CDV- “The Dutchess”-Confederate Field Piece At Port Hudson.


Annotation on the reverse in the period by Ogden, named “The Dutchess” on his album page.

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The photograph of this 24 pound field piece used by Confederate artillery at Port Hudson, came from the photo album of 1st Lt. Francis Gilbert Ogden, regimental adjutant of the 48th Massachusetts Infantry, who were assigned to the 19th Army Corps under Major General National Banks.

The defenses at Port Hudson were complex structures, and were built from the study of the French engineer Marquis de Vauban, the designer of many European fortresses in the 1600’s. The Confederate fortification at Port Hudson showed all the characteristics Vauban had designed in the past, that gave the defending artillery full advantage in the fields of fire, making infantry assaults a most formidable task.  Unfortunately, Major General Nathaniel Banks considered these fortifications and chose to throw his infantry upon the guns with initial disastrous affects.

2 of the Confederate batteries in the front of the brigade of which the 48th Massachusetts was a part, was Duryea’s and Bainbridge’s batteries, using 24 pound field pieces. The 48th Mass and 116th New York supplied 200 volunteers between them on May 27, 1863, (the 48th Mass provided 93 men, led by Lt. Col. James O’Brien) in what was considered a “Forlorn Hope.” And as the term suggested, the assault met with terrible results with many killed and wounded. Colonel O’Brien was killed in the charge at the front of the line, shot through the heart by a bullet, while many were mangled by artillery fire.

This image of the 24 pound cannon is from Lieutenant Ogden’s album, with the album page marked,”Large 32 pounder at Port Hudson, The Dutchess. Photos I have seen in the Library of Congress of this same gun from a different angle refer to it as a 24 pounder. That being said, the size must have mattered little at the time, yet it was important enough for Ogden to annotate the back of the carte with his comment, “Large 32 pounder which cut us up so badly with grape & canister before our Sharp shooters picked off the gunners. (the written below is mine recording the name of the cannon on the album page).

Photographed by McPherson & Oliver, Baton Rouge, La. 

The notations on the back of the Library of Congress image of the “Dutchess” states that the breastworks were garrisoned by the 15th Louisiana Infantry. As to the name provided by Ogden; I have not found any record yet of the name given to this particular gun, and it may have been what men of the 48th affectionately named one of their nemesis after the fall of Port Hudson, or simply finding out by taking with captured confederates that was the name the gunner’s gave to their field piece.  The image shows the gun badly chewed up by federal artillery and infantry fire. The damage is clear to see in the photo, along with the materials used in building the gun earthworks. Another similar image of the Dutchess that was not present when I got the album states on the album page, “Same gun Destroyed by Holcomb’s Battery.”

A great photograph with a great deal of history in support.

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Weight .5 lbs