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Hornet's Nest Artillery?

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Greetings all

I don't normally present ideas half-baked, but this once I will make an exception: Artillery in the Hornet's Nest (probably more accurately termed as "artillery in support of the WHL Wallace -- Prentiss -- Hurlbut Line.") As I was researching information for a post on Ross' Battery, I kept running across references to "Cavender's Battalion" and inferences to Nash's 20-pounders and guns operated by the surgeon, Florence Cornyn... 

From what I can determine, artillery seems to have been shared by the three division commanders along the WPH Line. First of all, Benjamin Prentiss managed to bring Munch and Hickenlooper with him "to the hill in back of his camp" [four guns each]. Hickenlooper's 5th Ohio Battery seems to have been placed in front of the center of Prentiss' new line; but Munch was divided in two, with one section (Pfaender) sent west to operate in direct support of WHL Wallace (between 12th Iowa and 14th Iowa) and the other section (Peebles, operating 12-pounder Howitzers) went east, and appears to have been placed on the boundary between Prentiss and Lauman (3rd Brigade of Hurlbut's Division.) 

Stephen Hurlbut brought his own artillery south, and placed Mann's Battery at the apex of his initial L-shaped array (Lauman in line to the right and Williams/Pugh to the left), with Ross' Battery to Mann's left, and Myer's 13th Ohio (briefly) to Mann's right. 

Now, things become confusing: BGen WHL Wallace appears to have used Colonel James McPherson to place several artillery pieces, assigned to the 2nd Division, back of his infantry line, on local rises in the terrain (called prominences), and fired over top of his infantrymen. And Wallace also sent McArthur's Brigade to the east of Hurlbut (along with artillery belonging to Willard, operated by Peter P. Wood, which may have briefly supported Stuart, then disappeared... only to re-appear near McArthur.) Powell's five guns (2nd Illinois Light Artillery, Battery F) is an interesting story in its own right, (to be covered later.)  Which brings us to the batteries of Stone, Welker and Richardson: all affiliated with the 1st Missouri Regiment of Light Artillery, and apparently under command of Major John S. Cavender (who seems to have acted as a "clearing house" for requests for employment of those guns.)

Because WHL Wallace was mortally wounded, and Benjamin Prentiss was carted off to confinement as POW, we only have the reports of Henry Richardson (Battery D), Frederick Welker (Battery H) and BGen Hurlbut to explain how that "clearing house" operated. First off, Captain Richardson [OR 10 page 167] reports that "on the morning of April 6th he was ordered forward by Major Cavender, first to the center of the line, and then to our right, and with the remainder of the battalion engaged the enemy and assisted in repulsing his left wing."  A little later: "I ordered Nash and Cutler with my second section to the left and forward..." (Lieutenant Fish operated the first section of Richardson's guns.) After six hours of service, Richardson's four 20-pounder Parrott Rifles were successfully withdrawn to Grant's Last Line, and positioned just west of the 24-pounder Siege Guns.,

Captain Welker [OR 10 page 168] "At 9am I received orders from Major Cavender to move my battery left and center of our line of battle. On my arrival at that place, my battery was placed in position and held in reserve until about 12 noon, when I received orders from Major Cavender to take one section of my battery to the left of the position I then held: this was in an open field, of which the enemy held the opposite side... [After a tremendous exchange with the opposing battery] I retired with my battery, when we were again placed in position by Colonel McPherson about 900 yards in rear of our former position. This place we held in spite of all attempts by the enemy to drive us from it. Every time he made his appearance before us we would drive him back, until finally our lines on both sides of my battery gave way. I then received orders from General Hurlbut to take my battery to the rear." -- "After leaving these positions, I retired to a ridge where Major Cavender was establishing a line of artillery [Grant's Last Line]. We took the extreme right of this line..." [See map http://civilwarlandscapes.org/cwla/states/tn/sh/tm_time/day1/d1_1730.htm  Grant's Last Line] and DW Reed's map http://archive.org/stream/battleofshilohor00unit#page/n133/mode/2up  (attributed to Atwell Thompson).

BGen Hurlbut [OR 10 page 203-8] After acknowledging the valuable service performed by Ross and Mann, Hurlbut states:  "About 3pm I rapidly moved General Lauman from the right to the left, and called up two 20-pounder pieces of Major Cavender's Battalion, to check the advance of the enemy on the 1st Brigade. These pieces were taken into action by Dr. Cornyn, the surgeon of the battalion, and Lieutenant Edwards [of Welker's Battery H] and effectually checked the enemy for half an hour, giving me time to draw off my crippled artillery [Ross] and to form a new front with the 3rd Brigade. In a few minutes two Texas regiments crossed the ridge separating my line from Stuart's former one, while other troops also advanced. Willard's Battery was thrown into position, under command of Lieutenant Wood, and opened fire with great effect..." [Hurlbut was eventually forced to withdraw his division] and states: "I had hoped to make a stand on the line of my camp, but masses of the enemy were pressing rapidly on each flank, while their light artillery was closing rapidly in the rear. On reaching the Siege Guns [Major General Grant ordered that] I took charge of all the troops that came up [from the south]. Broken regiments and disordered battalions came into line gradually upon my division. Major Cavender posted six of his 20-pounder pieces on my right, and I sent my aid to establish the light artillery, all that could be found, on my left... In a short time, the enemy appeared on the crest of the ridge [to the south] and Dr. Cornyn again took charge of a heavy gun -- this time one of the 24-pounder Siege guns -- and the heavy fire [from the assembled artillery] cut the enemy to pieces."

Anyway, I offer this post as an attempt to acknowledge all of the artillery organizations that operated in support of the WHL Wallace -- Prentiss -- Hurlbut Line on April 6th; and make effort to introduce the operation of Major John S. Cavender as overseer of the three Missouri Light Artillery batteries in action in support of what became known as the Hornet's Nest and Sunken Road. [I still am uncertain who Major Cavender was attached to; or whether he functioned as an independent command.]


References:  as sited above

http://shsmo.org/research/guides/civilwar/index.html   State Historical Society of Missouri (info IRT Major Cavender and Dr. Cornyn)




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Powell's Battery

2nd Illinois Light Artillery, Battery F

It is rumored that Captain John Powell was confused IRT which Division he was assigned on the morning of April 6th. Hearing the unmistakable sounds of battle, and tired of waiting impatiently at his camp near Pittsburg Landing for orders that never came, Powell took the initiative and led his battery away west, then southwest down the East Corinth Road, and arrived to support Hare's Brigade (of McClernand's Division) as that Brigade began to crumble and fall back. Startled by the apparent retreat, and alarmed at the sight of grey and butternut uniforms materializing in every direction, Captain Powell expedited his 180-degree direction change a bit too quickly, and damaged the limber of one of his six guns (forcing him to abandon that gun.) As Powell retreated towards Pittsburg Landing, he encountered the 2nd Division, in process of settling into position along the Sunken Road; and spied the commander of that division engaged in the positioning of artillery pieces. Captain Powell offered the services of his five 6-pounder smoothbores to BGen WHL Wallace, and Battery F was in place before 10am well back of the line of infantry, between Richardson's Battery D and Stone's Battery K. [http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/shiloh/maps/battle-of-shiloh-map-april.html  and http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/shiloh/maps/shilohmap.html?referrer=http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/shiloh/maps/battle-of-shiloh-map-april.html  compare the two maps from Civil War Trust in vicinity of Stone's Battery K]

As fate would have it, Battery F wound up positioned almost exactly where it was supposed to be (according to General Orders No.33 of April 2nd, Powell's Battery was assigned to the 6th Division... now just a stone's throw away.) But John Wesley Powell had a knack for being in the right place, at the right time...

While serving as a Lieutenant with his original regiment -- the 20th Illinois Infantry -- he had accompanied that unit to Cape Girardeau, Missouri; and in September 1861 it was decided to better defend that Mississippi River port by encircling it behind a series of forts. The university-trained John Powell came to the attention of the Commander of the Post of Cape Girardeau -- Colonel Joseph Plummer -- and together, they pressed ahead with the ambitious project. A week after the work commenced, an inspector stopped at Cape Girardeau, and was most impressed by what he saw: in his report he indicated that, "Colonel Plummer had accomplished in less than a week what a less-capable man would have required two months to achieve." [OR 3 page 528]  The inspector shared that observation with a busy Lieutenant Powell, and added:  "At the rate you're going, you'll complete the work before I have a chance to acquire gun crews to man the Siege guns."

Powell replied: "Give me the authority to recruit men from Cape Girardeau, and I'll have those Siege guns manned in two days."

The inspector -- BGen Grant -- was so impressed by the lieutenant's bold claim, that he did give him that authority; and on the 11th of December the 2nd Illinois Light Artillery, Battery F was mustered in at the completed fortification. And for the subsequent three months, Fort A and Fort B were defended by that battery. But with the victory at Fort Donelson, and the comprehensive build-up of forces in vicinity of Savannah, Tennessee, it wasn't long before Battery F came to the attention of Henry Halleck: Cape Girardeau was no longer in significant danger, and Powell's force could be better used elsewhere. Battery F was sent to Cairo and equipped with 6-pounder smoothbores; and departed for Pittsburg Landing in late March 1862.

On the morning of April 6th, Powell's Battery was camped at the top of the bluff overlooking Pittsburg Landing, not far from the deep ravine of Dill Branch. Before 10am, Battery F joined WHL Wallace's artillery in defense of the Sunken Road (and appears to have provided useful service) until late afternoon, when the ends of the Federal infantry line began to bend northward. And suddenly, Cavender's Battalion of Artillery (Richardson, Stone and Welker) were sent away to the rear (where they added significant heft to Grant's Last Line.) Powell covered their withdrawal and attempted to keep the Confederate attackers at bay... and eventually (just after 4pm) received his own orders to withdraw. But almost simultaneously, Captain John Powell took a gunshot to the right wrist... the Battery was successfully withdrawn, and added to Grant's Last Line (between Silfversparre and last-to-arrive Munch). And Captain Powell was taken away to Hospital to have most of his right arm amputated.



References:  as sited above, and:

SDG topic "Major John Wesley Powell" (begun by WI16thJim on July 10, 2009) and accompanying posts

SDG topic "Account Battle of Shiloh" (attributed to Colonel Will De Hass; and begun by Idaho Native on August 5, 2008)

http://archive.org/stream/ohioatshilohrepo00lcohio#page/142/mode/2up  Ohio at Shiloh: Commission Report (see page 143)

http://archive.org/stream/battleofshilohor00unit#page/n133/mode/2up  Shiloh map in DW Reed, attributed to Atwell Thompson


N.B.  One of the forts constructed by Lieutenant John Powell at Cape Girardeau is still in existence (restored in the 1930s): Fort D  http://www.legendsofamerica.com/mo-capegirardeaufortsbattle.html   Scroll down to Fort D


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