Summary Statement, 4th Quarter, 1863 – 1st New York Artillery

For the second quarter in a row, the clerks shifted entries around to allocate New York it’s own pages within the summaries:

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Our focus for this post is the top set of entry lines, for the 1st New York Light Artillery:

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Colonel Charles S. Wainwright commanded this regiment.  Wainwright, as we well know, commanded the artillery of First Corps. Lieutenant-Colonel Edward R. Warner was second in command within the regiment.  Regimental majors included Robert H. Fitzhugh, John A. Reynolds (Artillery Chief, Twelfth Corps), and Thomas W. Osborne (Artillery Chief, Eleventh Corps).  The remainder of the regimental staff included Edward L. Bailey, Quartermaster and Julius A. Skilton, Surgeon.

This being Wainwright’s regiment, we know a bit more about the “cooking” of the reports than other units.  We do know Wainwright’s staff consolidated these returns in the middle of January.  However, that process was incomplete, as we see three batteries failing to file.  And those three batteries were arguably within “hailing distance” of Wainwright, either being around Culpeper County (where he wintered) or at least up the railroad in Washington, D.C.   So let us look at the particulars:

  • Battery A: At Pottsville, Pennsylvania, on an April 1864 receipt date, with four 12-pdr Napoleons.  Under Captain Thomas H. Bates, the battery was part of the Department of the Sesquehanna.
  • Battery B: At Brandy Station, Virginia with four 10-pdr Parrotts. Captain Albert S. Sheldon commanded this battery but was absent, recovering from his Gettysburg wound. Lieutenant Robert E. Rogers, from Battery C, commanded in his place. The battery transferred to the 1st Volunteer Brigade, Reserve Artillery, Army of the Potomac, in December.
  • Battery C: No return.  As assigned to Fifth Corps, Battery C wintered at Rappahannock Station.  The battery retained four 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  Captain Almont Barnes remained in command.
  • Battery D: Reporting from Brandy Station, Virginia with six 12-pdr Napoleons.  Supporting Third Corps, Captain George B. Winslow remained in command. With Winslow taking leave at the end of the year, Lieutenant Thomas H. Crego led the battery.
  • Battery E: No return.  With personnel attached to Battery L, Battery E was reorganized and recruited to strength over the winter.  Under Captain Henry W. Davis, the battery returned to the order of battle in May, 1864.
  • Battery F: No return.  At Camp Barry, Washington, D.C. with four 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  Captain William R. Wilson remained in command.  The battery, assigned to the Artillery Camp of Instruction, was in the Twenty-second Corps.
  • Battery G: Reporting at Stevensburg, Virginia, with six 12-pdr Napoleons. Captain Nelson Ames’s battery supported Second Corps, Army of the Potomac.
  • Battery H: At Culpeper, Virginia, and re-equipped with four 12-pdr Napoleons.  Captain Charles E. Mink remained in command of this battery, now under Wainwright’s Brigade in First Corps.  With Mink on leave, Lieutenant David F. Ritchie would lead the battery.
  • Battery I: Now at Bridgeport, Alabama, with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles. Captain Michael Wiedrich commanded this battery, assigned to Eleventh Corps.   The battery saw action in the battles to take Lookout Mountain in November then settled into winter quarters.
  • Battery K: Reporting at Brandy Station, Virginia with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles. The battery remained with the battery assigned to Third Volunteer Brigade, Artillery Reserve.  The 11th New York Independent Battery was attached to Battery K at this time, and manned two of the guns.  With Robert H. Fitzhugh was promoted to Major and Lieutenant Edward L. Bailey serving on regimental staff, command fell to Captain John E. Burton of the 11th Battery.  At the end of the year, the battery transferred out of the Army of the Potomac to Camp Barry and the Artillery Camp of Instruction.
  • Battery L: At Culpeper, Virginia with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  Listed on the order of battle as a combined Batteries E & L, Captain Gilbert H. Reynolds commanded.  The battery supported First Corps and camped adjacent to the Alexander House, where Wainwright maintained his headquarters.
  • Battery M: Reporting from Bridgeport, Alabama, in January 1864, with four 10-pdr Parrott rifles.  Captain John D. Woodbury returned to command of this battery in the fall, as it supported Twelfth Corps.

Looking to the ammunition on hand, we start with the smoothbores:

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  • Battery A: 192 shot, 64 shell, and 320 case for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery D: 288 shot, 96 shell, and 288 case for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery G: 262 shot, 93 shell, and 262 case for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery H: 192 shot, 64 shell, and 192 case for 12-pdr Napoleons.

To the next page:

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  • Battery A: 136 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery D: 96 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery G: 144 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery H: 64 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.

To the right are tallies for Hotchkiss rifled projectiles:

  • Battery I: 281 time fuse shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery K:  260 time fuse shell for 3-inch rifles.

More Hotchkiss on the next page:

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  • Battery I: 114 percussion fuse shell, 564 bullet shell, and 116 canister for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery K: 120 canister for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery L: 39 percussion fuse shell and 120 canister for 3-inch rifles.

To the next page were we find Parrott projectiles:

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  • Battery B: 354 shell, 297 case, and 95 canister for 10-pdr Parrotts.
  • Battery M: 298 shell, 412 case, and 94 canister for 10-pdr Parrotts.

To the right are some Schenkl listings:

  • Battery B: 57 shell for 10-pdr Parrotts.
  • Battery K: 338 shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery L: 438 shell for 3-inch rifles.

More Schenkl on the next page:

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  • Battery K: 343 case for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery L: 600 case for 3-inch rifles.

Turning to the small arms:

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  • Battery A: Seventeen Colt navy revolvers, sixty-eight Remington army revolvers, and eighty-five horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery B: Sixteen Colt army revolvers and twenty cavalry sabers.
  • Battery D: Eight Colt army revolvers and eight horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery G: Eighteen Colt army revolvers and twenty-three horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery H: Twenty Colt navy revolvers, fifteen cavalry sabers, and five horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery I: Seven horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery K: Nine Colt army revolvers and eighteen cavalry sabers.
  • Battery L: Sixteen Colt navy revolvers and nine horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery M: Eight Colt army revolvers and two horse artillery sabers.

Turning next to the cartridge bags:

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  • Battery A: 582 cartridge bags for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery B: 460 cartridge bags for 10-pdr Parrotts.
  • Battery I: 940 cartridge bags for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery K: 1,187 cartridge bags for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery M: 22 cartridge bags for 10-pdr Parrotts.

Our last page is a busy one… try to keep up:

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  • Battery A: 3,500 navy pistol cartridges and 2,160 friction primers.
  • Battery B: 600 army pistol cartridges; 1,625 paper fuses; 1,300 friction primers, and 50 yards of slow match.
  • Battery D: 300 army pistol cartridges; 650 friction primers; twelve yards of fast match; twelve yards of slow match.
  • Battery G: 50 army pistol cartridges and 1,190 friction primers.
  • Battery H: 800 navy pistol cartridges; 584 friction primers, and 7 yards of slow match.
  • Battery I: 676 paper fuses; 1,000 friction primers; and 25 yards of slow match.
  • Battery K: 1,507 paper fuses; 2,960 friction primers; 5 yards of fast match; 10 yards of slow match; and 36 portfires.
  • Battery L: 50 navy pistol cartridges.
  • Battery M: 390 paper fuses; 720 friction primers; and 250 pistol percussion caps.

The twelve batteries of the 1st New York Light Artillery was among the hardest fighting in the war on either side.  We have a very good record, from the Official Records, letters, and post-war accounts, of the batteries’ wartime service.  And with their regimental commander’s diary preserved, we have some interesting insight into the administrative activities of the batteries.  What stands out here is two of the three “no report” batteries.  Battery E can be excused as being consolidated with Battery L.  But Battery C was just two stops up the railroad from Wainwright.  And Battery F was in Washington, where one would think formal reporting was encouraged, if not mandated.  And we know, from his diary, Wainwright was quick to mention when one of his subordinates were not performing to expectations.  I tend to think what we see here is evidence, though not of some lax administrative habits.  But rather evidence pointing back to the way the summaries were complied and used by the Ordnance Department, for their functions.  A filter, if you will, that we must consider when taking these raw numbers into account.

Summary Statement: December 31, 1862 – 1st New York Light Artillery Regiment

New York’s contribution to the Federal war machine was not just a “cog” in a wheel.  Rather we might say the Empire State provided a whole wheel.  And part of that was of course a number of artillery batteries.  I could well spend several posts discussing the various formations – heavy artillery, light artillery regiments, independent batteries, independent battalions, National Guard batteries, etc…. oh, and don’t forget some rocket batteries.  But for the Fourth Quarter 1862 summaries we need focus on four groups – 1st New York Light Artillery Regiment, 3rd New York Light Artillery Regiment, 1st New York Light Artillery Battalion (sometimes cited as the “German” battalion), and numbered independent light artillery batteries.  There’s one additional line for reporting artillery assigned to a volunteer cavalry formation.  And we should also mind the German battalion’s batteries were later assigned independent battery numbers.  But that was the future.  For December 1862 we have two regiments, one battalion, thirty-two (minus four that were at the time in the battalion) independent batteries,  and one “other” line to consider.

So let us start with the 1st Regiment, New York Light Artillery… Colonel Charles S. Wainwright’s boys:

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The clerks posted information from seven of the twelve batteries, most being received in 1863.  At this time of the war, most of the 1st New York batteries supported the Army of the Potomac in the east.  The breakdown by battery:

  • Battery A: No return.  This battery’s guns were captured earlier in the year at Seven Pines.  Most of the surviving men were transferred to other batteries while Captain Thomas Bates went about recruiting and reorganizing.  So in December 1862, there was no equipment to report.
  • Battery B: No return. Captain Rufus D. Pettit’s battery was part of Second Corps, having just participated in the Fredericksburg Campaign with six (or four?) 10-pdr Parrotts.
  • Battery C: At Falmouth, Virginia with four 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  This was Lieutenant William H. Phillips’ battery assigned to support Fifth Corps.
  • Battery D: Fredericksburg, Virginia with six 12-pdr Napoleons.  Battery assigned to Ninth Corps and under Captain Thomas W. Osborn.
  • Battery E: No return. Reduced by sickness and other causes during the Peninsula Campaign, Battery E was assigned to 1st New York Independent Light Artillery at this reporting interval.
  • Battery F: Yorktown, Virginia with four 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  Captain William R. Wilson’s battery was part of Fourth Corps, Department of Virginia.
  • Battery G: No return. This was Captain John D. Frank’s battery supporting Second Corps with four 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery H: Fort Keys, Gloucester Point, Virginia with four 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  Also assigned to Fourth Corps.  Captain Charles E. Mink commanded this battery.
  • Battery I: Falmouth, Virginia with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  Captain Michael Weidrich’s battery supported Eleventh Corps.
  • Battery K: Brandy Station, Virginia with four 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  This location is obviously in error for December 1862.  It was correct for January, 1864, when the return was received in Washington.  Backing up a year and a month, Battery K was with the Twelfth Corps for the 4th Quarter, 1862.
  • Battery L: No location given but with four 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  Captain John A. Reynolds’ battery supported First Corps, which was near Fredericksburg at the time.
  • Battery M: No return. This battery was also part of Twelfth Corps in December 1862.  Lieutenant Charles Winegar commanded the battery at the time, with Captain George W. Cothran on leave.  I believe it was equipped with 10-pdr Parrotts.

 

Of note here is the listing for Battery K with the discrepancy indicated with regard to reported location.  Often in correspondence (present day correspondence, that is), folks will eagerly inquire about these summary statements.  The perception, which I held when first looking them over, is we have a gold mine of “facts” to work with.  Not entirely true.  What we have are a lot of numbers that must be shaken down for some useful information.  The example seen here, with Battery K, one of the many issues that demonstrate the data is not “clean”.    The summaries are far short of the sound foundation of facts that might lead easily to solid information.  Though those summaries are a bit firmer than clay, I would quickly point out.

At the December 1862 reporting time, I believe Battery K was commanded by Lieutenant E. L. Bailey.  It was part of a battalion commanded by Captain Robert H. Fitzhugh, the battery’s former commander.  Batteries K and M constituted 2/3rds of the battalion. And it was part of Wainwright’s regiment.  Wainwright who, as we know from his diary, was very particular about keeping up with his paperwork.  Yet, this battery didn’t give a fourth quarter, 1862 report until over a year later.  And when that report was registered by the Ordnance Department, an erroneous location was recorded.

One would think such tardiness wouldn’t be allowed.  And one would rightly supposed Battery K’s officers would report on time and accurately.  Our impression is the chain of command above Battery K would insist on timely reporting.  Furthermore that the clerks in Washington were efficient and never lost such important paperwork.  Yet, the record indicates otherwise.

So we have reason to dispute one column for Battery K, why not the rest?  Was the clerk entering the 1862 data with just one cell (location) incorrect? Or is all the other data now suspect?  Enter that discussion with ample salt…. With that salt applied, let us walk through the reported ammunition quantities, starting with smoothbore:

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The only smothbores among the reporting batteries were the Napoleons of Battery D.  That battery reported 288 shot, 96 shells, 238 288 case, and 96 canister.

We have more rifled guns to feed. Those projectiles start with the Hotchkiss Patent listings:

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Four batteries reporting Hotchkiss projectiles on hand:

  • Battery C: 102 canister, 40 percussion shell, 235 fuse shell, and 576 bullet shell all in 3-inch caliber.
  • Battery F: 80 canister, 80 percussion shell, 160 fuse shell, and 430 bullet shell of 3-inch.
  • Battery I: 120 canister, 290 fuse shell, and 651 bullet shell in 3-inch.
  • Battery K: 97 canister, 117 percussion shell, 118 fuse shell, and 54 bullet shell also 3-inch.

We might attach some significance to the proportionally larger numbers for “bullet shell” or what I prefer to call case shot.

One battery reported Dyer’s patent projectiles:

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Battery H had 140 shells, 576 shrapnel (case), and 164 canister, all in 3-inch caliber.

There are a couple of entries for the Shenkl patent projectiles:

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Battery H had 285 3-inch shells and Battery I had 116 of the same.

None of the batteries known to have Parrott rifles had a return complied.  So we are certainly missing more than a handful of pieces to the puzzle.  And I would point out that while Battery K’s data did not include any projectiles, the other pages indicate the battery had other supplies accounted for in the belated report.

Finally, the small arms:

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By battery:

  • Battery C: One Army revolver, eight Navy revolvers, and fourteen cavalry sabers.
  • Battery D: Eight Army revolvers and eight horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery F: Nineteen Army revolvers and sixteen foot artillery swords.
  • Battery H: Sixteen Navy revolvers and fifteen cavalry sabers.
  • Battery I: Seventeen Navy revolvers and thirty horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery K: One Navy revolver and eight cavalry sabers.
  • Battery L: Seventeen Army revolvers and ten horse artillery sabers.

In summary, and to reinforce the point made above in the battery details, we cannot take this summary as a clear, clean “snapshot” of what equipment was on hand at the specified time.  Even here for a set of Eastern Theater units, very close to Washington, we see easily recognized errors in the data.  So we are obligated to ask questions and search for answers that validate… or invalidate.

Sherman’s March, March 2, 1865: “To be shot to death in retaliation for the murder of Private R. M. Woodruff”

During the first days of March, 1865, Major-General William T. Sherman expressed some concern about Confederate concentrations in front of his force.  During the last days of February, Sherman’s columns were at a standstill as they dealt with flooded rivers. Orders to the Right Wing commander, Major-General Oliver O. Howard, during that time were to wait until the Left Wing, particularly the Fourteenth Corps, caught up.  But the situation changed with the flip of the calendar page.  Reports, which were accurate reports, had a Confederate force under Lieutenant-General William Hardee in Cheraw.  Writing to Howard on March 1, 1865, Sherman dismissed any serious threat from those forces, but necessary objectives:

The enemy cannot hold Cheraw against us, because it is on a branch road and we can insulate it.  [General Joseph E.] Johnston, if there, will not fight with a bridge behind him.  We may have to cross the Peedee with a serious enemy in front, but we must not allow the Confederates time to fortify Cheraw.

So for March 2, Sherman wanted his columns to push on to Cheraw and thence over the PeeDee.

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The Fourteenth Corps, which perpetually seemed to be behind on the march through South Carolina, continued to catch up on the 1st.  In the lead that day, Brigadier-General James Morgan’s Second Division reached Lynches River.  Morgan reported:

The roads to-day very heavy.  Long hard hills to pull up, but on the whole the roads were better than yesterday.  My command has made a first-rate march of twelve miles to-day.  Will cross the bridge with my command as soon as the road is completed and await further orders.

To this, Major-General Jefferson C. Davis replied that “no doubt you have made a good march to-day, but would have preferred you had pushed on for or five miles beyond the bridge.”  Davis ordered Morgan to be on the road again at daylight.   Screening the left of the Fourteenth Corps, the Cavalry Division made a modest march of only a dozen miles.

To the front of the Left Wing, the Twentieth Corps pressed on to Chesterfield and had one of its few engagements of the South Carolina march.  The troops had to look sharp, as Sherman himself accompanied them on the march that day.  Major-General Alpheus S. Williams had Brigadier-General Nathaniel Jackson’s First Division on point.  As the column neared Chesterfield, scouts reported Confederate cavalry on the road ahead.  Jackson deployed skirmishers from the 5th Connecticut and 141st New York, part of Brigadier-General James Selfridge’s Brigade.  “We drove the enemy, after exchanging many shots, and captured the town of Chesterfield without the loss of a man,”  recalled Selfridge.

The infantry followed up the cavalry to bridges over Thompson Creek beyond. Selfridge’s men kept effective fire on the bridges and prevented any attempt to destroy them.  The Confederates countered with artillery fire from the opposite side of the creek.  Escalating the action, Major John A. Reynolds, Twentieth Corps artillery chief, brought up a section of Battery I, First New York Artillery and Battery C, 1st Ohio Artillery.  The New Yorkers fired thirteen rounds.  The Buckeye artillerists added twelve solid shot and eight spherical case.  A first rate artillery duel, with the Federals gaining the upper hand before nightfall.

On the 2nd, Howard was increasingly anxious to move the Fifteenth Corps forward on the right side of the march. Though unavoidable, problems with the bridges over the Lynches River the day before had greatly delayed Major-General John Logan’s advance.  With repairs made overnight, the last of the Fifteenth Corps crossed Tiller’s and Kelly’s Bridges.   Thus a river crossing which had started on February 25 was finally complete – the longest delay in Sherman’s movements since leaving Savannah.

Three Divisions of Fifteenth Corps managed to reach Black Creek that evening.  A pontoon over that creek allowed lead elements to occupy New Market.  While Logan directed that traffic, Howard directed Major-General John Corse to move Fourth Division, Fifteenth Corps forward to close the gap with Seventeenth Corps.  Receiving orders mid-morning, Corse broke camp at 1 p.m. and reported making six miles towards Cheraw that day.

Howard had Major-General Frank Blair’s Seventeenth Corps to hold position on the 2nd.  While not marching, Blair had two issues to deal with.  The first concerned the need to press forward and confusion between Sherman and Howard.  Late on March 1, Sherman addressed Blair directly:

The Twentieth Corps will be to-morrow night at or near Chesterfield. I want the Right Wing to move straight on Cheraw vigorously and secure if possible the bridge across PeeDee.  You need not suppose the enemy to be there in heavy force.  Big generals may be there but not a large force. At all events get across Thompson’s [Creek] on to-morrow and in Cheraw if possible. I will have men across the same stream about Chesterfield.  Communicate with me there to-morrow night.

Blair received this order around 10:00 a.m. on March 2.  But, “I was making preparation to move forward at once… when I received General Howard’s directions to wait,” Blair reported.  Not until late afternoon did Howard respond to clarify the orders.  “The general directs that in accordance with General Sherman’s instructions you move forward on Cheraw as early an hour as possible to-morrow morning.”  Not the time table that Sherman wanted, but the corps would move.

While waiting on the orders to be worked out, Blair dealt with another, more sensitive issue – that of retaliation for the execution of a forager.  Word came in the previous afternoon that a soldier from the 30th Illinois was found beaten to death.  The soldier was found at Blakeny’s Bridge, marked on the map above.  This was well to the rear of the Corps march, considering Blair’s instructions issued the previous day.  Satisfied from reports this was a murder of the manner described in Sherman’s message issued on February 23. Blair was thus compelled to issue, as the first paragraph for Special Orders No. 56, this response:

In accordance with instructions from the major-general commanding the army, directing that for each of our men murdered by the enemy a life of one of the prisoners in our hands should be taken, Mar. J.C. Marven, provost-marshal, Seventeenth Army Corps, will select from the prisoners in his charge one man and deliver him to Brig. Gen. M.F. Force, commanding Third Division, to be shot to death in retaliation for the murder of Private R. M. Woodruff, Company H, Thirtieth Illinois Volunteers, a regularly detailed forager, who was beaten to death by the enemy near Blakney’s Bridge on or about the 1st day of March, 1865.

The prisoners held by the Seventeenth Corps drew lots.  James Miller, a South Carolinian, drew the lot from among the prisoners held by the Seventeenth Corps.

Miller’s execution is one of the most mentioned incidents of Sherman’s march through South Carolina.  Second only to the burning of Columbia, perhaps.  As such, that warrants a separate post with a look at some of the details.

(Citations from OR, Series I, Volume 47, Part I, Serial 98, pages 610 ; Part II, Serial 99, pages 628, 649, 650-1.)