|Unit History Project|
11th Independent Battery
HISTORICAL SKETCH, BY CAPT. GEORGE W. DAVEY.
The men who enlisted in this battery were recruited by Capt. Robert C. Wormington, of Ashtabula, Ohio. They came mostly from that town, although some were from Buffalo. But they were all enlisted in Buffalo, and credited to the quota of Erie County, N. Y.
About this same time, at Albany, N. Y., the formation of a light artillery company was attempted under the auspices of the Young Men's Christian Association. Physically and morally the standard of membership and enlistment was high. It was intended that profanity, intemperance, and gambling should be unknown within its ranks; and that in camp, religious meetings should be held daily as well as Sundays. It was hoped that the battery would in every respect prove worthy of the famous Christian soldier whose name it bore. The Rev. Albert A. von Puttkammer, a German Baptist clergyman, who had received authority, October 26, 1861, to recruit a battery, was elected captain. But the religious advantages thus offered failed to attract the average recruit, and the officers found difficulty in obtaining the 150 men necessary: for a fully-manned battery of light artillery.
The State authorities becoming impatient at the delay in completing an organization
by the two batteries mentioned, ordered their consolidation, for the recruits
were needed at the front. This order was carried into effect, January 15, 1862,
and the newly-formed battery was mustered into the United States service for
three years, from January 6th. The consolidated organization was officered
The battery left Albany, N. Y., January 17, 1862, arriving at Fort Ellsworth, near Alexandria, Va., on the 25th, where it remained, occupied in drill and garrison duty until July 21, 1862, when it took the field, having been ordered to join Pope's army.
On June 23, 1862, it received its armament, which consisted of four 3-inch rifled cannons and two " light twelves." The latter were brass cannons known as twelve-pounder " Napoleons." The equipment included, also, six caissons, one battery wagon and forge, with six horses each for the guns, caissons, forge, and battery wagon, and sixteen saddle horses for the sergeants, artificers, buglers and guidon bearer. The officers purchased their own horses.
The organization of the battery was composed of 5 commissioned officers, 2 staff sergeants, 6 line sergeants, 12 corporals, 2 buglers, 6 artificers, and 131 cannoneers and drivers; a total of 164 officers and enlisted men.
The battery left its camp near Fairfax Seminary, Va., August 23, 1862, and marched to Manassas, arriving there on the afternoon of the 24th,- and camping near the junction. Nothing of importance occurred until about 9 p. m. of the 26th, when firing was heard on the line of the railroad, which was ascertained to have been a volley fired at a train of cars. Immediately four guns were ordered to the station, as it was thought that a party of guerrillas were coming to attack the depot in which were stored supplies for Pope's army. The battery was placed in position on the right of the road without any support or pickets in front. About 1 p.m., the Confederate cavalry under General Stuart, made their appearance, and charged upon the battery, but meeting with a warm reception fell back. They soon rallied, and striking the left of the line, flanked us.
The horses unused to such hubbub became unmanageable, and the guns could not be limbered up. We were forced to retreat without them, carrying the ammunition with us. The battery retreated to the ford, where it remained until daylight, when, having been reinforced by the Second Regiment, New York Heavy Artillery, it again started for Manassas. We met the enemy's pickets, and drove them back. On reaching the field, the remaining two guns were unlimbered, and for three hours we held the enemy at bay. Being outnumbered we were again forced to retreat, falling back to Centreville, where we made a stand. But it was of no use. Panic had seized the troops, and all was confusion. At this critical moment we met a Massachusetts regiment, Colonel Green, who took command and formed his men in an adjoining woods with our two guns in position, and awaited the enemy, who, finding that we had received reinforcements, retired after firing a few shots.
General Longstreet, in an article published in the Century Magazine, entitled "Our
March against Pope," says:
The battery lost in this, its first battle, 5 men wounded, and 20 taken prisoners. In the night attack it fired twenty rounds of canister and one fuse shell. During the month of September, the battery received four 3-inch rifled cannons, and was again ready for the field. On October 17th, it was assigned to Whipple's Division, Third Corps, with which command it participated in the battles of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville.
December 9, 1862, Lieutenant Wormington resigned, and Sergt. James T. Wyatt was promoted to second lieutenant. January 2, 1863, Lieut. G. A. Knapp resigned, and Sergt. W. Redhead was promoted to second lieutenant.
The battery left its winter quarters, January 19, 1863, and participated in the famous " Mud March," returning to its camp on the 23d. On April 29th, it marched from its winter quarters at Falmouth, Va., to below Fredericksburg, moving on the 30th, and crossing the Rappahannock River, at the United States Ford, May 1, 1863. On the 2d, after being placed in several different positions, the battery marched past the Chancellor House to an opening in the woods known as Hazel Grove, and was ordered to rest and feed the horses preparatory to another night's march. The men were making their coffee, and the horses were enjoying their grain, when the ball opened on the right. " Stonewall Jackson " had surprised Howard's Corps, and driven it back. The firing coming nearer, the guns were placed " in battery." Soon all was confusion and disorder. Some of the men of the Eleventh Corps came rushing down the road and through the batteries, shouting, " Get out of the way, the Johnnies are coming!" Here is where the true grit and metal of the men of the battery was shown, when, in the face of a charging enemy flushed with success, and under the demoralizing effects of broken, routed troops rushing through their lines, they stood to their guns, and as soon as the fugitives had passed opened fire with canister, pouring death and destruction into the ranks of the enemy. The Confederates formed three times to charge, but each time were driven back with great loss.
Gen. J. C. Tidball, U. S. Army, in an article on the "Artillery service in the Rebellion," writes: '"This fire, evidently unexpected, caused the enemy to retire hastily to the cover of the woods from which they just emerged, and from which they at once opened a heavy fire of musketry. Nothing but the timely and gallant conduct of these batteries prevented the enemy from gaining the flank and rear of the Twelfth Corps, as it had that of the Eleventh Corps. The batteries that did this invaluable service were Huntingdon's " H," First Ohio, and the Tenth and Eleventh New York Independent Batteries, commanded by Lieutenants Lewis and Burton respectively. Martin's Horse Battery, the Sixth New York, of four pieces, acted in conjunction with the others. These batteries (22 guns), entirely alone and unsupported, maintained their positions, holding the enemy in check until the arrival, considerable time afterwards, of Birney's and Whipple's.Divisions from the front."
The Eleventh Battery was placed in several important positions the next day, and was under fire all the time, doing good execution. On May 5th, it recrossed the river, and returned to its camp at Falmouth. Its losses at Chan-cellorsville were 11 men killed or wounded, besides losing a number of its horses.
On May 23d, the battery was transferred to the Reserve Artillery, and attached temporarily to Battery " K," First Regiment of New York Light Artillery. Captain R. H. Fitzhugh, being the senior officer, was placed in command of both batteries.
On June 13th, the battery left camp at White Oak Church, Va., at 4 p. m., marching night and day until it arrived at Fairfax on the 15th. Remaining there until the 24th, it resumed its march, crossing the Potomac River at Edwards Ferry and arriving at Taneytown, Md., on the 3Oth, where we heard that Lee's army had been found near Gettysburg, Pa. We arrived there on the morning of July 2d, and went into position on the Baltimore Pike, in support of the Twelfth Corps line. In the evening we were sent to reinforce the line to the left of the " Clump of Trees," returning to the Reserve on the morning of July 3d.
About 1 p. m. the enemy opened with his artillery, and for two hours the mighty duel raged in all its fury, making the air hideous with the shrieks of the shot and shell which ploughed the earth in furrows, many of the shells falling among the reserve batteries, causing them to change their positions for a more sheltered place. Soon the command was given for the drivers of the Eleventh Battery to mount, and it galloped to the front, moving along the line of battle into position near the " Angle," where it assisted in repelling the charge of Pickett's Division. While awaiting Pickett's charge a shell from the enemy's artillery struck one of the lead horses of a gun squarely in the breast. It staggered and fell with its rider to the ground. The lieutenant in command of the section called out, " Bring up another horse! " The driver looking up to him and saluting said, " Lieutenant, hadn't you better bring up another man too?"
Captain von Puttkammer, having been dismissed from the service, Lieut. John E. Burton was promoted to the captaincy, in July, 1863. After participating in the fall campaign of the Army of the Potomac and the operations at Mine Run, the battery went into winter quarters near Brandy Station, Va. While here most of the men re-enlisted for the war, and went home on a " veteran furlough " of thirty days. Recruits were received in number sufficient to make up the full complement of men.
On May 4, 1864, the Eleventh New York Battery, under command of Captain Burton, broke camp and moved with the Army of the Potomac on the Wilder-ness campaign. It was now a four-gun battery, and formed part of Fitzhugh's (Third) Brigade of the Reserve Artillery. On May 17th, it was transferred to the Artillery Brigade of the Second Corps. It was present, but not engaged, in the battles of the Wilderness and Spotsylvania; but it was under fire at North Anna, Totopotomoy, and Cold Harbor. The battery crossed the James River, June 15th, moving with General Barlow's Division to near Petersburg, Va. It was actively engaged from June 16th to June 24th, when it was relieved, and was held in reserve until July 26th. Then it moved with the Second Corps, crossing the James River at Deep Bottom, remaining there until the 28th, when it returned to Petersburg to await the result of the " Mine Explosion." August I2th, the battery was again on the move for the north side of the James River. On the 14th, it was actively engaged at the battle of Strawberry Plains, its efficient service on that field eliciting favorable mention in the official report.
During the months of September and October it was stationed in Forts Prescott and McGilvery, on the Petersburg line of fortifications, where it had a warm time of it, and was busily engaged every day. Captain Burton's term of enlistment having nearly expired, and his health being greatly impaired, he resigned his commission, October 14, 1864. He had served with the battery from its organization, in 1861, was a capable and efficient officer, faithful in the discharge of his duties, and thoughtful of those under his command.
The battery was now under the command of Lieut. James T. Wyatt. Having received a number of recruits it was equipped as a six-gun battery, and Sergt. George W. Davey was promoted to second lieutenant.
In November, Sergt. G. W. P. Gale was mustered as second lieutenant, vice Lieut. W. Redhead, whose term of service had expired. From November 29th to December 8th, the battery occupied Fort Emory, after which it was transferred to Fort Welch. During the winter many of the men went home on furlough, those remaining enjoying themselves as best they could under the circumstances, not forgetting the Christmas festivities which were cheered by the receipt of " Christmas Boxes " from home.
In January, 1865, Lieut. James T. Wyatt's term of service expired, and hav-ing declined the captaincy, he was mustered out. Lieut. George W. Davey succeeded him in command of the battery, and on March 2d he was mustered as captain. In the meantime, Sergt. James A. Manning, A. G. Graves, Jr., and Sergt. William Hastings were promoted to lieutenants.
March 29th, the battery broke camp, moving with the Third Division, Second Corps, and took an active part in the closing campaign of the war. The work of the battery during this campaign was very severe. The roads for the most part were deep with mud, necessitating an immense amount of labor on the part of both officers and men. It lost 23 horses, killed or disabled, and fired 640 rounds of ammunition, firing its last shot during the fighting that immediately preceded the surrender of Appomattox.
On May 31, 1865, the following order was received:
Orders were received May 31st, to proceed to Albany, N. Y., where the
battery was mustered out of the United States service. At the time
of the final
muster-out, June 13, 1865, the officers' roster was:
All of these officers with the exception of Lieutenant Graves had served
with the battery from its original muster into the United States
Its losses were 8 killed, and 13 who died of disease or wounds; 30 were wounded, who recovered; and 56 were discharged for disability. Its principal losses occurred at Chancellorsville, Cold Harbor, and at the siege of Petersburg.
New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs: Military