This book is an enlarged, revised edition of Larry J. Daniel’s 1984 Cannoneers in Gray: the Field Artillery of the Army of Tennessee, 1861-1865. In this new edition, Daniel adds quoted material from Union soldiers and generals to his history of the field artillery of the Army of Tennessee that he did not previously have access to.
The field artillery of the Confederate Army of Tennessee was never the equal of its Union opponents. Field artillery was nicknamed “the long arm of the army.” The Confederates did not have the number of foundries to make cannons that the Union did, nor did they have the materials to create cannons that the Federals did. The Confederates needed to melt down old cannons to create new and better ones; more than once, Confederate-made cannons broke due to poor materials and poor quality.
The cannons were not the only problem the Confederates had. They also needed caissons and other wagons to transport the cannons. At first the Confederates used Federal wagons and caissons that they took from Federal arsenals and from other sources like state militias. A more vital item the Confederates needed was horses - lots of horses - and there were not enough good horses available for the Army of Tennessee and the Army of Northern Virginia. Many of the horses were good at first but became used up after pulling and dragging cannons all over the battlefields. Many did not get enough food and were killed during battles. General Robert E. Lee’s Army always got the best of whatever was available, although that was not saying much since not much of anything was available. The field artillery also competed with the cavalry for horses.
Another resource the Army of Tennessee needed in the field artillery was soldiers, or cannoneers. Again, the best were with General Lee. When the cannoneers’ cannon was broken or captured these men would end up transferred to the infantry units. Another problem was the way in which the field artillery was arranged. The various batteries, or units, were connected to various regiments and divisions instead of being put together in one unit of the army. They had to follow their divisions, and this caused the artillery to not be used in advantageous ways. General Braxton Bragg, an artillery officer in the regular army, should have known this, but he was not willing to change the practice of the day.
Daniel’s chapters are the right length and his story not too academic, so that general readers interested in the Civil War will not have too much trouble reading Cannoneers in Gray. Daniel quotes from Confederate and Federal participants, both officers and privates. Academics and students of the Civil War will enjoy this book, too (according to Daniel, there are few books on the field artillery of the Army of Tennessee). There are three appendices and a few maps, but no illustrations. Endnotes, a bibliographical essay and an index are included. This book is highly recommended to those interested in artillery, Civil War field artillery, and the Civil War.
Larry J. Daniel is the author of Days of Glory: the Army of the Cumberland (2004), Soldiering in the Army of Tennessee (2003), Shiloh: The Battle that Changed the Civil War (1998), Island No. 10 (1996), and other co-authored books and individually authored articles and talks.