Summary Statement, 1st Quarter, 1863 – Pennsylvania’s Independent Batteries

The method used by the Ordnance Department for designating and tracking returns from Pennsylvania’s independent batteries leaves a lot to be desired.  In their defense, the state did not aid their administrative endeavors with simple unit designations.  The way I organize these units, in my mind at least, involves recognizing there were “Independent Batteries” which were given lettered designations as such.  And there was a second set which, due to various reasons, were identified by battery commander – some not existing long enough to gain the lettered designation; some being reorganized and placed in heavy regiments; and some simply escaping any “regimented” designation.

That in mind, here’s a list of the former:

  • Battery A – Schaffer’s Battery
  • Battery B – Stevens’ or Muehler’s Battery
  • Battery C – Thompson’s Battery
  • Battery D – Durrell’s Battery
  • Battery E – Knap’s Battery
  • Battery F – Hampton’s Battery
  • Battery G – Young’s Battery – not listed above.
  • Battery H – John Nevin’s Battery
  • Battery I – Robert J. Nevin’s Battery (not formed until June 1863)

With those in mind as sort of a translation table, let’s sort out the first quarter, 1863 summary of returns:


And a lot of sorting we will need.  Notice that only seven of the fifteen batteries indicated posted returns.  And one of those seven had a posted date of April 10, 1864.  So there are a lot of gaps to start with.

  • Mlotkowski’s Battery – Battery A – Reported at Fort Delaware, Delaware, but with no cannons.  The duty location and commander’s name matches to a 1st Pennsylvania Battery (also cited as Battery A Independent Heavy Artillery), under Captain Stanislaus Mlotkowski. If so, this was previously listed under Captain Frank Schaffer.
  • Durrell’s Battery – Battery D, of the independent batteries mentioned above. – No return. Captain George W. Durell commanded.  Assigned to Second Division, Ninth Corps.  Following the “Mud March” the battery accompanied the division to the west, to a posting in Kentucky at the end of the winter.
  • Roberts’ Battery – No return. this may be a reference to a battalion of heavy artillery organized by (then) Major Joseph Roberts.  The four batteries in the formation later became Companies C, D, F, and (part of) K in the 3rd Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery Regiment, with a date of February, 1863.  However, a formation called the 3rd Pennsylvania  Heavy Artillery Battalion was reported at Camp Hamilton (outside Fort Monroe) under Major John A. Darling (who was later a staff officer in the 3rd Regiment, so this is likely the same unit).
  • Illegible to me, but I think this is Nevin’s Battery– Battery H – Listed as at Fort Whipple (Fort Myer), in the Washington Defenses, but no assigned pieces.  Captain John I. Nevin would spend the war around Washington, DC.
  • Keystone Battery – Reported at Centreville, Virginia with six 10-pdr Parrotts.  I would match this to Captain Matthew Hastings’ battery, assigned to Casey’s Division and part of the Washington defenses.
  • Hampton’s Battery – Better known as Battery F – Posted to Aquia Creek, Virginia with six 10-pdr Parrotts.  Captain Robert B. Hampton’s battery was assigned to Second Division, Twelfth Corps.
  • Jones’s Battery – No return.  If I’ve transcribed the name correctly, this must be Captain Paul I. Jones’ Independent Heavy Artillery, which became Company L, 2nd Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery (November 1861).
  • Knap’s Battery – Battery E – Paired with Hampton’s Battery F (above), also posted to Aquia Creek and with six 10-pdr Parrotts, in Second Division, Twelfth Corps.  Captain Joseph M. Knap served as the division’s Artillery Chief, with Lieutenant (later Captain) Charles A. Atwell assuming the battery position.
  • Schaffer’s Battery – Battery A – No return.  I think this is a duplicate with Mlotkowski’s Battery (above).
  • Schooley’s Battery – No return – This is most likely Captain David Schooley’s Independent Company Heavy Artillery which was later designated Company M, 2nd Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery (also occurring in November 1861).
  • Thompson’s Battery – Battery C – At Falmouth, Virginia with four 3-inch Ordnance Rifles. Captain James Thompson’s battery supported Second Division, First Corps.
  • Ulman’s Battery – No return.  As mentioned for the last quarter, my best guess is this being Captain Joseph E. Ulman’s independent battery.  The battery ceased to exist in March 1862, but apparently lingered as a ghost on the paperwork.
  • Stevens’ Battery – Battery B – No location given but with four 6-pdr field guns and two 3.80-inch James Rifles.  Captain Alanson J. Stevens’ battery supported Third Division, Twenty-first Corps, then stationed at Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
  • Young’s Battery – Battery G – No return. Captain John J. Young’s battery was assigned to Fort Delaware at this time.  (Sometimes cited as the 2nd Independent Battery Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery.)
  • Muehler’s Battery – No return. Charles F. Muehler was the original commander of what became Stevens’ Battery B.  So this looks to be a duplicate entry line.

Good news here, most (six of seven) batteries with returns posted are easily matched to lettered independent batteries.  Of course, the bad news is that I’m offering you a lot of “best guesses” here to round out the rest.  Worth noting, also listed at Fort Delaware for this reporting period was the 1st Pennsylvania Marine and Fortification Artillery, Batteries A and B, under Captains John S. Stevenson and Franz von Schilling, respectively.  Those batteries would become part of the 3rd Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery, and thus fall outside our scope.

While requiring a lengthy administrative explanation, because of the scarcity of reports, there is not much to discussion in regard to ammunition:


Just one battery reported smoothbore cannon, and that was Stevens’ out west:

  • Stevens’ Battery B – 448 shot and 200 case for 6-pdr field guns.

Starting on the rifled artillery, we have only one with 3-inch Ordnance rifles, and that is reflected with the Hotchkiss-patent on hand:


  • Thompson’s Battery C – 82 canister, 99 percussion shell, 144 fuse shell, and 505 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.

On the next page, we can narrow the focus down to just the Parrott-patent columns:


  • Keystone Battery – 684 shell, 607 case, and 219 canister for 10-pdr Parrott.
  • Hampton’s Battery F – 600 shell, 480 case, and 144 canister for 10-pdr.
  • Knap’s Battery E – 657 shell, 396 case, and 159 canister for 10-pdr.

And on the next page, we find but one entry to consider:


  • Thompson’s Battery C – 100 Schenkl shells for 3.80-inch James rifles.

That brings us to the small arms where six batteries reported items on hand:


By battery:

  • Nevin’s Battery H – 150 Springfield muskets, twenty-seven Army revolvers, and sixty horse artillery sabers.
  • Keystone Battery – Fourteen army revolvers and 150 horse artillery sabers.
  • Hampton’s Battery F – Twenty Navy revolvers, sixty cavalry sabers, and ten horse artillery sabers.
  • Knap’s Battery E – Thirty-seven Navy revolvers and eight horse artillery sabers.
  • Thompson’s Battery C – Thirty-two Navy revolvers and six cavalry sabers.
  • Stevens’ Battery B – Seventeen Navy revolvers and five cavalry sabers.

We see substantial small arms in the two batteries serving in the Washington Defenses, which is to be expected.

While I’m not absolutely certain about the identification of batteries listed in this portion of the summary, I am confident those which reported ordnance on hand are properly set in context.  Not to diminish the service of those at Fort Delaware, but those units likely only serviced the garrison artillery… if they serviced them much at all.


Bells into Guns: Tredegar’s Bronze 6-pdrs

When discussing the long production run of the Model 1841 6-pdr, I mentioned Confederate manufacture of the type.  At least six vendors produced 6-pdrs using the Model 1841 pattern for Confederate orders.  As with Federal manufacture, the production of the type ebbed and then ceased by mid-war.  Tredegar Foundry, in Richmond, produced just short of thirty of the type before switching to 12-pdr Napoleon types in late 1862.

Lexington 129 28 May 11
Tredegar 6-pdr Model 1841, #1444, at V.M.I.

A recent visit to the Virginia Military Institute allowed me to examine two of these guns in detail.  While there is nothing I would point out that effected the tactical performance of the gun, there are some subtle detail variations to note.  Quite possibly these details allude to short-cuts made by the Richmond based vendor to speed production.   Readers may wish to compare photos here with the Model 1841 “walk around” post covering a standard Federal production gun.

Looking first to the breech end of the Tredegar gun, the profile matches those of pre-war production guns from Ames and Alger.  Although from this perspective the neck appears thicker.

Lexington 134 28 May 11
Breech Profile of Tredegar 6-pdr, #1444

Three tapped holes on the breech face show where the hausse seat mounted (and indicates these guns were at least prepared for field service).  The vent does not appear to have any bushing.  The weight stamp, usually placed on the lower breech face on Federal guns, is above the vent in this case – 850.  Tredegar #1443 also located in the trophy display has a weight of 838.

But the fine detail change seen here is the smooth slope from the base ring down to the barrel.  Here’s a view of #1443 to show this was not just a singular variation.

Lexington 183 28 May 11
Breech Profile of Tredegar 6-pdr #1443

Compare that with one of the first 6-pdrs produced by Ames, now on display at Fort Washington, Maryland.

Fort Trip 26 Mar 11 205
Breech Profile of Ames #33 at Fort Washington

There was, perhaps, a gradual evolution of the join over time, starting from the very angular early production.  By 1854, Alger had introduced a cavetto with a very fine fillet (see this photo, also used in the walk around linked above).  But Tredegar dispensed with the cavetto and fillet, offering only a slope down from the base ring to the reinforce.

Another detail change appears where the reinforce joins the chase.

Lexington 136 28 May 11
Close Up of the Reinforce-Chase Join on Tredegar Gun #1444

Again, compare to the very early Ames production.

Fort Trip 26 Mar 11 204
Reinforce Shoulder and Trunnions of Model 1841, Ames #33

Tredegar continued a gradual simplification and blending of the join and completely dispensed with the cavetto and fillet.

But Tredegar did not significantly change the muzzle profile.

Lexington 133 28 May 11
Muzzle Profile of Tredegar #1444

Other differences with the Tredegar guns involve the stampings.  On the right trunnion are the typical foundry stamps for the company.

Lexington 185 28 May 11
Right Trunnion of Tredegar #1443

The date stamp appears on the left trunnion.  According to the Tredegar foundry book records, these guns were cast in March 1862.

Lexington 130 28 May 11
Left Trunnion of Tredegar #1444

The foundry number appears at the top of the muzzle face, as is typical for Tredegar guns for Confederate manufacture.

Lexington 187 28 May 11
Muzzle of Tredegar #1443

The V.M.I. guns retain the front blade sight, which is often removed or broken on examples in the National Parks.    Such is the case of Tredegar #1127 located on Ruggles Line at Shiloh (representing Roberts’ Battery, which I referenced yesterday, by the way).

Ruggles bty 404
Tredegar #1127 at Shiloh

This particular gun has the initials “N.C.” stamped over the trunnions, possibly alluding to manufacture for a state order early in the war.  Another gun of this type is on display at Edenton, North Carolina.  Tredegar cast #1531 from metal obtained from Edenton’s bells.  That particular 6-pdr served the Confederacy up to the end of the war.

As mentioned above, Tredegar produced under thirty of the bronze smoothbore 6-pdrs following the Model 1841 form.  The company also produced a handful of bronze 3-inch rifles, also using the Model 1841 form (thus providing an interesting parallel with the early James Type 1 rifles).  But a shortage of bronze caused Tredegar to shift to iron for 6-pdrs and 3-inch rifles.  Later Confederate authorities required another shift to 12-pdr Napoleons (often cast from melted down 6-pdrs) and Parrott rifles.

Lexington 181 28 May 11
Tredegar 6-pdr Model 1841, #1443

The four guns mentioned here (two at V.M.I., one at Shiloh, and one now at Edenton) certainly offer a small profile of early Confederate armament production. Early in the war Tredegar opted for proven designs, and often using less than desirable metals.  As the war continued, the bronze 6-pdrs gave way to heavier guns.  And were often sacrificed in the melting pot toward that end.

Perhaps further emphasizing the ersatz nature of Confederate weapons production, a copy of Jean-Antoine Houdon’s Washington stands beside the trophy guns at V.M.I.

Lexington 148 28 May 11
Bronze Washington Statue at V.M.I.

Recall the connection between that statue and the Washington Foundry which also produced cannon for the Confederacy.

NOTE:  If any readers can shed light on the “plaque” that appears between the trunnions on the V.M.I guns, I’d invite you to share via comments.