|Unit History Project|
4th Independent Battery
The Fourth New York Independent Battery of Light Artillery was recruited and organized in New York City by Capt. James E. Smith, who had previously served as a lieutenant in Varian's Battery, which was attached to the Eighth New York Militia. This battery — Varian's — enlisted April 19, 1861, for three months, and went to the front immediately. On its return some of the men re-enlisted under Captain Smith.
It was the intention that the newly-recruited battery should be attached to Serrell's Engineers — First New York Engineers — as an artillery company, with engineer's pay at $17 per month, and many of the recruits were enlisted under this inducement. But the War Department refused to sanction the arrangement.
The company left the State, October 26, 1861, and went to Washington, where it encamped on East Capitol Hill. In November it received its guns and horses, an equipment which belonged previously to a Chicago battery that had been broken up. By this arrangement Captain Smith obtained four ten-pounder Parrotts and two six-pounder brass guns.
Drill and instruction was commenced, and when the spring campaign opened both officers and men were proficient in their duties and skillful in executing the various tactical movements peculiar to their arm of the service. The winter was spent in camp at Budd's Ferry, Md., on the lower Potomac, the battery having been assigned to Hooker's Division, Third Corps.
In March, 1862, the command moved to the Peninsula, three schooners being used to transport the cannon, men, and horses. After taking an active part in the siege of Yorktown, the battery under Captain Smith was hotly engaged at the battle of Williamsburg, where it lost six men killed and wounded. It participated in all the campaigns of the Third Corps prior to the Gettysburg campaign, during which it was commanded by Lieut. Joseph E. Nairn, Captain Smith having been appointed chief of division artillery. But in June, 1863, Captain Smith resumed command, and handled the battery at Gettysburg. In that action it lost thirteen men killed and wounded, and through the bravery of the commander and his men rendered most valuable service. Its efficiency on that memorable field is fully attested in the official reports of the Confederate generals.
A few days after the battle General Hunt, chief of artillery, ordered the battery to Washington, where it was to exchange its ordnance stores and refit with an armament of six twelve-pounder brass guns. The men and horses were transported from Sandy Hook, Md., to Georgetown, D. C., by canal boats, a quiet, pleasant trip, which the men enjoyed. The battery rejoined the army at Warrenton, Va., in August, 1863.
Owing to the irregularity and dissatisfaction caused by the original enlistment of part of the men for Serrell's Engineers, the battery was disbanded December 4, 1863. Lieut. J. S. Clark and forty men who enlisted originally as engineers were transferred to the First New York Engineers (Serrell's), and the remainder were assigned to the Fifth and Fifteenth New York Batteries, and to Battery B, First New York Light Artillery.
New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs: Military