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Chapter 3

The Battery

Under ideal conditions, a six-gun mounted battery consisted of the following personnel and equipment:

1 Captain (battery commander, mounted);
3 Lieutenants (each mounted, commanding sections of 2 guns each);
1 Lieutenant (in charge of caissons);
1 First Sergeant (mounted);
1 Quartermaster Sergeant (mounted);
6 Sergeants (chiefs of pieces, each mounted);
12 Corporals (gunners and chiefs of caissons);
6 Artificers (mechanics and farriers);
2 Buglers (each mounted);
52 Drivers;
70 Cannoneers;
115 Horses (including 10 spares);
6 Guns;
6 Limbers;
6 Caissons (plus 6 limbers);
1 Battery Wagon (plus 1 limber);
1 Traveling Forge (plus 1 limber).

Horse Artillery had an additional two men and twelve horses per gun, which allowed the battery to mount every man.

Ideally, a 6-gun mounted battery had 155 officers and men with 28 carriages (including six gun carriages). At Gettysburg, only three batteries had more men in their ranks: the 1st Pennsylvania Light Artillery, Batteries F & G, Captain Bruce R. Ricketts, with six 3-inch rifles, had 165 officers and men; The 5th New York Independent Battery, Captain Elijah Taft, with six 20-pounder Parrotts, had 162 officers and men; and Reilly's (North Carolina) Battery, Captain James Reilly, with two Napoleons, two 3-inch rifles, and two 10-pounder Parrotts, had 157 officers and men.

Each limber chest carried 32 rounds of ammunition for a smoothbore gun and 50 rounds for a rifle. Each gun, therefore, had 128 smoothbore or 200 rifle rounds. Additional reserve ammunition was carried in each army's supply train. At Gettysburg, the Union Army of the Potomac was supplied with 2702 rounds per gun. The Confederate Army of Northern Virginia had far less ammunition available per gun, approximately 2003 rounds each. That works out to 100,440 rounds in the Union army and 56,200 in the Confederate army. The Union army fired 32,781 rounds during the fighting, while the Confederates fired about 22,000.

With a single exception, each of the sixty-seven Union batteries in the Army of the Potomac were uniformly armed. In other words, a battery had six Napoleons, or four 3-inch rifles, and so forth. The lone exception was Sterling's 2nd Connecticut Light Artillery. This battery had four James rifles and two 12-pounder howitzers. Supplying ammunition was much easier if each battery was equipped with the same type of gun.

This was not true in the Confederate army, uniformity was not the norm. Only twenty-seven of the seventy Southern batteries were equipped with the same type of gun. Getting the right kind of ammunition where it was needed, under the best of circumstances, was not easy. Finding different types of ammunition and feeding it to a battery with mixed armament was very difficult. For example, the Confederates had two types of Parrotts on the field: 2.9-inch and 3.0-inch. The seemingly minor difference in bore size was in fact substantial, as a young lieutenant in Jones' Battalion reported when he wrote: "The ammunition of the 3-inch (banded) gun, or Navy Parrott, is mixed up with the 2.9 inch 10-pounder Parrott in such a way as to cause great inconvenience. Two guns were rendered unserviceable after firing 12 rounds from the shell lodging in the bore."

Batteries were divided into sections of two guns each. Thus, a six-gun battery would have a right, center, and left section. A four-gun battery had a right and left section. One gun with its limbers and caisson was called a detachment.

Artillery Organization in the Armies

The opposing armies at Gettysburg organized their artillery quite differently. In order to fully understand how each army employed its artillery, it is important to understand these differences.

Army of the Potomac

The Union Army of the Potomac was given to Maj. Gen. George G. Meade on June 28, 1863, just a three days before the beginning of the fighting at Gettysburg. Meade replaced Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker when that officer asked to be relieved of command.

When Meade assumed the reins of power, the army consisted of eight corps. Seven of these corps were infantry and one was cavalry. Each infantry corps had a brigade of artillery operating with it. Each artillery brigade was typically composed of five batteries, but this number varied from brigade to brigade. (See Appendix 1 for the complete order of battle for both armies). The cavalry corps had two horse artillery brigades attached to it.

Meade's Army of the Potomac also had an artillery reserve of five brigades. Weeks earlier, following the disaster at Chancellorsville in early May, General Hooker authorized Henry Hunt, the army's chief of artillery, to reorganize the artillery. The farsighted artillery chief jumped at the opportunity. He created an ammunition train and attached it to the army's artillery reserve. As it stood, the army carried into battle about 250 rounds of ammunition for each field piece. Hunt's idea increased that number by 20 rounds. He accomplished this secretly. No one-not the quartermasters or even General Hooker-knew of Hunt's secret artillery reserve. Meade only learned of it later, when the army was engaged in battle in Pennsylvania...