|View single post by calcav|
|Posted: Wed Jan 10th, 2007 03:46 pm||
Last year I did a detailed study of the artillery at the Battle of Corinth. Attached is the segment on the 1st Minnesota Light Artillery:
Organized: Organized at Fort Snelllng, Minn., November 21, 1861.
Assigned to: Artillery Brigade, Sixth Division (McKean), Army of West Tennessee.
Previous service: Shiloh, Siege of Corinth.
Armament: (2) 12 pounder howitzers and (2) 12 pounder James Rifles.
Commanding officer at Corinth: Lieutenant G. F. Cooke, Captain Emil Munch.
Section: Sgt. (Acting Lieutenant) William Z. Clayton.
Casualties at Corinth: 1 wounded. In his diary Pvt. August Schilling states there were two wounded.
Loss of horses and material: One 12 pounder howitzer lost on the 2nd is recovered on the 5th.
Remarks: On the 1st of October a section of 12 pounder howitzers under Lieutenant Clayton accompanied the Second brigade (Oliver) to Alexander’s to support the 15th Michigan Infantry. The force spent the night one mile to the southeast of Chewalla. The artillery was not called into service on the 2nd, the section falling back to Alexander’s for the night. “Early the next morning, the enemy pressing us, we opened upon them and the fight became general. At the fifth discharge one of the howitzers was disabled by the breaking of an axle (from recoil) and obliged to retire. It was attached to the limber of the gun carriage and carried about 2 miles; but in crossing Cane Creek the fastenings broke, and being hotly pressed we were obliged to abandon it, spiking and throwing it into Cane Creek.” The axle had been initially damaged at Shiloh and had been banded to strengthen it. When the gun was thrown from the bridge it actually landed on the dry creek bottom and was recovered on the 5th.
The second section, under Lt. Cooke, had spent the preceding days at Battery F. When notified of the disabled gun, Major Andrew Hickenlooper, Chief of Artillery, sent Lt. Cooke with a replacement gun to the front. Lt. Cooke posted the two guns on the left side of the Chewalla Road just to the left of the old Confederate earthworks. During the fighting a second gun was disabled and sent to Corinth for repair. The fourth and final gun of the battery was sent up the road to Lt. Cooke. Falling back before the Confederate assault, the battery was sent to the immediate right of Battery F. Noting an enemy infantry force to the front, (Brig. General John C. Moore’s Brigade of Maury’s Division), Clayton is ordered to take the guns forward and engage them. An unidentified Confederate battery (probably Bledsoe’s Missourians) responded and the 1st Minnesota, with the help of the 3rd Ohio Battery, drove it away. Pvt Schilling noted in his diary, “…then all of a sudden a cannon ball wizzed just above our heads from the enemy front (advance unit), now we relieved orders to move our cannon back as we saw the smoke of the second cannon shot and then heard the next ball whizz passed, much closer than the first one. Now came our answer, in the next moment we sent a shell as greetings and their second shell had given us the direction. We hurridley sent another shell, but then recived orders to fall back to the trenches which were prepared for us.” When Colonel Crocker’s Third Brigade was driven back, the 1st Minnesota takes a new position on the Ripley road to the left of the Corona College. Captain Munch reassumed command of the battery and the piece which had been sent into town for repairs was returned. The battery did not see service on the 4th.
Sergeant Clayton was highly praised in General McArthur’s and Captain Hickenlooper’s reports and recommended for promotion for his actions during the battle. At Vicksburg, seven months later, he was a captain commanding the battery.
Private Thomas D. Christie of the battery wrote home to his father:
And now I suppose you would like to hear an account of my second battle.
My remembrance of it extends to these items. Country heavily wooded, and intersected by chains of hills, every one of which we defended as long as possible and then fell back to the next, the booming of the guns and bursting of shell, the roar of the rifles and “spat,” “spat,” of the bullets around us, men limping to the rear or carried by comrades, with here and there a skulker hurrying out of the reach of the musical lead. All this I remember and also that when our gun was heated it was mighty hard work to ram down the charge, which was my duty as I was No. 1. Nothing is so exciting as working a gun in real action. The sound of the discharge almost raises us off our feet with delight. Before the smoke lifts from the muzzle I dash in, dip the brush in the sponge bucket and brush out the bore using plenty of water, then seize the sponge stuff and sponge it out dry. No. 2 then inserts the cartridge which I ram home, then the shot, shell or canister, whichever it may be and it is sent home, then I spring out beside the wheel and fall flat, “Ready” shouts the Gunner, No. 3 (who has been serving vent while I loaded) now pricks the cartridge, No. 4 jumps in and inserts a friction primer, to which his lanyard is attached, in the vent, springs outside the wheel and straightens his lanyard. The Gunner gives a turn or two to the elevating screw, taps on the trail and has it carried round a little, and then, “Fire” “Take that,–––– you” says No. 4 as the gun rushes back with the recoil. The other numbers run her forward at the command “By hand to the front” while I load. While you have been reading this description we would fire 3 or 4 shots, so rapidly do we work.
The sound of the gun is most exhilerating [sic], it fills us with enthusiasm, and we would die rather than desert her. However, you probably do not understand these feelings, and so think it all foolishness.