Summary Statement, 3rd Quarter, 1863 – Miscellaneous New York artillery

As a convention, I prefer to work through each state entry starting with “regimented” batteries first (where regiments existed of course), then through independent batteries, and lastly through any miscellaneous lines.  However, to ease handling and processing of these snips for transcription, I’m going to turn next to the miscellaneous lines before going to the independent batteries.

You see, the lines between the 2nd New York and 3rd New York include a couple of sections from infantry regiments.  Those are lines 18 and 19:

0273_1_Snip_NY_MISC

Then, at the bottom of the page, we find entries for two cavalry regiments and stores held by an infantry regiment.  Those last three returns were received in the forth quarter of 1863, roughly when they were expected.  But those on the upper lines were not received until 1864.  So imagine how this conversation went down…..

Clerk:  Sir, I just received these two returns from the 98th and 99th New York Infantry claiming they have cannons. And I don’t have room to fit them at the bottom of the New York page in the summary.  What ever shall I do?

Ordnance Officer: Stick them in where you have space after the 2nd New York Artillery. Nobody will ever notice.  Nobody cares about these summaries anyway!

But yet, here we are in 2018 with that annoying second red line as result of the split data!

So we have five “miscellaneous” to consider from the New York section of the summary:

  • 98th New York Infantry:  Companies E and H, if my reading is correct, assigned to Croatan Station, North Carolina with two 6-pdr field guns.
  • 99th New York Infantry: A detachment reporting on the Gunboat Smith Briggs, in Virginia, with one 12-pdr field howitzer and one 10-pdr Parrott.
  • 3rd New York Cavalry: A detachment at New Berne, North Carolina with two 12-mountain howitzers.
  • 5th New York Cavalry: A detachment also at New Berne, and also with two (or is it three?) 12-pdr mountain howitzers.
  • 51st New York Infantry:  “Stores in Charge” of a Lieutenant Colonel at Camp Nelson, Kentucky.

Let me explore these five in more detail.

The 98th New York Infantry was among the forces sent from North Carolina to the Department of the South earlier in 1863, as part of the build-up before the Ironclad Attack.  When that effort failed, the 98th was among the forces sent back to North Carolina, specifically Beaufort.   On April 25, Lieutenant-Colonel Frederick F. Wead, then in command of the regiment, received orders to garrison “Newport Barracks, Havelock, Croatan, [and] Bogue sound blockhouse” which guarded the railroad between Beaufort / Morehead City and New Berne.  After the war, William Kreutzer (then Captain, but later Colonel of the regiment) mentioned these dispositions in a history of the regiment:

This writer was assigned to the command of two posts, one at a point where the railroad crosses Newport river, called Havelock, and the other at Croatan, ten miles above, along the road to New Berne.  Each post had a small earthwork in which was mounted on Napoleon gun.

This passage establishes the ‘who’ portion of the return but on disagrees with the summary’s line.  Perhaps, writing post war and being an infantryman, Kreutzer was simply mistaken about the guns.  At any rate, we can at least verify some cannon were under the care of the 98th New York at Croatan around this time of the war, performing “boring” garrison duty.

The 99th New York Infantry, with names like “Bartlett’s Naval Brigade” and “Lincoln Divers” offers a bit more interesting story.  Colonel William A. Bartlett began recruiting what was intended to be a full brigade in the spring of 1861.  It included almost as many men from Massachusetts and New Jersey as it did New York.  The intent was to assign these companies to Army gunboats and have them patrol the coast.  But by the time Bartlett reported to Fort Monroe, he’d met with an accident and the brigade was understrength. The “brigade” was then reorganized as an infantry and assigned duty at various posts around Fort Monroe and on vessels operating in that area.  Colonel David W. Waldrop commanded.    By the spring of 1863, most of those detachments were recalled and the regiment served at Suffolk, Virginia.  Of those still on detached duty was Company I, manning the gunboats West End and Smith Briggs.  The latter, we have a sketch to work from:

SmithBriggsGunboat

The Smith Briggs was a chartered (not outright purchased) 280 ton steamer converted to an armed transport, with a rifled 32-pdr and a rifled 42-pdr (probably converted seacoast guns using the James system).  Based on the entry here in the summary, I would contend the 99th New York maintained a 12-pdr field howitzer and a 10-pdr Parrott to supplement those big guns, and perhaps use on patrols off the gunboat.  Captain John C. Lee, of the 99th New York, commanded the Smith Briggs in 1863.  And he was still in command when the vessel ran aground off Smithfield, Virginia on February 1, 1864, and was destroyed.

The detachment from the 3rd New York Cavalry should be familiar to readers from the previous quarter.  These was Lieutenant James A. Allis command.

And a similar detachment was formed in the 12th New York Cavalry which also operated out of New Berne.  During the summer, Lieutenant Joseph M. Fish, of Company F, was detached to command a section of howitzers.  And these show up in some returns as “Fish’s Howitzers” or “Fish’s Battery.”

And lastly the 51st New York Infantry.  This regiment, part of the Second Division, Ninth Corps in the summer of 1863.  It was transferred to the Twenty-Third Corps in September and performed garrison duties in the District of Kentucky.  We’ll see some of the stores accounted for in the ammunition tables that follow.  The regiment’s Lieutenant-Colonel was R. Charlton Mitchell at this time of the war.

With that summary of the five units represented by the lines, let us turn to the ammunition reported. Starting with the smoothbore:

0275_1_Snip_NY_MISC

  • 98th New York Infantry: 57 shot, 41 case, and 42 canister for 6-pdr field guns.
  • 99th New York Infantry: 42 shell and 88 case for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • 12th New York Cavalry: 32 shell, 44 case, and 46 canister for 12-pdr mountain howitzers.
  • 51st New York Infantry:  56 shot, 56 case, and 48 canister for 6-pdr field guns.

Note that no ammunition was reported (for the second quarter in a row) for Allis’ detachment from the 3rd New York Cavalry.

No Hotchkiss or Schenkl projectiles to report.  But there were some Parrott projectiles:

0276_1_Snip_NY_MISC

Yes, on the ill-fated Smith Briggs:

  • 99th New York Infantry: 137 shell and 40 canister for 10-pdr Parrott.

No small arms were reported by these five detachments on the artillery summaries.  Usually infantry and cavalry commands filed their reports on different forms that were complied on a separate set of summaries.

Before leaving the “miscellaneous” of New York, there are two other batteries that deserve mention.  Recall Goodwin’s Battery, with its rather exotic breachloaders, and Varian’s State Militia Battery were mustered into Federal service to meet the emergency posed by Lee’s invasion of Pennsylvania.  Both were still in Federal service at the start of the quarter.  But only briefly in service.  Goodwin’s was mustered on July 27.  Varian’s was mustered out six days earlier.  As these batteries were off the Federal rolls by the end of September, they were not required to send in returns.  Lucky for them!


Citation: William Kreutzer, Notes and Observations Made During Four years of Service with the Ninety-Eighth N.Y. Volunteers in the War of 1861, Philadelphia: Grant, Faires & Ridgers, 1878, page 164.

Summary Statement, 2nd Quarter, 1863 – 3rd New York Cavalry, Allis’s… NOT Allee’s… Howitzers!

Sometimes, even Frederick H. Dyer stands need of correction.  Or at least a small adjustment.

Just below the 3rd New York Artillery’s battery summaries for the second quarter, 1863, there is a lonely line:

0201_1_Snip_NYAllis

  • Section, Attached to 3rd Cavalry: At New Berne, North Carolina with two 12-pdr mountain howitzers.

If we consult Dyer’s Compendium we find a listing:

Allee’s Howitzer Battery

Attached to 3rd New York Cavalry (which see)

Consulting the entry for the 3rd New York Cavalry, we see no mention of the howitzer battery.  And that is normal where a section (or battery) served as an integral component of the parent unit.

In the past, I’ve normally just accepted Dyer’s designation.  You’ll see that in entries for the summaries of fourth quarter, 1862 and first quarter, 1863.  But since this entry stands alone for the second quarter, I thought it convenient to pause and provide a more detailed study of this particular unit.

So who was this Allee that commanded this howitzer battery?

Well… the roster of the 3rd New York Cavalry has no record of an officer named Allee.  In fact, there was no soldier in the regiment by that name.  And there are no references, primary or secondary, that would reconcile the name “Allee” to the regiment.  Rather hard for a person to command a battery if there were not IN the unit!

So who should we be looking for?  Consulting New York State Military Museum’s website (an excellent on-line resource that should be in your bookmarks), specifically a collection of newspaper clippings that reference the 3rd New York Cavalry, we find this entry, discussing Brigadier-General Edward Potter’s July 1863 raid on Greenville, Tarboro, and Rocky Mount (emphasis mine):

We had a most delightful passage from New York and arrived at Newbern on Tuesday evening, 21st inst. I found the city of Newbern quiet and pleasant as ever, although … had gone out early Saturday morning, under the command of that most efficient and gallant officer, Brigadier General Potter, Chief of Staff to General Foster. The troops for the expedition comprised two battalions of the 3d N. Y. cavalry, commanded by Majors Cole and Jacobs; one company of the 1st N. C. cavalry, Lieut. Graham, and one battalion of the 12th N. Y. cavalry, Major Clarkston; two sections of 12 pound howitzers, Lieut. Allis, and one section of flying artillery from the 3d N. Y. regiment, commanded by Lieut. Clark. The cavalry was all under the command of Lieut. Col. Lewis, of the 3d N. Y. cavalry.

And there WAS a Lieutenant James A. Allis with the 3rd New York Cavalry.  And he was detached to artillery service, according to his state muster records:

James_Allis_Muster_2

Note the the remarks.  “… On detached service comd’g artillery detachment since Jan 1/63…” THIS is the commander, and the name, that we need to close the loop.  Very possible that Dyer transcribed the name incorrectly.  However, my wife pointed out that “Allis” is likely a name of Norman-French origin.  If that is the case, it would be pronounced somewhat like “Alee” or such.  So Dyer might have worked from a source that spelled Allis as it sounded.  At any rate, I am pretty sure we can match “Allee’s Battery” to “Allis’s Section” in this case.  Those are the howitzers were are talking about!

James A. Allis was born in Cazenovia, New York (Madison County), on September 17, 1840 to Elijah and Diantha Allis.  His family moved to Syracuse, as he appears there in the 1855 state census, aged 14.  The 1860 census has a 19 year-old James A. Allis, from New York, as a teacher in Joliet, Illinois.  Not for sure this is the same person, but certainly matches with some particulars.

Turning to his muster records:

James_Allis_Muster_1

Allis enlisted in what would be come the 3rd New York Volunteer Cavalry on August 3, 1861 in Syracuse as a sergeant in Company I. The remarks indicate he was born in Syracuse (vice Cazenovia), was 5 foot, 7 ½ inches tall, black eyes (!), and brown hair.

He was promoted to First Sergeant on October 8.  And then this “fast mover” was promoted to First Lieutenant on December 31st to close out the year.   (And a side note, the 3rd New York Cavalry was involved through that time in operations on the upper Potomac, to include Balls Bluff and Edwards Ferry in October … thus he was in my neck of the woods for a while.)

In April 1862, the 3rd New York transferred to the Department of North Carolina.  On May 30,  Allis led a detail of 15 men out of Washington, North Carolina on a reconnaissance mission.  At Trantor’s Creek, about eight miles out of the perimeter, the detail encountered a Confederate patrol.  Allis left a detail to secure the bridge at the creek and took up pursuit.  “Finding himself surrounded by a large body of infantry concealed in the woods,” Captain George Jocknick, commanding Company I reported, “Lieutenant Allis gallantly cut his way through the crowd, and returned here with his command about noon, with only one man–Private Ogden Harrison–badly wounded and 2 horses killed.”   In short, Allis got himself into trouble, but smartly… and aggressively…  extracted himself.   On the heels of that action, Allis received promotion to First Lieutenant. Clearly an officer held in high regard.

I’m not sure when the 3rd New York Cavalry came into possession of the mountain howitzers.  In December, that section was associated with Allis as part of the expedition to Goldsborough.  Captain Newton Hall, commanding the troops from the 3rd New York on that operation, wrote “I must not neglect to mention Lieutenant Allis and his howitzer, which was always ready when wanted, and did us good service at White Hall.”  In March the section supported another expedition out of New Bern.   On May 20-23, the section was involved with a demonstration towards Kinston.   June 17-18, Allis’s section was taken along for a scout to Core Creek.  The section was again called upon in the first week of July to support a raid on the Wilmington & Weldon Railroad.  Later in the month, the battery was part of the expedition toward Rocky Mount mentioned above.

In December 1863, the 3rd New York Cavalry transferred to Newport News, where they became involved with operations against Richmond and Petersburg.  And around that time, Allis appears to have left the howitzers (either the section was turned in, or at least Allis was given other duties).  Allis continued as a lieutenant for Company F and later Company G.  With his initial enlistment complete in the summer of 1864, Allis reenlisted as a captain, in Company C, in July 1864.  However, by that time Allis was working as an aide and staff officer.  In correspondence with Lieutenant-General U.S. Grant, Major General E.O.C. Ord describes Allis as “the best [cavalry] officer I have…” … though it is hard to ascertain the full context, as Ord was speaking from a position of want in regard to proper cavalry!  Still a high accolade, when mentioned between such very high ranking officers.

After the war, Allis returned to Syracuse.  In the 1875 state census, Allis lived with his brother, practicing law.  Around that time, James Allis married Ellen Moore.  The couple had one boy child die in infancy.  But then were blessed with three girls – Olive, Mable, and Ida.  The 1910 census indicated James, still in Syracuse, worked as an equipment clerk.  His three daughters, by then aged 34 to 25, were living with their parents.  All three employed as teachers.  James A. Allis died in Syracuse on October 30, 1920, and is buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Syracuse.

Circling back to the summary statement, the section did not report any ammunition on hand for the quarter.  Though there were ample implements and other supplies.  Perhaps the cavalrymen were just not accustomed to the artillery reporting forms.

The important take-away from examining that lonely line on the summaries is not the need to correct the spelling of Allis’s name in Dyer’s Compendium.  Rather, that the line allows us to be introduced to James A. Allis and the duties he performed during the war.  He was, as they say, mentioned in dispatches.