Doc. 105.-General Barry's report of the organization of the artillery of the army of the Potomac, with some account of its operations, from July 25th, 1861, to August 29th, 1862.
Major-General McClellan, I have the honor to give some account of the history, organization, and operations of the Artillery of the Army of the Potomac from July, 1861, to September, 1862, the period during which I was its chief. When Major-General McClellan was appointed to the command of the “Division of the Potomac,” July twenty-fifth, 1862, a few days after the first battle of Bull Run, the whole field-artillery of his command consisted of no more than parts of nine batteries, or thirty pieces of various, and, in some instances, unusual and unserviceable calibres. Most of these batteries were also of mixed calibres. My calculations were based upon the expected immediate expansion of the Division of the Potomac into “the Army of the Potomac,” to consist of at least one hundred thousand infantry. Considerations involving the peculiar character and extent of the force to be employed; the probable field and character of operations; the utmost efficiency of the arm, and the limits imposed by the as yet undeveloped resources of the nation, led to the following general propositions offered by me to Major-General McClellan, and which received his full approval: First. That the proportion of artillery should be in the ratio of at least two and a half pieces to one thousand men; to be expanded, if possible, to three pieces to one thousand men. Second. That the proportion of rifle-guns should be one third, and of smooth-bores, two thirds. That the rifle-guns should be restricted to the systems of the United States Ordnance Department; and of Parrott and the smooth-bores, (with the exception of á few howitzers for special service,) to be exclusively the twelve-pound gun of the model of 1857, variously called “the gun-howitzer,” the “light twelve-pounder,” or the “Napoleon.” Third. That each field-battery should, if practicable, be composed of six guns, and none to be less than four guns, and in all cases the guns of each battery should be of uniform calibre. Fourth. That the field-batteries were to be assigned to divisions, and not to brigades, and in the proportion of four to each division, of which one was to be a battery of regulars, the remainder of volunteers. The captain of the regular battery to be the commandant of artillery of the division. In the event of several divisions constituting an army corps, at least one half of the divisional artillery was to constitute the reserve artillery of the corps. Fifth. That the artillery reserve of the whole army should consist of one hundred guns, and should comprise, besides a sufficient number of light “mounted batteries,” all the guns of position, and, until the cavalry was massed, all the horse artillery. Sixth. That the amount of ammunition to accompany the field-batteries was not to be less than four hundred rounds per gun. Seventh. A siege-train of fifty pieces. This was subsequently expanded for special service at the siege of Yorktown to very nearly one hundred pieces, and comprised the unusual calibres, and enormously heavy weight of metal, of two two hundred-pounders, five one hundred-pounders, and ten thirteen-inch sea-coast mortars. Eighth. That instruction in the theory and practice of gunnery, as well as in the tactics of the arm, was to be given to the officers, and noncommissioned officers of the volunteer batteries, by the study of suitable text-books, and by actual recitations in each division, under the direction of the regular officer commanding the divisional artillery. Ninth. That personal inspections, as frequent as the nature of circumstances would permit, should be made by me to be assured of the strict observance of the established organization and drill, and of the special regulations and orders from time to time issued under the authority of the Commanding General, and to note the progressive improvement of the officers and enlisted men of the volunteer batteries, and the actual fitness for field service of the whole, both regular and volunteer. A variety of unexpected circumstances conspired to compel, in some degree, trifling modifications of these general propositions; but in the main they scrupulously formed the basis of the organization of the artillery of the army of the Potomac. The sudden and extensive expansion of the artillery arm of the nation, taxed far beyond their capacities the various arsenals, and the private  foundries which had hitherto exclusively supplied to the United States the requisite ordnance material. The Ordnance Department promptly met my requisitions, by enlarging as far as possible the operations of the arsenals of supply and construction, and by the extensive employment of private contractors. The use of contract work, while it gave increased facility in meeting promptly the suddenly increased demand, was the unavoidable cause of introducing into the service much inferior ordnance material. The gun-carriages were particularly open to this objection, and their bad construction was in more than one instance the unfortunate occasion of the loss of field-guns. It affords me great satisfaction to state that the Ordnance Department in the main kept the supply constantly up to the demand, and by the cheerful and ready attention to complaints, and the prompt creation of the requisite means enabled me to withdraw inferior material, and substitute such as was found to be more reliable. To Lieutenant-Colonel Ramsay, in command of Washington Arsenal, to Lieutenant Bradford, his assistant, and to Captain Benton, in the office of the Chief of Ordnance, these remarks in particular apply. To their promptness, industry and active general cooperation am I indebted in a great degree for the means which enabled me to organize such an immense artillery force in so short a time. As has been before stated, the whole of the field-artillery of the “Division of the Potomac,” July twenty-fifth, 1861, was comprised in nine imperfectly equipped batteries of thirty guns, six hundred and fifty men, and four hundred horses. In March, 1862, when the whole army took the field, it consisted of ninety-two batteries, of five hundred and twenty guns, twelve thousand five hundred men, and eleven thousand horses; fully equipped and in readiness for active field service. Of the whole force, thirty batteries were regulars, and sixty-two batteries volunteers. During this short period of seven months nearly all this immense amount of material was issued to me, and placed in the hands of the artillery troops after their arrival in Washington. About one quarter of all the volunteer batteries brought with them from their respective States a few guns and carriages; but they were nearly all of such peculiar calibre as to lack uniformity with the more modern and more serviceable ordnance, with which I was arming the other batteries, and they had therefore to be withdrawn, and replaced by more suitable material. While about one sixth came supplied with horses and harness, less than one tenth were apparently fully equipped for service when they reported to me, and every one of these latter required the supply of many deficiencies of material, and all of them very extensive instructions in the theory And practice of their special arm. When the army of the Potomac on the first of April, 1862, embarked for Fort Monroe and the Virginia Peninsula, the field-artillery which had been organized under my direction, was disposed as follows:
The operations on the Peninsula by the army of the Potomac commenced, therefore, with a field-artillery force of fifty-two batteries of two hundred and ninety-nine guns.
To this must be added the field-artillery of Franklin's division of McDowell's corps, (four batteries of twenty-two guns,) which joined a few days before the capture of Yorktown, but was not disembarked from its transports for service until after the battle of Williamsburgh; and the field-artillery of McCall's division of McDowell's corps, (four batteries of twenty-two guns,) which joined in June--a few days before the battle of Mechanicsville, (June twenty-sixth, 1862;) making a grand total of field-artillery, at any time with the army of the Potomac, on the Peninsula, of sixty batteries of three hundred and forty-three guns.
With this large force serving in six corps d'armee of eleven divisions, and the artillery reserve, the only general and field-officers were: One brigadier-general, four colonels, three lieutenant-colonels, and three majors — a number obviously insufficient, and which impaired to a great degree the efficiency of the arm, in consequence of the want of rank and official influence of the commanders of corps and divisional artillery.
As this faulty organization can only be suitably corrected by legislative action, it is earnestly hoped that the attention of the proper authorities may be at an early day invited to it. Where there were so many newly organized volunteer field-batteries, many of whom received their first and only instruction in the intrenched camps covering Washington during the three or four inclement months of the winter of 1861-2, there was of course much to be improved.
Many of the volunteer batteries, however, evinced such zeal and intelligence, and availed themselves so industriously of the instructions of the regular officer, their commander, and of the example of the regular battery, their associates, that they made rapid progress, and finally attained a degree of proficiency highly creditable.
Special detailed reports have been made and transmitted by me of the general artillery operations at the siege of Yorktown, and, by their immediate commanders, of the services of the field-batteries at the battles of Williamsburgh, Hanover Court-House, and those severely contested ones comprised in the operations in front of Richmond.
To these several reports I respectfully refer the Commanding General for details of services as creditable to the artillery of the United States as they are honorable to the gallant officers and patient enlisted men who, brave and (with but few exceptions,) struggling through difficulties, overcoming obstacles, and bearing themselves nobly on the field of battle, stood faithfully to their guns, performing their various duties with a steadiness, a devotion, and a gallantry worthy of the highest commendation.
For the artillery of the army of the Potomac, it is but simple justice to claim that in contributing its aid to the other two arms, as far as lay in its power, it did its whole duty faithfully and intelligently, and that on more than one occasion (the battle of Malvern particularly) it confessedly saved the army from serious disaster.
I am, General, very respectfully,
Your obedient servant,
|Detached for service in Dept. of South-Carolina,||2||12|
|Detached for service in Dept. of North-Carolina,||1||6|
|Detached for service in Department of the Gulf,||1||6|
|Detached for service in Command of Major-Gen. Dix, (Baltimore,)||8||20|
|Detached for service in Mountain Department, (Div. Blenker,)||3||18|
|First Corps, (Major-Gen. McDowell,)||12||68|
|Fifth Corps, (Major-Gen. Banks,)||12||59|
|Defences of Washington, (Brig.-Gen. Wadsworth,)||7||32|
|Embarked (March 15th to April 1st) for the Peninsula,||52||299|
William F. Barry, Army of the Potomac, Brigadier-General, late Chief of Artillery.