|Unit History Project|
1st Artillery Regiment (Light)
Mustered in: September 13, 1861
The following is taken from Final Report on the Battlefield of Gettysburg (New York at Gettysburg) by the New York Monuments Commission for the Battlefields of Gettysburg and Chattanooga. Albany, NY: J.B. Lyon Company, 1902.
Battery E was prominently engaged at the siege of Yorktown, in April, 1862, and was in action in the reconnoissance and skirmish near Lee's Mill, April 6th. In this affair the enemy's artillery sent a percussion shell, from a 10-pounder Parrott, which passed through the corner of an ammunition chest on a limber belonging to one of Wheeler's guns. This shell exploded twenty-nine cannon cartridges and two case shot in one compartment of the chest, and set fire to the packing tow in the other compartment. Sergt. David L. Smith and Artf. James H. Hickox promptly passed water upon the burning tow, which Priv. William H. Kershner pulled out with his hands, and thus prevented the explosion of the remaining ammunition. Gen. D. E. Keyes, the commander of the Fourth Corps, mentions this incident in his official report of the skirmish, and adds words of praise for the excellent conduct of the battery.
Wheeler's four guns were in action again on May 5th, at the battle of Williamsburg, taking position in front of Fort Magruder. Here fell the first man killed in the battery. In this engagement it acted in conjunction with Hancock's Brigade, and under General Hancock's immediate command. Upon the organization of the Sixth Corps in May, 1862, Smith's Division was transferred to that command, the battery going with it.
In company with Davidson's (Third) Brigade, of Smith's Division, Battery E was engaged on May 24th, at the battle of Mechanicsville, but without sustaining any casualties, aside from some horses which were killed. Colonel McKean of the Seventy-seventh New York Infantry, in his official report of this engagement, says that "Wheeler's Battery most effectually riddled the village, driving the enemy's sharpshooters out of the buildings, and causing his artillery to reply at longer and still longer intervals until it was silent."
Battery E suffered considerably from sickness while on the Peninsula, so much so that at the battle of White Oak Swamp, Captain Wheeler reported that he could man only two of his guns effectively. After participating in the Seven Days' battle the battery went into camp at Harrison's Landing, on the James River, where the entire army was resting after the campaign.
The battery becoming reduced in numbers below the point of efficiency, it was attached to Cowan's First Independent Battery in August, 1862, with which it served during the Maryland campaign, at Antietam and Fredericks-burg. Captain Wheeler received an honorable discharge, January 22, 1863. On June 20, 1863, Battery E was transferred to Reynolds' Battery — L, First N. Y. L. A.— with which it fought at Gettysburg, the Wilderness, and Spotsyl-vania.
Capt. Henry W. Davis, formerly an officer in Winslow's Battery — D — was assigned to Battery E in May, 1864, but he was killed at the battle of the North Anna River, May 23, 1864, while endeavoring to rally a line of infantry behind Mink's Battery.
While before Petersburg, in June, 1864, Battery E was reorganized under the command of First Lieut. James B. Hazelton, and assigned to duty in the trenches, where it was placed in charge of some Coehorn mortars. It was now in the Fifth Corps, and formed part of Major Fitzhugh's Brigade of the Reserve Artillery. Lieut. Angell Matthewson, of Winslow's Battery — D — was commissioned captain and assigned to the command of Battery E.
Under command of Lieut. George H. Barse, the battery participated in the final campaign, taking an active part in the assault which resulted in the fall of Petersburg, after which it accompanied the Fifth Corps to Appomattox.
New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs: Military