Summary Statement, 3rd Quarter, 1863 – Independent and Miscellaneous Illinois Artillery

Looking at the artillery formations Illinois sent to war, there are over a dozen independent batteries or sections which we may discuss.  Some of these became batteries in the two artillery regiments.  Others remained independent throughout the war.  Famous independent batteries, I may add.

Looking at the third quarter, 1863, the summaries carried eight independent batteries and one artillery section.  However, the clerks at the Ordnance Department continued to carry one of those batteries under “3rd Illinois Artillery,” a formation that cannot be found in the final records.  Thus we have a split set to discuss in this installment:

0241_1_Snip_ILL3

As discussed in previous quarters, we can identify Battery A, 3rd Illinois Artillery as Springfield Light Artillery, or Vaughn’s Battery (after Captain Thomas F. Vaughn).

The other batteries appear on the next page:

0249_1_Snip_ILL_Msc

Working from the top… of my snips, we start with that miss-identified battery and work down:

  • Battery A, 3rd Illinois / Springfield Light Artillery: At Little Rock, Arkansas with six 3.80-inch James rifles.  Captain Thomas F. Vaughn commanded this battery, which was assigned to the Sixteenth Corps.  As part of Steele’s Expedition to Little Rock, the battery got its first real taste of battle on September 10 at Bayou Fourche.  In that action, Vaughn reported firing 14 shot, 292 shell, and 8 canister over three hours.  The battery lost two men in the fight.
  • Stokes’ Battery / Chicago Board of Trade Battery: Reporting at Nashville, Tennessee with four 6-pdr field guns, two 12-pdr field howitzers, one 3-inch Ordnance Rifle, one rifled 6-pdr (3.67-inch), and two 3.80-inch James rifles.  At the end of September, this battery was, like most of the Army of the Cumberland, holding on at Chattanooga.  The battery was with the force holding the river crossings above the city.  By the time of the reporting date (November), the battery was posted near Huntsville, Alabama, having spent some of the intervening time supporting operations against Confederate cavalry raids.  The battery remained with Second Division, Cavalry Corps, Army of the Cumberland.  During the siege of Chattanooga, Captain James H. Stokes commanded Second Division of the Artillery Reserve, Army of the Cumberland (the “right batteries” in reports).   In his place, Lieutenant George Robinson led the battery, with more than it’s fair share of cannon!
  • Chicago Mercantile Battery: At Franklin, Louisiana with four 3-inch Ordnance rifles.  In the reorganizations after Vicksburg, this battery moved with parent formation to the Fourth Division, Thirteenth Corps, which was sent to the Department of the Gulf.  Captain Patrick H. White remained in command.
  • Elgin Battery: No return.  Assigned to the 23rd Corps, this battery participated in the Knoxville Campaign.  Captain George W. Renwick resigned in May 1863 and was replaced by Captain Andrew M. Wood.
  • Cogswell’s Battery: At Nashville, Tennessee with four 3.80-inch James rifles. This battery moved to Vicksburg in June as part of First Division, Sixteenth Corps.  In July, just after the fall of that city, the battery transferred to Fourth Division, Fifteenth Corps.  Thence transferring again to Seventh Division, Seventeenth Corps.  And that division later became Second Division of the corps.  Good thing corps badges were not used in the western theater at the time!  In late September the battery moved to Memphis as part of the force sent to reinforce Chattanooga.  The indicated location reflects the July 1864 reporting date. Though Captain William Cogswell remained in command of the battery, Lieutenant Henry G. Eddy appears to have led the battery in the field.
  • Henshaw’s Battery: Reporting from Loudon, Tennessee with four 6-pdr field guns and two 3.80-inch James rifles.  In September 1863, this battery was part of Twenty-third Corps and in the advance toward Knoxville.  So the Loudon location reflects a November reporting date. Captain Edward C. Henshaw commanded.
  • Bridges’ Battery: At Chattanooga, Tennessee with one 12-pdr Napoleon and three 3-inch Ordnance rifles.  Assigned to Second Division, Fourteenth Corps and under command of Captain Lyman Bridges.  Going into battle at Chickamauga, the battery boasted two Napoleons and four Ordnance rifles.  Posted on the morning September 20 astride the road near the McDonald House, the battery suffered heavily.  Six killed, twenty wounded, and four missing out of a command of 126.  Aside from the two guns (a Napoleon and an Ordnance rifle) the battery lost 46 horses, three limbers, one caisson, and much equipment.  Bridges would, rightfully in my view, complain of lacking infantry support.  The battery pulled four of its guns off the field and moved to Snodgrass Hill.   Bridges would later pull four guns,  abandoned by other batteries, off the field.  The position of Bridges’ desperate fight on the morning of the 20th is marked today:

Vacation24 237

  • Colvin’s Battery: “In the field, Tennessee” with two 3-inch Ordnance rifles and two 10-pdr Parrotts. Overlooked in the previous quarter, this battery was assigned to Twenty-Third Corps, and, as of the end of September, was part of the force in East Tennessee aimed at Knoxville.  Captain John H. Colvin commanded.
  • 14th Cavalry, Artillery Section:  No location given, with four 12-pdr mountain howitzers. The 14th Illinois Cavalry was part of Twenty-third Corps at this time of the war and participated in the advance on Knoxville.  The regiment, under Colonel Horace Capron, retained a section of mountain howitzers, led by Lieutenant Henry Clay Connelly.

Taken with the service details of the 1st and 2nd Regiments, we see almost all the Illinois artillerymen were serving in the Western Theater at this time of the war.

Moving to the ammunition reported, let us take this in blocks with the Springfield Light Artillery getting the lead position.  That battery reported no smoothbore ammunition. But did have some Hotchkiss rounds:

0243_2_Snip_ILL3

  • Springfield Battery: 274 Hotchkiss percussion shell for 3.80-inch rifles..

More Hotchkiss appear on the next page along with James patent projectiles:

0244_1_Snip_ILL3

  • Springfield Battery: 172 Hotchkiss canister; 236 James shot, 212 James Shells, and 30 James canister, all for 3.80-inch rifles.

And more canister on the last page of projectiles:

0244_2_Snip_ILL3

  • Springfield Battery: 36 Tatham’s canister for 3.80-inch rifles.

Turning to the other independent batteries, we look back to the smoothbore:

0251_1_Snip_ILL_Msc

  • Chicago Board of Trade Battery: 173 shot, 283 case, and 244 canister for 6-pdr field guns.
  • Henshaw’s Battery: 286 shot, 315 case, and 138 canister for 6-pdr field guns.
  • Bridges’ Battery: 4 shot, 148 shell, and 34 case for 12-pdr Napoleons.  No canister.
  • 14th Illinois Cavalry: 108 shell, 576 case, and 60 canister for 12-pdr mountain howitzers.

Advancing to the Hotchkiss columns:

0251_2_Snip_ILL_Msc

  • Chicago Board of Trade Battery: 7 shot and 30 percussion shell for 3.80-inch James.
  • Chicago Mercantile Battery: 90 canister, 195 percussion shell,  201 fuse shell, and 281 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • Cogswell’s Battery: 170 percussion shell for 3.80-inch James.
  • Henshaw’s Battery: 95 percussion shell and 80 fuse shell for 3.80-inch James.
  • Bridges’ Battery: 66 canister, 130 percussion shell, 186 fuse shell, and 163 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • Colvin’s Battery: 38 canister, 50 percussion shell, and 160 fuse shell for 3-inch rifles.

We have more Hotchkiss on the next page along with James and Parrott rounds:

0252_1_Snip_ILL_Msc

Hotchkiss:

  • Chicago Board of Trade Battery: 33 cansiter for 3.80-inch rifles.

James:

  • Chicago Board of Trade Battery: 33 shot and 45 shell for 3.80-inch rifles.
  • Cogswell’s Battery: 31 shot, 247 shell, and 109 canister for 3.80-inch rifles.

Parrott:

  • Colvin’s Battery: 165 case for 10-pdr Parrott.

Both Schenkl and Tatham’s on the last page of projectiles:

0252_2_Snip_ILL_Msc

Schenkl:

  • Chicago Board of Trade Battery: 219 shell for 3.80-inch rifles.
  • Henshaw’s Battery: 66 shell for 3.80-inch rifles.
  • Colvin’s Battery: 23 case for 10-pdr Parrott.

Tathams:

  • Cogswell’s Battery: 149 canister for 3.80-inch rifles.

Finally to the small arms, we can “bounce” these in one listing from two snips:

0244_3_Snip_ILL3

And….

0252_3_Snip_ILL_Msc

By battery:

  • Springfield Battery: Ten horse artillery sabers.
  • Chicago Board of Trade Battery: Two Army revolvers, 133 Navy revolvers, eight cavalry sabers, and twenty horse artillery sabers.
  • Chicago Mercantile Battery: One Army revolver and four horse artillery sabers.
  • Cogswell’s Battery: Two Army revolvers and two cavalry sabers.
  • Henshaw’s Battery: Eighteen Army revolvers and sixteen horse artillery sabers.
  • Bridges’ Battery: Ten Army revolvers, fifteen cavalry sabers, and five horse artillery sabers.
  • Colvin’s Battery: Two Navy revolvers and eight cavalry sabers.
  • 14th Illinois Cavalry Section: Six rifled muskets (foreign manufacture) and thirty-one Army revolvers.

Consider here the story of Bridges’ Battery at Chickamuaga.  I think we see some of that story reflected in the numbers reported for the returns.  Certainly we see the reduction of the number of guns reported.  Ammunition might be replenished, but I’d advance the quantities were still low for the battery (as resupply of Chattanooga was desperate until late November).  Though the small arms quantities look average for a field battery, I’d bet many of those men who survived September 20, 1863 would “acquire” more – officially or unofficially.

Advertisements

Summary Statement, 1st Quarter, 1863 – Independent batteries from Illinois

Proceeding through the Summary Statements for first quarter, 1863, we arrive at the various non-regimented batteries from Illinois.  Like a blast of canister into the darkest night, these tables are hit and miss:

0100_1_Snip_Other_ILL

Ten lines, but with six registered entries.  And all of these referring to a battery commander’s (or former commander’s) name.  We had the same issue with the previous quarter’s summary, so this is nothing new:

  • Stoke’s [Stokes’] Battery: Also known as the Chicago Board of Trade Independent Battery Light Artillery, commanded by Captain James Stokes.  At Murfreesboro, Tennessee with four 6-pdr field guns, one 6-pdr (3.67-inch) rifle, and two 3.80-inch James rifles.  One of the 6-pdrs was a Confederate gun captured at Stones River, to replace a gun damaged in the battle.  This battery was authorized as a seven gun battery during the quarter, presumably adding the 6-pdr rifle at that time.  The battery was assigned to the Cavalry Corps, Army of the Cumberland.
  • Vaughn’s Battery: Also known as known as the Springfield Independent Battery. Outside Memphis, at Germantown, Tennessee with six 3.80-inch James rifles. However, returns show Captain Thomas F. Vaughn’s battery was assigned to the District of Jackson, as part of Sixteenth Corps as of April 30, 1863.  Same corps, just a duty location dependency.
  • Busteed’s Battery: No report.  This is an odd entry, if the name matches to other records.  This battery, which according to a Chicago Tribune report dated February 17, 1862, was raised at war’s onset by Captain Richard Busteed, Jr. as the Chicago Light Battery (not to be confused with Battery A, 1st Illinois Artillery).  They were soon assigned to Washington, D.C. However, when Busteed and other officers resigned in November 1861, leading to the battery being disbanded.  Most of the artillerymen were reassigned to what became the 4th New York Independent Artillery.  So why is there a line here?
  • Phillips’ Battery: No report.Another curious line entry.  This might match to Captain John C. Phillips’ Battery M, 2nd Illinois, which had suffered the indignity of capture at Harpers Ferry the previous fall.
  • Cooley’s Battery: This was the Chicago Mercantile Independent Battery.  Reporting at Milliken’s Bend, Louisiana with four 6-pdr field guns and two 3-inch Ordnance rifles.  Under Captain Patrick H. White, this battery was assigned to Tenth Division, Thirteenth Corps.
  • Bridges’ Battery: Also at Murfreesboro but with three(?) 6-pdr field guns, two 12-pdr Napoleon and two 3-inch Ordnance rifles. The battery formed from Company G, 19th Illinois Infantry, officially, in January 1863.  However, during the previous fall, the men had been detailed to service guns in the defenses of Nashville.   Captain Lyman Bridges commanded the battery, which supported the Pioneer Brigade, Army of the Cumberland.
  • Elgin’s Battery: Should read (non-possessive) Elgin Battery. Lieutenant Andrew M. Wood assumed command of this battery during the spring (replacing Captain George W. Renwick).  The battery was assigned to the District of Western Kentucky. Later in June 1863, the battery reported four 24-pdr field howitzers and six 3.80-inch James rifles. But for the first quarter, we have no report.
  • Colvin’s Battery: No report. This battery was being organized during the winter from parts of the 107th Illinois Infantry, 33rd Kentucky Infantry and 22nd Indiana Battery. Captain John H. Colvin’s command was part of the Department of the Ohio.
  • Coggswell’s [Cogswell’s] Battery: Reporting at Camp Sherman, Mississippi with four 3.80-inch James rifles.  Captain William Cogswell’s battery supported First Division, Sixteenth Corps at this time.  When Cogswell moved up to command the artillery brigade, Lieutenant Henry G. Eddy assumed command of the battery.
  • Henshaw’s Battery: At Loudon, Tennessee (which probably better reflects the November 7, 1863 reporting date) with four 6-pdr field guns and two 3.80-inch James rifles. This was Captain Edward C. Henshaw’s battery, which had just formed at the end of 1862.  The battery was also part of the District of Western Kentucky.

One side note, those batteries listed as part of the District of Western Kentucky at this time were soon pulled into the Twenty-Third Corps when General Burnside took command of the Department of the Ohio.  So there was another administrative change for these batteries just weeks into the next quarter.

Of those reporting, we see fifteen 6-pdr smoothbores, one rifled 6-pdr, and fourteen James rifles.  Quite possible that all three types used the same casting pattern – that of the Model 1841 field gun.  Keep such in mind as we review the ammunition reports.

And speaking of which, we start with the smoothbore rounds on hand:

0102_1_Snip_Other_ILL

I’m going to stick with the names provided on the summaries, but keep in mind the alternate designations mentioned above (which are just half the story, as some of those independent batteries were at times cited within the regimental system, with much confusion). By battery:

  • Stokes’ Battery: 334 shot, 302 case, and 259 canister for 6-pdr field guns.
  • Vaughn’s Battery: 72 shell, 42 case, and 50 canister for 12-pdr field howitzer.  Recall the battery reported similar quantities on hand the previous quarter, with no weapons in that caliber on hand.
  • Cooley’s Battery: 397 shot, 327 case, and 74 canister for 6-pdr field guns.
  • Bridges’ Battery: 98 shot, 366 case, and 122 canister for 6-pdr field guns; 100 shot, 50 shell, 250 case, and 50 canister for 12-pdr Napoleon.
  • Henshaw’s Battery: 522 shot, 406 case, and 84 canister for 6-pdr field guns.

So just one question mark, and that one retained from the previous quarter.

Moving over to the rifled projectiles, we start with the products of Mr. Hotchkiss:

0102_2_Snip_Other_ILL

We see quantities on hand for those four 3-inch rifles, along with rounds for the James rifles:

  • Stokes’ Battery:  17 shot and 50 fuse shell, Hotchkiss, in 3.67-inch caliber.  Presumably feed for the lone rifled 6-pdr. (And more to add to that on the next page.)
  • Cooley’s Battery: 44 canister, 96 percussion shell, 82 fuse shell, and 167 bullet shell, Hotchkiss, for 3-inch rifles.
  • Bridges’ Battery:  84 canister, 65 percussion shell, 320 fuse shell, and 115 bullet shell, Hotchkiss, for 3-inch rifles.
  • Cogswell’s Battery: 148 shot, Hotchkiss, for 3.80-inch James rifles.
  • Henshaw’s Battery: 40 percussion shell, 80 fuse shell, and 280 bullet shell for 3.80-inch James Rifles.

Moving to the next page, we have quantities in the “spill over” Hotchkiss columns, in addition to some James-patent (full page here):

0103_1A_Snip_Other_ILL

First, breaking out the orphaned Hotchkiss entries:

  • Stokes’ Battery: 40 canister, Hotchkiss, 3.67-inch rifle caliber.
  • Vaughn’s Battery:  180 canister, Hotchkiss, 3.80-inch rifle caliber.

Moving to the James columns:

  • Stokes’ Battery: 33 shot and 72 shell, James, 3.80-inch.
  • Vaughn’s Battery: 250 shot, 451 shell, and 30 canister, James, 3.80-inch.
  • Cogswell’s Battery: 31 shot, 327 shell, and 47 canister, James, 3.80-inch.
  • Henshaw’s Battery: 120 shell, James, 3.80-inch.

Onto the next page, we have some sparse entries:

0103_2_Snip_Other_ILL

Of Schenkl-patent projectiles:

  • Stokes’ Battery: 392 shell, Schenkl, for 3.80-inch rifle.

And Tatham’s Canister:

  • Vaughn’s Battery: 36 canister in 3.80-inch.
  • Cogswell’s Battery: 107 canister in 3.80-inch.

With all the projectiles out of the way, we turn to the small arms:

0103_3_Snip_Other_ILL

By battery:

  • Stokes’ Battery: Eight Army revolvers, eight cavalry sabers, and twenty horse artillery sabers.
  • Vaughn’s Battery: Ten horse artillery sabers.
  • Cooley’s Battery:  Four horse artillery sabers.
  • Bridges’ Battery: Ten Army revolvers and fifteen cavalry sabers.
  • Cogswell’s Battery: Two Army revolvers and six horse artillery sabers.
  • Henshaw’s Battery: Twenty army revolvers and twenty horse artillery sabers.

So not a lot of small arms issued to the batteries.  We might translate such to indicate these were artillerymen who were primarily performing the role of artillerymen.

Overall, we see one nice line item separation that I’d like to highlight.  The rifled 6-pdr guns and the James 3.80-inch rifles are very similar in many regards, notably metal used, external appearance and rifling standards.  However, they were slightly different calibers.  Exactly 0.13-inch different as we dry measure things.  But that difference meant ammunition lots had to be kept straight.  We see indications that was done in Stokes’ Chicago Board of Trade Battery.

Summary Statement: December 31, 1862 – Independent Illinois Batteries and “Others”

The 1st Regiment and 2nd Regiment Illinois Artillery offered some quirks in terms of weapons assigned or organizational assignments (particularly with the Thirteenth Corps being an evolving field organization).  In addition to those two regiments, Illinois offered a collection of independent batteries for service. And these batteries offer even more “headaches” from the perspective of administrative tracking.

For brevity, allow me to step around a detailed history of “how this came to be.”  As my line of march today is simply to present what was listed in the summary for December 31, 1862, I will contain conversations about lineage to the essentials.  (Someday… I really want to build an annotated index of artillery formations to aid tracking these… someday.)  For the scope of today’s post, here are the Illinois batteries that fell into that “outside the numbered regiments” category, as of December 1862:

0035_Snip_Dec62_ILL_Other_1

Not a lot of artillery pieces, but batteries we need to identify.  By line, here is the breakdown:

  • Battery A, Third Artillery:  At Germantown, Tennessee (outside Memphis).  Six 6-pdr James 3.80-inch.  Follow the ball on this identification.  This was Captain Thomas F. Vaughn’s battery (sometimes Vaughan, but Vaughn appears on his service card), better known as the Springfield Independent Battery (entry below).  It was assigned to the District of Jackson, Thirteenth Corps in December 1862.  However, I think the location referencing Germantown was valid for the date of the return – July 1863 – when the battery was posted around Memphis.  Other portions of this battery’s summary raise questions, which we will discuss below.
  • Stoke’s [Stokes’] Battery:  No return. This was the Chicago Board of Trade Battery, commanded by Captain James Stokes.  The battery played an important role in the fighting at Stones River. We know from reports the battery had four 6-pdr field guns and two James rifles in the battle.  Stokes supported the Pioneer Brigade on December 31, 1862.  The battery fired 1,450 rounds in the battle.
  • Springfield Battery: With the annotation “Entered as Co. A, 3rd Arty.”  I have no supporting documentation to explain why the battery would be designated as such.  Perhaps the intention was consolidate all the independent batteries in a new regiment, but the idea never got past Vaughn’s.
  • Mercantile Battery:  Properly, the Chicago Mercantile Independent Battery, or Captain Charles G. Cooley’s Independent Battery.  Date of receipt of its report was December 1864 – two years late!  Location of Chicago, Illinois is indicated.  The battery had been in Chicago until early November 1862.  They moved to Memphis that month and participated in Sherman’s expedition to Chickasaw Bayou.  The battery reported four 6-pdr field guns and two 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.
  • Elgin Battery:  Captain George W. Renwick’s Elgin Independent Battery.  Just mustered in the previous month, this battery was posted to the Department of Kentucky in December 1862.  No return posted.
  • Coggswell’s [Cogswell’s] Battery: Captain William Cogswell’s Independent Battery.  Originally Company A, 53rd Illinois Infantry.  Another late-posted return (June 1864) has this battery at Nashville, Tennessee.  That location is likely inferred due to the late report date.  Official records indicate Cogswell’s Battery was at Memphis, and part of the Thirteenth Corps’ Right Wing.   The battery reported four James rifles on hand.
  • Henshaw’s Battery:  Captain Edward Henshaw’s Independent Battery. No return posted.  This battery had just been mustered at the time of report.
  • 10th Illinois Cavalry:  Stores in charge, reported by a major.   The 10th was on duty in Missouri at the time.  On November 7, 1862, a detail of the 10th Illinois surrendered at Clark’s Mill, Missouri.  Among the weapons surrendered were two Woodruff Guns.  In fact, one might say the ineffectiveness of those guns, compared to conventional artillery (in that case lowly 6-pdrs, if I recall).  While no cannons or projectiles were carried in the summary, the 10th Cavalry had some implements on hand (though the return was not received until March 1864… slow mail).

That’s a lot to roll around.  But as you see, not a lot of cannons reported.  That makes the following snips easier to discuss… somewhat easier.  I say that as from the start there are questions with smoothbore ammunition:

0037_Snip_Dec62_ILL_Other_1

The Springfield Battery, which indicated no smoothbores on hand, had 12-pdr howitzer ammunition – 72 shells, 42 case, and 50 canister.  The battery originally formed with a section of 12-pdr howitzers and apparently still had ammunition stocks left.

The Mercantile Battery had 308 shot, 252 case, and 252 canister for its 6-pdr field guns.

Moving to the rifled projectiles, first the Hotchkiss Patent:

0037_Snip_Dec62_ILL_Other_2

Mercantile Battery had, in the 3-inch caliber (again, Hotchkiss) 160 shot, 40 canister, and 190 fuse shells.  Cogswell’s Battery reported 285 Hotchkiss shot for James 3.80-inch rifles. Continuing to the next page, the columns are entries for Hotchkiss (continued), Dyer’s, and James’ Patents:

0038_Snip_Dec62_ILL_Other_1

The Springfield Battery had 180 Hotchkiss canister for James 3.80-inch rifles. The battery also reported 250 James patent 3.80-inch shot, 451 shell, and 30 canister.  Cogswell’s Battery also had James Patent projectiles – 25 shot, 350 shell, and 74 canister.

We see no entries for Parrot or Schenkl projectiles, but entries for Tatham’s pattern canister:

0038_Snip_Dec62_ILL_Other_2

In the 3.80-inch caliber, the Springfield Battery had 36 on hand while Cogswell’s had 79. Lastly the small arms:

0038_Snip_Dec62_ILL_Other_3

  •  Springfield Battery: 10 Horse artillery sabers.
  • Mercantile Battery: 30 Army revolvers and five horse artillery sabers.
  • Cogswell’s Battery: 13 Army revolvers, one Navy revolver, and two cavalry sabers.

One last note on the “others” listed here.  Looking specifically at the equipment reported by the 10th Illinois Cavalry, I find the “major” reported four sights for 6-pdr Wiard guns on hand, along with a few other implements specific to that caliber and make of weapon.  My first inclination is that the 10th Illinois was reporting the implements for Woodruff guns.  The closest weapons on the printed report, in terms of caliber, would be the 2.6-inch, or 6-pdr, Wiard gun.  Likewise, it may have been that in lieu of custom made Woodruff sights and sponges, the 10th was issued those made for the Wiards.

Regardless, that the 10th Illinois Cavalry, way out in remote southwestern Missouri, had to report these items (along with artilleryman’s haversacks, punches, and other artillery-specific equipment) speaks volumes for the tenacity and pure resiliency of those in the Ordnance Department!

Sherman’s March, March 19, 1865: A battle begins at Bentonville

For the Federals on the march, the Carolinas Campaign had, by the second half of March 1865, taken on a daily cycle.  Between major objectives – Columbia, Cheraw, Fayetteville – the days started with foragers departing to both scout ahead and gather supplies.  The designated lead division for the day would form and march out of camp.  Usual procession was the trail division from the day before would pass through camp to assume the lead.  That division might, at some point in the day, face a Confederate picket or other force.  But more likely the greater effort would be to repair a crossing point over some creek, river, or swamp.  If any sizable Confederate force appeared in front of the march, that lead division would “develop” the situation by forming at first the lead regiment.  If needed, a brigade to form.  But likely by the time a second brigade formed, this “development” would locate the Confederate flanks.  At that point the Rebels would depart, having accomplished their requirement to delay the march.

This pattern, generally speaking, was repeated so often that Federals became complacent.  With the exception of Averasborough on March 16, 1865, no large Confederate force had made a stand.  And even at Averasborough, one might argue that the “development” tactic worked… just that it required more than a corps to “develop” the Confederates out of their works.

For March 19, 1865, the lead division for the Fourteenth Corps, and thus the Left Wing, was the First Division of Brigadier-General William Carlin.  The lead brigade was that of Brigadier-General Harrison Hobart.  Days after the battle, Hobart described the start of the day:

On the morning of the 19th, at 7 o’clock, the brigade marched from camp in advance of the division on the Goldsborough road, and at 10 a.m. we met the enemy posted behind a line of rail-works which extended for some distance on each side of the road on which we were moving.

Ahead of Hobart, foragers sparred with Confederate cavalry, screening that first line of works.  And, true to habit, Hobart did what the Federals had done at dozens of other points along the march – deployed to develop the position.  Except that this time, the position was too large to develop with just a brigade… a division… or even an entire corps.  The Confederates were arriving, just that morning, in front of Hobart’s advance in greater numbers than seen anywhere else on the campaign.  The Battle of Bentonville commenced.

I could try to break down this battle in a phase-by-phase format.  But I don’t think that would do justice to the action.  Bentonville should be the subject for someone’s “Battle Blog,” akin to Harry’s Bull Runnings or Bret’s Beyond the Crater.  Until someone takes up that row, I think the Bentonville Historic Site’s website is the best resource page for the battle on the internet.  The site includes an excellent set of maps, drawn by Mark Moore.  You might start with the map covering those initial stages of the battle, while Carlin developed the Confederate line.

There are three other phases of the fighting on the 19th that draw me in as I consider the battle.  How can one NOT be attracted to the last great charge of the Army of Tennessee?  Perhaps it is the “westerner” in me, but the thought of men who’d charged from Shiloh to Franklin, through three years of war, making one last go… well it brings up a lot of sentimental thoughts.  When this assault started in mid-afternoon, Lieutenant-General William Hardee in front, so many proud, yet depleted, legions marched forward.

The Confederate attack swept away Carlin’s division (and Carlin would spend the rest of his life trying to shift blame, though nobody seemed to blame him).  And the Rebel wave isolated the division of Brigadier-General James D. Morgan on the Federal right.  Morgan’s stand is worth a thousand words by itself, as it is somewhat a “stand” reminiscent of those made by the Army of the Cumberland at points like Stones River and Chickamauga.

But where my sentimental thoughts take root again is on the left flank of this line.   The Twentieth Corps arrived as the Army of Tennessee’s charge ran out of momentum.  As any Gettysburg student knows, the Twentieth was made up of the old Eleventh and Twelfth Corps.  So arriving on the field that afternoon, looking into the aftermath of a route, were men who’d experienced their own disasters at earlier points in the war.  And this time, they formed and stood ground.  The 26th Wisconsin was swept off the field by “Stonewall” Jackson at Chancellorsville.  And that regiment could not hold back the Confederate tide on July 1, 1863 that rolled up the Federal lines north of Gettysburg.  But on March 19, 1865, the 26th was part of Brigadier-General William Cogswell’s brigade that counterattacked, most capably, to stabilize the Federal lines and aid Morgan’s cut off division.  Just one regiment I could call out with similar stories to tell. If we say the Army of Tennessee made its last charge only hours earlier in the day, then might we also say the Army of the Potomac (in the form of the Twentieth Corps) made its final holding action as result?

Major-General Henry Slocum deserves some criticism for decisions, or indecisions, made on March 19th (and similar criticism should be heaped on Sherman to be fair).  But Slocum did make several good, sound decisions that day, particularly in the later phases.  Slocum’s Left Wing took heavy blows that day, but did not break.  Late in the afternoon, the last Confederate attacks of the day went up against the Twentieth Corps line.  In front of the Morris Farm, on some of the only suitable ground for artillery, four Federal batteries… again, units with storied war records by this point … deflected the Confederate attacks.  The last attacks were met with double canister.   Once again, as had occurred at many battlefields during the Civil War, a Federal artillery concentration had thwarted a Confederate advance.  This was among the last of such (arguably the last).

At any rate, those are the points that I move to when thinking about Bentonville.  Not saying those are the key points on which the battle turned, rather the “thinking points” that I wonder through when considering the battle.   I’ll follow up later today with a look at the operational movements off the battlefield as the campaign unfolded.

Sherman’s March, March 14, 1865: “I do think it is Johnston’s only chance to meet this army “

One more day of “partial rest” for Major-General William T. Sherman’s men on March 14, 1865, as everyone prepared for the next leg of the march.  Main activities for the day involved staging the commands for movement. To Major-General Oliver O. Howard, Sherman explained his intent for the next phase.  He planned a feint on Raleigh, and wished to cut the road near Smithfield to support that appearance.

To this end the cavalry will move to-night across the bridge, beginning at 3 a.m., and will push to-morrow up the plank road to about Averasborough, Slocum following up with four disencumbered divisions to near the forks of the road, moving his trains by a cross road toward Bentonville. The next move will be the cavalry to Elevation, and Slocum will cross Black River. The next move will bring Slocum to Bentonville, and Kilpatrick, supported by a division of infantry, will make a dash for the railroad.

Sherman wanted Howard’s Right Wing to support the Left Wing closely.  But beyond that:

I want you to be as near in support as possible. I do think it is Johnston’s only chance to meet this army before an easy junction with Schofield can be effected. I would like you to have four divisions free to move rapidly to the sound of battle in the direction of Mingo Creek and Elevation, and, at any event, to make a junction by head of column with Slocum at Bentonville.

Key to supporting Sherman’s intent, both the Left and Right Wings needed to form light marching columns in the advance, so as to quickly respond if – when – General Joseph Johnston moved to oppose the march.

NCMarch_Mar14

The Federal arrows on today’s map are somewhat crowded and imprecise.  For the Right Wing, Seventeenth Corps moved out on the Wilmington Road to give room for the Fifteenth Corps assembling into camps over the Cape Fear River.  The Fifteenth Corps had orders to use both pontoon bridges while crossing.  But this brought some unexpected delays.  The Fourth Division crossed the lower bridge that afternoon, taking about half the corps’ trains. But the other three divisions had to wait for the Left Wing’s trains to clear the upper bridge.  The Second and Third Divisions crossed during the afternoon and evening of the 14th, but the First Division had to wait until the 15th.

On the east side of the river, Major-General John Logan took time to organize the corps for the next march.

The further movement from this point was to be made with unencumbered divisions, men to be supplied with five days’ rations.  All of our supply train and a portion of ordnance train was to move by another and lower route directly on Everettsville.  The organization of the train was effected before moving from the Cape Fear River, and the First Brigade, First Division, with a regiment each from the Second and Fourth Divisions, under command of Brevet Brigadier-General Woods, was assigned as a guard for the train.  All the ambulances and twelve ordnance wagons with the headquarters and regimental teams, accompanied the troops.

The Left Wing made similar movements and dispositions.  Fourteenth Corps prepared First and Second Divisions for light marching order.  But Third Division remained in Fayetteville on guard.  In town, Major-General Absalom Baird had orders to destroy all mills in vicinity of Fayetteville, save one that would be sufficient to sustain the people of the city.

The Twentieth Corps also prepared two divisions for light marching to come.  To probe the Confederates ahead, Third Brigade, Third Division, under Brigadier-General William Cogswell, made a reconnaissance on the road leading out from Fayetteville.  One scouting column went on the Goldsboro Road, reaching Great Creek.

The other, moving north on the road to Raleigh, met more resistance.  Lieutenant-Colonel Philo Buckingham, 20th Connecticut Infantry, in command of that column had orders to proceed to Taylor’s Hole Run.  Buckingham was “not to attack in line of battle” but to use skirmishers only.  After only a few miles march, Buckingham ran into the advance guard of the Confederate line.  As the skirmish line deployed, the Confederates fell back to the next creek.  The Federals repaired a bridge near a mill on that creek and proceeded forward, cautiously.  This setup a series of bounds where the Federals would locate a Confederate picket force, deploy skirmishers, then watch their opponents fall back.  At Silver Run, the Confederates deployed an artillery piece and gave a good fight, as Buckingham later reported:

After quite a spirited skirmish the enemy was driven back to the cross-roads to within a quarter of a mile of Silver Run. Here, finding the force of the enemy had been increased and that he was making quite a determined stand, I sent forward four companies from the One hundred and second Illinois Volunteers to re-enforce and extend my line of skirmishers, at the same time sending one company from the Thirty-third Massachusetts Volunteers out toward the left and rear of my skirmish line to guard a road which led from my left toward the right of the enemy, so as to prevent a flank attack in that direction. After these dispositions were made I ordered an advance, and the enemy was soon driven back across Silver Run Creek and took refuge behind earth-works, in which I discovered artillery in position and a force sufficient to occupy works a mile or more in extent.

Buckingham proceeded forward again, but sensed he was up against a superior force.

After skirmishing with him quite briskly for nearly two hours, and finding I could not dislodge him without using my whole force, and that I had not more than time to reach camp by a seasonable hour, I withdrew my force in good order and, unmolested by the enemy, marched back to camp, which I reached about 9 p.m., having marched in all about twenty miles, skirmished with the enemy about three hours, and driven him nearly four miles into a strongly intrenched position.

Officers who lead reconnaissance missions are allowed to write run-on sentences.  But in all seriousness, there are a couple points we should consider from Cogswell’s reconnaissances.  First, consider the details of Buckingham’s report.  We often read about skirmishing on such reconnaissance operations.  But let the events pass as we rush through the pages to the big battles.  The report speaks to similar actions taken at hundreds of other points during the Civil War.  And Buckingham, an experienced officer, did exactly what he was supposed to do – didn’t get in over his head and demonstrated the discipline required for such duty.

Secondly, this was the infantry making this probe, not the Federal Cavalry.  Maj0r-General H. Judson Kilpatrick’s command was still in Fayetteville that day.  Why wasn’t Kilpatrick up to conduct this reconnaissance?  After all, this is what the cavalry does.  Well, Kilpatrick’s command was still recoiling from Monroe’s Crossroads.  And at the same time, Sherman displayed a reluctance to push the cavalry out on similar missions – as the covering force – again.  Instead, Kilpatrick’s troopers would cross the Cape Fear River the next day to pick up a position supporting the Left Wing.

But before we start counting the measure of Kilpatrick, remember there was a thumb on the scale which factors here.  Good subordinates operate as a direct reflection of their superior’s intents.  In this case, before we rate Kilpatrick in terms of accomplishing cavalry missions, we must ask if Sherman assigned Kilpatrick such missions.  One can argue that Sherman’s desire to use the cavalry in certain ways prevented Kilpatrick from exercising those traditional cavalry operations.  But was that because Sherman couldn’t trust Kilpatrick to perform those missions?  Or because Sherman didn’t understand cavalry (and how to direct them on those missions)?  Or a little of both?

Now in communication with other commands in North Carolina, Sherman issued marching orders.  Major-General Alfred Terry was to make a light march of his own out of Wilmington.  When that column joined the main force, Sherman would provide them with wagons, hoping supplies would be abundant at or near Goldsboro.

Finding the Confederates had left Kinston, Major-General John Schofield ordered a crossing of the Neuse River.  The critical task for Schofield was not so much to gain territory, but to repair the railroad.  Orders went out to General Jacob Cox:

You will please detail from your command 1,000 men with from 200 to 300 axes to cut railroad ties and distribute them along the track.  They will commence where the road strikes the Neuse and work southward towards New Berne.  Let the work be commenced early in the morning and pushed with vigor.  The ties are to be cut from eight to nine feet long, seven inches thick, and with faces not less than five inches broad.  They are to be distributed along the railroad at the rate of one tie to every two feet of track.

The advance of the supply line, and thus the element most critical to Sherman’s success, would be measured in two feet increments.

(Citations from OR, Series I, Volume 47, Part I, Serial 98, pages 233 and 836; Part II, Serial 99, pages 822 and 837.)