Summary Statement, 2nd Quarter, 1863 – 3rd New York Artillery Regiment

When we examined the 1st New York Light Artillery last week ago, it’s service at the mid-point of the Civil War was mainly within Virginia.  Or shall we say the Eastern Theater proper?  In contrast, the 3rd New York Artillery (which was a mix of heavy and light) spent the first half of the war serving in the Carolinas.  For the fourth quarter of 1862, we briefly looked at the origins of the 3rd regiment.  And for the first quarter of 1863, we noted the split of the regiment, with some batteries going to reinforce efforts against Charleston.  In addition to that move, over 500 two year enlistments came up in May.  This brought the overall regimental strength down to 889 men.  Men were transferred within the regiment to meet obligations to maintain field batteries at full manning.  Between May and June, the remaining men of Batteries A, C, D, and G were transferred to batteries B, E, F, H, I, and M.  Colonel Charles H. Stewart remained in command of the regiment, though as time progressed it was more so an administrative assignment.  And with Stewart’s administrative responsibilities, he received permission to recruit replacements (with the objective of a full 1,700 men).

That history in mind, we turn to the first page of the summary:

0201_1_Snip_NY3rd

As mentioned above, many of these batteries were not fully staffed.  And what did remain were either employed as garrison troops or other support roles.  Referencing Henry and James Hall’s Cayuga in the Field, we can fill in some of the blanks from the summary:

  • Battery A: No return.  Captain Charles White was in command of the battery when mustered out in Syracuse, on June 2.  The three-year men transferred to Batteries E, I, and K.
  • Battery B: Reported at Folly Island, South Carolina, with six 12-pdr Napoleons.  Captain James E. Ashcroft commanded. Returns from the end of June had the battery assigned to Seabrook Island, but of course part of the force concentrating for the Morris Island Campaign.
  • Battery C: No return.  Ashcroft transferred to Battery B (above) on May 22, leaving Lieutenant Charles B. Randolph in charge of the two-year men.  They were mustered out on June 2.  The three year men from this battery moved to Batteries I and K.
  • Battery D: No return.  Captain Owen Gavigan was among the two year men mustered out in June.  Those with enlistments remaining went to Batteries E, I, and K.
  • Battery E:  At New Berne, North Carolina with four 20-pdr Parrott rifles.  Captain Theodore H. Schenck remained in command.  This battery was originally earmarked for South Carolina, but returned to North Carolina by April, part of Eighteenth Corps.
  • Battery F:  On Morris Island with six 12-pdr (3.67-inch) Wiard rifles.  The location was valid for September, 1863, when the return was received in Washington.  Lieutenant Paul Birchmeyer commanded this battery, then on Folly Island. Captain David A. Taylor was on detached service, with the Signal Corps.
  • Battery G: No return. Another battery mustered out in early June.  Captain John Wall rolled up that guidon.  Remaining men transferred to Battery K.
  • Battery H: At New Berne, North Carolina with six 12-pdr Napoleons.  Captain William J. Riggs in command.  Assigned to Eighteenth Corps.
  • Battery I:  Also at New Berne and with six 12-pdr Napoleons.  Captain John H. Ammon held command.
  • Battery K: No return.  Also assigned to New Berne at this time of the war. Captain James R. Angel was in command.  For the previous quarter, and the one that followed, this battery had six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles on hand.  Likely that was the case for the second quarter.  This battery received many three-year men from the disbanding batteries.
  • Battery L:  As explained in earlier posts, this battery did not exist as part of 3rd New York Artillery at this stage of the war.  Near war’s end The 24th Independent Battery was assigned this title, somewhat retroactively.
  • Battery M: At New Berne with six 10-pdr Parrott Rifles.  Captain John H. Howell commanded.

The batteries mustered out at the start of June (A, C, D, and G) were replaced by new batteries with the same designations starting in the fall of 1863 running through the winter of 1864.  So we will see them again in the summaries.

One other note.  We have seen the Napoleons of Battery B

Napoleon_Battery1A

and the Wiards of Battery F

Wiard_Battery

in the photos from Morris Island.

Turning to the ammunition, we have to use the extended columns to handle the smoothbore rounds.  And we have a “problem”:

0203_1_Snip_NY3rd

Three Napoleon batteries and some “leftover” in Battery E:

  • Battery B: 678 shot, 382 shell, 872 case, and 406 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery E: 84 shells for 12-pdr Napoleons; 20 shell, 78 case, and 6 canister for 24-pdr field howitzers; 2 shell and 6 canister for 32-pdr field howitzers.
  • Battery G (?): 396 shot, 87 shell, 439 case, and 160 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery H (?): 294 shot, 150 shell, 303 case, and 136 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.

First off, Battery E had heavy field howitzers on hand in the previous quarter.  And apparently the battery retained some ammunition for those big howitzers (awaiting turn in, perhaps).  But that does not explain the Napoleon shells on hand.

Battery G, as indicated above, mustered out in the first week of June.  And no return was indicated on the first page of the summary.  I offer this was a transcription error.  If so, did the clerk just move everything up one line?  In other words, what’s on line 60 being Battery H’s ammuntion; and line 61 that for Battery I?  No evidence, just expectations!

Moving to the rifled projectiles, we start with the Hotchkiss patent types:

0203_2_Snip_NY3rd

One, well stocked, battery:

  • Battery F: 100 shot, 1065 percussion shell, 300 fuse shell, and 650 bullet shell for 12-pdr / 3.67-inch Wiard Rifles.

And we know those projectiles were destined to be fired at Battery Wagner and, occasionally, Fort Sumter in the months to come.

Let’s split up the next page for clarity:

0204_1A_Snip_NY3rd

  • Battery F: 240 Hotchkiss canister for 12-pdr / 3.67-inch Wiard Rifles.

Moving to Parrott and Schenkl projectiles:

0204_1B_Snip_NY3rd

Two batteries reporting:

  • Battery E: 126 Parrott shell, 30 Parrott canister, and 402 Schenkl shot for 20-pdr Parrott, 3.67-inch caliber.
  • Battery M: 1203 Parrott shell, 57 Parrott case, and 134 Parrott canister for 10-pdr Parrotts.

There were no tallies for any additional Schenkl projectiles or the Tatham’s canister.

So on to the small arms:

0204_3_Snip_NY3rd

By battery:

  • Battery A:  One Army revolver, thirteen Navy revolvers, and fourteen horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery E: Twenty-nine Navy revolvers, two cavalry sabers, and forty-one horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery F: Eleven Army revolvers and seven horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery G (?): Four Army revolvers, seventeen Navy revolvers, and fifty horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery H (?): Ten Army revolvers, seven Navy revolvers, and forty-nine horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery M:  Thirty Navy revolvers and thirty horse artillery sabers.

As with the smoothbore ammunition columns, I offer that lines 60 and 61 were moved up by one.  So those should be Battery H and Battery I.  In the previous quarter, Battery H reported thirty-one Navy revolvers and fifty horse artillery sabers.  Battery I reported Ten Army revolvers, nine Navy revolvers, and forty horse artillery sabers.  Not a close match, but at least a little weight to consider.

We’ll continue with the New York batteries with consideration of yet another “straggler” line – some mountain howitzers in the 3rd New York Cavalry!

 

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July 2, 1864: Birney and Hatch stall, Foster’s plan stumbles

At dawn on July 2, 1864, Major-General John Foster’s July offensive was well under way.  A force of 5,000 infantry, 100 cavalry, and two sections of artillery afloat on transports, personally directed by Foster, entered the North Edisto River as the sun rose over the South Carolina coast.  Foster first saw to putting Brigadier-General John Hatch’s forces ashore at Seabrook Island.  With the transports secure and the landings beginning, Foster proceeded further up the river with Brigadier-General William Birney’s column.  Originally Foster intended to land Birney on the Ashepoo River, further down the coast.  But modifications to his plan had Birney leading 1,200 men landing at White Point on the North Edisto.

Birney’s infantry consisted of 532 men of the 7th USCT, 370 men from the 34th USCT, 241 men from the 35th USCT, and 35 men from the 75th Ohio.  A supporting detachment of thirty marines with two boat howitzers accompanied the column.  In addition a company of engineers were attached.

Birney’s were to march inland towards Jacksonboro, destroy the railroad bridge there, and, if the situation allowed, continue down the railroad to Ashepoo Ferry, likewise destroying the railroad bridge there.

July1864BirneyColumn

Plan looked fairly sound on the map until considering the Confederate defenses.  Birney’s march took his column directly into the Sixth Military District of South Carolina, under the command of Brigadier-General Beverly Robertson.  Earlier that winter, Robertson’s predecessor, Brigadier-General Henry Wise, had voiced concern about Federal approaches on that particular line of march.  In January, Wise proposed to construct a line of works:

… north of the Wadmalaw and Edisto from Meggett’s to Young’s Island; thence,to Torgoodoo Neck; thence to forks of Torgoodoo; thence to Ashe’s; thence to Little Brittain, to Tom’s Point, to Slann’s Island Creek defile, to Pineberry, at the house point and in the marshes, and thence to Willstown, where I would recommend strong combined field and heavy works.

Generally (very, generally due to the map scale), those lines appear in dashed red, with key points as red boxes, on the map.  The terrain in that area features several natural causeways, and Wise recognized if well positioned even a small force could block a major advance.  Wise was able to construct some of the proposed works, in particular a work near the Slann’s (sometimes Slan’s) Island Creek defile.

Marching up from White Point, Birney’s column had to cross Slann’s Island and run up against the Confederate defenses mentioned in Wise’s plans.

At 5.15 a.m., we began our march.  We had gone about half a mile when our scouts were fired upon by the rebel skirmishers. Our skirmishers advanced steadily, supported by the column, and drove before them the small rebel force for about 3 miles, when it passed over a creek, taking up the bridge behind it.  A rebel battery opened immediately.  Knowing they would shell the main road, I moved my command to the right and continued my advance under cover of the woods. The road we had  left was shelled with great precision.

At around that time, Robertson reported the Federal advance. Down the telegraph from Charleston came the reply:

No troops can be sent to re-enforce you, as the enemy is making a heavy demonstration on James Island.  Must drive them off first.

Foster’s scheme to press the Confederates at several points appeared to be working.  But confronted by a creek, well positioned artillery, and Confederate skirmishers, Birney’s part in the plan stalled.

I reconnoitered the creek and swamp on both sides of the bridge and found them impassable. The swamp was miry and deep, and swept by the guns of a rebel fort near the Dawho, and also by the guns of the battery and earth-works. The creek was a salt-water one, deep, and bordered by a miry marsh on each side. The narrowest water I could find, except at the bridge, was about 37 yards, running between marshy borders, each about 50 yards wide. The place where the bridge had been was narrower, but was swept by both a raking and flanking fire of the enemy’s cannon.

Foster brought up two gunboats up to provide flanking fire on the Confederate position and ordered Birney to attempt crossing in a boat.  But Birney reported he was unable to make the crossing.  With that, Birney withdrew, putting a good spin on the failure, recording “The affair was an excellent drill for them preparatory to real fighting.”   He recorded six wounded in the “drill.”

On Seabrook Island, Hatch was likewise having problems. His command consisted of three regiments Brigadier-General Rufus Saxton’s brigade of three regiments, Colonel W. W. H. Davis’ brigade also with three regiments, and two companies of the 4th Massachusetts.  Since their area of operations was the same as the February 1864 demonstration, I’ll reuse a map depicting the key places:

FebDemonstrationBase

The lead regiment in the landing was Colonel W.J. Slidell’s 144th New York, of Davis’ brigade.  Although Slidell managed to cross Seabrook Island and gain Haulover Cut, the rest of Hatch’s force was slow to follow.  Hatch explained:

Owing to the shallowness of water at the dock and unexpected difficulties in landing, we were unable to complete the disembarkation until the morning of the 3d instant…. The remainder of Davis’ brigade, with a few cavalry, were sent to [Slidell’s] support as soon as possible, and a good bridge over the cut, capable of passing artillery, completed before night.  As soon as landed Saxton’s command and the cavalry were pushed forward to Haulover Cut, where the last of the command arrived about 10 a.m. on the 3d.

So Hatch’s movements would be a full day behind schedule.

With those two setbacks, both the primary and secondary aims of Foster’s offensive were stymied.  Any hope of reaching the railroad was gone.  And with the railroad secure, Confederates retained the ability to shift troops from Savannah to reinforce threatened points.  Success of the operation now fell to Brigadier-General Alexander Schimmelfennig and the forces operating in front of James Island.  His morning movements had actually produced meager results… for a demonstration.

(Citations from OR, Series I, Volume 35, Part I, Serial 65, pages 84, 408-9, 528; Part II, Serial 66, page 551.)

“A demonstration to distract the enemy’s attention”: Schimmelfenning crosses to John’s Island

I’ve offered up a few posts about Morton’s Ford of late.  That action was the result of a demonstration made to distract the Confederates from a raid on Richmond, conducted for the most part with political objectives in mind.  But at the same time, another demonstration was in the works some 400 miles further south.  And the political objectives for which that distraction served were much broader in scope… involving an entire state.

In late January, Major-General Quincy Gillmore refined plans for an expedition into northern Florida.  As related in a report filed afterwards, Gillmore’s objectives were:

… first, to procure an outlet for cotton, lumber, timber, &c.; second, to cut off one of the enemy’s sources of commissary supplies; third, to obtain recruits for my colored regiments; fourth, to inaugurate measures for the speedy restoration of Florida to her allegiance, in accordance with instructions which I had received from the President by the hand of Maj. John Hay, assistant adjutant-general.

That last line is important.  Gillmore had instructions to reach a particular objective of political importance – the restoration of Florida to the union.  Such was already underway with Louisiana and Tennessee.  And, as Dale Cox pointed out in a post last month, the urgency was in regards to the 1864 election.  While I’m not going to offer much in the way of the Olustee Campaign (and would direct readers to Dale’s move-by-move posts on his Civil War Florida blog), I do wish to consider some of the peripheral operations involved.  In particular, a demonstration in the Charleston area.

To distract Confederate eyes from the operations in Florida, starting on February 8, 1864 Brigadier-General Alexander Schimmelfennig executed a demonstration on John’s Island with parts of two brigades.  Most readers identify Schimmelfennig with the Garlach woodshed, where he hid with the hogs during the battle of Gettysburg.  Schimmelfennig came to the Department of the South with the rest of General George H. Gordon’s 1st Division, Eleventh Corps transferred to Charleston in the summer of 1863.

At Schimmelfennig’s disposal came from those on Folly Island. The main infantry force came from Gordon’s Division, with Brigadier-General Adelbert Ames in command a that moment.  Additional troops came from Brigadier-General Robert Foster’s division also on Folly Island.  The expedition included six pieces of artillery. The intent was to cross from Folly Island to John’s Island by way of intermediate stops on Kiawah and Seabrook Islands.

FebDemonstrationBase

Among the forces from Gordon’s, or should we say Ames’, Division was the 157th New York Infantry.  Colonel Philip P. Brown offered a detailed report of his regiment’s participation in this operation.

The One hundred and fifty-seventh New York Volunteers left camp on the evening of Sunday, February 7, with 173 armed men, 10 cooks, 4 stretcher-bearers, 10 pioneers, 3 hospital attendants, 3 detailed as orderlies; total, 203 men, commanded by 1 field, 2 staff. 3 line, and 4 acting officers; total force, 213. In accordance with orders from brigade headquarters, the regiment proceeded to Stono Landing, where it arrived a little after 8 p.m. It was ferried across to Kiawah Island 12.30 o’clock the same night, and at once commenced march on the left of the brigade. It arrived at the Vanderhost plantation at daybreak, and bivouacked during the night at that place, in the same order in the brigade.

I’ve marked the area of the Vanderhorst plantation on the map above.  In Federal correspondence the location was not specific to the buildings themselves, but rather a frequently used bivouac area.

March was resumed at 9 p.m., the regiment being third from the right. In this order it arrived at the Seabrook plantation in the early morning, when it was at once ordered to throw out skirmishers.

The Federals crossed over Haulover Cut (see map) onto James Island and moved up the road leading to the interior.  That crossing occurred on the morning of February 10.

Lieutenant Gates, with Company G and parts of Companies A and I, was detailed for that purpose, making a force of 40 men. Lieutenant Gates advanced under the direction of General Ames at 8.15 a.m., and was immediately met by a brisk fire from the rebel skirmishers, who had advanced from the woods and were charging over a rise of ground. They obtained possession of a line of hedge and ditch, but were speedily dislodged by our men, who drove them into the open field. Here our line was re-enforced by a body of the Seventy-fifth Ohio Volunteers, who deployed on our right. Colonel Harris, Seventy-fifth Ohio Volunteers, here took command, and the line advancing pushed the rebels into the woods and continued driving them from half a dozen positions, until a halt was ordered at the distance of about 2 ½ miles from the main force. Major Rice, One hundred and forty-fourth New York, had command at this time.

The Confederate forces initially encountered were under the command of Major John Jenkins, 6th South Carolina Cavalry.   But as the Federals pushed forward, they encountered reinforcements sent forward by Brigadier-General Henry Wise, commanding the Sixth Military District.  This reinforcement included parts of two infantry brigades, including one that was en route to Florida.   As that point is worth more detail, allow me to pause here and pick up the discussion in the next post.

Personal side note:  One of the Confederate regiments involved with the action was the 46th Virginia Infantry, in which one of my ancestors was serving at the time.  So, yes, you may accuse me of elevating the stature of this little “demonstration” a bit.

(Citations from OR, Series I, Volume 33, Part I, Serial 65, pages 106-7, 276.)