed out to guard the railroad), the remainder of the regiment served out of Fort Monroe providing detachments for garrisons in the Department of Virginia. Colonel Joseph Roberts commanded.
  • 3rd Rhode Island Heavy Artillery: We looked at this regiment, assigned to the Department of the South, in detail earlier.  Colonel Edwin Metcalf commanded the regiment
  • 5th Rhode Island Heavy Artillery:  Colonel George W. Tew commanded this regiment, serving in North Carolina, and being reorganized from an infantry formation.
  • 1st Vermont Heavy Artillery:  Colonel James M. Warner commanded this regiment, assigned to First Brigade, Defenses North of the Potomac, Twenty-second Corps.  Batteries garrisoned Forts Totten, Massachusetts, Stevens, Slocum, and others.
  • 1st Wisconsin Heavy Artillery:  Only Battery A of this regiment was mustered as of the end of June 1863. Captain Andrew J. Langworthy’s battery was assigned to the defenses of Alexandria, within DeRussy’s Division, Twenty-second Corps.
  • 1st Tennessee Heavy Artillery (African Descent): I mentioned this regiment briefly at the bottom of the Tennessee section. Colonel Ignatz G. Kappner commanded this regiment, at the time more of battalion strength, garrisoning Fort Pickering in Memphis. The regiment later became the 3rd US Colored Troops Heavy Artillery.
  • 2nd Tennessee Heavy Artillery (African Descent): Also mentioned in the Tennessee section, this regiment, under Colonel Charles H. Adams, was forming up in June 1863.  The regiment would later be designated the 4th US Colored Troops Heavy Artillery.
  • 1st Alabama Siege Artillery (African Descent): Organized from the contraband camps around LaGrange, LaFayette, and Memphis, Tennessee starting on June 20, 1863. Captain Lionel F. Booth appears to be the ranking officer in the regiment in those early months.  The regiment would later be designated the 6th US Colored Troops Heavy Artillery, and then later the 11th USCT Infantry.
  • 1st Louisiana Heavy Artillery (African Descent):  Later in the year designated the 1st Corps de Afrique Heavy Artillery.  And still later in the war becoming the 10th US Colored Heavy Artillery.  And at times, the regiment appears on the rolls as the 1st Louisiana Native Guards Artillery (a name also associated with another USCT formation).  This regiment served throughout the war in the defenses of New Orleans, in the Department of the Gulf.

Yes, a lengthy post.  But this summarizes the status of over thirty regiments.  As you might deduce from reading the entries, the service of the “heavies” was weighted to the defenses of Washington, D.C.  However, the “heavies” also garrisoned places such as Baltimore, Boston, New Orleans, and other remote points.

Some other trends one might note – a good number of these regiments formed in the spring and summer of 1863.  We can, in some cases, link that to the draft and those seeking light service.  But at the same time, let us not “Shelby Foote” our way through these units.  At the time of mustering, the Army wanted troops for garrison defense.  And that was a valid requirement, given the posture at the time.

Lastly, it is important to also frame the context of the four USCT regiments listed above.  These were largely formed out of contraband camps.  And their duties were, for the most part, to provide garrison troops that would free up the white volunteers for service in the field.  But, as the course of events played out, one of those regiments would defend Fort Pillow in April 1864.

So much for easy duty in those heavy regiments!


October 20, 1864: The fallen Federal leaders at Cedar Creek – Bidwell, Thoburn, Lowell and Kitching

The Cedar Creek 150th program was a blast!  Perhaps what was most impressive, for a “young” park in the NPS system, the interpretation came across to the audience as polished and professional.  While some other battlefields, with more than 100 years of interpretive resources to fall back on, might boast more refinement, Cedar Creek’s program was just as potent and insightful.   If you missed those events, there are a few more related to the battle over the next few days.  One of which is the rededication of the Stephen D. Ramseur monument, today – Monday, October 20, at 10 am.

Ramseur’s death receives much deserved attention.  Mortally wounded in the later phases of the battle, perhaps the death of such a young and promising officer symbolized the turn of events to befall the Confederacy.  Likewise, his death among colleagues from West Point who had fought against him that day calls to the reconciliation of a nation. Maybe for those reasons we are drawn to his story.

But Ramseur was not the only leader to fall on the battlefield.  The Federals also suffered the loss of key leaders from the action at Cedar Creek.  Colonel Joseph Thoburn fell while trying to rally his division of the Army of West Virginia.  His commander, Brigadier-General George Crook, lauded his service in the official report of the battle.  A prominent doctor from Wheeling, West Virginia, Thoburn’s body returned home where he was buried in a well-attended public funeral.

Brigadier-General Daniel Bidwell, commanding a brigade in Brigadier-General George W. Getty’s division, 6th Corps, held a critical position in the Middletown Cemetery.  A stubborn defense there bought time for the Federals to reorganize.  But during the fight, Bidwell was struck dead.  For his funeral in Buffalo, New York, Karl A. Goehle wrote “General Bidwell’s Funeral March.”

Better known, perhaps only behind Ramseur in recognition, is Colonel Charles Russell Lowell.  Commanding the Reserve Brigade of Brigadier-General Wesley Merritt’s First Cavalry Division (queue here for Don Caughey), Lowell fell while leading his men in the afternoon counter attack.  Like Ramseur, Lowell’s death is recognized by a memorial on the battlefield, though in Middletown:


And just as Ramseur, Lowell died early on October 20.  For his service, Lowell received a posthumous promotion to Brigadier-General.

Another officer who fell that day was also promoted for his service and actions that day.  Colonel J. Howard Kitching commanded a provisional division, which included his own 6th New York Heavy Artillery, in Crook’s corps.  While rallying the troops prior to Major-General Phil Sheridan’s arrival, a bullet struck Kitching in the foot.  He was able to reassemble what was left of his command, but was unable to continue.  Escorted to the rear, he was eventually evacuated and sent home to Dobbs Ferry, New York.  Unfortunately, his wound did not heal.  On January 11, 1865, his doctor recognized the need for a minor operation to ease the pain.

He drew her closer for a moment with a lingering kiss, saying “It will be over in a few minute, darling, and we will have such a nice talk afterward!”

Chloroform was administered, and the operation performed almost instantaneously.  A shadow passed over his face, then a calm, bright smile.  Howard Kitching was “with the Lord.”

Like Lowell, Kitching’s wartime writings were later published.  And the words of these men speak to the conviction they had for ideas… ideas that motivated those men to arms and thence to war.  Far more than stone and metal memorials, those written words weigh upon me, as they should all students of the Civil War….

(Citation from Theodore Irving, “More than Conqueror’ or Memorials of Col. J. Howard Kitching, Sixth New York Artillery, Army of the Potomac, New York: Hurd and Houghton, 1873, pages 232-3.)

A spring snow in the 1864 Winter Encampment

If you live in Culpeper, Virginia then today’s forecast calls for snow.  Not a lot, but some snow on this sixth day of spring.  Maybe Mother Nature is following the sesquicentennial yet again.  Yesterday I cited Colonel Charles S. Wainwright’s reference to a snow near the end of March 1864.  Wainwright half-complained about “… four inches of snow…” which fell on March 22nd.  Another writer in the Winter Encampment enjoyed this early spring snowstorm.  On March 25, 1864, Colonel J. Howard Kitching of the 6th New York Heavy Artillery wrote:

… Tuesday we had a regular old-fashioned snow-storm.  The snow fell to the depth of about eight inches, and Wednesday morning cleared up as bright as could be, the sun making everything sparkle and glisten like gold. Some of my men made me a little rustic sleigh, to which I harnessed my two horses, and gave Mrs. Colonel [Henry S.] Burton a sleigh ride; the only sleigh, I guess, that has ever appeared in the Army of the Potomac.

Yesterday [Thursday, March 24] we had the grandest fun!  The men from the different companies began to snowball each other; so I divided the regiment into two wings, about two hundred men upon each side.  I took command of the right wing, and gave the Lieutenant-colonel and Major the left, and after inviting Colonel and Mrs. Burton out to see the sport, we had a scientific snowballing.  The battle lasted for about an hour, but although the left wing had the most men, yet my wing drove them off the ground, simply by tactical maneuvering.

No one was killed, but several wounded, including many officers. Three or four of them have black eyes to-day; but all enjoyed it very much, and the frolic did the men a great deal of good. It certainly did me a service, for I have been so blue lately, and have been so confined, and felt so discouraged, that the effect of a hearty laugh was beneficial….

Clearly the 25 year old Kitching had more fun in the snow that stuffy old thirty-something Wainwright.  However, Kitching closed that section of his letter remorsefully – “I am beginning to feel very old – older every day!”  Kitching had a little over nine months more to age.

(Citation from Theodore Irving, “More than Conqueror’ or Memorials of Col. J. Howard Kitching, Sixth New York Artillery, Army of the Potomac, New York: Hurd and Houghton, 1873, pages 116-7.)