Confederate artillerymen were even more self-confident, and with even less good reason. Many of them originally came from socially élite, prewar units. Infantry companies were also converted into artillery batteries, as when Company 'A', 27th Volunteer Virginia Infantry, became the Allegheny Artillery, later Carpenter's Battery.

As the government set about making small-arms, it also began casting cannon, especially in Richmond and Macon, Georgia. Inferior metal, lack of facilities and few trained workmen made it difficult to make decent cannon, however. An ordnance officer reported in 1862 that 'many of these guns were defective and even dangerous. One battery from the Memphis foundry lost three guns in a month by bursting . . . [so] the finest cannons have been received from England. Several magnificent guns of the Whitworth and

Blakely patents I have seen or heard described as doing good execution among the "Yankees".'

Not many cannon nor much ammunition could be carried in crowded blockade-runners, and the Confederacy had to depend on itself and captured U.S. supplies. Local arsenals made ammunition and fuses, although they were often faulty and would not explode at all or did so right at the muzzle.

Fremantle noted that 'the artillery horses are in poor condition, and get only 3 lb of corn [Indian corn] a day. The artillery is of all kinds Parrots, Napoleons, rifled and smooth bores, all shapes and sizes. Most of them bear the letters U.S., showing that they have changed masters.'

The Parrot gun was a 10-lb rifled iron gun, with a large iron band placed on the gun's breech to reinforce it when fired. Confederates made a variation of it, but they were not commonly used. Colonel William Allen, Chief of Ordnance of II Corps, said later, 'We especially valued the three-inch rifles, which became the favorite field piece.' These were also iron 10-lb cannon, which were a U.S. issue.

According to Colonel Fremantle, however, Chief of Artillery General Pendelton disagreed with Colonel Allen. 'He said that the universal opinion is in favour of the 12-pounder Napoleon gun as the best and simplest sort of ordnance for field purposes. Nearly all the artillery with this army has been either captured from the enemy or cast from old 6-pounders taken at the early part of the war.'

The Napoleon, also a U.S.-issue weapon, was a

The average Confederate haversack was of duck, fastened with bone buttons. (Author's collcction)

Men of Longstreet's Corps fire on a Federal supply train in a contemporary print bronze smoothbore, which could fire solid shot, shrapnel or shell. It was widely made in the south.

For close work and in wooded areas, the smoothbore Napoleon, with a range of some 2,000 yards maximum and 1,619 yards at five degrees, was the superior weapon. At the same five degrees, however, the Parrot had a range of 1,900 yards and the three-inch rifle 1,830 yards -and both would hit accurately where the Napoleon would not. For real sharpshooting work, the army had a battery of 12-lb breech-loading Whitworth guns from England. At five degrees these had an accurate range of 2,750 yards.

Four guns made up the average Confederate battery. A captain would command it, and its designation was usually the captain's name, such as Crenshaw's Battery. Batteries formed in 1861 often named themselves after their area, as the Pee Dee Artillery, or an important person, as the Jeff Davis Artillery.

Each two guns made up a section, under a lieutenant. Each gun, limber and caisson made up a 'piece' under the command of the chief of piece, a sergeant.

Lee felt his army had too much artillery, especially as it was difficult to feed all its horses. He left quite a number of batteries in Virginia on the first invasion of the North, ending at Sharps-burg, Maryland, in 1862. Upon his return, on 14 October 1862, he had fourteen batteries disbanded.

Artillery was not as effective in the Army of Northern Virginia as it could have been, due partly to its poor quality, but due equally to the policy of posting batteries to infantry brigades. As a result of that policy, Confederate guns were rarely used in any concentrated force. Therefore, the winter after Sharpsburg, batteries were taken from brigades and organized into battalions.

Each battalion was under a field officer, either a colonel or lieutenant-colonel, with an ordnance officer, quartermaster and an adjutant on its staff.

Each battalion commander reported to his corps' chief of artillery.

Despite the reorganization, artillery Colonel D. G. Mcintosh wrote after the war that the artillery's '.. . use, generally, was fragmentary and detached, and nowhere did it achieve results comparable to the concentrated fire of the Union batteries at Malvern Hill'.

Artillerymen were to be armed with swords, and designs for Confederate swords were copied exactly from U.S. Army regulation ones. Southern-made ones were generally somewhat crude, their iron blades with unstopped blood gutters and reddish-brass, badly made hilts. Later made ones have, instead of leather grips, plain wood ones or ones wrapped in oilcloth. Mounts on sabre scabbards were often of brass, too, instead of iron.

Foot artillerymen were to carry short swords with wide blades. The idea was that the artilleryman whose gun was being overrun by cavalry would use this short sword to first disembowel his enemy's horse, then he would turn to the cavalryman. Taking for granted, of course, the cavalryman was doing nothing himself in the process.

Despite the fairly obvious lack of purpose in these swords, they were widely made, with handsome 'CS' letters cast into all-brass hilts.

Wrote artilleryman McCarthy: 'The artillerymen, who started out with heavy sabers hanging to their belts, stuck them in the mud as they marched, and left them for the ordnance officers to pick up and turn over to the cavalry.'

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment