Summary Statement, 3rd Quarter, 1863 – 1st Regiment, US Regulars

In our journey through the Summary Statements, we’ve arrived at the third quarter of 1863.  Readers well know the chronology of events for July, August, and September.  In some theaters, particularly the Eastern Theater and Trans-Mississippi, armies awaited the signal to resume campaigns.  In places such as Northern Georgia and the South Carolina coast, hard campaigning proceeded.  So we have the task of projecting the data into that time line, looking to correlate reports about cannon and shells to the actions.

For the quarter, there are a few changes to column headers.  Clearly the clerks in the Ordnance Department were adjusting to new “paradigms” with respect to ammunition usage.  But, ever watchful of the government’s expenditures, they opted to modify existing forms.

First in our queue is the 1st US Artillery and their twelve batteries:

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Of those twelve, ten provided returns.  We see their service spanned from Louisiana, to the Carolina coastline, to Virginia:

  • Battery A – Reporting at New Orleans, Louisiana with two (down from four) 12-pdr Napoleons and two 3-inch rifles.  Captain Edmund C. Bainbridge remained in command of this battery, and also served as division artillery chief.  Battery was assigned to First Division, Nineteenth Corps. Bainbridge, who was actually a 5th Artillery officer, was reassigned to duty in Tennessee in October.
  • Battery B – Reported on Morris Island, South Carolina with four 12-pdr field howitzers, and adding two 3-inch rifles.  Battery B was assigned to Tenth Corps, Department of the South.  By late September, the battery had moved to Folly Island.  Lieutenant Guy V. Henry held command of this battery.  But after a short detail as the Department’s Chief of Artillery, Henry transferred to command the 40th Massachusetts Infantry.  Henry’s designated replacement was Captain Samuel Elder.  However, that officer would not arrive until later in the fall.  Lieutenant Theodore K. Gibbs was ranking officer in the battery through the transition.
  • Battery C – At Fort Macon, North Carolina and serving as infantry.  Lieutenant Cornelius Hook held command of the battery, assigned to the Department of North Carolina. However, a detachment from Battery C, under Lieutenant James E. Wilson moved to South Carolina and served in the Tenth Corps.  They would man Battery Stevens during the First Major Bombardment of Fort Sumter.   Sergeant Michael Leahy, in that detachment, later received a commission and served in Battery B.
  • Battery D – Located at Beaufort, South Carolina with four 3-inch rifles. Lieutenant John S. Gibbs commanded the battery, assigned to General Saxton’s Division on Port Royal Island.
  • Battery E – Reporting at Centreville, Virginia with four 3-inch rifles.  With Captain Alanson Randol moved to command the 1st Regular Brigade, Artillery Reserve, Army of the Potomac, Lieutenant Egbert W. Olcott had command.  The battery was assigned to 2nd Brigade of Horse Artillery,  Army of the Potomac.
  • Battery F – At Camp Bisland, Bayou Teche, Louisiana with four (down from six) 12-pdr Napoleons. Captain Richard C. Duryea commanded.  This battery served Third Division, Nineteenth Corps.  Duryea is also listed as commanding the division’s artillery at this time. Lieutenant Hurdman P. Norris was the next ranking officer in the battery.
  • Battery G – No report.  Dyer’s has Battery G’s personnel serving with Battery E at this time.
  • Battery H – Reporting at Culpeper, Virginia with four (down from six) 12-pdr Napoleons. The battery remained under Lieutenant Philip D. Mason, in First Brigade, Artillery Reserve.
  • Battery I – No return.  But we are familiar with Lieutenant Frank S. French replaced Lieutenant George Woodruff, mortally wounded at Gettysburg, in command of this battery.  I believe they were reduced to four 12-pdr Napoleons, as they supported Second Corps, Army of the Potomac.
  • Battery K – Reporting at Warrenton, Virginia with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.   Battery assigned to Second Brigade, Horse Artillery.  With Captain William Graham in command of that brigade, Lieutenant John Egan was senior officer.
  • Battery L – Reporting at a plantation, which is illegible to me, in Louisiana with four 12-pdr Napoleons and two 10-pdr Parrotts. Captain Frank E. Taylor replaced the Henry W. Closson, who’d been brevetted to Major.  After Port Hudson, the battery transferred to the Nineteenth Corps’ artillery reserve.
  • Battery M – At Beaufort, South Carolina with four 12-pdr Napoleons.  Captain Loomis L. Langdon lead this battery,  assigned to the Tenth Corps.

With those particulars established, we turn to the ammunition reported.  Starting with the smoothbore projectiles:

0235_1_Snip_1stUS

The tallies match to the reported cannon on hand:

  • Battery A: 15 shot, 34 shell, 10 case, and 12 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery B: 240 shell, 280 case, and 112 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • Battery F: 144 shot, 48 shell, 144 case, and 54 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery H: 188 shot, 68 shell, 192 case, and 64 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery L: 106 shot, 38 shell, 182 case, and 40 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery M: 466 shot, 111 shell, 469 case, and 88 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.

I’ve learned, through long reviews of the summaries, not to reach too far with speculations about the quantities of ammunition reported.  But we see the number of rounds for Battery A’s two Napoleons is but one chest.  On the other hand, Battery M had plenty.

Turning to the Hotchkiss projectiles next:

0235_2_Snip_1stUS

Here we have some explaining to do:

  • Battery A:  12 canister and 202 percussion shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery B: 106 canister, 396 percussion shell, 160 fuse shell, and 155 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery D: 46 canister, 110 percussion shell, 85 fuse shell, and 158 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery E: 60 canister, 90 percussion shell, and 340 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery K: 72 canister, 311 percussion shell, and 300 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery M:  12 canister, 12 percussion shell, 24 fuse shell, and 20 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.

We see again Battery A was in short supply.  But the 3-inch rounds with Battery M, which had only Napoleons, stand out.  Battery M had a pair of Ordnance Rifles earlier in the year.  Couldn’t Battery M simply did not transfer this meager quantity of Hotchkiss rounds to Battery D (located on the other side of Beaufort)?  Probably some paperwork issue….

Before moving to the next page in the summary, let me call attention to a column header change:

Page 4 Header 1 0236

We see here the clerks erased a dividing line between the James and Parrott columns. They then put a new divider, two columns to the left.  And wrote in new column names:

  • 10-pdr Parrott Shot, 2.9 inch bore.
  • 20-pdr Parrott Shot 3.64 inch bore.

These replaced columns for James canister in calibers 3.80-inch and 4.62-inch, respectively.  We see the two columns to the left of those have hand written “canister,” but with no strike through of case shot.  These changes reflected the disfavor and declining use of James projectiles by the mid-point of the war.

And those columns are put to use for the 1st US (full page here):

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Two lines:

  • Battery L:  50 shot, 160 shell, 20 case, and 170 canister for 10-pdr Parrott.
  • Battery M: 40 case for 10-pdr Parrott.

Again, we see Battery M with rifled projectiles on hand.

The next page, for the Schenkl projectiles, also has some hand-written changes to the column header:

Page 4 Header 2 0236

In this case, we have six strike-through amendments as the clerks ensured the form remained current:

  • 6-pounder “Wiard” case, 2.6-inch bore.
  • 10-pdr “Parrott” case, 2.9-inch bore.
  • 3-inch wrought-iron gun case, 3-inch bore
  • 12-pdr “Wiard” or 20-pdr “Parrott” Case, 3.67-inch bore.
  • 6-pdr bronze rifled case, 3.67-inch bore.
  • 6-pdr “James” case, 3.80-inch bore.

These all replaced canister columns for their respective calibers.  This, I would submit, reflected the greater utility and use of case, vice canister.  At least for the bean counters in Washington, that is!

But those “referbished” columns were of no mind to the 1st Artillery:

0236_2_Snip_1stUS

Three entry lines, again Schenkl patent projectiles here:

  • Battery A: 52 shell for 3-inch rifles,
  • Battery E: 92 shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery K: 144 shell for 3-inch rifles.

Turning to the last columns, we see that header is a mess of hand-written changes:

0236_3_Snip_1stUS

But that is typical for the small arms columns:

  • Battery A: Nine Army revolvers and forty-four horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery B: Ninty-six Army revolvers, nine cavalry sabers, and 130 horse artillery sabers!
  • Battery D: 121 Army revolvers, eight cavalry sabers, and 106 horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery E: Eight Navy revolvers and eight horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery F: Three Army revolvers, five Navy revolvers, forty cavalry sabers, and twenty horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery H: Twenty-one Army revolvers and sixteen foot artillery swords.
  • Battery K: Fifteen Army revolvers, twenty-nine cavalry sabers, and fifty-five horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery L: Four rifles (type not specified), forty-four Army revolvers, eight cavalry sabers, and 106 horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery M: 103 Army revolvers, nine cavalry sabers, and ninety-five horse artillery sabers.

In previous returns, the batteries in South Carolina and Louisiana reported a substantial quantity of small arms.  And this could be explained by the additional duties taken on by artillerymen in those locations – patrolling and garrison duties.  Though I would point out, Battery M turned in 77 Springfield rifles reported in June.

We’ll look at the 2nd US Artillery next.

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Cavalry Retiring by Successive Formations: Brandy Station, October 11, 1863

Yes, that is not a typo.  There was a battle at Brandy Station on October 11, 1863.  It was the third major action on Fleetwood Hill that year.  If you recall, I wrote about this particular action during the sesquicentennial.  At that time, I put focus on the actions by Brigadier-General John Buford’s First Cavalry Division… for many good reasons.  But I want to return to that day to discuss the activities of another Federal formation.

In his Cavalry Tactics, Alonzo Gray included a section discussing “Retiring by Successive Formations.” One of the citations used to illustrate such tactical maneuvers was from the official report of Brigadier-General Henry E. Davies, Jr. on the October 11 actions at Brandy Station.  Davies commanded First Brigade, Third Cavalry Division.  Davies’ brigade paired with the Second Brigade, under Brigadier-General George A. Custer, to constitute Brigadier-General H. Judson Kilpatrick’s Third Cavalry Division. Davies’ brigade consisted of the 2nd and 5th New York Cavalry, 18th Pennsylvania Cavalry, and the 1st West Virginia Cavalry.  In addition, Davies had Battery E, 4th US Artillery, under Captain Samuel Elder, assigned in support.

Let me skip some of the normal background I’d offer in regard to the “big picture” relating to this action, hoping you click the link to the earlier blog post.  Instead let me look to Davies’ brigade, as reported, did on that day.  Morning of October 11 found the brigade near James City were it had maintained a picket line.  They’d screened the Army of the Potomac’s withdrawal towards Culpeper.  With those formations clearing Culpeper, it was time for Kilpatrick’s cavalry to follow.  Davies started that morning by splitting his command.  The 1st West Virginia marched north to Sperryville in order to cover approaches to Culpeper from the west.  The remainder of the command fell back back on the main road to Culpeper.

Davies’ main force reached the Court-House without incident.  But hearing the West Virginians had encountered Confederates, he dispatched the 5th New York in support.

These two regiments, commanded by Major [John] Hammond [5th New York], attacked the enemy and drove him back, then retired slowly toward Culpeper Court-House, bringing off in safety the infantry that had been left on the road.

I would pause to raise this question – what does “slowly retired” look like?  Roll that around for a bit, while we continue….

While waiting on the return of those two regiments, Davies sent a squadron of the 2nd New York back down the road towards James City to “reconnoiter the road.”  This force soon ran into a large body of Confederate cavalry and lost two officers.

First Sergeant Barker, of Company A, then took command of the squadron, and by a vigorous charge broke through the rebel lines, brought in the whole command with a loss of but 5 men. For his gallantry and good conduct on this occasion, Sergeant [Lewis] Barker merits the praise of his officers, and he has shown himself eminently deserving of promotion, for which he has been recommended by the commanding officer of his regiment.

With that skillful extraction, Barker was able to fall back to the protection of Davies’ main body and the artillery.  But clearly it was time for the Federals to resume their withdrawal, as Davies recorded:

After passing through Culpeper Court-House, under the direction of the general commanding division, I fell back toward Brandy Station, having the right of the road, the Second Brigade being on the left. My rear was brought up by the Second New York, with their skirmishers thrown to the rear, firing and then retiring, my right flank protected by the First Vermont Cavalry, Colonel [Edward] Sawyer, who had been temporarily attached to my command. The enemy followed me very closely, skirmishing heavily with my rear guard, which, however, held its ground well, and did not give back an inch except when ordered.

Sure, nobody gives ground in their official reports.  Right?  But the tactical situation deteriorated rapidly at that point.

On nearing Brandy Station we found the enemy had got between us and General Buford’s command, and the Second Brigade was advanced to the front to charge. As they went forward I placed a section of my battery in position and opened fire on the enemy, who fell back before the Second Brigade toward my right flank.

Let’s pause again for a moment and consider how Kilpatrick was attempting to fight his division at that point in the action. Kilpatrick’s report simply alluded to having Davies on the right and Custer on the left.  But what Davies’ account implies is that First Brigade, plus Elder’s guns, took up a supporting position while Second Brigade made the initial assault.  The point I’d make here is that Kilpatrick approached the initial situation with a “hold with one brigade and jab with the other” maneuver.

But beyond that, this was not exactly a clean cut “textbook” situation as things were falling apart all around the line and to the rear.  Davies pushed out the 1st Vermont to his right, with the 18th Pennsylvania in support, to make another charge.  Then the 2nd New York mounted a charge on Confederates pressing the Brigade’s rear.   And while those charges were ongoing, to the front, Buford’s command was coming to Kilpatrick’s assistance.  Davies, from his point of view, recorded:

All of these movements I am happy to say were most successful, and we repulsed the rebels at every point, and in another moment my battery, supported by the Fifth New York, had followed in the road cut out by the Second Brigade, and gained a position of comparative safety where it could be of assistance to me.

Again, pause to think about the movements.  The 5th New York and the artillery had maintained a base that allowed at least three separate charges by other regiments in the brigade.  Furthermore, if we give weight to Davies’ account, that base supported the Second Brigade’s attacks.  Though in my opinion, most of the credit for the breakout should go to Buford’s troopers.

In these such tactical actions, an open escape route is half the solution. The unit still has to extract itself.  With three regiments (including the attached Vermonters) recalling from charges, Davies had to use the West Virginia regiment to form another base behind which the others could rally.  Behind this second base, Davies worked to move his command to safety, “… a description of the engagement is hardly practicable, as it consisted of a series of gallant charges made wherever the enemy appeared, in a manner that proved both the individual gallantry and the thorough discipline of our troops.”

Extracted from encirclement, Davies’ troopers were still not free.  The action continued even after their escape:

My battery, under Captain Elder, was posted on my right flank and rear, and pouring shot and shell into the enemy’s ranks, contributed in a great degree to our success. At one time the enemy attempted to charge the battery in flank, but the support, a battalion of the Fifth New York, under Major White, charged gallantly to the rescue and drove them back with heavy loss. After this I received orders to retain my command behind the line of the Second Brigade and reform them; which was done, and I then held a position under cover of which the Second Brigade withdrew and again took up position near the river.

It was the later part of this passage that Gray cited in his section on “Retiring by Successive Formations.”   What we see in that passage is again Kilpatrick using his division in two elements – one forms a base while the other maneuvers.  Unlike the earlier maneuvers during the breakout, Kilpatrick’s command was withdrawing under pressure.  So instead of charging, they were withdrawing to the rear behind the safety of a line formed by the other brigade – leapfrog in reverse.

Returning to the morning operations, recall again my question of what “slowly retired” looked like.  I’d submit it would resemble the retirement of brigades, only at a smaller level with squadrons or whole regiments.  Indeed we see a pattern to the maneuvers of Davies’ command throughout the day.  There always seems to be a “base” providing support for a “maneuver” element.  Such was the case with the actions around Culpeper, later with the breakout, and at the end of the day beyond Fleetwood Hill.

Successive movements were a common fundamental for cavalry tactics.  Such were employed from the smallest formations to the largest.  In order to maneuver in formation, a force of cavalry needed some relatively secure space to “form” and prepare.  The base force provided such.  And likewise once the maneuver force reached an objective – be that in the attack or withdrawal – it could set as a base to allow the other portion to maneuver.

The use of successive movements appears in modern military tactics in the form of bounding maneuvers, also conducted from the smallest to the largest formations.

I submit that if Davies or Buford (though some might question Kilpatrick…) were around today, they’d easily recognize the intent of a mechanized infantry or armored cavalry force using “bounding overwatch.”

(Citation from OR, Series I, Volume 48, Part I, Serial 48, pages 385-6.)