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Numbers 244. Reports of Colonel Henry L. Abbot, First Connecticut Heavy Artillery, commanding Siege Train, including operations June 14-October 31.1
HEADQUARTERS SIEGE TRAIN AND SIEGE ARTILLERY,
Broadway Landing, Va., December 5, 1864.
On June 14 the Eighteenth Corps, under Major-General Smith, arrived in advance of the Army of the Potomac, and at once moved on Petersburg.
On June 20 Company I, First Connecticut Artillery, Captain Burton, was sent with two 30-pounder Parrotts (a third subsequently added) to his front.
On June 21 the rebel rams came down near Dutch, Gap, and with the Howlett house (rebel) battery, fired on our navy. Lieutenant Dimock replied from Battery Spofford, and ultimately silenced the latter.
On June 23 my regular train arrived from Washington Arsenal in charge of Captain Hatfield. Lieutenant-General Grant immediately ordered me to report to Brigadier-General Hunt, chief of artillery, Army of the Potomac, for the service of that train, detaching such companies from the Bermuda Hundred lines as were necessary for serving the guns, but not otherwise changing my duties under General Butler. Accordingly, since that date I have held the double position of commanding officer of the siege artillery of the Army of the James and of the siege train Army of the Potomac. All of the heavy artillery in front of Richmond has thus been served under a common head and chiefly by the First Connecticut Artillery. Prior to this date all my ordnance supplies were drawn from Captain A. Mordecai, chief ordnance officer, Army of the James. After its arrival the siege train was supplied by direct requisition upon the Ordnance Department, and subsequently, by order of General Grant, the procuring of all ordnance supplies for heave guns for both armies was placed under my charge.
The following is a full statement of firing done under the former system:
My first duty upon the arrival of the train proper was to establish a suitable depot. After due examination Broadway Landing, on the Appomattox River, was selected, and three substantial wharves were built. My orders were to keep the material afloat, and this has been scrupu-
*For portion of report (here omitted) covering operations from May 4 to June 13, 1864, see Vol. XXXVI, Part II, p. 191.
lously done, no ammunition even being unloaded, except to put upon the wagons. Major-General Butler established a telegraph office at the landing for the service of the train, and gave me a detail of two companies of the One hundred and thirty-eighth Ohio National Guard for ordnance duty. They were relieved on July 15 by two companies Thirty-seventh New Jersey Volunteers, which, on August 28, were replaced by a detachment of 100 men of the Eleventh Connecticut Volunteers, under command of Captain Kraszynski. Brigadier-General Ingalls, chief quartermaster armies in the field, supplied a tug and a train of fifty wagons, with a promise of further transportation when required. Besides these wagons the four artillery teams of Captain Korte, Third Pennsylvania Artillery, attached to my command, have been habitually used. This battery was organized by General Butler for the purpose of moving all his heavy guns, its regular armament being two 8-inch siege howitzers, which themselves would hardly require transportation other than that furnished by the quartermaster’s department. Captain Korte has always been eager for service and much benefit has been derived from this organization. Lieutenant Colonel N. L. White was appointed by General Butler acting inspector-general of my command of June 29, and besides his other duties has discharged the functions of that office in a thorough manner. Captain S. P. Hatfield was placed in command of the depot, assisted by First Lieutenant W. C. Faxon and First Lieutenant C. Gillett, all of First Connecticut Artillery. Captain Hatfield had commanded a siege battery during a part of the Peninsular Campaign of 1862, and had been ordnance officer of my brigade in the defense of Washington for more than a year. To his high professional attainments and energetic character, and to the zeal and ability of his assistants, the excellent administration of his department during the campaign is to be attributed.
The general system for the service and supply of the batteries was the following: The companies and parts of companies serving the batteries, situated within convenient distance, were placed under command of a field officer of First Connecticut Artillery, who received his orders as to firing from the local commander. In other respects he received his orders from these headquarters. The battery commanders forwarded daily to their majors reports showing the amount of ammunition on hand at last report, amount received during the twenty-four hours, amount expended, and amount remaining on hand. These reports were collected by orderlies from my headquarters and usually reached the depot about noon. A train was at once fitted out to supply the deficiencies below a certain number of rounds (usually 100 per gun or mortar) ordered to be kept in the field magazines. These trains reported to the field officers, already informed by telegram of their destination and time of starting and were conducted after dark under their directions to their proper batteries. Although some 900 tons of ammunition, hauled an average distance of nearly seven miles by wagon, have already been fired during the campaign, in no single instance has a battery failed to be amply supplied for ordinary or even extraordinary demands, and in no case has a useless accumulation of ammunition occurred. The question of responsibility for ordnance property, so difficult of convenient adjustment, has also been very simply settled for the siege train. The whole material remains charged to the ordnance officer. Memorandum receipts, which are destroyed when the property is accounted for to him, being only required from battery commanders. No time is thus expended upon unnecessary
papers, which, with the constant transfer of ordnance from one battery to another, would have entailed great labor upon company commanders, had the usual system been adopted. Knowing that the rations likely to be drawn from the neighboring commissaries of subsistence would be inferior to those which would be supplied by an independent organization, I appointed my regimental quartermaster, Lieutenant G. P. Mason, First Connecticut Artillery, acting assistant quartermaster and acting commissary of subsistence, and directed him to supply the command. This he has done to perfection with a train of only seventeen wagons, although the line has often exceeded fifteen miles in length. The water transportation has enabled him to get his supplies and forage to the depot without hauling, and his own good judgment and energy have done the rest. I have taken advantage of the comparative stability of the command to have all the regimental sick properly cared for by Surg. S. W. Skinner, First Connecticut Artillery, who has organized one of the best field hospitals I have ever seen. The patients have averaged from forty to seventy in number. By avoiding the sending of those lightly attacked to general hospital much has unquestionably been done to keep up the numbers of the command. The comforts of the patients have been quite unusual for the field, owing to the attention of the surgeon in charge and to the efforts of the chaplain, S. F. Jarvis, First Connecticut Artillery, who has actively exerted himself in their behalf. Asst. Surg. J. S. Delavan has devoted himself to the sick of the regiment in the batteries in front of Petersburg, and Asst. Surg. N. Matson, until broken down by his exertions,, to those in the command on the lines of Bermuda Hundred. Although so much scattered I believe few troops have enjoyed as good medical care during this campaign as mine. For the prompt and accurate transaction of the various office work of the command, I am indebted to First Lieutenant B. P. Learned, First Connecticut Artillery, regimental adjutant and acting assistant adjutant-general.
The following changes have been made in my organization during the campaign: On June 28 Companies A and H, Thirteenth New York Artillery, under command of Captain William Pendrell, were assigned to my command by Major-General Butler. They were placed in the lines of Bermuda Hundred. Ten companies of the Fourth New York Artillery, Lieutenant-Colonel Allcock commanding, aggregate 1,072 men, were added to my command by General Hunt on July 14. On the 15th I placed Company A, Captain McKeel, on duty at the siege train depot, and on the 29th Company M, Captain Morrison, on the same duty. Three companies, as shown in the table below, served batteries; the rest of the regiment did excellent service in making gabions, fascines, magazines, and in constructing some of the siege batteries. They were detached on August 4.
On October 16 I was ordered to report for my command of the siege artillery, Army of the James of the James, to Brigadier General Charles K. Graham, commanding Provisional Division, instead of direct to General Buttler, as heretofore. The organization just described was made under a pressure which, owing to the constant demands for siege artillery in front of Petersburg, enhanced its difficulties. The batteries and the ammunition were hauled an average distance of nearly eight miles, over roads extremely dusty, but otherwise good.
The following table exhibits the amount of siege artillery, with the corresponding dates, put into position preparatory to the explosion of the mine on the front of the Ninth Corps on July 30. The designations of the batteries refer to the official sketch of the line, prepared on September 13, 1864, by Major Michler, chief engineer, Army of the Potomac:
From the time of going into position until the explosion of the mine, the fire of most of these batteries was incessant, and their practice was all that could be desired.
On July 30 the mine on General Burnside’s front was sprung at 4.45 a.m., and a heavy cannonade was instantly opened and continued until about 10.30 a.m., when it gradually ceased, the assault of the infantry having failed and the attack being discontinued. The part assigned to the artillery to keep down the fire of the enemy upon the flanks of the column of attack and to keep down the fire of the enemy upon the flanks of the column of attack and to keep back hi re-enforcements was successfully executed. This battle was probably the first in which spherical case from heavy mortars was used. The expedient of putting thirty 12-pounder canister-shot under the bursting charge of the 10-inch shells was of great utility, their steady fire keeping quiet the most dreaded flanking batteries of the enemy’s line.
The aggregate number of rounds fired in front of Petersburg up to July 31 was thus 16,062 rounds, amounting to about 300 tons, and during the battle of July 30, 3,833 rounds, amounting to about 75 tons. The firing on the Bermuda Hundred lines, between the arrival of the siege train and July 31, nearly ceased, amounting only to nineteen 10-inch mortar shells, six 4 1/2-inch shells, and three 20-pounder Parrott shells. Thus the entire expenditures from the opening of the campaign to July 31 was 18,061 rounds, amounting to 325 tons.
At 11.35 p.m. July 30, 1864, I received a telegram from General Hunt to move with urgent haste certain siege ordnance and siege material from the batteries at Petersburg to my depot at Broadway Landing, on Appomattox River.
The following table exhibits what was moved. The distances are accurately taken from the engineer maps of the Army of the Potomac. It will be seen that the mean distance per piece, exactly computed, is eight miles:
The seven siege guns, &c., in Batteries 1 and 4 were moved by transportation light artillery teams and wagons, furnished by Colonel Piper, chief of artillery, Eighteenth Corps. The 13-inch mortar, which was served on a railroad truck car made so strongly as to resist the shock of firing, was drawn to City Point by a locomotive. The rest of the material was moved by the four artillery teams of Captain Korte and by a train furnished by General Ingalls, as follows: My regular train, 50 wagons, an extra train of 60 wagons, furnished for contingencies arising from the battle, upon my requisition on July 30, and an extra train of 60 wagons and 18-eight-mule teams furnished at 8.30 a.m. July 31, in response to a telegram of mine dated 1.35 a.m. of that date. Total, 170 wagons and 22 teams. The orders to move the material were received by me at 11.35 p.m. July 30. By the aide of the telegraph, matters were so well arranged that the trains began arriving at the depot at daylight of July 31, and continued to do as fast as they could be unloaded up to 2.30 a.m. of August 1, when the last was received. Total period, twenty-seven hours. The material was all brought in Government wagons, except the guns and the 10-inch mortars, the latter of which were loaded on mortar wagons. The rebels did not discover the movement, although many of the batteries were in the very front of our line. The aggregate weight transported was 225 tons. The material was shipped as fast as unloaded. By noon of August 1, thirty-six hours after the first telegram, everything was afloat. The labor at the depot was performed by two companies of Fourth New York Artillery and six companies of Thirty-seventh New Jersey Volunteers; the latter working two at a time, aided occasionally by the companies of First Connecticut Artillery, who had served and moved the batteries. Three wharves were used; at this date mere crib gang-ways. The very unusual promptness of this movement was due, first, to the facilities furnished by the telegraph; second, to the ample transportation furnished by General Ingalls; third, to the intelligence and energy of Captain (now Major) Brooker, First Connecticut Artillery, commanding the batteries on Fifth and Ninth Corps fronts; of Major Trumbull, First Connecticut Artillery, commanding batteries on Eighteenth Corps front; of Lieutenant-Colonel White, First Connecticut Artillery, acting inspector-general, and of the officers commanding the batteries. Everything was brought away-artillery, ammunition, implements, platforms, mantles; nothing was damaged or lost.
To Captain Hatfield, First Connecticut Artillery, my ordnance officer, the credit for the rapid loading of so much material on transports is due. I doubt if there is another regiment in service which could have accomplished the work so rapidly and well. Thus ended the first period of the siege. At this date I had thirty-three guns and mortars in position on the Bermuda Hundred lines and twenty-nine [in] front of Petersburg.
The following table exhibits the modifications which occurred during August, September, and October in both armies:
The following table exhibits the transfers of companies serving the siege batteries during the three months, considered when moved without guns. If moved with guns the changes of station appear in the preceding table.
During the three months under consideration the firing in front of Petersburg and near the James River has been heavy, as is shown by the following table. The average weight of iron thrown daily was, during August, 5.2 tons; during September, 7.8 tons, and during October, 4.5 tons.
The aggregate number of rounds fired during these three months was thus 26,912, amounting to about 545 tons of iron. The total expenditure of ammunition from the beginning of the campaign to October 31 was 44,973 rounds, amounting to 870 tons of iron. Upon the Petersburg lines the firing has been so frequent as to render it difficult to select special instances for mention. At all hours of the day and night sudden artillery battle have occurred, often involving the entire line and demanding the expenditure of many tons of ammunition. This has usually arisen from the position of the right of our line, which is necessarily enfiladed from the Chesterfield Heights, and advantage that has given the rebel batteries there a strong temptation to open fire.
It is beyond a doubt that our practice, especially in mortars, is superior to theirs, and these fights have thus uniformly terminated by our silencing them. Upon the occasion of their exploding a mine near Battery 12, on August 5, an unusually heavy fire occurred, as also at other times when they attempted to interfere with the use of our military railroad or we tried to interrupt their working parties or to stop picket-firing by shelling Petersburg. General Butler’s canal at Dutch Gap has also been the scene of much firing.
On August 13, just after the work began, the rebel navy came down, and, in conjunction with the Howlett house batteries and some field guns on Cox’s Hill, opened a very heavy concentric fire upon the gap from an are of about 170 degrees. My James River batteries were very active and finally succeeded driving off the rams and silencing the Howlett house battery so effectually that the experiment was not repeated. About August 20, however, the rebels planted some Coehorn mortars in a secure spot northwest of the canal within good range, and since that time have kept up a desultory fire upon the gap, doing very little damage, however, owing to the want of skill in serving the mortars. Not one in a hundred of their shells have fallen in the canal, where good
artillerists would certainly have thrown one in five. After the advance upon fort Harrison the rebel navy habitually lay in the reach near the grave-yard in plain sight of our lines, occasionally firing upon them. A surprise was planned for them by General Butler, whose chief engineer, Major Michie, erected a battery commanding their position.
During the night of October 21 three 30-pounder Parrots, served by Company C, First Connecticut Artillery, and Ashby’s battery of four 20-pounder Parrotts, the whole under command of Captain Pierce, First Connecticut Artillery, were placed in position, and at daylight opened suddenly upon the fleet at a range of about 1,500 yards. The effect was excellent. The rebel papers admit that a gun-carriage was hit on the gun-boat Drewry by a shell, which wounded five men; that the smoke stack of the ram Fredericksburg was considerably perforated, and six men on her wounded, and that a plate was started on one of the iron-clads. It is believed from the number of times the wooden boat was hit (sixteen) that her injuries were more serious than admitted. Certain it is that the fleet all steamed away as fast as possible, and that the wooden boats have not again exposed themselves in the reach. Our batteries were heavily fired upon by the rebel land batteries, but no damage was done, except to wound one man.
On September 29 the Army of the James crossed the James River, and the Eighteenth Corps captured several guns, thirteen of which were brought to the rear, in large measure through the exertions of Major Cook and Lieutenants Gillett and Pond, First Connecticut Artillery. The following is a list of these guns: Seven iron 6-pounders, old model; one iron 6-pounder, new model, resembling our 3-inch ordnance gun; one 8-inch columbiad; one 32-pounder Navy smooth-bore; one Army 32-pounder (old model, banded and rifled); one 12-pounder iron gun, made in Richmond, banded and rifled, throwing a shell weighing about forty pounds, it weighed 6,700 pounds, and was mounted on a siege carriage; also one 30-pounder Richmond gun, banded like the rest, and like our 30-pounder Parrott, except that the front end of the re-enforce was beveled off; it had a swell of the muzzle and weighed 4,700 pounds; date 1864; a caisson for its ammunition was also captured. This gun and the captured ammunition were retained for our own use. The other guns were sent to Fort Monroe. Considering the large amount of firing the injuries suffered by our guns have been unusually small, being limited to the blowing off the muzzle of the 30-pounder Parrott, about a foot from the face, probably by a premature explosion of the shell-it was cut through with a cold chisel, and the accuracy of the piece seems not at all impaired-and to the bursting of the 3.8-inch Sawyer gun, which occurred on August 5, after firing ten rounds. The gun had already been fired a large number of times at Fort Monroe. It burst into four principal parts, the largest, including the trunnions and all in front of them, remained in its place on the carriage; the next piece, forming the bottom of the bore near the breech, fell between the cheeks; the left half of the top, which split as usual through the vent, fell upon the top of the return of the parapet a short distance from the gun; the right half was thrown some 200 yards entirely outside the fort. The vent was evidently defective, showing a double cavity much enlarged. The strength of the gun being doubtful, it was fired by quick match, consequently no one was injured. The only novelty in the service of the siege artillery requiring special notice has been the method of mounting the 13-inch mortar, the extreme weight of which (17,000 pounds) renders it unmanageable. Major-General Butler conceived the idea of serving it upon a railroad ca, and ordered
one made as an experiment. The first car broke under the shock, a second, prepared by the engineers in charge of the military railroad, answered its purpose admirably; it consisted of an ordinary truck car, strengthened by additional beams tied strongly by iron rods, and covered by iron plating. Fired with fourteen pounds powder the mortar recoiled upon the car less than two feet, and upon the track some ten or twelve feet. It was a decided success. On one occasion three different observed reported that a shell burst under a gun, and blew it and its carriage entirely above the parapet. Certain it is, that the mortar was much dreaded by the enemy. During the campaign it has been necessary to conduct certain experiments to facilitate the fire of the batteries. Among them was the deducing of a table of ranges for the 8-inch siege mortar, which differs materially from the old model in this respect, owing to the substitution of the elliptical for the gomer chamber. Its ranges were determined with care, and the following table exhibits the result:
Another experiment was to test a new shell invented by Mr. Pevey. It consists of two concentric shells thinner than usual and connected firmly by studs; the open space between is filled with small iron balls or incendiary composition. Shells for trial, both 10-inch and 8-inch were ordered by General Butler, and the result indicated by bursting them over water and over a duty plain was highly satisfactory. In my judgment they will break into more than double the number of fragments of the ordinary shell, and consequently have fully double the effect. They bore the shock without injury, although one 10-inch shell was thrown from a sea-coast mortar with a charge of about seven pounds of powder. Another experiment was to test the light balls furnished for our 8-inch mortars. It was found that on ground of ordinary hardness no larger charge than six ounces of powder, giving a range of only 255 yards, could be used without causing the ball to break into fragments from the force of its fall. This range is entirely too short for our purposes. Possibly, by using an elevation less than 45 degrees, the range might be lengthened, but in my opinion the balls are not made of sufficient strength to be practically useful. The subject of mantles, to protect the gunners, has received considerable attention. Those furnished by the Engineer Department are made of rope, five feet by four and a half feet and about six inches thick, weighing nearly feet by four and a half feet and about six inches thick, weighing nearly 600 pounds each. They are excellent for protection, but their great weight makes them difficult to handle. In my judgment, it might be safely reduced by lessening their thickness. The penetration in them of an elongated bullet from a Springfield rifle musket at twenty paces is less than three inches. I had also an opportunity to see the effect of
a 10-pounder rifle projectile at 600 yards range upon a rope mantlet, made at Fort Monroe, and only about four inches thick. The shot was deflected, breaking the lashing of the mantlet and throwing down the pole supports, but was so much checked in velocity by so doing as to then knock a man down, without seriously injuring him. In other cases these thin mantles have been penetrated even by musket-balls, where the ropes were not closely lashed together, but the experience of the campaign has convinced me that a thickness of four and five-tenths inches is, all things considered the best which can be given them. In this connection, it may be well to call attention to the fact that we have had great difficulty in drawing heavy guns and supplies through the covered ways leading to Fort Sedgwick, owing to the sharp curves at the angles. In such places security must in part be sacrificed to facility have been more than once dismounted in turning these corners. As most of the magazines have been made under the superintendence of my officers, it may be well to state that the plan adopted, putting them in secure positions and making the chambers entirely below ground, roofed by heavy logs, and covered by dirt some six feet thick, has been found to be both simple and safe. Boards have seldom been used either for the side or the floor, which is made to drain into a barrel near the entrance. The usual dimensions, in the clear, have been six feet wide by five feet deep, length to vary according to capacity required. In no instance has one of them blown up, although often hit by the rebel projectiles; and even in heavy rains, such as that of August 15, at Petersburg, when several soldiers in the low bottom were washed away and drowned, no loss of ammunition, except in one battery, has occurred from leakage.
The large amount of mortar firing during this campaign has disclosed one defect which should be corrected. The friction primers are driven out of the vent with great violence by the explosion and occasions serious danger to the cannoneers. One valuable officer of my regiment, Lieutenant Andrews, lost the sight of one of his eyes from this cause; another, Lieutenant Jackson, had a narrow escape, being severely cut on the forehead, while the instances of injury more or less serious to enlisted men will, I think, fully amount to a dozen. The vents should be covered by a cap similar to that used for the Whitworth gun, and the line of metal should be permanently and accurately marked on all mortars. Moreover, what is not the case now, some convenient hook should be arranged for guiding the lanyard in a direction perpendicular to the vent. In other respects I regard the new mortars and carriages as vast improvements on the old models; in fact, as perfect. Several precautions to insure rapidity and precision of mortar fire have been suggested by the intelligent observation of Captain Osborne, Lieutenant Jackson, and other officers commanding batteries. Thus a wooden-handled steel scraper, made in the shape of a hoe, with a double edge, curvature 6.5 inches, was found to reduce more than one-half the time required to serve the 13-inch mortar. Although the fuses for this mortar were old and poor they were made to almost invariably burn by driving them gently, so as not to shake out the composition, and by placing a train of dry powder from the top of the shell to the fuse, and another where the fuse would strike the bottom of the bore in rolling out, both made to remain in place by wetting the iron. It was also found that wooden fuses should not be sunned, the powder should be well stirred in the barrel before firing, and that in inserting the Coehorn shell its paper fuse should be placed near to the top of the bore to insure its
ignition. We may derive some useful hints from the rebel smooth-bore ammunition. Thus, their Coehorn shells are provided with ears, which is a great improvement over our system of banding. The interior surface of some of their 12-pounder shells are regular dodecahedrons; of others it consists of an upper and lower pentagon connected by ten equal trapezoids. The effect of both these devices is to cause the shell on bursting to divide into twelve pieces, weighing about a pound each, and thus to secure the maximum effect. It is a decided success, the former shape appearing to be more uniformly successful than the latter. Their system of filling spherical case with iron balls is a failure, the weight not being sufficient to render them effective.
The great problem, what is practically the best projectile for rifled artillery, has been carefully investigated during this campaign, both by requiring full reports of our own firing and by carefully collecting all varieties of projectiles fired by the rebels in return. Drawings of this collection and of our own projectiles have been kindly photographed for me by Major Michler, chief engineer, Army of the Potomac, and copies of the two sheets are appended.* The collection itself has been sent to the military museum at West Point. The following facts as to the rebel projectiles are worthy of notice. Their variety is very great, forty-five kinds being shown in the photograph, while three more have been since secured. They may, however, be classified into eight systems, according to the devices for making them take the grooves.
The first device is a cupped copper place, secured to the shell by a screw, and held firm by radial grooves, generally seven in number, but sometimes six. One sample bears Brooke’s name upon the cup. It seems to be confined to the heavier guns exclusively, samples of the calibers, 7 inches, 6.4 inches, and 4.2 inches, alone being collected.. The projectiles appear to take the grooves well, but their plates are often missing, showing that it would be dangerous to use them over troops.
The second device consists of making the projectiles of wrought-iron, the bottom cupped like a lead bullet. This is rare, only two calibers (7-inches and 4.62 inches) being collected. It seems to be faulty only from its expense. Both samples were solid shot, apparently designed for firing at iron-clad vessels.
The third device is a curved copper place, secured by a screw and held firm by three dowels, made sometimes of three copper projections from the plate, extending into holes in the iron base of the shell, and sometimes of three iron projections from the base of the shell, extending through holes in the plate. The explosion of the powder flattens the place, and thus gives the rifled motion by increasing its caliber. This system is liable to the objection that the plate almost invariably separates from the shell, rendering the projectile unfit to be used over troops. It is, however, quite common, samples of the following calibers having been collected, 7 inches, 6.4 inches, 4.62 inches, and 2.2 inches. It is even used to render serviceable projectiles made upon other systems which are failures, as in Nos. 37 and 38, Plate II.
The fourth system is that of Read, which closely resembles Parrott’s. This is very common, no less than twenty different kinds of projectiles being collected; seven have wrought-iron cups, calibers 6.4 inches, 4.2 inches, 3.67 inches, and 3 inches; eleven have copper rings, calibers 8 inches, 7 inches, 4.62 inches, 4.2 inches, 3.67 inches, and 3 inches. The larger samples are rare, but for field guns this seems to be the
*To appear in the Atlas.
standard system. The different devices for attaching the ring are numerous, and are worthy of study, especially Numbers 18 on Plate I, which apparently never fails to take the grooves and never loses the ring, nor throws off fragments of iron from the base of the shell, faults to which most of the other varieties seem liable.
The fifth system takes the grooves by the expansion of a lead sabot. It seems to be confined to large calibers, 7 inches and 6.4 inches, except sample 28 on Plate I, which is a strange shell, apparently designed for a breech-loader. The lead sometimes remains upon the shell, but is very liable to strip.
The sixth system is that of mr. Whitworth, whose 12-pounder guns the rebels use considerably. Some of the projectiles are English and some of rebel manufacture. They have even tried to make shall by boring out a cavity in the bolt to the diameter of their usual fuse-hole (0.9 inches), as on sample 30, Plate I. This, however, does not contain a sufficiently large bursting charge to be of service.
The seventh system, which is in common use, is that of Mr. Hotchkiss. Many of these projectiles are evidently of our manufacture, bearing Mr. Hotchkiss’ name and patent stamp. Others have no mark and are, without doubt, of rebel manufacture. I have such samples, for calibers 5.2 inches and 3.3 inches, as well as the one drawn (Numbers 32, sheet I), which is 3 inches. The one of 3.3 inches has a large wire wound round the middle and covered by the lead, which I have never seen in those supplied by Mr. Hotchkiss.
The eight system is in some doubt. The specimen (Numbers 33, Plate II) is one of Mr. Schenkl’s old model 30-pounder projectiles, which may possibly have been received from our batteries and fired back. It, however, has the characteristic copper fuse plug of the rebels, and they evidently must have made a sabot for it, of what material is not known. Among the ammunition captured by the Eighteenth Corps near Fort Harrison were several samples of 100-pounder and 30-pounder projectiles, which I have issued for use to my batteries, and upon which I shall report hereafter.
The drawing on Plate II show the kinds of ammunition used by our forces during this campaign. Every effort has been made to arrive at a correct judgment of their several excellencies and defects, by requiring accurate reports upon each round fired, whenever possible. The results already arrived at may perhaps be modified by the future firing, and, therefore, they will not be reported at present.
Major Trumbull, in command of all the siege artillery on the Eighteenth Corps front until the springing of the mine, remained after that date in charge of all the siege artillery in front of Petersburg until September 1, when his health, already impaired by overexertion, gave way, and for a time I lost his efficient aid. Of late, however, he has somewhat improved, and is now in command of the artillery, heavy and light in the lines of City Point, where his experience has been of great value in organizing the defense. Major Brooker relieved Major Trumbull at Petersburg, but in about a week became so sick as to be unfit for duty; Lieutenant-Colonel White relieved him on September 10, and remained in command until September 28, when Major Brooker was sufficiently recovered to resume the command, which he has retained, Lieutenant-Colonel White resuming his own important duties on my staff. To these three officers my thanks are due for their laborious exertions and skillful administration of a peculiarly delicate and difficult command.
Captain H. H. Pierce, First Connecticut Artillery, has had charge of all the siege artillery north of the James River, designed chiefly for the protection of the digging at Dutch Gap, and has shown great skill in discharging a difficult and arduous duty.
I have already explained the unusually severe demands upon my staff, arising from the peculiar organization of my command, and mentioned them by name. Each in his department has been all that could be desired.
When all the officers in command of batteries have done so exactly what was to be desired it would be invidious to discriminate. Both the officers and the enlisted men have merited my warmest commendation.
The total casualties from the beginning of the campaign to October 31 (confined entirely to the First Connecticut Artillery) amount to 1 officer and 11 enlisted men killed and 4 officers and 52 enlisted men wounded, 15 mortally. During November the casualties have been 1 officer wounded and 4 enlisted men killed. Total loss, 73 men.
I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
HENRY L. ABBOT,
Colonel First Connecticut Artillery, Commanding Siege Artillery.
Brigadier General J. W. TURNER,
Chief of Staff.
HEADQUARTERS SIEGE TRAIN,
Broadway Landing, Va., August 4, 1864.
GENERAL: I have the honor to submit the following report upon the siege train organized by me in April last, according to the project drawn up by yourself:
I received a memorandum from General Halleck, on April 20, to get the train afloat at Washington Arsenal with all possible speed. It was to consist of forty siege guns (rifled), ten 10-inch mortars, twenty 8-inch mortars, twenty Coehorn mortars, six 100-pounder Parrotts, and ten 8-inch siege howitzers (subsequently added), with 1,000 rounds per gun, 600 rounds heavy mortar, and 200 rounds per Coehorn mortar; the necessary battery wagons, forges, mortar wagons, &c., being also included. This train was loaded under the immediate supervision of Captain S. P. Hatfield, First Connecticut Artillery, my ordnance officer, as rapidly as it could be furnished by the Ordnance Department. With the exception of the ammunition, which to this day has never been fully supplied, the entire train was afloat on May 15 except sixteen of the Coehorn mortars, which were not received until June 18.
On May 10 my regiment was ordered to report to Major-General Butler, commanding Department of Virginia and North Carolina.
We arrived at Bermuda Hundred on May 13, and were immediately placed in charge of the heavy guns of that line, which still remain under placed in charge of the heavy guns of that line, which still remain under my command. Between May 13 and the arrival of the Army of the Potomac, in the middle of June, my regiment fired about 2,000 rounds of siege ammunition in the almost daily bombardment which had taken place along out lines.
On June 20 the siege train was ordered to City Point and started on that day, arriving on June 23. One June 20 I sent Company I of my regiment, Captain Burton, with three 30-pounder Parrotts, belonging to Department of Virginia and North Carolina, to the lines of the Eighteenth Army Corps, near Petersburg. It was followed by other companies supplied with ordnance from the train proper, as follows, viz, Company D, Captain Brigham, on June 24, with four 30-pounder Parrotts and four 8-inch mortars (latter turned over to Company I). On June 25 Company D received six Coehorn mortars from ordnance officer of Eighteenth Corps.
On June 27 I sent Company F, Captain Dow, with three 30-pounder Parrotts and four 8-inch mortars to the lines of the same corps; also sending Major Trumbull, First Connecticut Artillery, to assume command of the companies serving the heavy guns on the lines of the Eighteenth Corps.
On June 30 I sent Company B, Captain Brooker, to the lines of the Ninth Corps with six 4 1/2-inch guns. On July 6 I sent to the same lines four 8-inch mortars, which have been served by a platoon of Company A, Captain Gillett.
On July 8 I sent two 8-inch mortars, followed on July 9 by four Coehorns, which have been served by a platoon of Company G, under Lieutenant Sergeant, the other platoon, under Captain Osborne, being placed on the same day in charge of a 13-inch mortar mounted on a railroad car. This mortar belonged to General Butler’s department, and was mounted at his personal to General Butler’s department, and was mounted at his personal suggestion in this manner. It has done good service. Company G served with Eighteenth Corps.
On July 14 Lieutenant-Colonel Allcock, with ten companies of the Fourth New York Heavy Artillery, was assigned to my command for the siege; aggregate, 1,072 men. On 15th I ordered Company A of that regiment, Captain McKeel, on duty at Broadway Landing, the depot of the train. When the train first arrived two companies of the One hundred and thirty-eighth Ohio National Guard were ordered on this duty by General Butler. On July 15 these companies were relieved by two companies of Thirty-seventh New Jersey Volunteers.
On July 25 I sent Company M, First Connecticut Artillery, Captain Pratt, with six 4 1/2-inch guns to lines of Ninth Corps.
On July 28 sent Company K, Fourth New York Artillery, Captain Gould, with six Coehorns, to lines of Eighteenth Corps. On same date sent Company C, First Connecticut Artillery, Captain Pierce, with ten 10-inch mortars, and a platoon of Company A, First Connecticut Artillery, Lieutenant Patterson, with six 8-inch mortars, to the lines of the Fifth Corps. On July 29 I ordered Company M, Fourth New York Artillery, Captain Morrison, to report for duty at siege train depot, and sent Company H of that regiment, Captain Brown, with six 4 1/2-inch guns, and Company C of that regiment, Lieutenant McPherson, with six Coehorns, to the lines of the Fifth Corps.
On July 30 the mine on General Burnside’s front was sprung at 4.45 a.m., and a heavy cannonade was instantly opened and continued until about 10.30 a.m., when it gradually ceased, the assault by the infantry having failed and the attack being discontinued. The part assigned to the artillery, to keep down the fire of the enemy upon the flanks of our column of attack, and to keep back his re-enforcements, was successfully executed.
The aggregate of the firing was thus, as follows: 30-pounder Parrott, 447; 4 1/2-inch gun (Schenkl), 847; 13-inch mortar, 19; 10-inch mortar, 360; 8-inch mortar, 1,123; Coehorn mortar, 1,037-weighing over 75 tons.
In each of the 10-inch mortar shells about thirty 12-pounder canister shot were inserted with the bursting charge on top of them. Their effect was thus more than doubled.
At 11.30 p.m. of July 30 I received a telegram from yourself to withdraw all the train on the fronts of the Fifth and Ninth Corps, with a part of that on the Eighteenth Corps; all to be done with urgent haste. In obedience to this order fifty-two siege guns and mortars, with all their ammunition, implements, platforms, mantles, &c., complete, were secretly withdrawn, from the batteries and transported a mean distance of about seven miles, to Broadway Landing, in twenty-seven hours; and the whole material, weighing some 225 tons, loaded on barges and schooners in thirty-six hours from the receipt of the telegram. For the transportation required, some 200 wagons I am indebted chiefly to Brigadier-General Ingalls, chief quartermaster, armies in the field, and in part to Colonel Piper, chief of artillery, Eighteenth Corps, who supplied light battery horse for seven siege guns.
During the service of the guns, the only injury which has occurred is the blowing off the muzzle of a 30-pounder Parrott for about one foot from the face. It was cut smooth with cold chisels, and the gun seems to be as accurate in its fire as heretofore. I have now in position on the Eighteenth Corps front three 30-pounder Parrotts, ten 8-inch mortars, and 16 Coehorn mortars. I shall send the 13-inch mortar back as soon as the track is repaired.
I have had reason to be gratified with the earnest exertions of the officers and men of my command, both my own regiment and the Fourth New York Artillery, to render the siege train as effective as possible, and hope that we have answered your expectations.
The casualties in my own regiment during the siege have been 1 officer and 6 enlisted men killed, and 1 officer and 24 men wounded. I have not been informed of any casualties in the Fourth New York Artillery.
I am, general, respectfully, your obedient servant,
HENRY L. ABBOT,
Colonel First Connecticut Artillery, Commanding Siege Train.
Brigadier General HENRY J. HUNT,
Chief of Artillery, Army of the Potomac.
BROADWAY LANDING, APPOMATTOX RIVER, VA.,
August 12, 1864.
GENERAL: In obedience to the circular from the department, dated 29th ultimo, I have the honor to forward the following report upon the duties and military operations in which I have been engaged during the month of July, 1864:
For my status at the beginning of the month I would refer to my annual report for the year ending June 30, 1864. My command consisted of First Connecticut Artillery; Companies A and H, Thirteenth New York Artillery, and Company M, Third Pennsylvania Artillery, with two companies of Thirty-seventh New Jersey Volunteers on duty at siege train depot; aggregate, about 2,000 men. The siege operations consisted of preparations for the assault of 30th ultimo. At that date I had eighty one heavy guns and mortars in position in front of Petersburg, served by eight companies of First Connecticut Artillery and three companies of Fourth New York Artillery, Lieutenant-Colonel Allcock commanding. This regiment (except two companies) reported to me for duty on July 14; effective strength, about 1,100 men. In the battle of the 30th ultimo my command fired 3,833 rounds, an aggregate weight of metal of about seventy-seven tons. The object-the keeping down the fire of the enemy’s artillery and the keeping back of his reserves-was perfectly accomplished for at least four hours after the springing of the mine. General Meade expressed himself to me as perfectly satisfied with the service of the artillery. This battle was probably the first in which spherical case from heavy mortars was used. The expedient of putting thirty 12-pounder canister-shot with the bursting charge was of great utility, the steady fire of ten 10-inch mortars keeping down the fire of the most dreaded flanking battery of the enemy’s line. At 11.30 p.m. July 30 I received a telegram to remove fifty-two heavy guns and mortars from position. In twenty-seven hours these guns, with their ammunition, platforms, mantles, implements, &c., complete (about 225 tons weight), were secretly withdrawn and transported about seven miles,and in thirty six hours the whole material was embarked.
The casualties of my regiment during the siege operations of July were about 32 killed and wounded. No loss was suffered by the rest of my command.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
HENRY L. ABBOT,
Captain of Engrs. and Colonel First Conn. Arty., Commanding Siege Train.
Brigadier General RICHARD DELAFIELD,
Chief Engineer, U. S. Army.
- The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Volume XL, Part 1 (Serial Number 80), pages 655-674 ↩