Summary Statement, 4th Quarter, 1863 – MSM and cavalry-attached artillery

As with previous quarters, below the 2nd Missouri Artillery were some assorted units reporting in Federal service and with artillery on hand:

0339_1_Snip_MO_MISC

In this quarter, we have three categories to consider – the Missouri State Militia (MSM) batteries on active service, MSM cavalry reporting artillery sections, and volunteer cavalry regiments with artillery sections to report. Let us take the first category first, and look at the first two lines of this section of the summary:

  • 1st MSM Battery: Reporting at Sedalia, Missouri, with two 12-pdr mountain howitzers and four 10-pdr Parrotts. As discussed for earlier quarters, instead of Parrotts the battery actually had a like quantity of 2.9-inch English Rifles (Robert F. Mushet’s steel rifles). Captain Charles H. Thurber remained in command. The battery assigned to District of Central Missouri. It officially became Battery L, 2nd Missouri Artillery in January.
  • 2nd MSM Battery: No report, obsolete entry. As discussed in the previous quarter, when the original 1st MSM was inactivated in March 1863, with most of the men going to the 1st MSM Cavalry, Company L. And at that time, the 2nd MSM Battery was re-designated the 1st MSM Battery (above). So by the end of 1863 there was no 2nd Battery to record. (One must really dig into the state Adjutant-General reports to follow these Missouri units.)

The actual batteries on the listing out of the way, the remainder of our discussion takes on a “horse soldier” tone. Important to keep in mind there are two flavors of cavalry under this heading – volunteers and state militia. As the war was very much active inside the borders of Missouri, its militia was called upon to provide active service against Confederate regulars, irregulars, and lawless types of all flavors. And in some cases, those militiamen were given cannon to perform these duties. While a full accounting for the MSM cavalry is beyond scope, I will try to summarize the service of the units reporting artillery. However, for good order, I will discuss those in numerical sequence instead of that used on the summary:

  • 1st MSM Cavalry (Line 55): Reporting at Lexington, Missouri with no cannon on hand. The 1st Regiment served as part of the District of Central Missouri, and Colonel James McFerren commanded. Though the regiment was spread across several garrisons, Companies G and H were at Lexington at the end of December. However, Companies L and M, along with the headquarters element had just relocated from Lexington to Warrensburg. And it is Company L that might raise our attention regarding artillery. Company L is what became of the original 1st MSM Battery when ordered converted to cavalry in March 1863. Regardless of the status, the 1st MSM reported ammunition on hand if not any cannon.
  • 2nd MSM Cavalry (Line 54): At Bloomfield, Missouri with two 12-pdr mountain howitzers. The 2nd, under Colonel John B. Rodgers, pulled duty in southeast Missouri, under the District of St. Louis. The outpost at Bloomfield consisted of Companies A and M of the regiment, under Lieutenant-Colonel Hiram M. Hiller. Captain William Dawson commanded Company A. Captain Samuel Shibley led Company M.
  • Company G, 5th MSM Cavalry (Line 50): Stationed at Houston (Texas County), Missouri with two 12-pdr mountain howitzers. The 5th MSM Cavalry reformed under under Colonel Albert Siegel in February 1863 (though he was mostly away in St. Louis on detail). Assigned to the District of Rolla, they operated in south-central Missouri escorting wagon trains and scouting. Company G, along with Company B, operated out of Houston, the seat of Texas County. Captain Richard Murphy, of Company B, was in overall command. Captain Thomas Thomas led Company G. Lieutenant Adam Hillerick (or Heilerich) had charge of the howitzers.
  • Howitzer Battery, 5th MSM Cavalry (Line 51): At Waynesville, Missouri with two 12-pdr mountain howitzers. The garrison of of that place consisted of Companies A, E, and H, under overall command of Major Waldemar Fischer of the regiment.
  • Company A, 6th MSM Cavalry (Line 49): From Springfield, Missouri with two 6-pdr field guns and two 12-pdr field howitzers. Part of the District of Southwester Missouri, Colonel Edwin C. Catherwood commanded the regiment and the garrison of Springfield. Captain George W. Murphy (of Company E, and later promoted to Major) led the regiment with the colonel attending other duties. Captain James Dundin commanded Company A. The regiment captured a cannon from the Confederates on October 6, though the type was not reported. Nor if that weapon is included with the four reported here.

Beyond those units, there are two lines for the Missouri volunteer cavalry regiments:

  • 3rd (or 2nd?) Missouri Cavalry: At Little Rock, Arkansas with two 12-pdr mountain howitzers. While I am willing to entertain the summary reflects a cross assignment of the howitzer section from the 2nd to the 3rd Missouri Cavalry, this is most likely Lovejoy’s Artillery. Lieutenant George F. Lovejoy commanded a section of mountain howitzers in the 2nd Missouri Cavalry (Merrill Horse). Both the 2nd and the 3rd were serving in Second Brigade, First Cavalry Division in Steele’s Army of Arkansas.
  • 10th Missouri Cavalry: At Memphis, Tennessee with two 12-pdr mountain howitzers and two 3.80-inch James rifles. Lieutenant-Colonel Frederick W. Benteen commanded the much traveled 10th Missouri Cavalry. At the end of December 1863, the battery was assigned duty with the Sixteenth Corps, and stationed at Natchez, Mississippi. They were among the forces assigned to the Meridian Expedition in early 1864. And indeed, as the return date indicates, they were in Memphis in September 1864. Lieutenant Peter Joyce received a deserved promotion to captain in September. It is not clear who led the “Banshees,” as the section was called, after Joyce moved up.

There was one other “tier” to the Missouri troops in service at the close of 1863 – the Enrolled Missouri Militia (EMM), first organized in the summer of 1862. These troops were in state service, but could be called upon by the local military commanders. The distinction between MSM and EMM was more than semantics. The MSM was, or at least could, be called up directly into Federal service (though on paper only within the state) and often worked offensively to engage Confederate forces in Missouri. The EMM, on the other hand, was more so a local garrison or guard force in a defensive role. And while the EMM might operate with other forces, there were a lot of string attached. The intent was for the EMM to include all loyal, able-bodied men. Persons who didn’t take an oath, of course, didn’t have to serve… but that meant authorities knew to arrest those persons for being dis-loyal! Because of this, the EMM contained some non-committal southern sympathizers or at least folks who were not enamored of either cause. Due to concerns about the EMM’s reliability, the state formed Provisional Enrolled Missouri Militia (PEMM) in 1863, as “trusted” regiments by selecting truly “loyal” men from the EMM. At the close of 1863, the State Adjutant-General counted 45,893 men in the EMM within over 80 numbered regiments.

None of the EMM (or PEMM) were designated as artillery. However, dispatches and reports from the EMM sometimes mention mountain howitzers or other artillery. Each mention has to be taken by its own context. Some are clearly cases where volunteer or MSM cannons are supporting the EMM. Though others leave open the alternative that some EMM companies had cannon on hand. With all the pre-war proliferation of arms in the state, there were indeed a few cannon laying about. But those all fall outside the purview of the Summary Statement and thus outside of our main discussion. But for sake of complete coverage, I do want to mention their presence, even if outside the order of battle and speculative.

Those details… or trivia… out of the way, we turn to the reported ammunition on hand for these MSM and cavalry-attached artillery formations. The smoothbore rounds are first:

0341_1_Snip_MO_MISC
  • 1st MSM Battery: 37 shells and 42 case for 12-pdr mountain howitzers.
  • Company A, 6th MSM Cavalry: 4 shot and 53 case for 6-pdr field guns; 17 shells and 83 case for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • Company G, 5th MSM Cavalry: 102 case for 12-pdr mountain howitzers.
  • Howitzer Battery, 5th MSM Cavalry: 67 shell and 126 case for 12-pdr mountain howitzers.
  • 2nd/3rd Missouri Cavalry: 47 shell and 42 case for 12-pdr mountain howitzers.
  • 10th Missouri Cavalry: 72 shell and 203 case for 12-pdr mountain howitzers.
  • 2nd MSM Cavalry: 35 (or 20? See below) shells and 24 case for 12-pdr mountain howitzers.
  • 1st MSM Cavalry: 20 case for 6-pdr field guns.

Of note, the 2nd MSM Cavalry’s entry has a double entry. If you look close under the column for shells:

0341_1S_Snip_MO_MISC

Focusing on that bottom cell, this appears to be a “20” over a “35.” A small difference at this time of the war. But accuracy insists I call out this point of ambiguity.

Turning to the next page:

0341_2_Snip_MO_MISC
  • 1st MSM Battery: 36 canister for 12-pdr mountain howitzers.
  • Company A, 6th MSM Cavalry: 13 canister for 6-pdr field guns; 9 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • Company G, 5th MSM Cavalry: 24 canister for 12-pdr mountain howitzers.
  • 10th Missouri Cavalry: 112 canister for 12-pdr mountain howitzers.
  • 2nd MSM Cavalry: 16 canister for 12-pdr mountain howitzers.
  • 1st MSM Cavalry: 99 canister for 6-pdr field guns.

To the right are entries for Hotchkiss projectiles:

  • 1st MSM Battery: 62 shot and 98 time fuse shell for 2.9-inch rifles.
  • 1st MSM Cavalry: 40 shot and 149 time fuse shell for 2.9-inch rifles.

Continuing Hotchkiss columns on the next page:

0342_1_Snip_MO_MISC
  • 1st MSM Battery: 134 percussion fuse shell and 84 canister for 2.9-inch rifles.

To the right are entries for James projectiles:

  • 10th Missouri Cavalry: 40 shot, 120 shell, and 40 canister for 3.80-inch James.

No other projectiles reported from this Missouri mishmash. So we go to the small arms columns:

0343_2_Snip_MO_MISC
  • 1st MSM Battery: Eighteen Colt army revolvers, ten Remington army revolvers, forty-four cavalry sabers, thirty-two horse artillery sabers, and forty-nine foot artillery swords.
  • Company A, 6th MSM Cavalry: Two Burnsides carbines, fifty-four Enfield muskets, three Colt army revolvers, and sixteen cavalry sabers. (Side note here: this regiment reported a lot of Austrian muskets on reports to the State Adjutant-General. So leave a couple of question marks here.)
  • 10th Missouri Cavalry: Sixty-nine Colt army revolvers and fifty cavalry sabers.

Recording artillery cartridge bags and small arms cartridges on the next page:

0344_2_Snip_MO_MISC
  • 1st MSM Battery: 297 cartridges for 10-pdr Parrott and 25 cartridges for mountain howitzers.
  • Company A, 6th MSM Cavalry: 70 cartridges for 6-pdr field guns/12-pdr field howitzers, 1000 .54 caliber ball, and 1000 .577 caliber ball.
  • Company G, 5th MSM Cavalry: 26 12-pdr mountain howitzer cartridges.
  • Howitzer Battery, 5th MSM Cavalry: 50 cartridges for 3-inch rifles…. which likely is a transcription error, quantity intended for the mountain howitzer column.

Lastly, we look at the reported quantities of pistol cartridges, fuses, powder, and primers:

0345_1_Snip_MO_MISC
  • 1st MSM Battery: 305 navy revolver cartridges (or is that supposed to be on the ARMY column?); 181 paper fuses; 5 pounds of musket powder; 289 friction primers.
  • Company G, 5th MSM Cavalry: 60 friction primers.
  • Howitzer Battery, 5th MSM Cavalry: 386 friction primers.
  • 2nd Cavalry MSM: 60 friction primers.

The tallies of munitions and small arms leaves several questions, as I am all but certain there were transcription errors. But it is the administrative details that I find of interest with these MSM and cavalry-attached artillery formations from Missouri. Each has a story worthy of at least an article… and in some cases perhaps book-length treatment.

“Developed his position, strength, and movements”: Blunt’s day at Lexington, Missouri

September 19, 1864 was a busy day in the Civil War.  Actions in several theaters, not the least of which occurred outside Middletown, Virginia (150th anniversary events I hope to attend today).

As I’ve been following Major-General Sterling Price’s campaign in Missouri, let me turn to activity at Lexington, Missouri, 150 years ago today.  As mentioned yesterday, Major-General James Blunt moved a force into Lexington, arriving on the morning of September 18.  Blunt, and his commander, Major-General Samuel Curtis, were working with poor information about Price’s movements.  And at the same time, a dispute with Kansas Governor Thomas Carney prevented the deployment of some Kansas militia units to the field.  Curtis needed an accurate assessment of the situation before committing to any further plans.  According to Blunt, he was able to gather just that at Lexington on September 19:

Upon occupying Lexington I obtained reliable information that the advance of Price’s army, under Shelby, was at Waverly; that Price was calling in all detachments sent out for recruiting and other purposes and was concentrating his forces to meet an expected attack from the forces of General Rosecrans. On the 19th, at 11 a.m., while I was momentarily expecting the arrival of re-enforcements I had requested to be sent to join me at Lexington, and also to receive an answer to my dispatch to General Sanborn, a courier arrived with dispatches from the general commanding informing me that in consequence of the embarrassments thrown in his way by the Governor of Kansas and others relative to moving the militia out of the State, no re-enforcements could be sent to me. At the same time it was reported to me that my pickets were attacked and were being driven in by the enemy, who were advancing in force in three columns. The pickets were re-enforced and instructed to resist the enemy’s advance, while the command was immediately put in position in line of battle southeast of the city, facing a section of open and undulating country, with cultivated fields extending from one to two miles in our front, with the Independence road in our rear, upon which I designed to fall back whenever it became necessary. As the enemy moved steadily up and massed his force in my front, I became well convinced that the whole of Price’s army was present, and with the small force of my command I determined not to bring on a general engagement, but to develop his force and movements and accomplish the object of a reconnaissance. All irregular firing upon the skirmish lines of the contending forces, with occasional artillery firing, was kept up for nearly two hours, when their long-range guns opened a brisk fire in my front, to which my short-range howitzers could not reply with effect, and being pressed by an overwhelming force, with an attempt to flank me on the right and left, I directed the command to withdraw and fall back on the Independence road. This movement was accomplished in good order, the Eleventh Kansas Cavalry, under the immediate command of Colonel Moonlight, covering the retreat in a gallant manner. The last position occupied by the rear guard with four mountain howitzers was held until dark and until the small command was almost entirely enveloped by the superior numbers of the enemy, when, under cover of the night, we moved by easy marches in the direction of Independence, having in the operation of the day punished our adversary severely, but what was of greater importance, developed his position, strength, and movements, the first instance in which it had been done since he had crossed the Arkansas River on his raid into Missouri.

To his credit, Blunt’s work at Lexington did indeed delay Price’s advance.  And worth noting, Blunt was able to establish positive communication with elements of moving west in pursuit of Price.

His mission that day was to develop the situation.  And develop he did.  On many Civil War battlefields, commanders fought what we might call “meeting engagements” and faced that important task of developing the enemy.  In short, this entails forcing the enemy to deploy and show what he has.  Blunt certainly force Price to set up his force, with Brigadier-General Joseph Shelby in the lead.  Shelby had to bring up his artillery to dislodge Blunt.  No casualty figures were offered by either side, specifically to the Lexington fight.  So we don’t know what cost Blunt paid to “develop his position, strength, and movements.”

Historians generally give Blunt credit for this action and cite it as a key event leading to the battle around Kansas City that would follow.  But did Blunt accurately develop Price?

At 7 p.m. on the 19th, Blunt sent a report to Curtis relating the details of the action and what information he had derived from the fight:

Price advanced on Lexington in two columns and drove in my pickets about 2 p.m. I advanced my line skirmishing with them until their whole force was developed, and they commenced to flank me on the right and left, when I fell back on the Independence Road.  They pressed us hard, but we made our retreat, losing but few men.  I shall move unceasingly to-night until I find a good position and am in supporting distance of you. It is certain that Price’s whole force is in Lexington, and is not less than 20,000. Their artillery did us no damage, while ours was used with good effect.

Confederate accounts indicate, though others were involved, the only force heavily engaged was Brigadier-General M. Jeff Thompson’s brigade. So where did Blunt reach the 20,000 number?  The next morning, around 8 a.m., Blunt sent another report to Curtis confirming the number and providing an explanation:

From a small boy of Shelby’s command, whom I have prisoner, I learn that Price brought about 20,000 men with him into the State, and has procured 5,000 recruits since.

So the “development” was derived, in part, from the word of a boy.

Blunt went on to say that if all moved rapidly, the two converging armies could catch Price.  On the other hand, Blunt felt, “unless Rosecrans attacks him vigorously in the rear” that Price would escape through Kansas.

The largest major campaign of the war – in terms of distance covered – was about to turn upon the largest battle fought in the state of Missouri.  But that was days away.

(Citations from OR, Series I, Volume 41, Part I, Serial 83, pages 573-4; Part IV, Serial 86, pages and 141 and 144-5.)