Examples of Items Contained Within the Battery and Forge Wagons Lost at Monterey Pass

We hear about it during the historical interpretive talks, as well as tours of the Monterey Pass Battlefield. We read about it in all publications, and we try to comprehend what they looked like and what they carried. What I am referring to, of course, is the wagon train of Confederate General Richard Ewell. These wagons contained not only the quartermaster inventory, or ordnance for the artillery and small arms, but it also contained the bounty collected from many of Pennsylvania’s small towns.

One thing that has always interested me was the fact that among these wagons were the portable forge wagons, as well as the battery wagons that kept the artillery in the field supplied, and kept them in good working condition. When reading over the loses reported by several artillery commands at Monterey Pass, they state in many cases that items such as kitchen supplies, kettles, extra clothing, knapsacks, canvas flies for the bivouac, and other personal effects were among the items stored in the wagons. Many of them were destroyed by the wagons coming under attack and then set on fire.

There are two vehicles in particular that stand out when reading over these first hand accounts. They are the battery forges and battery wagons, two very important vehicles. These two vehicles contained much of the material culture that we see today. These tools were packed neatly into the vehicles and even on the caissons. There were certain areas where the tools were attached or hung for easy access and specific purposes; Every item has a specific purpose and specific storage space based on its designated purpose.

The forge, as the name suggests, is a portable forge (blacksmith) used for repairs. One forge along with one battery wagon will accompany each battery. All others will accompany the main wagon train containing ordnance, or what is known as the “field park.” Each wagon has a letter designation, or at least they do in the Union army, that separates their command from the field park or field battery. Let’s break down what these two vehicles carried and how they were organized.

The traveling forge was attached to the limber and a total of four to six horses were used to pull the complete vehicle and its contents. There were a total of five boxes for tools and supplies, another box called a shoeing box, and one can of oil. Each box contained certain items and was organized by a number.

Two boxes or boxes #1 & 3 were designated to hold 100 horseshoes and weighed about 100 pounds each.

Another box or box #2 was used to store washers, nuts, nails, tire bolts, keys for ammunition chests, linchpins, linchwashers, chains, and s-links. This box weighed just over 91 pounds.

The next box or box #4 contained hand chisels, hardie, files, buttress, round and squared hand punches. It also contained a screw wrench, screwdriver, hand vice, calipers, taps & dies, wood screws, and a quart can of sperm oil, which together weighed about 28.5 pounds.

The contents of box #5 contained a fire shovel, poker, split-broom, hand hammer, riveting hammer, nailing hammer, sledge hammer, chisels for hot and cold iron, tongs, fuller, nail-claw, round punch, fore punch, creaser, tap wrench, die-stock, nave, and tire bands. This box with all of the contents weighed about 80 pounds.

The shoeing box contained the shoeing hammer, pincers, rasps, shoeing knife, toe knife, pritchel, nail punch, clinching iron, oil-stone, leather aprons, and weighed about 12.75 pounds.

The boxes are divided out by number and are stored in a certain way in what is called the limber chest. The boxes in the limber chest are to be stacked with boxes # 1, 2 and 3 at the bottom of the chest itself with box #1 against the left hand side and box #2 in the middle. Box #4 is to be placed on top of boxes #1 & 2, against the left end and back of the chest. Box #5 is to be placed in the front end of the chest on top of boxes #1, 2 & 3. The shoeing box is to be placed on box #3 on the right hand side and toward the back. This distributes the weight evenly and all boxes are to be packed with tow.

Additional tools and supplies were attached or stored in the forge itself such as the iron square, padlock, tar-bucket, and boxes and tow for packing. This added another 68 pounds, for a combined weight of about 480 pounds of material, supplies, and tools.

The forge body contained one additional box which was not covered in the above break down. Box #6, which was stored in the iron room, contained an additional 100 horseshoes. Other additional tools that were stored or hung in or on the actual forge portion of the vehicle were the water bucket, anvil, vice, coal, coal shovel, padlock, several stocks of flat, squared, round, cast steel and English blister steel, and one box and tow used for packing.

The Battery wagon was another vehicle that was attached to a limber and was also pulled by four to six horses. This wagon has numerous tools and items used by the soldiers and cannoneers of the battery. Four boxes occupied the limber chest of the battery wagon. Just like the forge limber chest, these boxes were arranged in order and by a number. The storage of these boxes in the limber chest is as follows: boxes #1 & 2 are placed at the bottom of the chest with box #1 located against the left end, boxes #3 & 4 are placed on top with box #3 against the rear of the chest. Each box contained a variety of tools. Fastened inside the chest cover were two handsaws and one tenon-saw.

Box #1 contained a jackplane, smoothing-plane, brace complete with twenty-four bits, gauge, spokeshave, plane irons, saw-set, two feet of rule, gimlets, compasses, chalk-line, brad awls, scriber, saw files, wood files, wood rasp, trying-square, and hand screwdriver. This box weighed just over 17 pounds.

Box #2 contained the oilstone, broad-axe, hand-axe, claw-hatchet, claw hammer, pincers, table vice, framing chisels, firmer chisels, framing gouges, augers and handles and a screw wrench. This box weighed just over 32 pounds.

Box #3 contained the felling axe, adze, frame saw; quart can of sperm oil, mallet and clam. This box weighed just over 23 pounds.

Box #4 contained most of the saddler’s tools and stores including hammer, shoe knife, half-rounded knife, shears, sandstone, rule, needles, awls and handles, punches, pincers, pliers, claw tool, creaser, thimbles, strap awl, beeswax, black wax, bristles, shoe thread, patent thread, assorted buckles, tacks, gunner’s calibers, shoe knives, and scissors. This box weighed over 20.5 pounds. Aside from the contents of the boxes, these items were placed on the hook padlock, tar bucket, boxes, and tow for packing.

The battery wagon itself, housed five additional boxes as well as other equipment. The boxes numbered from five to eight and included another box just for candles. They were, again, organized into the wagon accordingly by number. Box #5 is placed on the bottom of the wagon next to the pile of harnesses, which occupies the rear of the body. Box #6 is placed on top of Box #5, and Box #7 is placed on the bottom of the wagon in front of Box #5. Box #8 is placed on top of Box #7. The candle box is contained within Box #6.

The contents of Box #5 were Linseed oil, turpentine, olive paint, and black paint. This box weighed almost 80.5 pounds.

Box #6 held spare rammer heads, sponge heads, sponges, priming wires, gunner’s gimlets, lanyards, cannon spikes, dark lanterns and common lanterns. This box weighed almost 29 pounds. Box #6 also contained the candle box which held candles.

Weighing in at almost 93 pounds was Box #7. This is where two cans of Neat’s foot oil was kept, in addition to two kegs of grease.

Box #8 contained various nails and weighed roughly 20 pounds.

The other tools were attached, hung or stacked neatly in the battery wagon. These tools included felling axes, claw hatchet, handbills, caisson stock, fellies, grindstone, arbor and crank, screw jacks, wheel traces, leading traces, collars, whips, bridles, girths, halters, halter chains, hame straps, nosebags, sash cord, slow-match, elevating screw, pole yoke, harness leather, bridle leather, prolonge, scythes, scythe-stones, spades, pickaxes, corn sacks, tarpaulins, reaping hooks, scythe-snaths, spare stock for battery wagon, padlock, water bucket, forage, boxes and tow. This brings the total poundage for the battery wagon’s equipment up to 1,289 pounds.

Additional items such as spare carriage stocks, splinter bars, axle-trees and ect… are part of another battery wagon.

So you can see how important these wagons and forges were in order to keep the battery in good working condition. Although the items listed above are taken from the 1864, Instruction for Field Artillery by Union Board of Army Officers, many of these items were lost during the Battle of Monterey Pass. Many of these items would not be replaced until the Confederate army had made its way into Virginia when the battery commanders sent in requisitions to the CS Quartermaster Department.

LOC – Photo of blacksmiths working
1864 Field Artillery Tactics, The by U.S. War Department