Summary Statement, 2nd Quarter, 1863 – Maryland’s Batteries

Sorry for the extended absence from the blog, as I’ve been on and off and back on vacation.  And let me pick up where we left off, on the second quarter, 1863 summary statements.  The next state in the queue is Maryland, with three batteries showing in the report:

0193_1_Snip_MD

Three lines, looking uniform with Ordnance Rifles all around:

  • Battery A: Indicated with the Army of the Potomac, but is that “Pa” or “Va”?  The former would be most precise, but either would be understood.  And reported with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  In May, the battery moved from the Sixth Corps to the Fourth Volunteer Brigade, Artillery Reserve. Captain James H. Rigby remained in command. The battery occupied a position on Powers Hill during the battle of Gettysburg, doing good work supporting the Federal position on Culp’s Hill.
  • Battery B: Reported at Maryland Heights, Maryland, with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  Captain Alonzo Snow’s battery was also transferred out of the Sixth Corps in May, 1863.  Listed “unassigned” in the Artillery Reserve, the battery reported to Camp Barry, Washington, D.C., and was likely still there at the end of June.  In mid-July, the battery was among the forces reoccupying Harpers Ferry.
  • Baltimore Independent Battery: Showing at Baltimore, Maryland, with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  This is the correct location for the receipt date of February 1864.  But turning back to the end of June, 1863, the Baltimore Battery had much more to say.  Captain F. W. Alexander was part of Milroy’s command at Winchester, Virginia at the beginning of that month.  When that place was evacuated, Alexander’s men spiked the guns, disabled the carriages, destroyed ammunition, and escaped with their horses.  So their “proper” return would be no guns or ammunition, and reforming at Camp Barry.

Deserving brief mention, two other Maryland batteries were organized in July 1863 – Batteries A and B, Junior Light Artillery.  Both would serve but a year, mostly around Baltimore.  Neither were in existence at the end of June, however.

Moving to the ammunition pages, we can skip the smoothbore page, as these batteries had only rifles.  But where there are Ordnance Rifles, we expect to find Hotchkiss projectiles:

0195_2_Snip_MD

All three reported quantities:

  • Battery A: 98 canister, 110 fuse shell, and 196 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery B: 148 canister, 120 fuse shell, and 383 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • Baltimore Battery: 121 canister, 120 percussion shell, 240 fuse shell, and 720 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.

Of note, in the court of inquiry investigating the disaster at Winchester, Alexander indicated that at the start of the battle of Winchester, he had 1200 rounds on hand…. just one short of the actual tally given in the summary.   By the time of evacuation he was down to 28 rounds per gun, most of which was canister.  When ordered to evacuate, he testified,

I mounted the men on the horses, leaving those equipments that would rattle; saw the guns of my battery spiked, took off the cap-squares and linch-pins, and threw them into the water-tank. I then formed the men by twos, and marched them out of the fort.

So if we wish to split hairs, all the numbers given above for the Baltimore Battery, and their guns included, would be scratched out for the reporting date of June 30, 1863.

Moving to the next page, we find some Dyer’s projectiles on hand:

0196_1_Snip_MD

Two reporting quantities:

  • Battery A: 375 shrapnel and 43 canister for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery B: 97 shells for 3-inch rifles.

And the next page, we find the same two batteries with Schenkl projectiles:

0196_2_Snip_MD

  • Battery A: 372 shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery B: 444 shell for 3-inch rifles.

So once again, we find batteries with an assortment of projectile makes.

Moving on to the small arms:

0196_3_Snip_MD

By battery:

  • Battery A: Eight Army revolvers, twenty cavalry sabers, and twenty horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery B: Ten Army revolvers and twenty-two cavalry sabers.
  • Baltimore Battery:  Twenty-five Army revolvers and thirty-two horse artillery sabers.

Worth noting, in his official report, Alexander laments that most of his men were “totally unarmed” and thus were sent rapidly on the road to Harpers Ferry with the word of a Confederate cavalry pursuit.  He had just over eighty men to report at the end of the retreat, so just who had those pistols and sabers might be inferred.

(Citation from OR, Series I, Volume 27, Part II, Serial 44, page 103.)

Summary Statement, 2nd Quarter, 1863 – 5th Regiment, US Regulars

We move now to the Fifth US Artillery, which will complete our look through the Regulars for second quarter, 1863.  For the reporting period in question, every battery of the regiment had something recorded.  Though, that was not always cannon on hand.  Three of the battery reports arrived at the Ordnance Department in 1864 or 1865.  Otherwise, the Fifth appeared to have their paperwork in order.  So let’s see if that was simply a false front:

0168_1_Snip_5thUS

Walking through the rows:

  • Battery A: At Portsmouth, Virginia with six 12-pdr Napoleons.  During the spring, Battery A transferred, with parent organization, to Seventh Corps.  Under the new arrangements, Lieutenant James Gilliss’ battery supported Second Division of that corps.  The battery had been at Suffolk, Virginia, but was moving over to the Peninsula for Dix’s brief demonstration toward Richmond in late June.
  • Battery B:  Reporting at Hagerstown, Maryland with no artillery!  Battery B was at Fort Hamilton through much of the spring, completing its training and such.  In June, Lieutenant Henry A. Du Pont led the battery, reporting to First Division, Department of the Susquehanna, within the Middle Department’s Eighth Corps.  And the battery reported there with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.
  • Battery C: Technically off by one day, the battery reported at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania with six 12-pdr Napoleons.  With Captain Dunbar R. Ransom taking command of the 1st Brigade of the Artillery Reserve (Army of the Potomac), Lieutenant Gulian V. Weir assumed command of this battery.
  • Battery D: Bealton, Virginia (?) with six 10-pdr Parrotts.  Lieutenant Charles Hazlett’s battery supported Fifth Corps. The battery’s location on June 30 of the year was, of course, in the vicinity of Union Mills, Maryland.  And, as many readers are well familiar, Hazlett’s tenure in command was to end a couple days later as he defended Little Round Top.  Lieutenant Benjamin Rittenhouse was his able replacement.
  • Battery E: At Fort Hamilton, New York but without cannons.  As with Battery B above, Battery E completed its training and organization during the spring.  And like that sister battery, Battery E was transferred to the Department of the Susquehanna in June.  Lieutenant James W. Piper was in command.  The battery had six 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery F: No location given, but with six 10-pdr Parrotts.  The proper location, we know, was with Sixth Corps, around Manchester, Maryland.  Lieutenant Leonard Martin commanded this battery, which would defend Cemetery Hill on July 3.
  • Battery G: Port Hudson, Louisiana with six 12-pdr Napoleons.  Lieutenant  Jacob B. Rawles commanded this battery from Second Division, Nineteenth Corps.
  • Battery H: Tullahoma, Tennessee with two 12-pdr Napoleons and four 10-pdr Parrotts.  This was “flip” from the previous quarter, which I believe is in error.  The battery likely had four Napoleons and two Parrotts at this stage of the war. Captain George A. Kensel assumed command of the battery in mid-spring.  And the battery remained with First Division, Fourteenth Corps.
  • Battery I: Reporting at West Point, New York with four 3-inch Ordnance Rifles. But we know that location is in error, possibly reflecting the 1865 report receipt date.   On June 30, Lieutenant Malbone F. Watson’s battery was with Fifth Corps along Pipe Creek.  Watson would lose a leg while leading his battery at Gettysburg on July 2.  Lieutenant Charles C. MacConnell took his place.
  • Battery K: No location given, but with four 12-pdr Napoleons. Another battery which we know was on the road to Gettysburg.  Lieutenant David H. Kinzie remained in command, but the battery transferred to the Twelfth Corps’ artillery.
  • Battery L: Reporting at Maryland Heights, Maryland with two 6-pdr field guns. Lieutenant Edmund D. Spooner’s battery was caught up in the disaster at Winchester, Virginia.  According to Spooner, eighteen men, armed only with sabers, escaped capture (having lost six Ordnance Rifles).  What remained of the battery reported to Camp Barry, which I’d submit is a more accurate location.  The report of two 6-pdrs points to some interesting inferences.
  • Battery M: At Warrenton, Virginia with six 12-pdr Napoleons. This location might be accurate for August, when the report was received. But at the end of June 1863 the battery was around Yorktown and was involved with Dix’s demonstration there. Captain James McKnight’s battery was assigned to Fourth Corps.

So we see the batteries of the Fifth Regiment were actively engaged across the board.  No easy garrison duty for those gunners!

Moving down the return… or more accurately, turning the page, we look at the smoothbore ammunition reported:

0170_1_Snip_5thUS

With the majority of the regiment’s batteries armed with Napoleons, we see those columns well populated:

  • Battery A: 192 shot, 96 shell, 288 case, and 192 canister for Napoleons.
  • Battery C: 465 shot, 162(?) shell, 369 case, and 100 canister for Napoleons.
  • Battery G: 217 shot, 352 shell, 438 case, and 132 canister for Napoleons.
  • Battery H: 172 shot, 64 shell, 171 case, and 100 canister for Napoleons.
  • Battery K:  36 shot, 5 shell, and 3 case for Napoleons.
  • Battery M:  288 shot, 96 shell, 288 case, and 96 canister for Napoleons.

The line that stands out is for Battery K.  Might those be the quantities on hand at the close of July 3, 1863?

Battery E probably had ammunition for its Napoleons on hand, but not reflecting on this report.

Spooner’s hard-luck, fought-out battery with their 6-pdrs reported:

  • Battery L: 96 shot, 56 case, and 48 canister for 6-pdr field guns.

Moving now to the rifled projectiles, there were two batteries with 3-inch Ordnance Rifles, but only one of which offered a full report.  Even with that, the Hotchkiss columns were noticeably short:

0170_2_Snip_5thUS

With Battery B still “new” and not fully reporting, only Battery I had Hotchkiss entries:

  • Battery I: 100 canister and 400 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.

For the next page, we can narrow the review down to three batteries with Parrott rifles:

0171_1A_Snip_5thUS

Those three were:

  • Battery D: 320 shell, 500 case, and 48 canister for 10-pdr Parrotts.
  • Battery F: 480 shell, 480 case, and 144 canister for 10-pdr Parrotts.
  • Battery H: 240 shell, 54 case, and 94 canister for 10-pdr Parrotts.

And the next page, there were quantities of Schenkl projectiles reported:

0171_2_Snip_5thUS

Two entries for Parrott batteries and one for the 3-inch battery:

  • Battery D: 360 shell for 10-pdr Parrott.
  • Battery F: 120 shell for 10-pdr Parrott.
  • Battery I:  300 shell for 3-inch rifles.

Overall, the two “pure” Parrott batteries seemed well provisioned.  Battery H, which was mixed, might be a little lean.  And Battery I, with its 3-inch rifles, seemed a bit short.  But that might, again, be due to what the battery did during those first days of July.

That leaves us the small arms to consider… and a lot to consider:

0171_3_Snip_5thUS

Yes, a FULL slate of small arms reported:

  • Battery A: Twenty-two Army revolvers and sixty-five horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery B:  A hundred Army revolvers and 138 horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery C: Fifty-five Army revolvers and nineteen horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery D: Thirteen Navy revolvers, fifteen cavalry sabers, and thirty-seven horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery E: Twelve Army revolvers and 107 horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery F: Twenty-four Army revolvers and twenty horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery G: Twenty-one horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery H: Sixteen Navy revolvers, five cavalry sabers, and thirty-nine horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery I: Twenty-one Army revolvers and thirty-five horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery K: Fifty-eight Army revolvers and sixteen horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery L: Nothing… not even the sabers reported carried off the field at Winchester.
  • Battery M: Twenty-four Navy revolvers and twenty horse artillery sabers.

We again must keep in mind the time frame and context.  These numbers on the sheet were cannon, ammunition, and small arms which would be put to use by these batteries in June and July 1863.

Trip Report: Maryland Heights re-visit… and some perspective

Because of our close proximity to the Potomac River, Harpers Ferry is a frequent weekend day-trip destination for us.  On Saturday, the aide-de-camp and I drove over with the objective of “climbing as far as we can” up Maryland Heights (with the promise of an ice cream if we attained the summit).   I’ve not hiked the trail up Maryland Heights in several years.  The trail was one of my first “features” here on the blog.  I sort of cringe looking back at those early posts, well before I sorted out how best to compose a blog post.

The hike is not an easy one.  The Park Service website rates it “Difficult (steep and rocky in places), 4.5 or 6.5 miles round trip, 3 to 4 hours.”  But the view from the top and chance to examine fortifications makes that effort worthwhile.  The trip up on Saturday gave me a chance to see what changes were made by the park over the last few years.  I noticed this most around the Six-Gun Battery just below the top of the mountain.  In 2007 the magazine location was cluttered by deadfall:

Maryland Heights 22 Sept 211

As was the line of the works:

Maryland Heights 22 Sept 213

On Saturday, we noticed the site was much improved by clearing, making the magazine and line of works easy to make out… and thus making the magazine that much more impressive to the visitor:

Maryland Heights 412

Same for the interior line of works:

Maryland Heights 413

From the exterior, the visitor can better make out the ditch:

Maryland Heights 416

I don’t recall if this walkway over the works was in place back in 2007, but the one there on Saturday looked relatively new (using fiberboard):

Maryland Heights 418

Certainly makes access to the works easier… and ensures the works will still be around for some years to come.

Most who hike up the mountain spend the most of their time at the overlook of Harpers Ferry, on the south end of Maryland Heights, for good reason.  But don’t forget, particularly if you are into the Civil War history of the heights, the overlooks on the east side of the mountain.  Particularly looking down the Potomac:

Maryland Heights 426

This overlook is near the 100-pdr Battery location.   Do you recognize any features?

If not, let me mention some.  First off, to the immediate center-right is the north end of Short Hill Mountain, known as Buzzard Rock.  South Mountain’s southern terminus is out of view due to the trees.  Snaking through the center of view is the Potomac.  Notice the bridge at Brunswick (wartime Berlin), Maryland, where the Army of the Potomac twice put up pontoon bridges.  Beyond in the distance are the Catoctin Ridge and Sugarloaf Mountain.   Just under Sugarloaf Mountain is a saddle in Catoctin Ridge (Maryland section) where a Federal signal station operated at times during the war.  Here’s an annotated version of the photo above:

MarylandHeightsViewAnnotated

This view-shed is historic.  Across this “air” traveled some of the important messages from multiple Civil War campaigns. To demonstrate that, let us go to the maps.  First a map from 1861 showing the location of Federal signal stations:

MH_SLM_SigNet1861

I placed a red box on the left to show the location of a Federal signal station on Maryland Heights.  Follow the line to the right and you see Sugarloaf Mountain on the map.  Although telegraph lines followed the railroad down the Potomac to Harpers Ferry, that was sometimes problematic and vulnerable to Confederate interdiction.   So the wig-wag stations offered a reliable alternative.

This link was maintained through much of the war.  Thinking of the Antietam Campaign, when the station at Sugerloaf Mountain was captured by Confederates, they also severed the “air line” we see in the photo, which is depicted on the map by the red line.

Moving to the summer of 1863, and using the signal maps of the Gettysburg Campaign, we see the same “red line” augmented by several “spurs” from Sugarloaf Mountain:

MH_SLM_SigNet1863

Once again, the “air line” between Maryland Heights and Sugarloaf Mountain was critical.  Reports of Confederate movements into Maryland and Pennsylvania came to Major-General Joseph Hooker by way of Maryland Heights… and had to pass through Sugarloaf Mountain and thence to Washington (telegraph) before getting to Hooker.  Furthermore, Sugarloaf provided the “air line” to communicate to locations such as Leesburg or Poolesville.  So we have to ask, where was the best location for Hooker to command the army at … say… June 25, 1863?

The blue lines and boxes are stations related to the return from Gettysburg.  The signal stations provided coverage at the Berlin crossing site.  Point of Rocks, or Trammelstown depending on which report you read, was a secondary station used earlier in June, but took added importance coordinating the flow of supplies in July 1863.

All of these “air lines” depend upon the view-shed from Maryland Heights.  At critical phases of the Civil War, vital information “few” across that line of sight to leaders beyond.  Those leaders made key decisions, then communicated the details back across that “air.”  We can find reports and orders now consolidated in print within the Official Records which “flew” across the view in the photo above.

Consider this a vital dimension to add to your next battlefield visit. Imagine, if you will, those red lines through the sky.  How did the communications flow, from headquarters to the troops?  And where was that?

Such also adds a new dimension to our preservation discussions.  Do you see why preservationists should be sensitive to encroachments into the view-sheds?