[Mexican War] US artillery pieces surviving from Mexican War
Posted By: John Morris (220.127.116.11)
Date: Friday, 1 January 2010 1252 hrs. EDT
I spent many days in the National Archives going carefully though the Huger collection within Record Group 156. Capt. Benjamin Huger, an Army Ordnance Officer, was acting Chief of Ordnance for General Scott during much of the Mexican War. The collection contains thousands of documents variously entitled receipts, abstracts, returns, invoices, inventories, etc, or simply untitled notes on slips of paper. I looked at each one unless it had a clear backmark which indicated it could not contain artillery information, e.g."bayonet issued to Ky Vols."
I wound up with fewer than a dozen documents which listed artillery pieces in sufficient detail to identify unique pieces, some of which survive today. These unique pieces were, in all but the document shown here, always described by registry number, then either year of manufacture, or weight as marked on the piece. In all but a few cases, this information was sufficient to uniquely identify a survivor listed in Olmstead et al, "The Big Guns." As far as I know, this is the first time (at least in the 20th C.) that the Mexican War histories of these particular pieces have been established.
Over the past 30 years or so that I've been doing research in the National Archives, the belief among both archivists and researchers has been that all "Ordnance Returns" indicating service histories of individual Army artillery pieces were destroyed long ago to save space. I never fully subscribed to that argument. My rationale was that the National Archives' holdings are so diverse, so partially-and-obscurely inventoried, and so partially-explored that in my opinion there's no such thing as a process which was applied uniformly to any record group.
I've uploaded the table containing the details, to the CMH Yahoo-Groups files section. The direct link to those files is shown below-you may need to sign in to the CMH Yahoo Group to view the file.
Here's a document from the collection. In these documents, for unknown reasons, the first two or three types of artillery are listed with individual weapon registry numbers, and the rest are only counted.
I'd like to thank Mr. Jim Bender, Keeper of the National Registry of Civil War Artillery, for checking my tables and supplying corrections and additions.
Table of surviving US-Mexican War Artillery
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