A couple of weeks ago I posted a article recounting a dialogue between an artillery reenactor and myself. This article while was quite well received explained some of the nuances about the artillery arm in the middle of the 19th Century.
Well as luck would have it, while laid low with a severe case of bronchitis I found another bit of that dialogue which I failed to include.
As it deals at least in the abstract with what might have happened while Pages battalion was marching back to the salient I would be remiss not to share it. Remember that one gun of Montgomery’s battery broke down on the way. This battery was second in line and would have held up those behind it.
Again remember this was during September of 2000. So that said, here we go:
“Could you send me maps of the area, together with a better description of the order of march and final placement of the guns. Also, exact number of guns. Let me look at it from a logistical standpoint. Were the guns placed in the works, or, were they placed behind to fire over the infantry?
It has been 14 years since I was at Spotsylvania, and I don’t recall the terrain. My recollection is that at the time the area was wooded, and trees had been felled to create breastworks. Are there any period photographs showing the terrain surrounding, and especially behind the trenches? Do you know whose gun and caisson impeded the progress, and the position that each held in the column? Do you know what was the disposition of the broken down gun?
Here are the scenarios for a disabled gun: (1) wheel failure, (2) broken axle, (3) broken lunette on gun, (4) broken pintle hook on limber
- If a wheel broke, they could have replaced the wheel with the spare carried on the caisson with relative ease, although it would have taken a good five minutes
- An axle failure would mean getting it off the road with a great deal of effort. Even though battery wagons carried spare axles, it would be between a 2-3 hour job.
- Broken lunette, tie the gun to the limber with the prologue rope.
- Broken pintle hook on the limber, replace the limber or hook gun to carriage hook of caisson and pull it to the line with a caisson. This would be a strain on the horses, and also impair mobility, as you would significantly decrease your ability to make turns in a twisty roadway. If there were a spare pintle hook in a battery wagon, it would take a good 15 minutes to replace it.
Placement of guns in the salient. How tightly were they placed? From the point that the road met the lines, how far was the furthest gun position?
Do you know if the guns were using 4 or 6 horses? Regulations would have called for six, but shortages might have resulted in four. This would have made a pretty significant difference in the length of the column.
So there you have it. Neither the gun nor the caisson which broke down made it to the salient line that morning. The gun from Montgomery’s battery did play a significant part latter that day.