Though outnumbering Confederate troops at Blakeley better than four to one, the Union Army had decidedly less artillery than the fort's defenders: By the time of the final assault on the fort on April 9, 1865, about 20 guns were scattered along the Union lines, most of them having been brought up from Spanish Fort. The heaviest concentration of cannon, manned by crews from Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, and New York, went into action in this area along the Federal left flank. The three nearby earthen gun Union artillery positions on the battlefield emplacements represent some of the best-preserved Union artillery positions on the battlefield.
Battery G of the 2nd Illinois Light Artillery
Battery G was armed with four 10-lb. Parrott rifles under the command of Lt. Perry Wilch. The unit fought in the assaults on both Spanish Fort and Fort Blakeley. The battery unlimbered its guns at the emplacement a short.distance down the trail to your left just days before the final assault which resulted in Blakeley's capture. On April 8, 1865, alone, the battery's gunners fired over 200 rounds at the Confederate lines.
Parrott Rifles, named after, inventor Robert Parker Parrott, were rifled artillery pieces widely used by both armies during the Civil War. Parrotts came in a variety of calibers,
each designated by the weight of the projectile fired. The Parrott Rifles of Battery G were capable of firing a shell accurately over 1800 yards.
17th Ohio Light Artillery
The 17th Ohio Light Artillery also.participated in the assaults on both Spanish Fort and
Fort Blakeley. From two different positions in this area it pounded the Confederate lines. The earthworks in front of you are the battery's second position; the first is located approximately 400 yards down the trail behind the emplacement.
The unit was armed with three 12-lb. "Napoleon" cannon, commanded by Captain Charles S. Rice. The "Napoleon" cannon was the most popular artillery piece of both Northern and Southern armies during the Civil War. Named after Emperor Napoleon ll of France, whose forces used it extensively during the Crimean War (1853-1856), the gun could fire a twelve pound projectile well over 1,250 yards.
Top left: This sketch of a Union battery in action in Virginia, by Alfred Waud, is useful visualizing the way the batteries here may have looked during the siege of Fort Blakeley.
Middle right: This image of an Illinois artillery battery, taken at the beginning of the war, shows the types of uniforms and equipment Union gunners may have had at Blakeley.