Assignments for individual batteries in the 1st Illinois Light Artillery Regiment for the first quarter, 1863 reflected the reorganizations completed during that winter for the western armies. When the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Corps reorganized into manageable formations, the batteries shifted with their supported infantry brigades to serve under new corps banners. To grasp these changes, one must dig past the basic details offered in the summary pages. A third of the regiment reported at Young’s Point, Louisiana, just up the river from Vicksburg:
Here they joined an assembly of forces under Major-General Ulysses S. Grant arrayed to capture Vicksburg. Historian Marion Bragg, charged with recording the historic place names along the Mississippi River, described Young’s Point in 1977:
Youngs Point, on the Louisiana side of the river just above Vicksburg, is today one of the most tranquil places imaginable. Nothing disturbs the quiet of the rural countryside but the occasional throb of a diesel towboat gliding past the point, or the chug of a farmer’s tractor in one of the nearby bean or cotton fields.
In 1863, Youngs Point was literally covered with thousands upon thousands of Federal soldiers, and a whole fleet of Union Navy vessels were tied up in the willows along the shore….
A contrast in times. Those four Illinois batteries were but loops in a spring being coiled that winter.
OK, so I got to foist one of my unused sesquicentennial post illustrations upon you to preface this post. Let’s get back to the battery summaries:
Again, we must look below the surface of the administrative details to see the changes from the previous quarter:
- Battery A: At Young’s Point with four 6-pdr field guns and two 12-pdr field howitzers. Captain Peter P. Wood commanded this battery. As part of the transformation of Thirteenth Corps, it remained under Sherman’s portion of the army, assigned to Second Division, Fifteenth Corps.
- Battery B: Also reporting at Young’s Point, but with five 6-pdr field guns and one 12-pdr field howitzer. And this battery was also assigned to Second Division, Fifteenth Corps with the reorganization. Captain Samuel E. Barrett commanded.
- Battery C: At Murfreesboro, Tennessee with two 12-pdr field howitzers and four 3-inch Ordnance Rifles. Assigned to Sheridan’s division under the old Fourteenth Corps, the battery followed that division to become part of the Third Division, Twentieth Corps (NOTE: An earlier designation separate from the merged corps from the Army of the Potomac in 1864.) Lieutenant Edward M. Wright commanded.
- Battery D: Reporting at Berry’s Landing, Louisiana. I place this landing just upriver of Helena in Arkansas, rather than Louisiana. But, of course, there could be several landings by that name. The battery reported four 24-pdr field howitzers. With the reorganization of Thirteenth Corps, Captain Henry A. Rogers’ command went to Third Division, Seventeenth Corps.
- Battery E: Another reporting at Young’s Point, this battery with four 3.80-inch James Rifles. A reduction from six rifles reported the previous quarter. Captain Allen C. Waterhouse commanded. With the reorganization, this battery went to Third Division, Fifteenth Corps.
- Battery F: No report. The battery was stationed at Memphis through the winter of 1863, presumably still with James rifles. However, it was under First Division, Sixteenth Corps. Captain John T. Cheney commanded.
- Battery G: Serving as siege artillery at Corinth, Mississippi. Lieutenant Gustave Dechsel commanded the battery.
- Battery H: At Young’s Point with two 20-pdr Parrott Rifles. Lieutenant Francis De Gress’ battery was assigned to Second Division, Fifteenth Corps. The battery retained two 20-pdr Parrotts. And those big Parrotts would see much service during the war.
- Battery I: No report. Captain Edward Bouton commanded this battery which was assigned to First Division, Sixteenth Corps.
- Battery K: Memphis, Tennessee with with ten Union Repeating Guns. But as noted earlier, that column was likely being utilized by the clerks to track Woodruff guns. Lieutenant Isaac W. Curtis’ battery was assigned to the Sixteenth Corps and would later see action in the cavalry operations of the Vicksburg Campaign.
- Battery L: New Creek, (West) Virginia, with two 12-pdr Napoleons and four 3.80-inch James Rifles. Captain John Rourke commanded this battery, assigned to First Division, Eighth Corps.
- Battery M: Reporting at Chattanooga, Tennessee (reflecting location when the return was received in February 1864) with two 12-pdr Napoleons and four 3-inch Ordnance Rifles. The battery was posted to Franklin, Tennessee during the winter of 1863. Captain George W. Spencer commanded.
The guns of the 1st Illinois Artillery would make an impact later in the spring and summer months during the Vicksburg Campaign. So what ammunition did they report on hand? Starting with the smoothbores:
Yes, we have some of the extra columns here, reflecting ammunition for the big howitzers:
- Battery A: 375 shot, 314 case, and 117 canister for 6-pdr field guns; 122 shell, 153 case, and 36 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.
- Battery B: 450 shot, 430 case, and 133 canister for 6-pdr field guns; 30 shell, 110 case, and 17 canister for their lone 12-pdr field howitzer.
- Battery C: 132 shell, 180 case, and 50 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.
- Battery D: 336 shell, 225 case, and 83 canister for 24-pdr field howitzers.
- Battery L: 70 shot for 6-pdr field guns; 136 shot, 192 shell, 554 case, and 132 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons. Why 6-pdr shot? Well, my guess is those were used with the James Rifles.
- Battery M: 50 shot, 150 shell, and 200 case for 12-pdr Napoleons.
Moving next to the rifled projectiles, we start with the Hotchkiss-patterns:
Three lines to report:
- Battery C: 234 canister, 95 percussion shell, 210 fuse shell, and 242 bullet shell in 3-inch rifle caliber.
- Battery L: 156 shot, 40 percussion shell, 156 fuse shell, and 28 bullet shell in 3.80-inch (James) caliber; Also reporting 150 fuse shell in 3-inch. And I still cannot offer an explanation for the later type in this battery.
- Battery M: 450 shot, 168 canister, and 250 fuse shell for 3-inch rifles.
On the next page of the summary, we can focus on just the James and Parrott columns:
Again, three batteries to consider:
- Battery E: 480 shell and 160 canister of James-patent in 3.80-inch rifle caliber.
- Battery H: 114 shell, 48 case, and 73 canister for 20-pdr Parrott.
- Battery L: 320 shot, 36 shell, and 19 canister of James-patent for 3.80-inch rifles.
And the last page of rifled projectiles:
- Battery L: 316 Schenkl shells for 3.80-inch James rifles; 172 Tatham canister for 3.80-inch rifle.
Now on to the small arms:
Considering by battery:
- Battery A: Three Army revolvers, forty-four Navy revolvers, and four horse artillery sabers.
- Battery B: Twenty-seven Navy revolvers and six cavalry sabers.
- Battery C: Eight Navy revolvers and thirteen cavalry sabers.
- Battery D: Fifteen cavalry sabers.
- Battery E: Ten cavalry sabers.
- Battery H: Thirteen Navy revolvers and nine cavalry sabers.
- Battery K: Twenty-two Burnside’s Carbines and 101 cavalry sabers.
- Battery L: Seventeen Smith’s Carbines, Twenty-eight Army revolvers, and 148 cavalry sabers.
Those last two lines deserve some discussion. Battery K served alongside cavalry. Battery L, on the other hand, was guarding the railroad in West Virginia. Interesting to see those batteries reporting quantities of carbines.
Keeping in sequence, we’ll turn to the 2nd Illinois Light Artillery next week.