Union Battery

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frontrank2

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Battery M, 2nd U.S. Artillery in the field, 1862
A standard Battery contained 6 of the same type of gun, each pulled by 6 horses (mules generally did not have the temperament for combat). Each cannon had a support caisson, with 2 ammunition chests, also pulled by 6 horses. All the horses are directly attached to a limber (with one ammunition chest); cannons and caissons were then attached to the limbers. Mobile forges and other support wagons rounded out the Battery. In action a Battery deployed with a front of around 82 yards.

A Confederate Battery would more likely be made up of only 4 guns, and they were often of different types.

2ndusarty.jpg
 
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Jantzen64

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Battery M, 2nd U.S. Artillery in the field, 1862
A standard Battery contained 6 of the same type of gun, each pulled by 6 horses (mules generally did not have the temperament for combat). Each cannon had a support caisson, with 2 ammunition chests, also pulled by 6 horses. All the horses are directly attached to a limber (with one ammunition chest); cannons and caissons were then attached to the limbers. Mobile forges and other support wagons rounded out the Battery. In action a Battery deployed with a front of around 82 yards.

A Confederate Battery would more likely be made up of only 4 guns, and they were often of different types.

View attachment 333321
In the 90s I was participating at a re-enactment of Antietam; I had just started in the hobby, and wanted to see what the sound of a battle was like, so I didn’t bring any ear protection. I was at the end of the line and were posted right next to a battery on the edge of “The Cornfield” - my ears rang for weeks!
 

Rhea Cole

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In 1860, the standard U.S. Army artillery battery consisted of four 1841 model six pound cannon & four 1841 model 12 pound howitzers. Deployed in column, the battery was about a mile long. The Chicago Board of Trade Battery at the time Battle of Stones River had four 1841 six pounders & four six pounders bored out & rifled to fire a 14 pound James projectile. There were batteries of Weird Rifles. 12 pound Napoleon smoothbores were teamed with 2.9” Parrott Rifles or 3” ordinance rifles. There were also James Rifles, purpose cast bronze guns designed to fire the James projectile. During the Tullahoma Campaign, Eli Lilliy’s Battery had four 3” Rifles & four little 12 pound mountain howitzers.

The chaos inevitable when attempting to keep that many different guns, each requiring mutually exclusive ammunition, supplied is easy to imagine. Rationalizing the artillery into batteries of six guns of a single caliber was the first step forward. Trading in the 2.9” Parrotts for 3” was an obvious step forward. Three 1841 6 pounders were melted down & recast as two 12 pound Napoleon cannon/howitzers. The exponentially more powerful 12” cannon could double as a howitzer firing explosive shells, greatly increased the lethality & simplified the makeup of the battery.

In time, a half battery of two sections of two guns of the same caliber became the highly mobile maneuver unit for artillery. As needed the half batteries could move quickly & recombine into large batteries at will. This is the back of the envelope evolution of artillery batteries during the Civil War. If you visit Stones River National Battlefield, you can look over many of the wacky collection of cannons deployed during that critical battle.
 

Belfoured

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In 1860, the standard U.S. Army artillery battery consisted of four 1841 model six pound cannon & four 1841 model 12 pound howitzers. Deployed in column, the battery was about a mile long. The Chicago Board of Trade Battery at the time Battle of Stones River had four 1841 six pounders & four six pounders bored out & rifled to fire a 14 pound James projectile. There were batteries of Weird Rifles. 12 pound Napoleon smoothbores were teamed with 2.9” Parrott Rifles or 3” ordinance rifles. There were also James Rifles, purpose cast bronze guns designed to fire the James projectile. During the Tullahoma Campaign, Eli Lilliy’s Battery had four 3” Rifles & four little 12 pound mountain howitzers.

The chaos inevitable when attempting to keep that many different guns, each requiring mutually exclusive ammunition, supplied is easy to imagine. Rationalizing the artillery into batteries of six guns of a single caliber was the first step forward. Trading in the 2.9” Parrotts for 3” was an obvious step forward. Three 1841 6 pounders were melted down & recast as two 12 pound Napoleon cannon/howitzers. The exponentially more powerful 12” cannon could double as a howitzer firing explosive shells, greatly increased the lethality & simplified the makeup of the battery.

In time, a half battery of two sections of two guns of the same caliber became the highly mobile maneuver unit for artillery. As needed the half batteries could move quickly & recombine into large batteries at will. This is the back of the envelope evolution of artillery batteries during the Civil War. If you visit Stones River National Battlefield, you can look over many of the wacky collection of cannons deployed during that critical battle.
If I recall correctly, the authorized U.S. battery in 1861 was four 6 lb smoothbores and two 12 lb. howitzers. That was an increase from the authorized four-gun battery shortly after the War with Mexico. The mix of ordnance in these batteries was, as you note, one problem. Significant differences in range was another. When Weidrich's Battery I 1st NY was ordered to respond to Longstreet's attack on August 30, 1862 it left its two howitzers behind and took only its four rifles.
 
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Rhea Cole

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This is definitional. Two guns was a section; two sections a half battery; two halfs a battery. Battery was also an organizational term. Sections & half batteries could serve independently, but administratively they belonged to a designated battery. As a result, a two gun section & the six guns of the unit could serve in two different locations each known separately as the XYZ Battery.

As it became clear that maneuvering a mile long column & deploying it into a football field sized footprint was daunting. Service in the field reduced the basic maneuver element down from four sections to three to two to one section. This also reflected the reduced ratio of cannons to infantry. The lethality of individual twenty pound rifle guns that supported Sherman's lead elements was greater than a section or even half battery of 1841 6 pounders. Lessons were learned & put into effect very quickly.
 
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byron ed

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This image:

1573488590048.png


...is an example of how to service the front of the piece ...with a minimum amount of bodily exposure to the muzzle. It was all done approaching the muzzle from the side as much as possible. Fast forward to reenactments today, where facing the muzzle at steep angles at most steps of the drill has become more usual than not; peering directly into the muzzle to check conditions even common now.

As an artillerist in a unit that for many years set an example for it's drill, and for the safety of its drill, it grinds to see that such silliness, such reenactorism, has prevailed.

It doesn't look authentic and is a higher safety risk with no positive trade-off as far as I can tell. It just seems that lazier is easier than harder, and don't mess with my weekend hobby either on the field or back at my barely-disguised beer cooler back at camp.

Good time for me to be phasing out of military unit reenacting I guess.
 
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Belfoured

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This is definitional. Two guns was a section; two sections a half battery; two halfs a battery. Battery was also an organizational term. Sections & half batteries could serve independently, but administratively they belonged to a designated battery. As a result, a two gun section & the six guns of the unit could serve in two different locations each known separately as the XYZ Battery.

As it became clear that maneuvering a mile long column & deploying it into a football field sized footprint was daunting. Service in the field reduced the basic maneuver element down from four sections to three to two to one section. This also reflected the reduced ratio of cannons to infantry. The lethality of individual twenty pound rifle guns that supported Sherman's lead elements was greater than a section or even half battery of 1841 6 pounders. Lessons were learned & put into effect very quickly.
Sure. But there's a reason Gibbon assumed the standard "light battery" for service was four 6 lb. guns and two 12 lb howitzers. The 1864 reduction in the Army of the Potomac to four guns (of the same type/caliber) followed the practical inability at the Wilderess to effectively maneuver and use six-gun batteries. As for those 20 lb Parrotts, Hunt loathed them with good reason. They were "'tweeners" and the prescribed limber team was eight horses due to the weight.
 
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Belfoured

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This image:

View attachment 333575

...is an example of how to service the front of the piece ...with a minimum amount of bodily exposure to the muzzle. It was all done approaching the muzzle from the side as much as possible. Fast forward to reenactments today, where facing the muzzle at steep angles at most steps of the drill has become more usual than not; peering directly into the muzzle to check conditions even common now.

As an artillerist in a unit that for many years set an example for it's drill, and for the safety of its drill, it grinds to see that such silliness, such reenactorism, has prevailed.

It doesn't look authentic and is a higher safety risk with no positive trade-off as far as I can tell. It just seems that lazier is easier than harder, and don't mess with my weekend hobby either on the field or back at my barely-disguised beer cooler back at camp.

Good time for me to be phasing out of military unit reenacting I guess.
You don't like that NPS safety line drawn from the muzzle? 🙂
 
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byron ed

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You don't like that NPS safety line drawn from the muzzle?🙂
Of course I like the muzzle safety line, if not other parts of the NPS drill. :nah disagree:

What's interesting to me though is how bad some folks are at spatial perception on the field. We often spend 20-30 mins. to line up muzzles at the battle line at the direction of some spatially-challenged battery commander when, if left to the crews, we'd have it done in 5 mins.

btw the referenced pic is definitely a drill, not a combat view, if you know what to look for in that.
 
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byron ed

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...the practical inability at the Wilderess to effectively maneuver and use six-gun batteries...
Hadn't seen reports of that. Interesting. I'm wondering that since there were three sections in Battery, what comprised the inability to maneuver? It seems one section between the trees (2 guns, 15 yards or less apart) would be enough to maintain alternating fire. And it seems that, even on a restricted field like the Wilderness, separate sections could be effectively deployed in enfilade. If 6-pounders hadn't been phased out by then (and I don't know if that was the case as yet) those were more maneuverable than the heavier bores in those conditions.

Overthinking.
 
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Belfoured

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Hadn't seen reports of that. Interesting. I'm wondering that since there were three sections in Battery, what comprised the inability to maneuver? It seems one section between the trees (2 guns, 15 yards or less apart) would be enough to maintain alternating fire. And it seems that, even on a restricted field like the Wilderness, separate sections could be effectively deployed in enfilade. If 6-pounders hadn't been phased out by then (and I don't know if that was the case as yet) those were more maneuverable than the heavier bores in those conditions.

Overthinking.
i think it started with the (obvious) terrain diffiiculties, which severely limited the use of guns period and which left the large Reserve virtually useless at the Wilderness. So Grant decided to disband the Reserve. Ingalls (IIRC) suggested instead that the best way to handle this was to reduce the standard battery size to four, so that option was adopted. The interesting aspect is that the A of the P's field artillery would never again play a role similar to that it played from 1861-1863 and once the lines were established at Petersburg it became just another grouping of siege artillery.
 
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7th Mississippi Infantry

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Great info from all contributors !

Now a quick question.

Although not ACW, but I watched the trailer for the upcoming movie, 1917 today.
One scene had Imperial German artillery lined up 'side by side' along a French tree line.

It looked like a Napoleonic or American Civil War formation, with tree branches as rudimentary camo.

I understand WW I (The Great War) was tactically a transitional conflict on all levels, but just wondering if such a formation was common during the late stages of that War.

Now back to the American Civil War.

:smile coffee:
 

Belfoured

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Hadn't seen reports of that. Interesting. I'm wondering that since there were three sections in Battery, what comprised the inability to maneuver? It seems one section between the trees (2 guns, 15 yards or less apart) would be enough to maintain alternating fire. And it seems that, even on a restricted field like the Wilderness, separate sections could be effectively deployed in enfilade. If 6-pounders hadn't been phased out by then (and I don't know if that was the case as yet) those were more maneuverable than the heavier bores in those conditions.

Overthinking.
I should have added that 6 lb guns were gone from the A of the P well before it went to the Peninsula, as (for the most part) were batteries with mixed types/calibers (the 12 lb howitzer had also virtually disappeared). The Wilderness provided generally lousy terrain for fields of observation and fire, with limited clearings. (Ironically Chancellorsvile in the same general area had two significant open areas with some elevation that had allowed for more effective and concentrated use). Keep in mind that an important principle that had evolved was the massing of field artillery for greater effect than work by isolated batteries. As I've already indicated the real issue was the nullification of the Reserve during the battle. it had played such a significant role at Gettysburg and couldn't be used at the Wilderness. .
 
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