Missouri’s Marines and their abbreviated service

Early this week I used an entry from the ordnance summaries, second quarter of 1863 to introduce the Mississippi Marine Brigade.  That unit is often associated with Missouri, if for nothing else a lack of proper place to put the records.  Though there was a recruiting focus in the river towns of Missouri, in the War Department’s view there was no connection to the state.

Before leaving the subject of marines and Missouri, I’d be remiss without mentioning there were indeed Missouri Marines raised during the Civil War.  But that organization was short lived and we don’t see them listed in official reports, returns, or organizational tables.  In 1902, the office of the Secretary of War provided a report of organizations, in response to a Senate inquiry, titled “Missouri Troops in service during the Civil War.”  After a short paragraph on the Mississippi Marine Brigade (and establishing, officially at least, that unit was not “Missouri” in parentage), the report turned to a “Marine Corps” raised in Missouri:

Among the many peculiar and illegal organizations formed by Major-General Frémont, or by his authority, during his administration of the affairs of the Western Department, was an organization designated by him as a “Marine corps.” This corps, consisting of three companies, was organized for “river transportation service,” and would have no place in a history of Missouri military organizations but for the fact that an effort has been made to give the members of the corps a military status, and that, evidently through misapprehension as to their status in the service, they were credited to the quota of the State of Missouri.

The verbiage goes a long way to distance these three companies from formal recognition – illegal, with no place, but for a mistake.  The report went on to cite Frémont’s orders:

St. Louis, August 13, 1861.

Capt. Thomas Maxwell.

Sir. You are hereby authorized to recruit a Marine Corps to serve during the war, to consist of 1 captain, 2 pilots -first and second; 4 engineers – first, second, third, and fourth, 2 mates – first and second; 1 clerk, 1 steward, 30 sailors, 8 firemen, 1 watchman, 1 cook and mate, 1 cabin boy.

When you shall have completed the organization of said corps, you will apply to these headquarters, where the necessary order will be issued.

J. C. Frémont, Major-General, Commanding.

Key point here – these were not marines in the sense that we think of.  Instead of being “leathernecks” that would provide security, landing parties, and such, this is a formation tailored to operate boats.

One day after the order, Maxwell reported the force was “enrolled.”  Five days later, Frémont sent orders to have a steam transport turned over to Captain Maxwell.  On August 20, the company was sworn in as “First Company in the First marine Corps … of Missouri Volunteers” with a three year term of service.

Following this establishment, Frémont proceeded to order two more companies.  On August 28, Captain James Abrams was authorized to form a company.   Then on September 12, Captain John Reily was likewise to form a third company, this one to include a carpenter.  The report mentioned a fourth company, under Captain John Young, but indicated no authorization documents were found.  The designation changed to “Marine Corps for River Transportation Service.”

The first three companies were assigned to transports. Reily’s operated the steamer John D. Perry, a sidewheel steamer of 382 tons (empty).   Before the war, the Perry operated on the Mississippi on a circut between Cape Girardeau, Cairo, St. Genevieve, St. Louis, and other river towns.  Under contract for the US Government, the Perry operated mostly on the Missouri River.

On October 20, 1861, the Perry was on a trip up the Missouri to Jefferson City to deliver horses and wagons.  At Portland, Missouri, about thirty miles downstream from that point, the Perry‘s pilot, John F. Smith, attempted to dock around dusk to gather wood for fuel.  Some locals immediately informed the vessel “there was a force of 150 rebels back of the town,” with intentions to capture the vessel.  The pilot quickly pulled away, tied up to an island in the river, and gathered wood.  The Perry made Jefferson City at 11 the next morning, according to a report in the Daily Missouri Democrat (reporting on October 25).  Other than that incident, there are scant reports of operations by these Missouri Marines or their boats.

The operations with contract steamers and their Missouri Marine complements ceased shortly after Major-General Henry Halleck replaced Frémont.  Determining the contracts were not proper and likewise the enlistments did not conform to regulations, Halleck moved to break up the arrangements. On December 14, Halleck directed the Missouri Marines be disbanded.  Regarding their service, Halleck wrote to Washignton:

I am discharging most of the steamers formerly in the Government employment, and mustering out of service what is called “Marine Corps,” which are nothing more than hired men on these boats. This will be a great saving of expense.

Halleck insisted the Missouri Marines were not a military organization and were thus not properly, legally mustered.  Old Brains at it again.

Captain P.T. Turnley, quartermaster, had the duty of paying off and discharging the Missouri Marines.  By working through the Quartermaster’s Department, Halleck essentially covered the matter as one of contractual obligations and not of enlistments. He reported that was complete by December 31.  Finally, under Special Orders No. 29, from the Department of Missouri, Halleck officially announced disbanding “the three Marine Corps under command of Maxwell, Abrams, and Reily….”

In 1902, the War Department put closure to the Missouri Marines:

It has always been held by the War Department, since the attention of the Department was called to the military status of the “Marine Corps,” that its muster into service was not a lawful muster into the military service of the United States, such an organization being unknown to the military establishment and not authorized by law.  The members of this force were not officers or enlisted men in the United States military service, for which reason, evidently, they were paid by the Quartermaster’s Department and not from the appropriations for pay of the Army.  They are regarded by the War Department as having been civilian employees in the Quartermaster’s Department and not having been formed a part of the military establishment of the United States.

Not stated or considered, even forty years after the war, was that the military did indeed need such services on western waters.  And such duty was eventually performed by a mix of Army and Navy personnel, along with contract labor.

(Citations from War Department, Missouri Troops in Service in During the Civil War, 57th Congress, 1st Session, Document No. 412, Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1902, pages 195-7; OR, Series I, Volume 8, Serial 8, page 449; Daily Missouri Democrat, October 25, 1861, Page 2, Column 2; Documents filed in the Combined Service Record of Thomas Maxwell, Missouri, Miscellaneous papers pertaining to organizations, Record Group 94, Roll 0850.)

 

 

 

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Summary Statement: December 31, 1862 – Missouri’s First Regiment of Artillery

The Missouri section of the fourth quarter, 1862 summary statement lists sixteen batteries.  That covers all of the 1st Regiment, Missouri Light Artillery as a whole.  It also includes bits and pieces of what would become the 2nd Regiment and some militia batteries brought onto Federal service at the time.  For this installment, we will look at the easy to interpret 1st Missouri Artillery.  And “easy” is a relative term.

The First Missouri Artillery had batteries assigned to the Department of Missouri, Army of the Frontier, the Army of Tennessee, and the Army of Cumberland.  Four of the batteries – D, H, I, and K – served together as a battalion under the command of Major George H. Stone during the Battle of Corinth, earlier in October, 1862.  However, the remainder were, as was common among the volunteer batteries, scattered around as needs required.

Looking to the first page of the summary, note the date which the returns were received.  This factors into my interpretation of some entries:

0051_Snip_Dec62_1MO_1

To help identify the batteries further, I’ll mention the battery commander for each, though it is not indicated in the summary.  That may aid the “untangling” of some of the organizational nuances of these batteries and answer some underlying questions:

  • Battery A: Helena, Arkansas.  Four 6-pdr field guns and two 12-pdr field howitzers. This battery was part of the District of Southeast Missouri, but would shortly become part of the “new” Thirteenth Corps as reorganized under Major-General John McClernand.  It’s battery commander was Captain George W. Schofield, namesake of the post-war Schofield revolver and brother of Major-General John Schofield.
  • Battery B:  Brownsville, Texas.  Two 12-pdr “heavy” field guns and four 12-pdr field howitzers.  Captain Martin Welfley commanded this battery.  The location is certainly incorrect for December 1862.  Likely that is tied to the date of the report’s receipt in Washington – April 1864.  At the close of 1862, the battery was in Missouri.  Welfley took the two heavy 12-pdr guns to Vicksburg when sent to the siege lines in June 1863.  By September of that year, he reported four heavy 12-pdrs and only two howitzers.
  • Battery C:  No report. Part of the Left Wing, Thirteenth Corps in December 1862. Later reorganized into the Sixteenth Corps.  Commanded by Lieutenant Edward Brotzmann.
  • Battery D: Reporting from Corinth, Mississippi, with five 20-pdr Parrott rifles.  Captain Henry Richardson commanded this battery.  It was among those in Stone’s battalion earlier in the fall.  The battery would spend time in Sixteenth and Seventeenth Corps during the winter of 1863.
  • Battery E: At Fayetteville, Arkansas, with four 10-pdr Parrotts and two 3.5-inch “English Rifles.”  Several notes here.  First this battery was organized by Captain Nelson Cole, but by the Prairie Grove campaign, in the Army of the Frontier,  it was commanded by Lieutenant Joseph Foust.  Those English rifles were products of Fawcett & Preston in Liverpool, purchased by General John C. Fremont early in the war.  Like other Civil War ordnance “enthusiasts,” I class these weapons as Blakelys based on caliber, projectiles, and loose affiliation of origin.  By September, Foust increased the number of English guns by one.
  • Battery F:  No report.  This battery had also seen service at Prairie Grove. Captain David Murphy’s battery moved with a column to Van Buren, Arkansas after the battle.  From notes about Prairie Grove, this battery should have reported a mix of James rifles and those Blakelys (or Fawcett & Preston, as you may prefer).
  • Battery G: No report.  This is Captain Henry Hescock’s battery supporting Third Division (Sheridan), Right Wing, Army of the Cumberland at the Battle of Stones River.  Hescock was also the division’s chief of artillery at the time, and I’ve wondered if he performed both roles (division chief and battery commander) or delegated the battery to a senior lieutenant.  His official report reads as if he retained command of the battery.  The battery fired 1,112 rounds at Stones River, lost one officer and 21 enlisted men, and reported short 37 horses.
  • Battery H:  At Corinth, with two 6-pdr field guns, one 24-pdr field howitzer, and two 10-pdr Parrotts.  Was part of Stone’s battalion earlier in the fall.  Commanded by Captain Frederick Welker.  Also part of the Thirteenth Corps in December, 1862.  By the end of the winter, the battery was part of Sixteenth Corps.
  • Battery I:  At Corinth, reporting four 6-pdr field guns and two 12-pdr field howitzers. I don’t know exactly when, but command of this battery passed from Captain William Pile, who went on to command the 33rd Missouri Infantry, to Captain Benjamin Tannrath.  Like the other Corinth-based batteries, Battery I was part of the Thirteenth Corps at the end of 1862, but being part of the reorganization into the Sixteenth Corps.
  • Battery K: Reporting four 10-pdr Parrotts at Vicksburg.  They might have wished they were *in* Vicksburg that winter!  Maybe the Confederates would have appreciated the loan of those Parrotts that winter!   Certainly this is a transcription error.  This was George Stone’s old battery and part of his battalion at Corinth.  Captain Stillman O. Fish had command of the battery, with Stone managing a “battalion” and later unbrigaded artillery at Corinth.
  • Battery L:  No report. This was Captain Frank Backof’s battery which fought at Prairie Grove.  They had four James rifles and two 12-pdr field howitzers.  By the end of the month, the battery was at Van Buren, Arkansas.
  • Battery M:  No location indicated, but with four 10-pdr Parrott rifles.  The battery was part of the Left Wing, Thirteenth Corps (soon to be the Sixteenth Corps) and stationed around Jackson, Tennessee.  Battery commanded by Captain Junius W. MacMurray.

MacMurray went on to serve in the regular army after the war:

Junius-Wilson-MacMurray

And many of MacMurray’s papers are in the Princeton University Library,which according to the description “include quartermaster’s lists, invoices, and returns.”  Should anyone have access to those, I’d be interested if copies of MacMurray’s Ordnance Returns and other “cannon” related documents are in that set.

Yes, from the perspective of organization (and to some degree the armament), the Missouri batteries were one bag of confusing entries.  I’m making it somewhat worse by going beyond what is written in the summary. Thankfully, the rest of the summary, focusing on ammunition, is less confusing.  Starting with smoothbore ammunition:

0053_Snip_Dec62_1MO_1

These lines are interesting, if for nothing else with the inclusion of the 24-pdr unfixed ammunition.

  • Battery A:  6-pdr field gun – 400 shot, 308 case, and 188(?) canister; 12-pdr field howitzer – 11 shells, 156 case, and 27 canister.
  • Battery B: 12-pdr field gun – 128 shot, 84 case, and 32 canister; 12-pdr field howitzer – 340 shells, 358 case, and 64 canister.
  • Battery H: Reporting nothing for the 6-pdr guns, but for the 24-pdr field howitzers – 109 shell, 62 case, and 66 canister.
  • Battery I:  6-pdr field gun – 169 shot, 437 case, and 222 canister; 12-pdr field howitzer – 120 shell, 109 case, and 145 canister.
  • Battery K: 6-pdr field gun – 98 case and 28 canister.

Moving to the rifled ammunition, first we consider the Hotchkiss patent projectiles:

0053_Snip_Dec62_1MO_2

Yes, just one entry – Battery D had 38 Wiard-type 3.67-inch shot.  Yes, 20-pdr Parrotts had a 3.67-inch bore, nominally.

Lots of entries for Parrott and Schenkl columns:

0054_Snip_Dec62_1MO_1

By battery:

  • Battery B: 20-pdr Parrott – 291 shell, 75 case, and 111 canister.  With the battery armed only with smoothbore, this might be quantity under the charge of the battery at a garrison in Missouri.  Or perhaps another transcription error, putting the entries for Battery D on the wrong line?
  • Battery E: Parrott projectiles for 10-pdr Parrott – 420 shell and 131 canister.  Schenkl for 10-pdr Parrott – 133 shot.
  • Battery H:  Parrott for 10-pdr Parrott – 13 shell and 69 canister.
  • Battery K:  Parrott for 10-pdr – 175 shell, 350 case, and 120 canister.  Schenkl for 10-pdr Parrot – 100 shot.
  • Battery M:  Parrott for 10-pdr – 152 shell, 250 case, and 94 canister.  Schenkl for 10-pdr Parrot – 80 shot.

Continuing with the Schenkl entries, we have Battery M with 98 Parrott canister by that patent:

0054_Snip_Dec62_1MO_2

Now for the small arms!

0054_Snip_Dec62_1MO_3

Let’s see how those gunners were armed:

  • Battery A: 9 Navy revolvers and 35 cavalry sabers.
  • Battery B: 19 Navy revolvers, 52 cavalry sabers, 10 horse artillery sabers, and 8 foot artillery sabers.
  • Battery D: 30 cavalry sabers.
  • Battery E: 85 Army revolvers and 53 cavalry sabers.
  • Battery H: 5 Army revolvers and 45 horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery I: 15 Army revolvers, 106 cavalry sabers, and one horse artillery saber.
  • Battery K: 4 Navy revolvers and 40 cavalry sabers.
  • Battery M: 13 Army revolvers and 7 horse artillery sabers.

The 1st Missouri Artillery entries were a lot of “finger work” and research on my end.  And I am still not happy with all the validations for the batteries and their armaments.  I would stress again this is the “summary” reflecting what was reported from paperwork received at intervals in Washington.  We don’t know if one clerk did all the work… or if a team of clerks were involved.  In short, we don’t have a clear picture of how the paperwork was processed.  Thus we have to add questions about data integrity.

On to the 2nd Missouri and the State Militia batteries….

From the Pittsburgh Steelers: Singer, Nimick, and Company 3-inch Rifles

OK, so they had rifled steel cannons in the Civil War. How about an example of one? If you’ve visited Gettysburg recently, you’ve probably walked by this one on the way to the theater.

GB 31 July 10 066
Singer, Nimick & Company 3-inch Ordnance Rifle

This may look like a typical 3-inch Ordnance Rifle. But there is a significant difference. This rifle is not from Phoenix Iron Company and its is not wrought iron. The trunnion stamp tells the story.

Gettysburg 283
Trunnion Stamp on 3-inch S,N&Co Rifle

Singer, Nimick & Company of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania produced this rifle. And very prominently – this is cast steel. The gun was delivered in 1862, although casting may have taken place in 1861.

Gettysburg 287
Muzzle of S,N&Co 3-inch rifle

The muzzle indicates the weight as 835 lbs. The registry number is 6. The inspectors initials are J.S. for John Symington.

Gettysburg 285
Breech and rear sight

The breech profile of the rifle matches the ordnance pattern. The rear sight seat is different from those used on Phoenix guns, with screw mounts on the back slope of the breach.

Gettysburg 284
Trunnions, acceptance mark and middle sight

Much like the middle batches of Phoenix guns, the Singer-Nimick gun has a middle sight and a muzzle blade sight.

The Singer-Nimick is 73 inches long overall, which matches the length of most Phoenix guns. All other external dimensions, including the 3.67 inch diameter trunnions, match the more famous Phoenix guns. Rifling has seven lands and grooves. Save for the stamps, this rifle would easily pass as just any ordinary 3-inch Ordnance Rifle in the field.

The gun now at Gettysburg is one of six ordered in October 1861. Early in the war, General John C. Frémont turned to several relatively new vendors for ordnance purchases. Singer, Nimick & Company was among those. At the time the company operated the Sheffield Steel Works in Pittsburgh (on the south bank of the Ohio, if my research is correct). The guns conformed to the exterior and rifling standards given for the Model 1861 weapons. Major John Symington of nearby Allegheny Arsenal inspected and accepted the weapons in August 1862.

There are no records from Frémont’s headquarters regarding the selection of the vendor or the metal. But what is known is the price per gun – $626 each. In comparison, in the same month the Army purchased 83 rifles from Phoenix Iron Company at a cost of $330 each. Such offers a good measure of the expense of steel in the days before adoption of the lower cost Bessemer process.

Although expensive these six rifles saw active service in the war. Very active indeed. Two other survivors from the batch of six are today on the field of Chickamauga. Those have a story all their own, linked to Captain John Watson Morton’s artillery supporting General Nathan Bedford Forrest.

And these were not the only wartime contributions of Singer, Nimick & Company. More on that point in a future post, along with more on the owners of that company.

“Fremont and the Union!”

Well that’s what Major Charles Zagonyi said his 160 bodyguard troopers yelled as they made one heck of a charge into a force of defiant rebels outside Springfield, Missouri on this day (October 25) in 1861.  His initial report read:

I report respectfully that yesterday afternoon at 4 o’clock I met in Springfield about 2,000 or 2,200 of the rebels in their camp, formed in line of battle.  They gave me a very warm reception – warmer than I expected. But your guard, with one feeling, made a charge, and in less than 3 minutes the 2,000 or 2,200 men were perfectly routed by 150 men of the Body-Guard.  We cleared out the city perfectly of every rebel, and raised the Union flag on the court-house.  It getting too dark, I concluded to leave the city, not being able to keep it with 150 men.  Major White’s men did not participate in the charge.

Allow me, general [Fremont], to make you acquainted with the behavior of the soldiers and officers.  I have seen charges, but such brilliant unanimity and bravery I have never seen and did not expect it.  Their war cry, “Fremont and the Union,” broke forth as thunder….  (OR, Series I, Volume 3, Serial 3, page 250).

… and well maybe that is a little embellished.  There were probably less than 1500 poorly organized and equipped Missouri State Guard troops on the field.  The fighting lasted longer than just a few minutes.  And Zagonyi downplayed the role of Major Frank White’s “Prairie Scouts,” a pro-union Missouri state force, in the action.

Zagonyi commanded General John C. Fremont’s personal bodyguard, a force one might describe as “dashing,” but at a minimum I’d say famously dressed.  Zagonyi himself was a soldier of fortune type from Hungary.

While his first report has more flourishes than a Forth of July speech in an election year, Zagonyi did indeed drive his opponents out of Springfield.  The Guard, armed with Colt revolving rifles and braces of pistols, outmatched their state guard opponents in weaponry.  But situations dictated Zagonyi charge down a narrow farm lane, which negated any advantage.  The State Guard effectively bottled up the force for a short time.  Zagonyi dismounted part of his force in an attempt to flank the Guard.  White’s men rode out of the farm lane, taking the long way around to envelope the Guard troops.  Meanwhile Zagonyi pushed his other companies forward, eventually breaking through resistance.

In his official report on the action, Zagonyi reduced the number of charges to one, made little mention of resistance, and gave lavish credit to the body-guard.  Other accounts, particularly that of Captain Patrick Naughton of 23rd Illinois Volunteers, refuted Zagonyi’s version of events.

In the fighting, Zagonyi’s casualties numbered about 80.  The Missouri State Guard suffered around 125.   A small action, but one that went down as a legendary charge.  The site of the action is today fully developed.  A rail line and the Kansas Expressway bisect the area where the fighting occurred.

Wilsons Creek 404
Site of Zagonyi's Charge

A stone marker, inside private property, reminds visitors of the Hungarian’s action.

Wilsons Creek 406
Marker for Zagonyi's Charge

I’ve often wondered if the glory of Zagonyi’s Charge dimmed due to circumstances (particularly the relief of Fremont from command in Missouri a few days later); or on the other hand the charge benefited with inflated importance by way of Zagonyi’s and other’s embellishments.

Regardless Zagonyi is truly a “forgotten cavalryman” today.  He followed his boss east, with the rank of Colonel.  But Zagonyi resigned at the same time Fremont left the Army.  From there, the Hungarian disappears from the records.