How many cannons were attached to each US & CS battery during the Overland Campaign?

unsub213

Cadet
Joined
Dec 11, 2020
Hello everyone.
I've been reviewing the order of battle for wilderness and I wanted to know if there are any resources out there that could tell me what and how many cannons were attached to each battery. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
 

bschulte

Sergeant
Joined
Jul 31, 2005
A good source is the Union Ordnance Returns from the National Archives, but they are pricey. I've attached a PDF describing them. You'll be interested in page 7 of the attached document. Roll 1 of Microfilm Series M1281 contains weapons info on Union artillery batteries. You can order at this link. Search for M1281 and you will be able to find the specific roll (roll 1) with the correct info.

Alternatively, does anyone here already have this roll?
 

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Ole Miss

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Regtl. Staff Shiloh 2020
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As the Wilderness is overseen by the staff at Fredricksburg you should contact them for assistance. For example, Ed Bearrs did a study of the artillery units at Shiloh and how they were equipped. Perhaps they might have a similar document?
I would also suggest you research the The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records... Ser.1:V.36:tongue:t.1 as the records of all units, including artillery, are in this volume.
Good luck
Regards
David
 

Ole Miss

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Regtl. Staff Shiloh 2020
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@unsub213 here are a couple of sources that might be of assistance
Regards
udronDavid


Mysteries and Conounrums (web site by Fredricksburg NMP)

Record Group 156: Records of the Office of the Chief of Ordnance – “Summary Statements of Quarterly Returns of Ordnance and Ordnance Stores on Hand in Regular and Volunteer Army Organizations, 1862-1867, 1870-1876.” (Microcopy 1281, Rolls 1, 3 and 6). National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.
 

Bryce

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Location
Washington, D.C.
Hello everyone.
I've been reviewing the order of battle for wilderness and I wanted to know if there are any resources out there that could tell me what and how many cannons were attached to each battery. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

if I remember right Grant reduce the number of guns per battery from 6 to 4. I guess the idea was to make the guns more mobile so they could travel faster
 

Carronade

Captain
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Aug 4, 2011
Location
Pennsylvania
if I remember right Grant reduce the number of guns per battery from 6 to 4. I guess the idea was to make the guns more mobile so they could travel faster

That was done after the Wilderness. The army had been unable to make use of the mass of its artillery, particularly the artillery reserve. Initially each of the three the AofP corps had an artillery brigade of 8-9 batteries, and the artillery reserve had two brigades of 6 batteries each, all generally with six guns. The change had two elements: the artillery reserve was broken up, and batteries were reduced to four guns. Each corps ended up with 12-14 four-gun batteries, about the same total number of guns.

I see two curious things about this:

The excess guns and crews were sent back to depots. Guns or vehicles in need of repair were sent back, which had some value, but there were now a mass of "orphan" guns, crews, or sections which must have been challenging to reorganize when the time came for them to rejoin the army. If the reserve was not immediately needed, one or both brigades could have been sent to the rear as units, which would make it easier to bring them back when needed. Essentially the reserve would function as a true reserve.

Presumably the four-gun batteries retained their complement of support vehicles, battery wagon, traveling forge, etc. so those would actually be a higher proportion of the battery than in the six-gun organization. Someone probably has exact numbers, but the four-gun battery would have 2/3 the firepower of the six-gun but need about 3/4 of the supplies, space on the road, etc.

p.s. There were also two horse artillery brigades, which could be either in reserve or assigned to the cavalry corps. I have not seen any reference to the horse batteries being reorganized.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
There were 6-gun and 4-gun batteries pretty much depending on how they were organized, before then.

Going down the Gettysburg ORBAT, which was after a long time to standardize:

1st Corps
66646
2nd Corps
46666
3rd Corps
66666
5th Corps
64664
6th Corps
66666466
11th Corps
64646
12th Corps
4664
Cav corps
2666644666
Arty reserve
6666 6646 446 6664 66666

So that's
1x 2-gun
15x 4-gun
52x 6-gun

So 6-gun is dominant, but not overwhelmingly so.
 

bschulte

Sergeant
Joined
Jul 31, 2005
@unsub213 here are a couple of sources that might be of assistance
Regards
udronDavid


Mysteries and Conounrums (web site by Fredricksburg NMP)

Record Group 156: Records of the Office of the Chief of Ordnance – “Summary Statements of Quarterly Returns of Ordnance and Ordnance Stores on Hand in Regular and Volunteer Army Organizations, 1862-1867, 1870-1876.” (Microcopy 1281, Rolls 1, 3 and 6). National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.

NICE find! It helped me remember the NPS guys filled in the armament for the Wilderness based on these ordnance returns. Here are the details @unsub213. It is EVERYTHING you wanted and more!

  1. Article explaining what they did
  2. Actual PDF containing armament for every regiment, battery and battalion which was listed
I also attached the PDF here in case that site ever goes down.
 

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Belfoured

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
That was done after the Wilderness. The army had been unable to make use of the mass of its artillery, particularly the artillery reserve. Initially each of the three the AofP corps had an artillery brigade of 8-9 batteries, and the artillery reserve had two brigades of 6 batteries each, all generally with six guns. The change had two elements: the artillery reserve was broken up, and batteries were reduced to four guns. Each corps ended up with 12-14 four-gun batteries, about the same total number of guns.

I see two curious things about this:

The excess guns and crews were sent back to depots. Guns or vehicles in need of repair were sent back, which had some value, but there were now a mass of "orphan" guns, crews, or sections which must have been challenging to reorganize when the time came for them to rejoin the army. If the reserve was not immediately needed, one or both brigades could have been sent to the rear as units, which would make it easier to bring them back when needed. Essentially the reserve would function as a true reserve.

Presumably the four-gun batteries retained their complement of support vehicles, battery wagon, traveling forge, etc. so those would actually be a higher proportion of the battery than in the six-gun organization. Someone probably has exact numbers, but the four-gun battery would have 2/3 the firepower of the six-gun but need about 3/4 of the supplies, space on the road, etc.

p.s. There were also two horse artillery brigades, which could be either in reserve or assigned to the cavalry corps. I have not seen any reference to the horse batteries being reorganized.
I hadn't seen this until now. Some good points. I would add that the reduction was the result of a negotiation between Hunt and Grant in which Hunt salvaged batteries that were in the Reserve by reducing them from 6 to 4 guns and getting them dispersed throughout the Army. He was also able to get rid of the 20 lb Parrotts, which he disliked (for good reason). Mobility probably was increased, as well. The irony is that once the Army crossed the James, its artillery became largely engaged in siege warfare.
 

Carronade

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Location
Pennsylvania
I hadn't seen this until now. Some good points. I would add that the reduction was the result of a negotiation between Hunt and Grant in which Hunt salvaged batteries that were in the Reserve by reducing them from 6 to 4 guns and getting them dispersed throughout the Army. He was also able to get rid of the 20 lb Parrotts, which he disliked (for good reason). Mobility probably was increased, as well. The irony is that once the Army crossed the James, its artillery became largely engaged in siege warfare.

Thanks. I'm a little surprised that Hunt would take that position; I would think he'd be more inclined to use the reserve brigades as a reserve, able to be pulled out, redeployed, or brought back as needed.

Grant probably didn't much care how many batteries there were as long as there weren't so many guns cluttering up the roads!

Good point about the 20pdrs; it would be well to hold them in reserve until needed.
 

Belfoured

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Aug 3, 2019
Thanks. I'm a little surprised that Hunt would take that position; I would think he'd be more inclined to use the reserve brigades as a reserve, able to be pulled out, redeployed, or brought back as needed.

Grant probably didn't much care how many batteries there were as long as there weren't so many guns cluttering up the roads!

Good point about the 20pdrs; it would be well to hold them in reserve until needed.
I think the issue was Grant wanting to get rid of batteries and Hunt keeping them by getting rid of guns. He negotiated the result, although as I pointed out the resulting mobility became a bit moot after the Petersburg campaign commenced. Hunt really didn't like the M1841 12 lb field howitzer (short range, limited ordnance) or the 20 lb Parrott (too heavy). By mid 1864 he'd gotten rid of both.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
In principle the best choice depends on what your limits are. If you want the most guns per your logistical footprint, then it's best to go with 6 gun batteries because there are some aspects of organization which are duplicated at the battery level. The difference is pretty small, but it's not nothing.

Essentially, a battery has a number of six-horse teams which is

2
plus 2 per gun

So if you have 6 guns then you have 14 teams, and the two "battery level" teams are spread out over six guns. If you have 4 guns then you have 10 teams, and the two "battery level" teams are spread out over only four guns, so each gun has a slightly higher logistical footprint (it goes from 2.33 teams per gun to 2.5 teams per gun).

This means that if you want to carry 240 guns in the army, you can have it in 40 6-gun batteries (for 560 teams) or 60 4-gun teams (for 600 teams, i.e. 40 more of them). If you want 240 guns in the smallest possible logistical footprint, then going for 6-gun batteries is about a 7% difference in your road space/logistics footprint for the army.

If on the other hand what you want is flexibility (i.e. a given number of batteries) then converting from 60 6-gun batteries (840 teams) to 60 4-gun batteries (600 teams) saves you 240 teams, which is a 29% reduction in teams... it just means you go from 360 guns to 240 guns, which means you have 33% less artillery.
 

Belfoured

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
In principle the best choice depends on what your limits are. If you want the most guns per your logistical footprint, then it's best to go with 6 gun batteries because there are some aspects of organization which are duplicated at the battery level. The difference is pretty small, but it's not nothing.

Essentially, a battery has a number of six-horse teams which is

2
plus 2 per gun

So if you have 6 guns then you have 14 teams, and the two "battery level" teams are spread out over six guns. If you have 4 guns then you have 10 teams, and the two "battery level" teams are spread out over only four guns, so each gun has a slightly higher logistical footprint (it goes from 2.33 teams per gun to 2.5 teams per gun).

This means that if you want to carry 240 guns in the army, you can have it in 40 6-gun batteries (for 560 teams) or 60 4-gun teams (for 600 teams, i.e. 40 more of them). If you want 240 guns in the smallest possible logistical footprint, then going for 6-gun batteries is about a 7% difference in your road space/logistics footprint for the army.

If on the other hand what you want is flexibility (i.e. a given number of batteries) then converting from 60 6-gun batteries (840 teams) to 60 4-gun batteries (600 teams) saves you 240 teams, which is a 29% reduction in teams... it just means you go from 360 guns to 240 guns, which means you have 33% less artillery.
Interesting, but the Grant-Hunt decision was much simpler. The terrain at the Wilderness and Spotsylvania rendered the Army's large Reserve pretty much idle. Grant wanted to get rid of it since it wasn't contributing much. Hunt wanted to keep its batteries. So the compromise was to reduce all batteries to 4 guns (as well as getting rid of the useless 20 lb Parrotts at the same time). For terrain issues, this may have made some sense where massing guns wasn't possible. In one regard it's almost analogous to the practice of the Royal Artillery in the AWI, which emphasized the "battalion guns" solution with 3 lb and light 6 lb guns - 2 to a battalion. Terrain, etc were factors in that.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Interesting, but the Grant-Hunt decision was much simpler. The terrain at the Wilderness and Spotsylvania rendered the Army's large Reserve pretty much idle. Grant wanted to get rid of it since it wasn't contributing much. Hunt wanted to keep its batteries. So the compromise was to reduce all batteries to 4 guns (as well as getting rid of the useless 20 lb Parrotts at the same time). For terrain issues, this may have made some sense where massing guns wasn't possible. In one regard it's almost analogous to the practice of the Royal Artillery in the AWI, which emphasized the "battalion guns" solution with 3 lb and light 6 lb guns - 2 to a battalion. Terrain, etc were factors in that.
Right - the decisions involved are that Grant is okay with fewer guns and Hunt wants to retain flexibility rather than weight of metal. They are not trying to maximize weight of metal for a given amount of logistic support, they are trying to minimize the amount of logistic support required for a given amount of flexibility.

They are giving up something by doing that (weight of metal for what their logistics can handle) but it is something they are okay giving up.
 

Belfoured

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
Right - the decisions involved are that Grant is okay with fewer guns and Hunt wants to retain flexibility rather than weight of metal. They are not trying to maximize weight of metal for a given amount of logistic support, they are trying to minimize the amount of logistic support required for a given amount of flexibility.

They are giving up something by doing that (weight of metal for what their logistics can handle) but it is something they are okay giving up.
To some extent, from Grant's end I suspect he also just decided that the Reserve was a waste of resources since it couldn't be used effectively but wanted to keep his Artillery Chief happy - so he compromised. As I said, by mid-July it was probably "much ado about nothing".
 
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