US5ART-03 12-pdr. Howitzer, 5th US Artillery
During the early action on Henry House Hill, two batteries were ordered to advance to a position near to the Henry House. These were batteries of the regular US army, efficient and well commanded. Both these batteries had been actively engaged from the very beginning of the battle.
The batteries were commanded by Captain James Ricketts, and Captain Charles Griffin. It is believed McDowell made a serious tactical error in giving the order for the batteries to advance up the hill. They were told that the 11th New York Regiment were on their way to support the advance.
A typical “field piece” had an authorized crew of 12 enlisted men constituting a “gun section” led by a sergeant and assisted by one (and sometimes two) corporal. Each section consisted of one “gun,” its “limber” (with one ammunition chest also serving as a seat) and (nominally) six horses (but often only four) to pull it, and a “caisson” (with two ammunition chests/ seats, a spare wheel, tools, and crew baggage) with its own limber pulled by another six horses, and two “spare” horses (when available) tethered to the rear of the caisson. Each “vehicle” was known as a “half section.” Two sections under the command of a second lieutenant constituted a platoon.
While the platoon commander and the two section sergeants (there were no “platoon sergeants” at that time) rode their own assigned horses, six artillerymen rode the three left-side horses in each half section, while the remaining six privates either rode on the three ammunition chests (two to three per chest/seat) or walked alongside. Three platoons (sometimes only two, especially in Confederate units), plus a small headquarters, under a captain, assisted by a first lieutenant and a first sergeant, constituted a “battery.”