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 Posted: Fri Jan 29th, 2010 04:33 am
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Atlanta Cutlery
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Artillery played a crucial role in determining the outcome of the Battle of Gettysburg. Artillery units fought desperately side by side with their infantry counterparts during all three days of the battle and Union guns made up the difference during the July 3rd finale known as Pickett's Charge. Today, at Gettysburg National Park, there are hundreds of cannons that line park avenues at locations where Union and Confederate batteries were established during the battle. Each position is marked by a tablet or monument with a compliment of cannon of the type used by that organization during the battle. Visitors are quick to note that the guns on both sides are very similar in design and made of bronze or iron. In fact, Confederate artillery units were not only armed with southern-made cannon, but a number of captured Union guns filled southern artillery organizations. One popular story relates that a captured Confederate soldier was observed closely inspecting the guns of a nearby Union battery. The man would look at the "US" stamped on the top of each gun barrel then simply nod his head in acknowledgment . When a Union soldier asked the southerner what he was looking at, the man replied, "Ya'll have as many of them thar US guns as we have!"

Artillery in the 1800's fought side by side with infantry units because the range of the big guns limited them to visible targets. Like the infantry weapons, Civil War-era cannon were muzzle loaders and required a crew of eight men to aim, load, and fire the weapon. Maintaining the large guns was an important job and discipline in the artillery was very strict due to the value of the weapon. One artillery unit was referred to as a battery. Composed of six cannon and just over one hundred men, the battery was commanded by a captain. Many batteries were companies of an artillery regiment. Battery A, 4th US Artillery or Battery B, 1st New York Light Artillery are examples of this. Some northern states raised "independent" batteries, which were not attached to an artillery regiment. New York supplied fifteen independent batteries including Captain Andrew Cowan's 1st New York Battery and Captain Patrick Hart's 15th New York Battery, both of which fought at Gettysburg. Confederate batteries were, for the most part, labeled by the nicknames of where they were raised or by the name of the battery commander. The "King William Artillery", commanded by Captain W.P. Carter, was typical of a Virginia organization. In the same battalion were the "Jeff Davis Artillery" from Alabama, and the "Morris Artillery" and "Orange Artillery" from Virginia.

There were several different types of field cannon developed prior to and during the war with many different nomenclatures.  Civil War cannon were mounted on carriages made of oak with iron fittings. There were several different sizes of carriages to accommodate each type of cannon. Carriages at Gettysburg National Park today are made of cast iron and are made to replicate the look of the old carriages. These were made in a Gettysburg foundry by Calvin Hamilton, a Civil War veteran, between 1895 and 1910.

There were many types and styles of artillery rounds manufactured during the Civil War. Smoothbore guns such as 12-pounder Napoleons and howitzers fired round cannon balls. Elongated or conical-shaped shells were used in rifled cannon.



 Posted: Fri Jan 29th, 2010 02:07 pm
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HankC
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very nice review...

Can you review a couple of the Gettysburg instances in which artillery played a crucial role?

It is not a lack of range that limits the guns to direct fire, it's the lack of communication from a distant observer attmpting to coordinate indirect fire.


HankC



 Posted: Sat Jan 30th, 2010 03:10 am
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Doc C
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2 points to add to the above - 1) Confederate batteries had 4 cannon in difference to their union counterparts 2) yes the overwelhming majority of cannon were muzzle loaded, however 2 breech loading, whitworths, were at Gettysburg with the CSA Hurts Alabama battery. If I'm not mistaken these were in the Oak Hill region and one was disabled during the battle. The confederates lack of good artillery positions in the East Cemetery Hill, Culps Hill regions certainly played a crucial role during the 2nd and 3rd days.

Doc C



 Posted: Mon Feb 1st, 2010 03:55 am
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Atlanta Cutlery
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Yes there were these types of cannons used -

12-pounder bronze gun, Model of 1857: Commonly referred to as the "Napoleon", this bronze smooth-bore cannon fired a twelve-pound ball and was considered a light gun though each weighed an average of 1,200 pounds. This powerful cannon could fire explosive shell and solid shot up to a mile and charges of canister up to 300 yards with accuracy.

2.9-inch (10-pounder) Parrott Rifle: This iron cannon was rifled and fired an elongated shell made specifically for the gun. Designed before the war by Captain Robert Parker Parrott, this gun was longer than a Napoleon, sleeker in design, and distinguishable by a thick band of iron wrapped around the breech.

3-inch Wrought Iron Gun: This sleek weapon was also called the 3-inch Ordnance Rifle and was designed by John Griffen, superintendent of the Safe Harbor Iron Works in Pennsylvania. The initial design was built by the Phoenix Iron Company of Phoenixville

Model 1841 12-pounder Howitzers:
A pre-war bronze gun dating back to the 1840's, a number of howitzers were still in use by the Army of Northern Virginia during the Gettysburg Campaign. The barrels of these guns are several inches shorter than other artillery pieces giving them a stubby appearance.

3.8-inch James Rifle:
The James Rifle was a bronze rifle similar in shape to the 3-inch Ordnance Rifle, and was produced by the Ames Manufacturing Company of Chicopee, Massachusetts. s produced by the Ames Manufacturing Company of Chicopee, Massachusetts. It was not a widely used cannon in either army, though the 2nd Connecticut Battery was armed them at Gettysburg.



 Posted: Wed Feb 3rd, 2010 03:43 pm
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j harold 587
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Since we re discussing Gettysburd artillery. What is the opinion of the members as to the effect that Mead placing Gen. Hunt in charge of all artillery versus the corps commanders deploying and directing "their" individual components of the long arm. As any Gettysburg student knows Hancock still ordered his batteries to answer the Confererate shelling prepairing for the Picket,Pettigrew, Trimble charge. Does anyone feel that Hunt pulling back the Union guns during that shelling really convinced the Southern artillery that they were disabling the Union guns? I am happy to see some intrest in discussion of Civil War topics.



 Posted: Fri Feb 12th, 2010 08:24 pm
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csamillerp
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i know during the gettysburg campaign that the fuses used by the confederates were defective. A few months before the battle the richmond armory had exploded and lee was being supplied with fuses from charleston sc. the fuses from charleston burned slower then the fuses from richmond which caused the artillery overshoot during the battle. which could be the reason the artillery overshot during pickett's charge



 Posted: Thu Jun 23rd, 2011 04:14 pm
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ckule
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Doesn't this also explains the cruciality of the Second Day's battle for Little Round Top and Culp's Hill?  LRT was too peaked to afford artillery positions but would have provided siting positions for artillery observers...  as could also the summit of Culp's Hill have done.  Either of these locations would have afforded observer positions for the Confederate guns on Seminary Ridge and Oak Hill, especially the Whitworth's, whose direct fire shotfall would have been masked by the back of East Cemetery Hill and the town of Gettysburg.  Union positions on East Cemetery Hill and Cemetery Ridge would have become untenable.

If taken, Little Round Top would therefore have had to have been defended, which would have accounted for infantry posting around the base.  Moreover an artillery observation position on Little Round Top would have corrected Porter Alexander's third day artillery barrage on Cemetery Ridge and this might have removed altogether the necessity for Pickett's Charge. 

Might, as I think likely, have Meade then withdrawn from Cemetery Hill/Ridge, and pulled back to his Pipe Run positions, which would have allowed Lee to strategically anchor himself along a Gettysburg-Fairfield access and continue his foraging in the Cumberland Valley?



 Posted: Thu Jun 23rd, 2011 04:59 pm
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j harold 587
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ckule,

If either of the locations you mention had been taken by CSA troops the problem would have been how to relay the information to the guns for adjustment of their fire. As for the whitworths although your idea is possible they were still almost line of sight weapons due to lack of speedy communication.  



 Posted: Thu Jun 23rd, 2011 05:14 pm
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ckule
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Union spotters were on Little Round Top, using signal flags.  Confederate spotters would have used flag relays and mirror signalling.  Even modern gunfire is line of sight without aerial or onsite spotting and communication, but this did not await radio communication.   Confederate relays could have been set up along Seminary Ridge or, if taken, with Culp's and Benner's Hills.  I believe there are records of Conferate signalling at Cedar Mountain in 1862, and I wonder if Lee's army had the capability of setting up telegraphic communication.  I suppose they must have.



 Posted: Fri Jun 24th, 2011 03:49 am
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Hellcat
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I would have thought semaphor would have been faster than the telegraph on the battlefield. I mean I know the telegraph is technically going to be a lot faster as it sends the message electrically. But you've got to run the lines and set up the telegraph stations. If you've got the time to do that then there shouldn't be much problem. Yet in the heat of battle just seems it's faster for a small group of men with signal flags to run out to a location where they can be viewed and begin sending messages back to their lines. Same goes for mirrors.

Of course for artillery spotting both would have had their advantages and disadvantages.



 Posted: Fri Jun 24th, 2011 11:31 am
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Mark
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Ckule, I think Mr. Harold is right on this one. Artillery was a direct fire weapon. The Union "spotters" on LRT during the battle were not spotters in the modern sense of the word since they could not communicate directly with the batteries. Now, with that being said, if the Rebs get artillery on the Round Tops as the Federals did on July 2 and 3, the battery officers probably would have been able to direct their fire much more effectively against the Union line. As an aside, I don't think the ANV had a field telegraph system, but I'm not positive.

V/R

Mark



 Posted: Fri Jun 24th, 2011 12:26 pm
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j harold 587
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The US forces had signal corps troops on the little hill using semaphor to relay notice of opposing troop movements to HQ. The ability to get info. to the guns in a timely manner was not in place due the the fact it was not accepted tactics at that time. Once again the majority of the guns did not have the capability beyond line of site.

The smoke from the guns once engaged would have made viewing signal flags nearly impossible.

 The ledge on the little hill was basically parelell to seminary ridge so Haslett's US guns could be used to advantage, I think only one section. It would not have been able to effectively be used by CSA guns to enfilade the US line as it was too narrow facing the East. The timber on the big hill would have been cleared to allow access for the guns and a field of fire. This would have taken too much time to have been of benefit. 



 Posted: Fri Jun 24th, 2011 05:06 pm
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ckule
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All the comments are on point.  LRT would not serve as a gun platform, except for the one section.  Yet it did serve as a promontory with line of sight command of the entire field.  It was elevated, above battle smoke.  It was visible from below -- if not from the firing line, then from slightly behind it from command points either Union or ANV.  Moreover it was in direct line of sight with the summit of Culp's Hill, from which E. Cemetery Hill, Benner's, Oak Hill, and Seminary Ridge were visible.  While impractical as a major gun platform because of time constraints, a signal tower could easily and quickly have been constructed and manned by the ANV. 

But here is the key question:  if LRT had no practical use, why would Lee have tried so hard to have it?  Why did Meade commit so much to defend it?  Likewise Culp's, which had the same drawbacks?  Of course it offered the great advantage of enfilade perspective, but given that usage, it would surely also have been crucial in adjusting gunfire.  This would have induced Meade to abandon Gettysburg, affording Lee his  (partial) victory and enabling ANV to operate in Pennsylvania indefinitely.  I think Lee came to Pennsylvania with Antietam, not Chancellorsville, primarily in mind, and I think that Meade was less committed to cutting Lee off than to defending Washington.  In the end Meade fell into the perfect strategy, which was to run Lee down, and he did so (barely) by holding onto LRT and Culp's.



 Posted: Sat Jun 25th, 2011 03:16 am
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I don't think Lee could have operated in PA indefinately. Both sides faced the same problem. That is the possibility of the enemy capturing their capital. Invading the North was a bold move on Lee's part. Bold because had someone decided this was the big chance they could have sent at least a corps on to Richmond. But of course the folks in the North were so terrified of the Army of Northern Virginia being in the North that it seems there was no thought to moving on Richmond. Just get Lee. But had Lee remained in PA I think someone would have eventually tried risking it. If Lee didn't catch on to the move or the Army of the Potomac moved to cut him off or delay him, then Richmond might have been taken sooner.

Maybe I'm wrong, but there certainly seems like there were fears whenever Lee invaded the North that he would move on Washington so the Army of the Potomac had to move to stop that. And the South certainly had to fear the same thing happening to Richmond as the Army of the Potomac was so often moving in that direction.



 Posted: Sat Jun 25th, 2011 04:02 am
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ckule
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The 1864 Dahlgren Raid and difficulties in maintaining Union lines of communication, plus Gen. Butler's 1864 failures in Bermuda Hundred make it clear that there really was no chance of sustaining a successful Union assault on Richmond while Lee was north of the Potomac.  From a purely logistical point of view there would have been no supply line for a June-July 1863 infantry advance toward Richmond.  Meade's instructions in July 1863 were to shield Washington and bring Lee to battle.  Ewell had already reached the Susquehanna, thereby cutting off Baltimore and points south.  Lee did not have to capture Washington to attain his strategic objectives, but he did have to avoid expending his ordnance, depleting his forage supplies, compromising his commissary, and exhausting his troops.  Had he been able to repel Meade's Gettysburg advance he would have accomplished these strategic objectives. 



 Posted: Mon Jun 27th, 2011 09:02 pm
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HankC
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indirect fire for a single gun or battery may be practical - fire, report results and adjust.

Adjusting any larger mass of guns is impossible. Observers cannot tell whose rounds are falling where and communication by flag to some central point and then to a bettery and a specific gun is just not practible in the din, smoke and confusion of combat.

The USA batteries do a good job of concentrating on a single CS battery at a time, but FOs are not needed for that.

LRT and Culps hill certainly have value as flank anchors.

Remember, Lee's orders to Longstreet are to attack up the Emmittsburg Road, nothing specific about taking LRT...



 Posted: Mon Jun 27th, 2011 10:55 pm
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ckule
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Granted, all of that.  

But what value, in fact, did Culp's/LRT have as anchors?  Had either been taken, could Lee have mounted a flank attack off of either?  No, Longstreet's Emmittsburg Rd. attack would still have had to succeed (which it nearly did, and by the way, Hood's fateful attack was famously aimed at LRT by Lee/Lonstreet).   But you are right, the loss of either would have necessitated the evacuation of Cemetery HIll, Cemetery Ridge.  Why?  The only advantage I can imagine is spotting the fall of shot, since the Union  position was well defined, and the holding of LRT could not have deterred the reinforcement of Cemetery Ridge... it might have prevented Pickett's charge. 

Guide Tony DeLacy has some excellent discussions of events on ANV held Benner's Hill, which were devastated by concentrated Union fire on the Second Day. 

http://www.gettysburgdaily.com/?p=3483

Clearly this was the enveloping position intended to converge fire on E. Cemetery Hill  with that from Oak Hill and Seminary Ridge, but it suffered from being less elevated than Union artillery on E. Cemetery and Stevens' Knoll, below Culp's.  Taking Culp's would have made these ANV guns much more effective in counterbattery fire concentrated on E. Cemetery Hill, and leveraging the Benner's position probably depended on using Culp's as an easily readable fire observation platform. 

Indiviidual gun shot adjustment, in the modern sense, would not have been possible at Gettysburg, but clearly ranging fire adjustment would have had a high priority.  When facing the elevated Union posiitions on Cemetery Hill and Ridge traverse adjustment might have been useful but range adjustment would have been of the utmost importance.   A simple "down 50 yards" would have made a world of difference to Porter Alexander on the third day. 

This is what I think made it imperative that the Union hold Little Round Top on Day 2.  I cannot think of any other factor which would have made the contests for LRT and Culp's so vital to the eventual outcome.  Cemetery Hill was the key to Gettysburg, and Gettysburg was the key to Lee's eventual success or failure.  C.



 Posted: Tue Jul 26th, 2011 05:15 pm
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norbay1
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The Confederates often did such things as save artillery ammunition for use against infantry.Thus the Federals did so to save them for the Pickett charge. This was an unusual tactic by the Federals. This was a very short window of opportunity for Pickett. Longstreet delayed his order to Pickett to charge, knowing of the impending slaughter which was to occur. Brig. General E. Porter Alexander C.S.A. (artillery commander) was very anxious during this short artillery interval that he wrote Pickett " For God's sake, come quick. The 18 guns are gone; come quick, or my ammunition won't let me support you properly." Picket took this note to Longstreet, Longstreet read it, knowing it had to be, but unwilling to give the word, turned his face away. Pickett saluted and said,"I am willing to move forward, sir," galloped off to his division and immediately put it in motion.

Longstreet, leaving his staff, came out alone to where Alexander was. It was then about 1:40 P.M. Alexander explained the situation, feeling more than hopeful but afraid the artillery ammunition might not hold out for all that he would want. Longstreet said, "Stop Pickett immediately and replenish your ammunition." Alexander explained that it would take too long and the enemy would recover from the effect of the Confederate fire was then having, and moreover, very little to replenish with. Longstreet said, " I don't want to make this attack. I would stop it now but General Lee ordered it and expects it to go on. I don't see how it can succeed."

Alexander listened, but did not dare offer a word. The battle was lost if the Confederates stopped. Ammunition was far too low to try anything else for they had been fighting three days. There was a chance, and it was not Alexander's part to interfere. While Longstreet was still speaking, Pickett's division swept out of the wood and showed the full length of its gray ranks and shining bayonets, as grand a sight as ever a man looked on. Joining it on the left, Pettigrew stretched farther than all could see. General Dick Garnett, just out of the sick ambulance, and buttoned up in an old blue overcoat,riding at the head of his brigade passed and saluted Longstreet.

Reference: The Great Charge And Artillery Fighting At Gettysburg. By E. Porter Alexander, Brig Gen., C.S.A.
Battles and Leaders of the Civil War. Volume Three - Grant -Lee Edition Part 1 Copyright, 1884, 1888 By The Century Co.

Last edited on Tue Jul 26th, 2011 05:25 pm by norbay1



 Posted: Tue Jul 26th, 2011 06:07 pm
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ckule
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At the time, Alexander held the rank of LCOL.  Lee had a train of artillery waiting at the Potomac but there was no time (several days) to bring it up for use at Gettysburg.  Lee ordered Pickett's Charge not in hopes of defeating the Army of the Potomac but principally to concentrate it towards Cemetery Hill/Ridge, enabling Lee to organize a retreat.  Failure on the Second Day to complete the first day's triumph by taking either Culp's or Little Round Top or Cemetery Ridge nullified the defeat and destruction of Sickle's Third Corps, and sealed the fate of the ANV at Gettysburg.  C.



 Posted: Sat Jan 28th, 2012 05:24 am
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Huxane
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We know that a Cannon is being used in the Battle Field as a weapon. It is good to know that it is part of a war history in every place.  But, a toy cannon ended the life of 14-year-old boy. A sad news! Same topic here 14-year-old boy killed by toy cannon . An accident out of curiosity I think. Well, the fact that it is a  canon, it really can kill a person even if it's a toy . Just be careful in handling that thing. 

Last edited on Sat Jan 28th, 2012 05:26 am by Huxane



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