Summary Statement, 2nd Quarter, 1863 – Pennsylvania’s Emergency Batteries

Last post, I mentioned the Pennsylvania militia and emergency batteries appearing on the Federal order of battle during the crucial summer months of 1863.  While those batteries escaped mention in the summaries, in the interest in cataloging ALL the artillery batteries from Pennsylvania, I do wish to at least name the organizations for reference.

To properly frame this, let’s turn to a proclamation issued by Governor Andrew G. Curtain on June 12, 1863.  At that time, the War Department had just created two new departments – Department of the Monongahela (also called Western Pennsylvania) including parts of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio; and Department of the Susquehanna, or Eastern Pennsylvania.  Major-Generals William T.H. Brooks and Darius N. Couch, respectively, commanded these departments.  This was all in response to a growing emergency as reports indicated a large Confederate force was on the move north.  In that proclamation, Curtain urged:

I earnestly invite the attention of the people of Pennsylvania to the general orders issued by these officers on assuming the command of their respective departments. The importance of immediately raising a sufficient force for the defense of the State cannot be overrated. The corps now proposed to be established will give permanent security to our borders. I know too well the gallantry and patriotism of the freemen of this Commonwealth to think it necessary to do more than commend this measure to the people, and earnestly urge them to respond to the call of the General Government, and promptly fill the ranks of these corps, the duties of which will be mainly the defense of our own homes, firesides, and property from devastation.

And the people of Pennsylvania did respond.  Over thirty-five regiments (though not “full” in terms of the number of companies) and numerous independent infantry companies formed up, in addition to cavalry battalions and companies.  The artillery component was eleven batteries, most of which existed as militia before the declaration of the emergency.

We find the administrative details of these batteries in Samuel P. Bates’ History of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-5, Volume V, and from the returns provided by Brooks and Couch.  I’ll combine some details from those sources for this listing of batteries:

  • Frishmuth’s Battery: The Philadelphia Union Battery commanded by Benoni Frishmuth.  Mustered on June 26 and discharged on August 1.  Four officers and 100 men.  The battery had four guns, “the private property of [Frishmuth’s] company.”  A return from July 10 places the battery at Harrisburg, part of a brigade led by Brigadier-General William Hall, New York National Guard. Then on July 31, the battery was back in Philadelphia.
  • Miller’s Battery: Philadelphia Howitzer Battery. Commanded by Captain E. Spencer Miller.  Mustered June 19 and discharged July 25.  Three offices and 99 men.  This battery served in Brigadier-General William F. Smith’s division of the Susquehanna Department.  They supported the movement to Carlisle and subsequent pursuit of the Confederates.  Smith’s report indicates the battery had four pieces.
  • Landis’ Battery: 1st Philadelphia Battery. Captain Henry D. Landis’ battery mustered on June 27, serving until discharged on July 30.  Three officers and 105 men.  Also from Philadelphia and also assigned to Smith’s division.  This battery saw action at Sporting Hill and Carlisle.  Returns at the end of July place the battery at Chambersburg.
  • Joseph Knap’s Battery: Captain Joseph M. Knap had recently mustered out from Battery E, Pennsylvania Light Artillery (which is the connection to the “original” Knap’s Battery).  But he responded to the governor’s call, leading a battery of five officers and 121 men, which mustered on June 27.  They mustered out on August 16.
  • Ermentrout’s Battery: Captain William C. Ermentrout’s was a company of heavy artillery.  Mustered on July 3, and discharged on August 25, the company numbered five officers and 144 enlisted.  The battery formed in Reading and saw service around Camp Curtain and Harrisburg.
  • Guss’s Battery: Chester County Artillery. Commanded by Captain George R. Guss.  The battery consisted of five officers and 144 enlisted.  It mustered on July 3 and was discharged on August 25.  At the end of July, this battery was at Reading, Pennsylvania.
  • Fitzki’s Battery: Second Keystone Battery with Captain Edward Fitzki in command.  Five officers and 138 enlisted mustered with this battery, starting on July 6. The battery mustered out on August 24.  Fitzki had served with Battery G, 1st Pennsylvania earlier in the war. Returns place the battery at Camp Curtain and Harrisburg during July.
  • Woodward’s Battery: Captain William H. Woodward’s battery mustered on July 8.  Unlike these other batteries, Woodward’s was not mustered out until November 4, 1863, just short of a full six month enlistment.  The battery mustered with three officers and 128 enlisted.  Returns through July have the battery unattached and serving at Philadelphia.
  • Tyler’s Battery: Park Battery. Captain Horatio K. Tyler, who’d served earlier in the war with an infantry regiment, commanded this battery.  Mustered on July 16, the battery consisted of four officers and 138 enlisted.  In late August, the battery was in Colonel James Mulligan’s Brigade serving in West Virginia.  The battery remained in service until January 28, 1864.
  • Robert Nevin’s Battery: (Not to be confused with John Nevin’s Battery H, Pennsylvania Light.) Captain Robert J. Nevin’s battery mustered sometime in the first week of July and numbered five officers and 147 men.  On July 10, the battery was on the returns for Camp Curtain.  Then in late August, the battery reported a posting at Philadelphia.  It was armed with four 12-pdr Napoleons and two 3-inch Ordnance Rifles. During the fall, the battery was posted to West Virginia.  On January 7, 1864, the battery was mustered out in Philadelphia, but most of the men, including Nevin, would re-enlist for three years.  As such unit was re-designated Battery I, Pennsylvania Light Artillery.

Also, we might list Captain Matthew Hasting’s Keystone Battery which was on duty at Camp Barry until the end of June.  That battery appears on Bates’ list as a militia battery, though was actually on service in Washington, D.C.  As mentioned in the earlier post, the battery mustered out on August 20.

From the perspective of a “bean counting” clerk at the Ordnance Department, only four of these batteries were mustered prior to the end of the second quarter reporting period (June 30).  And only three of these batteries would be in Federal service at the end of third quarter (September 30).  So this gives the clerks a clean alibi for not allocating lines on the summary.  Their tracking was still not thorough, however, as they would allocate only one line to the three batteries for the third quarter (which we must wait to discuss).

Regardless of the administrative particulars which prevented the inclusion of the emergency batteries on the summaries, I offer them here as to help paint a more complete picture.  While briefly serving, it was service at a time of a crisis.  And the batteries appear on orders of battle for formations thrown into that crisis.  Their story also allows us to consider the structure of state and local militia organizations in relation to the more familiar volunteer organizations in Federal service.

(Citations:  OR, Series I, Volume 27, Part III, Serial 44, page 233; Serial 45, pages 79-80.)

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Wainwright’s Diary, April 24, 1864: “With the warm days have come clouds of rumours”

With April coming to a close, Colonel Charles Wainwright began his diary on this day in 1864 with a notation about pleasant weather, yet predicting storms rising from the south:

April 24, Sunday. Spring is upon us now, almost at a jump. The last three days have been fit for June; fires are abandoned and replaced by open doors and windows. Today the air is heavy with the moisture of a strong south wind, betokening rain.

But he went on to point out gathering clouds… not not the type hanging in the sky…

With the warm days have come clouds of rumours as to the spring campaign and all that is to be done. The newspapers are full of dark hints, principally meant to make the public believe that the editors and correspondents know more than other people; which is all bosh. Every officer returning from Washington brings down his pockets full; quartermasters, having more transportation than anyone else, bring the most and the biggest.  But among them all I have yet to see the man bold enough to attempt predicting what the first move of this army will be. One report says that Burnside’s corps has left Annapolis, in steamers for somewhere; another that Baldy Smith, of whom Grant is said to have the very highest opinion, is getting up a strong army on the Peninsula. Common sense would say that these two were to make one command, to advance on Richmond from the James while we looked after Lee here; but then common sense has always been the rarest of the military qualities at Washington, and one cannot well imagine Burnside and Smith acting together after all the trouble that had at the time of and after the “mud march.”….

As of that April, Grant’s objectives were set, but not communicated down the ranks. We, with the luxury of 150 years distance, know Grant was to focus on the Confederate forces in the field and hold Richmond as a secondary objective.

The burr under Wainwright’s saddle remained – wagons… or as he put it “waggons.”

I have figured out our transportation allowance, which is about as absurd as it well can be.  I often wonder whether General Meade himself apportions the waggons or whether it is done by Ingalls; also, whether whoever draws up these orders has a special spite against artillery horses, or is utterly ignorant.  The order allows one waggon to each battery for baggage, mess furniture, desks and the like, and three waggons for subsistence, and forage.  Ten days’ small stores and one day’s meat for 140 men, about the average of my batteries, will with its forage take up one waggon (Captain Cruttenden says more), which leaves us two waggons to carry ten days’ forage for 120 horses, or 6,000 pounds per waggon, beside the forage for its own teams!  Five days’ forage is all we can possibly manage, and then the loads will be very heavy at the start.  As for loading five days’ more on my artillery carriages, I can’t and won’t do it.  Such absurdities as this take away all my pleasure and pride in my command.  I wrote it all out for Hunt and sent it up to him.  He replies in a most characteristic note, beginning: “The Jews of old were required to make brick without straw; anybody could do that if not responsible for the quality of the bricks delivered. You lose one waggon and are required to increase the forage carried from seven days to ten.  Now that beats the Jews.”  Hunt is evidently discouraged, and beginning to give up all hope of our ever getting what is right….

In Ingalls defense, there was a lot to the logistic and transportation system which escaped Wainwright’s notice. Sending meat to the front “on the hoof,” for instance, would greatly reduce the need for rolling stock.  For greatest efficiency, military logistics must be arranged at the highest practical level.  Simply determining the needs of one battery, then multiplying that times the number of batteries in the army would introduce many inefficient allocations.  And those, multiplied across the army, would translate to burdensome trains and other impediments to movement.  And in the spring of 1864, the army needed no additional impediments.

However, as Wainwright argued with vigor, logistic efficiency does not always bring “freedom from want” in the ranks.

(Citations from Charles S. Wainwright, A Diary of Battle: The Personal Journals of Colonel Charles S. Wainwright, 1861-1865, edited by Allan Nevins, New York: Da Capo Press, 1998, page 342-4.)

Wainwright’s Diary, March 13, 1864: “I also heard that there were strong rumours again”

Colonel Charles S. Wainwright began his diary entry for March 13, 1864 as he often did – describing the weather:

March 13, Sunday.  We are now having real March weather, at least as to changableness; no two successive days being alike.  Still, the spring is opening.  What little grass there is about here begins to look green; the birds have commenced singing of a morning, while the frogs and tree toads keep it up all the night long.

If only spring would hurry up (be that in 1864 or 2014).

I went up to Army Headquarters on Friday. There they told me that the consolidation question was at a standstill, and that now the chances seemed to be that it will not be carried out at all; so much opposition being brought to bear by the generals who would be deprived of commands – reduced from a corps to a division, or from a division to a brigade. Could the present corps be filled up to 25,000 or 30,000 effective men, it would be wrong to sink their past history: but as they are now only some 10,000 or 15,000 strong, it is absurd to have such large staffs and such a multiplication of papers.

I could not put it better myself.

I also heard that there were strong rumours again that General Meade was to be relieved.  There is no doubt of his unpopularity at Washington, but their great trouble is to find some one to take his place. [William Farrar] “Baldy” Smith is most talked of. I know nothing of him except his laziness at the first Fredericksburg, and his insubordination on the “mud march.”

So it was fair to say W.F. Smith would not get a Christmas Card from Wainwright.  But as he might have had the measure of “Baldy,” in his next paragraph there was much wide of the mark:

General Grant spent Thursday night at Army Headquarters. He was called out West suddenly, but expects to be back in ten days. He said while here that the people of Alabama and Mississippi were in a much more subdued condition than the secessionists of Kentucky and Tennessee. Also that there really had been over 10,000 deserters from the rebel armies out there since the the battle of Chickamauga.  Supposing this to be all so, the rebellion must be pretty well put down out there. Indeed, they have never shown the pride and obstinacy at the West that has been displayed in the older Atlantic States. It is here that they will fight the longest, as they have by far the hardest.  Everything has been aimed on their part to retain Virginia – and what a noble history hers would have been had her cause only been a just one! I cannot help admiring the constancy of the “Old Dominion” in the midst of such suffering and desolation as has been totally unknown to any other part of the country. Her people have not only poured out their money and their blood without stint, but from this state have come all the greatest and best men; Lee, Sidney Johnston, and Stonewall Jackson will always figure as the greatest and purest generals on the rebel side in this war.

Maybe Albert Sidney Johnston could be a “son of Virginia” if old Kentucky were considered originally part of Virginia.  Seems a hard sell to me.  As Nevins points out in a footnote to this diary entry, Wainwright seemed to have no recognition of the hard fighting in the western theater through this point in the war.  Perhaps we see the “eastern theater bias” developing even before the war was finished?

For the remainder of the diary entry, Wainwright offers his thoughts on General George McClellan’s Report covering his time commanding the Army of the Potomac.  He had started reading the published report shortly after returning from leave and finished by March 13.  To say Wainwright felt positive of McClellan would be much an understatement.

I now think him about as near being a great general as it is possible to come without arriving at it.  Certainly none of our other generals have come nearly so near to it, so far as I am able to judge them…. The whole report shows a man confident in the purity of his intentions, and the perfect honesty of all his actions…. I am more than ever convinced that where he was not right he had good reason for being wrong….

In no single instance is there the least attempt to shift responsibility on the shoulders of his subordinates.  Through the whole report runs a care and consideration for his men, an actual love for his army, which is most beautiful. No wonder we all loved him if there is any truth in the old proverb that “love begets love.”  ….

It would be hard to say which is the most intolerably disgusting in the light they appear here by their dispatches: the obstinate conceit of the President in his own ideas of military matters, the petty spite of Halleck, or the rancorous hate of Stanton.  When calm history comes to be written, Mr. Lincoln must appear as one of the smallest of men, ever harping on trifles.  But enough of this; ‘twould be treason were it known at Washington that I did not think them demigods….

More confidently now than ever before I say that had McClellan been allowed to land 120,000 men at Altoona, we should have been in Richmond before the 4th of July, ans the close of 1862 would have seen the close of the war.  But then, where would now be the great question of emancipation; where the firm status of the Republican Union (!) party; where all the glory that other generals have earned?

A soldier’s first commander can be, in some ways, like his first love.

(Citations from Charles S. Wainwright, A Diary of Battle: The Personal Journals of Colonel Charles S. Wainwright, 1861-1865, edited by Allan Nevins, New York: Da Capo Press, 1998, pages 329-32.)