Saturday, October 19, 2013

AAR, Oct. 11-13, 1863 Green Hill Park, #1011-132013

>>>> Chief Topographical Engineer's After Action Report, October 11-13, 1863, Green Hill Park, Worcester, Mass. ---- Battle of  Chickamauga Creek <<<<

General U. S. Grant 
Army Commander

Colonel Paul Kenworthy
New England Brigade

Major Greg Webster
Northeast Topographical Engineers (NETE)

Major Don Erickson
U. S. Corps of Topographical Engineers

Respected Sirs;

I beg your very kind indulgence to receive my Engineering Report for the above named encampment and battle.

My staff and I left Fort Trumbull by Coach early on the morning of October 11, after receiving orders from General U. S. Grant's headquarters to be present at Green Hill Park in the city of Worcester, Mass.  The trip was a long one and totally uneventful.  We arrived in the late afternoon to find Lt. General Grant's camp already pretty much set up.  Shortly after our arrival Major Webster arrived with the engineer's wagon and we immediately set to raising the Topographical Engineer's Field Office (Northeast Topographical Engineers, afterwards NETE).  Our purpose on this date was twofold, the first to serve as Gen. Grant's military staff, and to provide area maps, field reconnaissance of the area, and any and all further assistance to the New England Brigade that could be rendered.   The weather was warm and bright, and the grounds of the park were dry from a few days of good weather.  The Union camp was set up along the shoreline of Green Hill Pond, a medium sized pond, which divided the park between Crown Hill and the prospective skirmish grounds above and Eastward of the Union camp.   The skirmish field was newly mown and the production of the park's sketch maps by the NETE was further enhanced by the close ground survey conducted by Major Greg Webster, the NETE Commander.  Once the engineer's wagon was unloaded and the engineering display materials had been moved to the display tables under canvas where the display was to be laid out in the morning.

On Friday evening the Topographical Engineers were invited to attend a military ball in the Historical Society building on Elm St.  The ball was put on by the officials of the City of Worcester.  I was also asked by Lt. General Grant to attend as his Chief of Staff.  I arrived in the company of Lady and General Grant and Lady and Major Webster.  At the ball we found many of the Brigade Staff already there.  A lovely evening of light dining and dancing was enjoyed by all.  Period music was provided by a small band of three musicians, and was done very well.  Major Webster was able to procure two period maps of the Green Hill area, from a city official, one of which he presented to me for our use in this campaign and to add to our unit mapping portfolio and General Grant’s Headquarters archives.  I was entertained by a lengthy discussions with another engineer, and some military friends that I do not have the chance to very often discuss our efforts at length.  After the ball we returned to the camp where the carriage was waiting.  Lady Mathews and I then returned to the offered lodging in the city of Worcester. and there spent the evening.  Major Webster indicated that he intended to conduct a thorough field survey of the surrounding area in preparation for developing a sketch map of the grounds for the Brigade Commander on Saturday.

I arrived in the park, early the next morning.  The weather was clear and cool.  No clouds in the sky with a slight breeze over the parkland.  There was a light dew over the landscape, but nothing very heavy.  I met in the morning hours with all the engineers and we laid out our plans for the day.  Major Webster and I would both set out, in display, the few items brought with us for the explanation of all the tasks and responsibilities of the Topographical Engineers in a field situation.  It was agreed that I would maintain the main engineering office, instrumentation and models, with the assistance of Lady Webster.  Major Webster, would undertake all required field and ground surveys, produce a set of sketches as required by the Brigade Commander.  He would be joined in this by Lady Webster, a contracted military artist, in producing some vertical sketches of the surrounding area.     

My first action of the day was to fill out and send in the Topographical Engineers Morning Report, together with Major Websters two rough battlefield sketches for the Brigade Commanders use, which I had reviewed and approved.  Lt. Colonel James Duarte is released from duty to the Union Hospital in New Haven, CT to undergo a medical examination and both Corporal Thevenet and 2nd Lt. F. K. Goodhue are detached to the pontoon train commander, to perform mapping duties in other areas of Connecticut by the Chief Engineer of the 25th Corps.  Officers Call was sounded and Major Webster attended for the engineers.  This was followed by my putting together a proposed defensive project for the union camp as necessary, and to finish a large map drawing for Gen. Grant's map portfolio.  

Major Webster, in company with Colonel Kenworthy and Colonel Ozelius, conducted a reconnaissance of the battlefield to gain a better understanding of the terrain and the tactics which might be employed thereon.  Once Major Webster had a better understanding of how they planned to conduct their operations, he conducted a further reconnaissance of the terrain and trails on the right flank of the Confederate forces area along the Northeast side of Green Hill Pond.  A finished field sketch of this area was completed and given to the Brigade Commander prior to Saturdays skirmish / battle.  Lt. General U. S. Grant and I sat down together and went over the additions to his map archives that I had brought to him.  Gen. Grant was pleased with the map copies and they will be added to the Federal mapping archives at his headquarters.  The remainder of the day was spent in drawing up the map sketches that were due to General Grant's Headquarters and conversing with our visitors.  All during the day there was a steady arrival of spectators wishing to talk with the engineers and review the detailed engineering displays.  The items of the display which seemed to attract the most attention were the field fortification and bridging models.  Late in the afternoon my staff arrived with transportation and we went into the city to the Inn where we had acquired some nice accommodations.    

On Sunday morning we got into camp, again at an early hour, and found that Major and Lady Webster were already awake and had preceded us in removing the dew covers from the displays.  We again settled in to greet and serve as docents for the engineering displays laid out on the display tables.   Later in the morning Major Webster brought 2nd Lt. Goodhue to the tent and I told him that I was glad to see him.  We talked for a few moments and then Major Webster and Lt. Goodhue were off on a mapping project to Crown Hill, on the other side of the pond. He was just fresh from his previous field assignment and joined the Topogs for the day.  He would be involved in a ground survey assignment with Major Webster.  

Colonel Ozelius, the Brigade Executive Officer had requested that Major Webster conduct a further reconnaissance and field survey of the property surrounding the old armory for a possible future campsite for the Federal Army.  This survey was conducted with the assistance of Lieutenant Goodhue.  The site was found to be somewhat small with uneven terrain.  However, it was our feeling that if the camp were thoroughly organized, laid out and set-up, it could be used for a moderate sized force.  This information was reported to Colonel Ozelius, and a detailed survey map will be prepared for him.

The remainder of the morning I spent in completing my sketch maps for the above indicated various map portfolios.  Following the Sunday afternoon skirmish, in which the Union prevailed, the crowds again began to filter through camps for the last hour or so.  During that period, Colonel Ozelius again approached Major Webster and requested that he conduct a further reconnaissance of the intricate and confusing trail system to the South and East of Green Hill Pond.  This reconnaissance was conducted and the trail system within a half mile of the Federal camp was mapped.  A finished detailed map will be completed for Colonel Ozelius in case of future skirmishing in that sector. In the afternoon of Sunday a tribute to General McKay’s birthday was fired using the Topographical Engineer’s Thunder-mug to honor this auspicious occasion.

When the last of the spectators had left the Federal camp, General Grant, the Federal Brigade, and the Engineers broke camp and prepared the transport wagons to move to Winter Quarters, which was planned and scheduled with the departure of the last of the spectators.  I must also mention that Ladies Webster and Mathews were a very important part of the engineering activity.  Lady Webster did an excellent job of explaining the features of Major Websters engineering displays when the engineers were otherwise engaged.  Both ladies worked very hard in laying out the engineering displays, and in breaking camp and loading the wagons.  Lt. Goodhue was a big help in assisting the engineers break camp and getting all the engineering equipment packed in the wagons.  From this point the wagons began the long trek back to New London, CT and Fort Trumbull.
After breaking camp, packing up the engineering displays and leaving the Green Hill Park area, we (The Topogs) settled on a dinner at a local inn which we knew.  After a sumptuous supper at the "Inn of the 99," Major Webster proclaimed another engineer encampment and reenactment season to be fully successful and thanked all who were in attendance.  This encampment from my view was very successful and not only were we able to learn from our attendance, but we again carried away from the encampment not only our memories of a very good time but we have also increased our map files and our proposals to the Brigade as well as the replies to the needs of General Grant and his future planned campaigns.  Were I and my staff invited again to be a part of the encampment planned and carried out by the Event Coordinator of this event and his staff, we should be pleased to attend and do whatever possible to make such an encampment as pleasant and interesting as this years encampment at Green Hill Park.  From my aspect the weekend was well planned and carried out.  Well Done, to all who made the event as much fun as it was.  


Shortly after arriving back at Fort Trumbull, the following message was received from General Grant's Headquarters: 

>>> Letter Contents <<<

General McKay,

   You are hereby ordered forthwith to plan and construct a semi-permanent artillery field fortification system atop Crown Hill within the border of Green Hill Park.   As we are expected to be engaged in a lengthy and potentially costly battle to take the Town of Worcester, use whatever materials available to construct fortified artillery emplacements from log revetments to earthen works.

  The elevation of this hill is 750 feet and commands a wide view of not only the Green Hill Park battlefield and water approaches from the North, but also from the surrounding town.  

 You will have one day to prepare the artillery plan and five days to prepare such positions. Two companies of Pioneers will be at your disposal to accomplish this task.

 Co-ordinate with the Chief of Artillery as to what you believe to be required for artillery pieces, based on the terrain available.

 Counterattacks should be expected from any direction.

U.S. Grant
General of the Army
War Department
Washington City, Sept. 28, 1863

Recieved by telegraph, October 15th, 1863 at 7:30 AM;  LT. Jeremy G. Jackson, U. S. Signal Corps

This letter was delivered by Major Webster, Commander, (NETE) to Brig. General of Engineers, Ian McKay, CE, 25th Corps, October 15th, 1863 at 8:25 AM, #10082013

 My response to Major General Grant's order was to immediately lay out on paper the rough sketch of a gun emplacement on the present sketch-map that I have of Crown Hill in Green Hill Park.  That done I have sent out messages to the 9th Mass. Artillery requesting four three inch rifles with at least a 100 rounds of ammunition for each together with one 6 pdr smoothbore and 100 rounds of canister for that gun.  The two companies of pioneers have arrived and they were immediately put to work trenching in the front and sides of the proposed gun emplacement, constructing and filling gabions for the main defensive rampart and parapet.  In addition they have been instructed to begin working on chevaux de frise to place in the ditch detached from the inner  scarp.  They have also been instructed to begin working up anchored abatis  20 yards ahead of the ditch and all to be covered with brush in order to develop a well-masked battery.

Access to Green Hill Park is accommodated by two roads.  I should suggest that both roads be blocked with earthen barriers and two guns at each road approach in small double temporary gun emplacements.  The larger Crown Hill gun emplacement will be able to back up these further armaments.   

The above response was sent by telegraph to Gen. Grant's headquarters. A copy of the map of Crown Hill and the drawing of the gun emplacement will be provided to General Grant's Headquarters by military courier as soon as the smoother drawings are finished and the emplacement is complete. I then turned to drawing a sketch-map of the whole of Crown Hill, both for the unit (NETE) mapping files, and the files of the 25th Corps, as well as the map archives at General Grants headquarters.

Very Respectfully;

Ian McKay, BG, CE, TE
Corps Engineer, 25th Corps,
Chief Engineer
Chief of Staff (acting)
Lt, General U. S. Grants Personal and Military Staffs

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