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Five Days of Forage for Artillery Horses at Harpers Ferry
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[1st OHIO LIGHT ARTILLERY]. Partially Printed Document Signed by Frederick Dorries and Franklin C. Gibbs; approved and signed by Col. Edgar M. Gregory. Requisition for Forage. Harpers Ferry, Virginia, October 15, 1862. 1 p., 10 x 8 in.

Inventory #21264.09       Price: $75

Excerpt:

Requisition for Forage for Public Horses, & Mules in the service of L Company 1st Regiment of Lt Artly O. V  U. S. Army, for Five days, commencing the 15 of October, 1862, and ending on the 19th of October, 1862, at Harpers Ferry.

Historical Background

The feeding of horses for the Union army was an enormous task for quartermasters. In this document, the officers of Battery L of the 1st Ohio Light Artillery request feed for the 138 horses and 2 mules that pulled the battery’s six cannon and caissons. This battery and another from New York, together with eight regiments of Pennsylvania infantry comprised the 3rd Division, 5th Corps of the Army of the Potomac in September and October 1862. The battery’s 140 animals consumed 4,185 pounds of corn, 4,185 pounds of oats, 9,800 pounds of hay, and 65 grain sacks of fodder in five days in October 1862.

Over the course of the war, the Union military used more than 825,000 horses. Artillery horses were often exposed to enemy fire, and all horses and mules used by both sides were susceptible to disease. The prescribed daily food ration for an artillery horse was 14 pounds of hay and 12 pounds of grain, usually oats, corn, or barley. They also had to be watered daily, though at this time Battery L had an abundant supply of water in the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers that converged at Harpers Ferry.

Edgar M. Gregory (1804-1871) was born in Rensselaer County, New York, and was a prominent businessman in Philadelphia, who aided runaway slaves in escaping to Canada. He served as colonel of the 91st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. In October 1862, he commanded Brigadier General Erastus B. Tyler’s brigade on a reconnaissance to Leesburg, (West) Virginia, and commanded his regiment at the Battle of Fredericksburg, where he was wounded slightly. Wounded more severely at Chancellorsville in May 1863, he went home to Philadelphia for treatment. Returning to his regiment in September, he later rose to command a brigade in the V Corps. Brevetted to brigadier general and later to major general for gallantry in service, he was discharged at the end of the war. He served as an assistant commissioner with the Freedman’s Bureau in Texas, but faced strong opposition from former slaveholders.

Frank C. Gibbs (1834-1888) enlisted as a 1st lieutenant in Battery L of the 1st Ohio Light Artillery, on October 31, 1861. He was promoted to captain on November 12, 1862. At the Battle of Gettysburg, Gibbs commanded 121 men serving six 12-pounder Napoleon cannon, and the battery lost two wounded. On July 2 and 3, Battery L served on the north slope of Little Round Top and helped prevent the turning of the Union left flank. He was wounded in the Battle of Cedar Creek in October 1864, and mustered out with the battery on July 4, 1865.

Frederick Dorries (1828-1863) enlisted as a 1st lieutenant in Battery L of the 1st Ohio Light Artillery on October 31, 1861. He commanded the battery at the Battle of Fredericksburg. He was killed on May 3, 1863, at the Battle of Chancellorsville.

Excerpt from Captain Frank C. Gibbs’ Official Report on Gettysburg:

“About the middle of the afternoon an orderly came rapidly up, asking our battery to come to the assistance of the Fifth Corps. I started on the trot, and reported to General Sykes, who ordered the battery to cover the valley. The rocky nature of the ground compelled us to unhitch our horses and place our guns in position by hand; the left section, in charge of Lieut. H. F. Guthrie, on the left of a road leading from the valley, and on the right slope of Little Round Top (Weed’s Hill); the center and right sections, in charge of Lieuts. James Gildea and William Walworth, on the right of said road. We had hardly placed our guns in position when the Fifth Corps was forced back by a terrific charge of Longstreet’s corps, and came rushing through us, but began rallying on us as soon as they understood matters. Our front was hardly clear when the irregular, yelling line of the enemy put in his appearance, and we received him with double charges of canister, which were used so effectively as to compel him to retire. So rapidly were the guns worked that they became too hot to lay the hand on. But for the position of the battery, and the gallantry with which it was handled by the men, I have no doubt the enemy would have accomplished his purpose of breaking our lines at this point, and possibly changed the fortunes of the day.”


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