The Army of the Potomac/ The Army of the Shenandoah - A most unexpected victory? Part Three.

Hussar Yeomanry

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Part Three:


Continued from: https://www.civilwartalk.com/thread...ah-a-most-unexpected-victory-part-two.154169/
Part One can be found here: https://www.civilwartalk.com/threads/the-army-of-the-potomac-the-army-of-the-shenandoah-–-a-most-unexpected-victory-part-one.154031/


A look at the Confederate artillery... what there was of it.


First let us look at the numbers. The Army of the Potomac has 33 guns (with more guarding Camp Pickens) while The Army of the Shenandoah brings 20 pieces with it. In the latter case each brigade has 4 guns. In the former case the number of guns per brigade is widely variable. Ewell's 2nd Brigade, D.R. Jones' 3rd Brigade and Longstreet's 4th Brigade all have only 2 guns. Meanwhile Bonham's 1st Brigade has 8, Cocke's 5th Brigade has 6, Early's 6th Brigade has 5 and the Reserve Brigade has 6. [Evans' Demi Brigade has 2]

Note: (for completeness) Wikipedia suggests 39 pieces of artillery for the AoP. This discrepancy seems to be to do with how many guns the (Louisiana) Washington Artillery has. However they do not break this down in to individual batteries/ sections so I cannot determine precisely where the totals vary nor who exactly is correct – though I have double checked my figures and for now stand by them unless presented with better information.

Numerically the total of 53 (59 per wiki) guns is very similar to the 55 that 'The Army of Northeastern Virginia' has obtained. These are Virginian guns other than the 11 (19?) from the (Louisiana) Washington Artillery. They also are small guns (in the main).

For example in the Army of the Shenandoah the 1st Rockbridge Artillery of Jackson's 1st Brigade (under Captain/ Colonel Pemberton) brings the famed 'Matthew, Mark, Luke and John'. Or so Gods and Generals would have you believe. These appear to have been the 4 'cadet' 6pdr smoothbores that they brought with them from the Virginia Military Institute. However by Manassas two of these appear to have been returned and replaced with a 6pdr smoothbore (M1841) and a 12pdr Howitzer (M1841). There is also some (muted) talk of a Parrott Rifle that the VMI had somehow acquired and demonstrated the previous year. Its fate is however unclear and does not seem to have joined the Rockbridge Artillery... or if it did it didn't stay.

The 'Gallant Pelham' (acting in lieu of the sickly Captain Alburtis) and the Wise Artillery of the 2nd Brigade have 4 x 6pdr smoothbores (Possibly M1841) though it should be noted that desertion seems to have been rife in this unit and they are (very) low in men.

3rd Brigade has the Staunton Artillery (Captain Imboden) and 4 x 6pdr smoothbores, the best description of them being that they are bronze guns.

4th Brigade has the Newtown Artillery with 4 x 6pdr smoothbores while 5th Brigade has the Thomas Artillery and 4 more 6pdr smoothbores.

In other words all but one of the artillery pieces available to The Army of Shenandoah are 6pdr smoothbores. This simplifies logisitics but says volumes about the availability of artillery in the South at the time. Small guns are available. Larger guns are far harder to find. This is not a surprising conclusion.

In the AoP I have identified 2 x 12pdr howitzers in 1st Brigade, Possibly both guns of 2nd brigade were 12pdr howitzers, 1 x 3 inch rifle with 4th Brigade, possibly 2 x 3 inch rifles in the 6th Brigade (There is some confusion over this) while the Reserve Brigade seems to have 6 Parrott Rifles. Every other gun appears to be a 6pdr smoothbore. [I do wish to state that my sources (as I am increasingly identifying) for the AoP do not seem to be as good as those for the AoS or ANV.) However assuming that this is correct at least here the South has some heavier artillery. 13 pieces. 13 out of 33 (I have no clue what the extra 6 wikipedia has suggested as being present are). Or 14 out of 53 when both armies are combined.

On the Union side there are some 6dr smoothbores but they are in the minority. A significant minority. I haven't done the exact sums but it looks to be about 20/30%. There is also a single 30pdr Parrott rifle and nothing on the Southern side is remotely nearing this size (whether the North need or should have bothered bringing the 30pdr Parrott Rifle is another matter).

Now, having determined that the Southern guns are (in the main) small let us look at their crews. I have already mentioned that the Wise Artillery seems to have been suffering significant desertion. This seems unusual for it is specifically mentioned in the sources and I have seen it nowhere else. I also have to wonder if at least some of this is to do with serving under a (chronically) ill officer. Strangely however in at least 5 cases these were of desertion to the enemy. Perhaps they were having second thoughts. Probably we will never know.

That the Wise Artillery seems to be an isolated case can perhaps be demonstrated from other sources. (Admittedly this is from a couple of months later) but according to p.20 of Benjamin W. Jones Under the Stars and Bars (Published in 1975) attempts were made to turn the Sussex Light Artillery (in which he was serving as a private) in to Infantry and the men would have none it. Similarly when Braxton Bragg wanted the Washington Artillery of Georgia to do the same they also were vocally against it... and serving under Bragg... though the latter seems par for the course.

So, all that said is there anything strange? My main issue is with the composition of the AoP. Like McDowell and the ANV there seems to have been an insufficient attempt to create even vaguely balanced brigades. I assume that again this is due to a lack of time but could its commander have done better?
 

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Hussar Yeomanry

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Having had a little time to think on what all this means I have some conclusions. Others may disagree but having so many 6pdr smoothbores and no artillery reserve (Perhaps they would have liked one but the number of guns (and trained men) available makes this a moot point) really is a weakness.

Even compared to most Napoleonic period armies the 6pdr is considered small. For example the French army's standard field piece is an 8pdr while for the British it is a 9pdr. These are deployed in either 8 or 6 gun batteries (6 x 8pdrs and 2 Howitzers/ 5 x 9pdrs and 1 Howitzer). 12pdrs are also at times available.

Therefore 50 or so years later a 6pdr is a definite step back. This can be seen by the Federal Army of the Potomac quickly standardising on the 12pdr 'Napoleon' for its smoothbores. Indeed by Gettysburg neither army has many 6pdrs left. [The ANV has literally one or two left] and while the 6pdr smoothbore is a reasonable weapon its real place is an arm for the horse artillery. Not as effectively one's standard field piece. However I suppose one has to work with what one has available.

My final point links to this. By Gettysburg artillery as a proportion of the ANV was approximately double what the South is able to muster at Manassas.

Therefore I argue that the artillery arm was a definite weak point for both the AoP and especially the AoS, though they will do the best with what they have and Confederate guns will have an impact on the battle. Could they have been more effective. Definitely, and so in the end it becomes as is so often the case an infantry battle.
 



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