Today in History:

84 Series I Volume XLVI-II Serial 96 - Appomattox Campaign Part II

Page 84 N. AND SE. VA., N.C., W. VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter LVIII.

To furnish the armaments of these fixed positions from the field batteries great and unnecessary expense, and hence the necessity for foot artillery available for such duties. The construction and repair of batteries, platforms, magazines, &c., is the proper work of the artillery, requires special instruction to prepare the material and perform it well and expeditiously, and in the organization of a large army all these things should be provided for, even if the probability of such services is not foreseen for at any time the necessity may present itself, and the consequent change and dislocation of organized commands to meet the emergency occasions evils and waste of men greater than those the original organizations were meant to avoid.

A siege train, or at least the nucleus of one, is an almost indispensable part of the organization when operating in an enemy's country. The train would not usually accompany the army, although I believe that eight or twelve siege guns moving with it would always be of great value. The 20-pounder Parrotts are too heavy for field guns and too light for heavy work. The material of a siege train and a small force of well instructed men should always be held ready. The value of Abbott's train to this army has been incalculable. When the train is brought up for service, the artillery teams and wagon transportation required, and the additional troops, can often be supplied for the special siege labors from a well organized artillery reserve. At Yorktown the reserve was kept, men and horses, hard at work on the labors of siege and furnished besides a number of its officers for engineer duties proper. No command worked harder or was more usefully employed.

In all armies excepting ours, and formerly in our army also, all ordnance duties pertain to the artillery the officers not immediately on duty with the troops constituting a part of the "general staff" of the army. The reasons for this are obvious: artillery and ordnance duties are intimately connected with each other and are coextensive with he army. It is impracticable for any special ordnance department to furnish sufficient officers or men to perform the ordnance duties of an army, and they must be furnished by details from other branches of the service. The artillery can best provide for these details at the smallest expense of men and material, as from the nature of its duties it must have an organization of similar character throughout the army for its own special purposes. The artillery of modern armies is therefore so organized in men and material as to suffice for the ordnance duties, and the general commanding the artillery furnishes from his command the special guards, officers, &c., required and becomes responsible for all the duties. We have now two organizations with distinct heads reporting to the general commanding the army. An officer of the ordnance department on the staff of the chief of artillery, and a comparatively small increase of the artillery staff, would provide for all ordnance duties at a great reduction of expense and transportation and to the manifest simplification of the duties of a commanding general. By law the ranking artillery officers of divisions and corps are ex officio, in addition to their other duties, "chiefs of artillery and ordnance." It is therefore apparently the intention of Congress that the duties should be united in the field. This cannot be well don unless the chief of artillery, of the army is also chief of ordnance. The commanders of artillery brigades cannot be expected to report to or receive orders from lieutenants or captains of ordnance, and the positive law of Congress has not, except in rare instances, been executed.

I have now sketched in general terms the nature of the duties of artillery of modern armies when serving in campaign.

Page 84 N. AND SE. VA., N.C., W. VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter LVIII.