Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Confederate Artillery Organizations

F. Ray Sibley's Confederate Artillery Organizations: An Alphabetical Listing of the Officers and Batteries of the Confederacy, 1861-1865 has the unusual distinction of arriving months early at warehouse, before I could even get to the preview. Originally part of Savas Beatie's 2015 lineup, the book isn't even on the publisher's website yet, though it should be in coming weeks. Whether early publication means early distribution, I don't know.

Originally published by the War Department in 1898, the new edition benefits from the extensive editing of Sibley, whom most readers will recognize from his earlier work The Confederate Order of Battle: The Army of Northern Virginia (1996).

I'll just let the official description speak for itself:
"Editor Ray Sibley spent more than a decade researching the thousands of entries, correcting mistakes, and adding many artillery units and additional officers unknown to the original compilers more than a century ago. Sibley utilized archival records, manuscripts, letters, diaries, and other sources to verify the original work, correct mistakes, and add further useful information in the form of hundreds of valuable footnotes.

This new updated and easy-to-use reference work sets forth the linage of the Confederate artillery. It lists, in alphabetical order, individual batteries to artillery regiments, the names and alternate names for the batteries and the names of the men who led them. Also included are the dates of acceptance into Confederate service for each unit. Most companies have an annotation that includes an alternate name (if there was one), and the date if a unit disbanded or was merged into another organization. The annotations for officers include date of appointment, date of promotion to a higher grade (if any), date of transfers (if any), date dropped from rolls (if any), and date relieved of command (if any).

Confederate Artillery Organizations also contains four rare and hard-to-find lists of Confederate artillery officers: “Memorandum of Artillery Officers, C. S. A.,” “List of Officers Corps of Artillery, C. S. Army, on U.S. Register of 1861,” “Superintendents of Armories,” and “Military Store-Keeper of Ordnance.” These lists illustrate the ranking of each officer in his respective grade. The extensive bibliography prepared by Mr. Sibley is an invaluable guide to Civil War historiography."
Incidentally, the press material for this book mentions that Sibley remains hard at work on his order of battle reference guides to the Confederate West, Trans-Mississippi, and coastal defense theaters. Publication of organizational studies of this type remain few and far between and one hopes the author has a lot of uninterrupted free time in his retirement.


  1. Drew: Is there anything about ordnance? It appears not (and since this has an "organizational" focus, that might not make sense). That's unfortunate because in part that sometimes dictated an organization - such as efforts to comprise battalions based on similarity of guns. Obviously, what each battery/battalion had in turn often dictated where it was placed and when..

    1. I was wondering about that as well. I didn't find any explicit mention of it.

  2. John, thanks for your query.

    No, it doesn't.

    Ray found the original, (which is exceedingly rare--almost impossible to find a copy) and was an organizational aid for compiling the ORs. He transcribed it verbatim, adding thousands of footnotes (identifying this person, explaining that, etc.) It is exceedingly valuable to anyone writing any battle or campaign or artillery-based unit history.

    Robert K. Krick, who reviewed what we were doing to write a blurb for us, was excited as punch we were publishing this (and he has one of the few original copies that exist).

    I can tell you it was a bear to put together in a manner that replicated the original look and presentation.


  3. Ted: Thanks. It certainly fills an important gap in any event, especially because the Confederate organizations were in so much flux. Obviously, you've got the enthusiastic imprimatur of the leading authority. Now if somebody could ever get hold of the ordnance information (which, unlike the Union equivalent, may be just about impossible).


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