Summary Statement, 3rd Quarter, 1863 – Indiana’s batteries, Part 2

We started on the last post working down this long list of Indiana batteries:

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In that last post, we discussed the first dozen independent batteries.  Picking up there, we have independent batteries 13 through 26:

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Yes, a baker’s dozen plus one.  But with those fourteen batteries, we actually have less numbers to consider as only half provided returns.  So a lot of administrative holes to resolve:

  • 13th Battery: No return.  Captain Benjamin S. Nicklin’s battery remained at Gallatin, Tennessee, garrisoning Fort Thomas, in the Army of the Cumberland.
  • 14th Battery: No return.  Lieutenant Francis W. Morse remained in command.  The battery started the summer in Jackson, Tennessee.  In June, the battery transferred to the railroad town of LaGrange and remained there for the remainder of the summer.  Presumably still with three 6-pdr field guns and one 3-inch Ordnance Rifle, the battery was part of the Sixteenth Corps’ many garrison commands.
  • 15th Battery: At Oak Springs, Tennessee with six 3-inch rifles.  Captain John C. H. von Sehlen commanded this battery, assigned to Fourth Division, Twenty-Third Corps and part of the campaign moving on Knoxville.   The report location is likely related to the November reporting date.
  • 16th Battery: A return of Fort Washington, Maryland without any guns listed.  There is a faint note “Infy Stores” under the regiment column.  Lieutenant Charles R. Deming’s battery were part of the Washington Defenses.
  • 17th Battery: No return.  At the end of the Gettysburg Campaign, Captain Milton L. Miner’s battery became part of the Maryland Heights Division, Department of West Virginia.  The battery reported six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles in previous quarters.
  • 18th Battery:  No Return. Captain Eli Lilly’s battery supported Wilder’s Brigade, Fourth Division, Fourteenth Corps.  The battery brought six 3-inch rifles and four 12-pdr mountain howitzers to Chickamauga.  The mountain howitzers supported the 72nd Indiana on September 20, and one of those was lost in the fighting.  Lilly reported the lost of two men killed and eight wounded;  six horses (plus one wounded); and expending 778 rounds.  A shame we don’t have a return from this… unique… and storied battery.
  • 19th Battery: Reporting at Chattanooga, Tennessee with three 12-pdr Napoleons and one 3-inch Rifles (not under the usual Ordnance Rifle column). This was a return dated January 1864.  But the location is valid.  Captain Samuel J. Harris’s battery was also part of Fourth Division, Fourteenth Corps and went into action at Chickamuaga with four 12-pdr Napoleons and two 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  On September 19, Harris was “disabled by a contusion” to his right side and turned command over to Lieutenant Robert S. Lackey.  During the fighting that disabled Harris, the battery lost a Napoleon and limber.  On the 20th, Lackey kept the battery in the fight, but would have one surviving Napoleon (axle straps) and a 3-inch rifle disabled.  While the Napoleon was brought off the field, the rifle’s axle came completely off and was had to be left behind.  Harris provided a very detailed statement of lost men, equipment and material after the battle.  In addition to the guns, the battery suffered two killed, 16 wounded, and two missing men.  The battery had fifteen horses lost or killed and six wounded. Harris accounted for four lost pistols, three sabers, seven sponges, four sponge buckets, two prolongs, among other items. The battery expended 350 3-inch rifle rounds and 750 12-pdr in the battle.  Harris recovered and remained in command of the battery.
  • 20th Battery:  At Nashville, Tennessee with two 6-pdr field guns and four 3.80-inch James rifles.  Captain Milton A. Osborne’s battery was assigned to the artillery reserve posted to Nashville, under the Army of the Cumberland. In October, the battery was among the forces pushed out to secure the railroad lines out of Nashville.
  • 21st Battery:  No return.  Captain William W. Andrew’s battery was the third Indiana battery assigned to Fourth Division, Fourteenth Corps.  However, Lieutenant William E. Chess field the battery’s report from the battle and appears to have lead the battery in the action.  They took six 12-pdr Napoleons into action, but lost one (and limber).  Chess recorded firing 10 shot, 168 case, 104 shell, and 160 canister – giving us some indication of the range at which this battery was engaged, and what targets they fired upon, during their part of the battle.
  • 22nd Battery: At Bowling Green, Kentucky with four 12-pdr Napoleons.  Under Captain Benjamin F. Denning, this battery was assigned to the Second Division, Twenty-Third Corps, Army of the Ohio.  Through the fall, the battery served at both Bowling Green and Russellsville, Department of Southwestern Kentucky.
  • 23rd Battery:  Reporting at Jonesboro (?), Tennessee with six 3.80-inch James Rifles.  Captain James H. Myers’ battery came across the Ohio River in September and was assigned to the “Left Wing” of Twenty-Third Corps.  Moving by way of the Cumberland Gap, the battery was among the forces operating around Morristown at the start of October.
  • 24th Battery: No return. Under Captain Joseph A. Sims, this battery moved from the Third Division to the Fourth Division in Twenty-Third Corps in August.  Though that move was basically part of the alignment of forces for the campaign on Knoxville.
  • 25th Battery:  No return. The 25th would not organize until the late summer of 1864.  So this is simply a placeholder line.
  • 26th Battery or Wilder’s: At Concord, Tennessee (just west of Knoxville) with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles, with a report date of March, 1864.  Recall this battery was first organized by (then) Captain John T. Wilder, later colonel of the famous “Lightning Brigade.”  The battery was captured at Harpers Ferry in 1862 and then reorganized.  Though given the 26th as a designation, throughout its service the battery was better known as Wilder’s.  Captain Hubbard T. Thomas commanded the battery, assigned to the Twenty-Third Corps.  The battery participated in the Knoxville Campaign in East Tennessee.  The location given in the return, however, likely reflects its winter garrison assignment.

As with the first batch of batteries, we see the “mark” of Chickamauga here reflected with lost cannon and in some cases missing reports.

Making what we can of the small number of returns, we start with the smoothbore ammunition:

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Three to consider:

  • 19th Battery: 20 shot, 8 shell, 72 case, and 52 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • 20th Battery: 189 shot, 150 case, and 35 canister for 6-pdr field guns.
  • 22nd Battery: 98 shot, 119 shell, 144 case, and 121 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.

Note, the 19th Battery had but 152 rounds for their three Napoleons in the aftermath of Chickamauga.  That is if we take the report as precise for the moment in time.

Moving to the Hotchkiss columns:

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Four reporting:

  • 15th Battery: 460 canister, 402 fuse shell, and 1246 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • 20th Battery: 145 percussion shell and 392 bullet shell for 3.80-inch James.
  • 23rd Battery: 365 percussion shell, 315 fuse shell, and 95 bullet shell for 3.80-inch James.
  • 26th Battery (Wilder’s): 520 canister, 260 percussion shell, 574 fuse shell, and 426 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.

So we see those batteries sent into eastern Tennessee had ample ammunition on hand.

A couple more Hotchkiss entries on the next page:

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Two reporting:

  • 20th Battery: 150 canister for 3.80-inch rifles.
  • 23rd Battery: 210 canister for 3.80-inch rifles.

But none of these fourteen batteries had Schenkl projectiles or Tatham’s canister on hand:

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So we move on to the small arms:

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Looking at these by battery:

  • 15th Battery: Twenty-eight Army revolvers and twenty horse artillery sabers.
  • 19th Battery: Fourteen percussion pistols and fourteen horse artillery sabers.  I think the pistols are a transcription error, as the battery reported nineteen Army revolvers in the previous quarter.
  • 20th Battery: Twenty-two Army revolvers.
  • 22nd Battery: Thirty-two horse artillery sabers.
  • 23rd Battery: Thirty Navy revolvers and twenty horse artillery sabers.
  • 26th Battery (Wilder’s): Nineteen horse artillery sabers.

Moving from the independent batteries from Indiana for this quarter, we still have five entries “below the line” to consider.  We’ll pick those up in the next installment.

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Driving Dixie Down: Stoneman’s Raid breaks out of the mountains – March 21-29, 1865

I think anyone who has spun the AM radio dial during a long night drive will find Virgil Caine a familiar name:

For many of us growing up in the 1970s, that was largest dosage of Civil War history outside the class room.   (Yes… I know the song was released in 1969.  Do I lose cool points for admitting a fondness for the Joan Baez cover? )

Those of us with a fine appreciation for historical details might quibble over the accuracy of the lyrics.  But such is the way of poets and songwriters, as they ply their craft.  Any rate, in those opening lines, Robbie Robertson and Levon Helm laid out the name we need to follow – Major-General George Stoneman.

Stoneman was the quintessential “old cavalryman.”  But he had a lackluster wartime record by the winter of 1865.  Two spectacular failed raids were at the top of his resume.  The assignment to lead a raid out of East Tennessee into North Carolina was for all practical purposes Stoneman’s last opportunity for redemption.  The objective of this raid evolved with time.  Early in the winter, Major-General William T. Sherman simply suggested a diversionary raid into western North Carolina to detract both from Sherman’s planned advance into South Carolina and, at Sherman’s urgings, an infantry advance by Major-General George Thomas into Alabama.  Lieutenant-General Ulysses S. Grant opted to refine that scope somewhat, with an objective of the railroad behind Columbia, South Carolina, to directly contribute to Sherman’s advance.  (And there’s a “what if” to ponder.)

But those plans were overtaken by events.  Stoneman could not get his force organized for movement prior to the middle of March.  Just the logistics of getting troops, horses, and supplies in the right place delayed the start.  Further disrupting the launch, the same rains which pinned Sherman’s march from the Catawba to the Cape Fear Rivers served to likewise hinder Stoneman’s preparations.   By the time Stoneman was ready to start, his objectives were refined to the railroad between Christansburg and Lynchburg, in Virginia, with a threat to Danville.  Such would cut off Richmond from raw materials – particularly salt and other minerals – in Southwest Virginina.  I would submit no other major operation in the Civil War had such swings in objectives before the first movement.  Coming this late in the war, this was as much a raid of “because we can.”

Stoneman’s command for this raid was officially the District of East Tennessee.  The main striking arm was a cavalry division under Brigadier-General Alvan Gillem.

Short version of his biography – Gillem was a East Tennessee unionist with personal connections right up to the Vice-President.  Gillem’s division consisted of three brigades with a supporting battery of artillery:

  • 1st Brigade, Colonel William Palmer, with the 10th Michigan, 12th Ohio, and 15th Pennsylvania Cavalry.
  • 2nd Brigade, Brigadier-General Simeon Brown, with the 11th Michigan and 11th and 12th Kentucky.
  • 3rd Brigade, Colonel John Miller, with the 8th, 9th, and 13th Tennessee Cavalry.
  • Battery E, 1st Tennessee Light Artillery, Lieutenant James Regan.

All told, Gillem had around 4,000 men.

Backing up Gillem’s cavalry, a column of infantry and artillery under Brigadier-General Davis Tillson would move to secure the passes over the mountains and repair railroads through which the column would be resupplied.  Tillson’s command consisted of two brigades and seven artillery batteries, numbering around 4,500 men.  Of note, Tillson’s command contained the 1st US Colored Heavy Artillery, serving as infantry, and several formations of Tennessee and North Carolina unionists.

Logistics and weather finally permitted the raid to get underway on March 21, aptly as the battle of Bentonville was winding down.  While I don’t have space, nor the grounding, to cover this raid in the detail provided for Sherman’s Marches, I would offer a view of Stoneman’s Raid from a high level so that readers might appreciate the movements within the context of other events 150 years ago.  To wrap up this, the first in a series on the raid, let me cover the first nine days of movement, to bring us up to March 29, 1865.

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Oh… big map again… I’ll have that on sale at the gift shop if you’d like…. OK, let me break that into three phases so it is easier to sort out.  And please not these are not precise as to all the roads and camps used by the raiders.

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The initial movement out of Knoxville stepped out, as mentioned, on March 21.  The cavalry lead the column, followed by Tillson’s infantry which repaired the railroad as they moved.  The column moved along the Tennessee & Virginia Railroad to Strawberry Plains, Morristown to reach Bull’s Gap in Bays Mountain on March 24.

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At Bull’s Gap, Stoneman received word of Confederate forces occupying Jonesborough along his intended line of march.  To counter that force and maneuver them out of place, Stoneman dispatched Miller’s Brigade on a northern course towards the Holston River, with orders to get behind the Confederate position somewhere south of Carter’s Depot. The remainder of Gillem’s force went directly towards Jonesborough.  Tillson’s infantry followed up the railroad line.  The move had the intended effect.  After some light skirmishing, the Confederates fell back in the direction of Bristol, Tennessee.  On March 26, the cavalry columns were beyond Jonesborough near Elizabethton, while Tilson’s infantry camped a day’s march from Greenville on the rail lines.  Tilson would remain in that area for three days before disbursing his forces further east.

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Stoneman made a treacherous crossing, with some of his men moving at night, over Stone Mountain to cross into North Carolina on March 27. Hearing of a gathering of North Carolina guards, Stoneman dispatched Major Myles Keogh in command of a detachment from the 12th Kentucky Volunteer Cavalry to Boone. Keogh “surprised and routed the rebels, killing 9 and capturing 68” after entering town around 10 a.m. on March 28.

Reporting from Boone that day, Stoneman told Thomas of his success thus far into the raid, but determined to alter his plans.   “I shall be compelled to alter slightly from the proposed route on account of the great scarcity of forage and subsistence for the men.”  Instead of moving up the New River Valley from Boone, Stoneman preferred to move across the Blue Ridge and strike Wilkesborough.  The Yadkin River Valley offered much better grazing for his horses.

Stoneman, who loved to divide his forces for these movements, did so again when leaving Boone in two columns starting mid-day on the 28th.  Brown’s Brigade, with Miller’s following, moved through Watuga Gap, passing Blowing Rock, and down to the headwaters of the Yadkin River.  That force came across Patterson’s Factory at the foot of the mountains.  Before leaving, the Federals destroyed the yarn factory.  This column continued towards Wilkesborough on the south side of the Yadkin on March 29th.

Palmer’s Brigade reached Deep Gap on the evening of the 28th, then crossed over the Blue Ridge. The next morning, Palmer’s three regiments descended upon Wilkesborough on the 29th.  There the 12th Ohio Cavalry overwhelmed a small home guard force to take possession of the town.

Again, I’m working at a “quick” pace through Stoneman’s Raid. There are certainly fine points I’m skipping with an accelerated discussion of events.  Stoneman’s Raid, 1865, by Chris Hartley is among the recent book-length treatments of the subject, and which I’d recommend.  Much of my appreciation for the campaign was gained by running around photographing historical markers.  Speaking of which, North Carolina has several which relate to the events mentioned in this post – Boone, Blowing Rock, Patterson’s Mill, Deep Gap, and Wilkesboro.

(Citations from OR, Series I, Volume 49, Part I, Serial 103, pages 330-1; Part II, Serial 104, page 112.)