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The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies

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OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 2, Part 1 (First Manassas Campaign)
Page 100 OPERATIONS IN MD., PA, VA., AND W. VA. Chapter IX.

others. The injury done to our artillery was from the fire of musketry on our left flank, the ground on that side between us and the enemy sinking down so as to expose us over the top of the breastwork erected by the North Carolina regiment.

After some intermission of the assault in front, a heavy column, apparently and pressed forward towards the bridge, carrying the U. S. flag near the head of the column. As the road had been clear for some time, and our flanks and rear had been threatened, the howitzer in the main battalion had been sent to the rear, and our fire did not at first check them, I hurried a howitzer forward from the rear, loaded it with canister, and prepared to sweep the approach to the bridge, but the fire of the Parrott gun again drove them back. The howitzer brought front he Half-way House by Lieutenant Moseley arriving most opportunely, I carried it to the battery on the right to replace the disabled piece. On getting there I learned from the infantry that a small house in front was occupied by sharpshooters, and saw the body of a Carolinian lying thirty yards in front of the battery, who had been killed in a most gallant attempt to burn the house.

I opened upon the house with shell for the purpose of burning it, and the battery of the enemy in the Hampton road, being on the line with it, and supposing probably that the fire was at them, immediately returned it with solid shot. This disclosed their position and enabled me to fire at the house and at their battery at the same time . After an exchange of five or six shots a shell entered a window of the house, increased the fire already kindled until it soon broke out into a light blaze, and, as I have reason to believe disabled one of the enemy's pieces. This was the last shot fired. They soon afterward retreated, and we saw no more of them.

The action disclosed some serious defects in our ammunition and equipment for which I earnestly recommend an immediate remedy. The shell of the parrot gun have a gibed wooden guise which cannot by extricated, the shortest being cut for four seconds. the consequence was that the shells burst far in the rear for the enemy and severed merely as solid shot. Had they been plugged and uncut fuses furnished, I think that our fire would have been much more effective. The power and precision of the piece, demonstrated by the thirty rounds fired from it, render it very desirable that all of its advantages should be made available. I therefore respectfully suggest that the shell be hereafter furnished plugged and the fuses left uncut.

It is reported to me that the Borman, furies used by one of the howitzers were defective, the shells cut for five seconds exploding as soon as those cut for two.

The caissons of the Navy howitzers were made by placing ammunition chests upon the running gear of common wagons, and the play of the front axles is so limited that the caisson cannot be turned in the ordinary roads of this part of the country, and wherever the road is ditched or the woods impassable it cannot be reversed. There is also great danger of breaking the poles in turning the caissons quickly as was shown in the action of the 10th instant. I am aware that the expedient of using wagon bodies was resorted to in order to save time, but as it might lead to great disaster, I recommend that their places be supplied as speedily as possible with those made in the usual way.

The small size of the limber of the howitzers (Navy) renders it impossible to mount the men, and the pieces cannot move faster than the cannoneers can walk. In a recent skirmish with the enemy, in which we


Page 100 OPERATIONS IN MD., PA, VA., AND W. VA. Chapter IX.
OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 2, Part 1 (First Manassas Campaign)
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