Tell me more! Battery K, 1st Illinois Artillery and Grierson's Raid

The Walking Dead

Corporal
Joined
May 19, 2021
A detachment of six 2-pounder Woodruff guns from Captain Jason B. Smith's Battery K, 1st Illinois Artillery participated in Grierson's Raid. Are there any written accounts of the raid by one of these redlegs? Has it been published?

Why didn't Grierson take a flying battery equipped with heavier guns?
 

Story

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 5, 2011
Location
SE PA
Why didn't Grierson take a flying battery equipped with heavier guns?

A raid requires moving fast and traveling light, trading off firepower for maximum practical maneuverability. At a certain tipping point, any benefit of heavier ordnance becomes a liability that slows down the column and - in moments of dire flight - an asset to be abandoned to the enemy.

[Full disclosure - I was a Cav guy. Principles don't really change from the 19th to 20th to 21st century]
 

redbob

Major
Regtl. Staff Shiloh 2020
Joined
Feb 18, 2013
Location
Hoover, Alabama
A Woodruff Gun and a ball from the self same raid.
Woodruff Ball.JPG
Woodruff Cannon.jpg
 
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bayouace

Corporal
Joined
Nov 22, 2020
Location
Louisiana
Honestly, I knew nothing of such a piece. Very interesting. So, researching a bit, these fired cannister consisting of 42 one-oz balls, round, and also an elongated projectile. Hope I can see one sometime.
 

limberbox

Private
Joined
Apr 25, 2020
A Woodruff Gun and a ball from the self same raid.View attachment 407547View attachment 407548
These bring back memories. My reenactment battery frequently portrayed Battery K, 1st Illinois back in the 1990s, and I have a 38-page unfinished battery history researched and prepared back then that I would like to turn back to in a few years and complete. The battery operated with cavalry and was in numerous actions in Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana.

The battery was initially raised as an artillery company for Grierson's then-forming 6th Illinois Cavalry. Original Colonel T.H. Cavanaugh had "full authority from the War Department" to attach a battery of light artillery to the regiment to be armed with Woodruff guns. But, since the regiment had a full complement of twelve cavalry companies, federal mustering officers at Camp Yates would not allow the artillery company to form part of the 6th Illinois. Instead it became Battery K, 1st Illinois Light Artillery in February and received "ten small cannon" in May/June 1862. In early November of that year two sections were detached and formally attached to the 6th Illinois Cavalry, an association that would last until the battery was mustered out in December 1864.

By October 1863 the battery had exchanged one section of Woodruffs for a pair of 12-pdr Mountain Howitzers and it eventually had six Mountain Howitzers. It concluded its service armed with 3" Ordnance rifles.
 

Belfoured

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
These bring back memories. My reenactment battery frequently portrayed Battery K, 1st Illinois back in the 1990s, and I have a 38-page unfinished battery history researched and prepared back then that I would like to turn back to in a few years and complete. The battery operated with cavalry and was in numerous actions in Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana.

The battery was initially raised as an artillery company for Grierson's then-forming 6th Illinois Cavalry. Original Colonel T.H. Cavanaugh had "full authority from the War Department" to attach a battery of light artillery to the regiment to be armed with Woodruff guns. But, since the regiment had a full complement of twelve cavalry companies, federal mustering officers at Camp Yates would not allow the artillery company to form part of the 6th Illinois. Instead it became Battery K, 1st Illinois Light Artillery in February and received "ten small cannon" in May/June 1862. In early November of that year two sections were detached and formally attached to the 6th Illinois Cavalry, an association that would last until the battery was mustered out in December 1864.

By October 1863 the battery had exchanged one section of Woodruffs for a pair of 12-pdr Mountain Howitzers and it eventually had six Mountain Howitzers. It concluded its service armed with 3" Ordnance rifles.
Interesting stuff. There seems to be little question that most observors at the time viewed these as pretty useless. They were considered inferior to the M1841 Mountain Howitzer. They were only authorized for Federal service because Woodruff refused to take repeated "no's" for an answer and pressed his political connections. He also used an untested carriage which was prone to failure. It's interesting that Woodruff seems to have had more success pushing his product through political channels than Norman Wiard did with a better weapon.
 

limberbox

Private
Joined
Apr 25, 2020
Interesting stuff. There seems to be little question that most observors at the time viewed these as pretty useless. They were considered inferior to the M1841 Mountain Howitzer. They were only authorized for Federal service because Woodruff refused to take repeated "no's" for an answer and pressed his political connections. He also used an untested carriage which was prone to failure. It's interesting that Woodruff seems to have had more success pushing his product through political channels than Norman Wiard did with a better weapon.
Yes, definitely an inferior weapon to the Mt. Howitzer -- 2 pdr vs. 12-pdr. No comparison. Some of the after action reports, though, make clear that it was better than having no artillery support.
 
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