Civil War Artillery: Some Union Guys

We’ve been talking about Civil War artillery with generalized facts and processes. I approach history wanting to talk about real people, so let’s spend this blog post focusing on some Union artillery commanders. Now, full disclaimer – I’ve picked three of my favorites and three that I’ve spent some time researching. (I’m well aware that they are all eastern theater officers and perhaps we’ll circle back to the subject when I’ve had a chance to read about western theater artillerymen.)

Today, we’ll be talking about Union artillery officers Justin E. Dimick, Alonzo Cushing, and Henry DuPont…

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Civil War Artillery: Load & Fire A Cannon

So…what were the steps for loading and firing a Civil War cannon on the battlefield? In this blog post, we’ll explore the basic steps for that process, but keep in mind that “protocol” and rules were sometimes changed by necessity, especially if a gun crew lost men in battle.

The process for loading and firing would have been usually done on orders and under the direct supervision of the battery’s captain. Unless told otherwise, the crew would have fired the cannon on his command. This is a quick overview of the process.

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Artillery – A Few Notes

Artillery! The big guns of the forts and battlefields. For the last year, I’ve been studying Civil War artillery with a focus on tactics and artillery officers. It’s been fascinating and the project has led me into large archives and to remote, unprotected battlefields.

In the next couple weeks, I’m looking forward to sharing some historical notes, and today I thought we’d start with some “general rules” about Civil War artillery and a few helpful tips for looking at gun lines on battlefields. Let’s get started…

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1863: “Resist Such A Bombardment”

James Island

Sunday September 6th, 1863

It is Sabbath morning, my dear mother, but it is a very difficult matter to realize the fact. All day yesterday, all last night and all day up to this hour, Battery Wagner has been subjected to a most terrific bombardment. Over one hundred were killed and wounded within its walls yesterday. No human being could have lived for one moment upon its walls or upon its parade. Against it were hurled the combined projectiles fired from the ironsides and the various mortar and Parrott batteries of the enemy located at different points on Morris Island. As their shells in numbers would explode in the parapet and within the fort, Wagner would seem converted into a volcano. Never was any battery called upon to resist such a bombardment, and I fear that it i now held more as a matter of military pride than anything else. It is very questionable whether this should be done. Continue reading

5 Things You Should Know About Monmouth, 1778

Lest readers should get the idea that battles during the American War for Independence were often patriot victories, we’ve chosen an indecisive battle for today. The Battle of Monmouth Court House took place in June 1778, marking a change in British strategy. The battle itself unfolded with plenty of drama and even gifted the treasury of American tales with the story of a brave woman.

Whether you’ve heard of the battle before or not, here are the top five things we think you should know about Monmouth: Continue reading