|Unit History Project|
1st Artillery Regiment (Light)
Mustered in: October 14,1861
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.
HISTORICAL SKETCH BY PRIV. WILLIAM H. HOLMES.
About November 1st, they were ordered to Albany, N. Y., and soon after, on the 2Oth of November, to Washington, D. C., where they were sent into Camp Barry. Against the wishes of the officers and men they were incorporated with the First New York Artillery, commanded by Col. Guilford D. Bailey, and became Company M of that regiment. The officers that had been chosen and commissioned were; captain, George W. Cothran; sr. first lieutenant, Charles E. Winegar; jr. first lieutenant, James H. Peabody; sr. second lieutenant, George B. Eggleston; jr. second lieutenant, John W. Woodbury. John H. Gormley was appointed first sergeant, and R. Wilson Oliver, quartermaster sergeant.
In January, 1862, the battery, having received horses and equipments and six ten-pound Parrott guns, was ordered to Frederick City, Md. In the early spring, one section under Lieutenant Peabody was stationed at Point of Rocks, Md., and from there shelled the enemy on the other shore of the Potomac. When, in March, the movement was made to cross into Virginia at Harper's Ferry, by the army under General Banks, this battery was placed upon Maryland Heights, and after covering the crossing they came down and accompanied the army to Winchester. Being ordered elsewhere, the battery, with Banks' Division, moved through Charlestown and Berryville, when the attack of the enemy under General (Stonewall) Jackson, upon our forces under General Shields, at Winchester, caused the recall of General Banks' Division. Then pursuing Jackson — as a part of Banks' army up the Shenandoah Valley — the battery took part in several skirmishes, shelling the enemy at Middletown, Cedar Creek, Woodstock, and Edenberg, and going on to Harrisonburg.
In falling back from Harrisonburg to Strasburg, this battery, with General Hatch's Cavalry, covered the movement with the rear guard. In the retreat from Strasburg to Winchester — after Jackson's attack upon Front Royal — the battery assisted in protecting the long wagon trains, and held, each section by itself, very important positions upon the line of battle at Winchester the next morning. Two men were killed there, and several men and some horses wounded. Lieutenant Winegar and his men showed especial coolness and bravery in getting one of their guns loose, and saving it when it had become fast against a post in passing through a gateway after our infantry had left the field and the enemy were very close. Lieutenant Woodbury with his section and one gun of Lieutenant Peabody's section again rendered efficient service under General Hatch in covering the rear of our army, retreating towards Williamsport, and holding the advancing and pursuing columns of the enemy in check by shelling the head of their column from every little hill along the Pike. At Williamsport the same section was on the picket line on the Virginia side of the river for several days.
With the cavalry and Tenth Maine Infantry it made a reconnoissance from there to Falling Waters. The battery soon moved up the Valley again to Newtown; thence to Front Royal, and thence across to the vicinity of Warren-ton, when General Banks' command — to which this battery was still attached — became a corps of General Pope's Army of Northern Virginia. The battery was on the extreme right of the Union line at Cedar Mountain, and took an important part in silencing the enemy's artillery, which was doing much damage during the evening of that day. The battery assisted in the defence of the line of the Rappahannock, having a severe duel with two of the enemy's batteries at Beverly Ford; also a skirmish at White Sulphur Springs. At the time of the battle of Second Bull Run, the battery, with the rest of the corps, was engaged in the effort to save the wagon trains of Pope's army, and several railroad trains which were cut off by the burning of bridges by the enemy. In the reorganization of the army under General McClellan, this corps became the Twelfth Corps of the Army of the Potomac, under the command of Major General Mansfield.
At the battle of Antietam, Battery M and Knap's Pennsylvania Battery were ordered to the front from a point just in rear of the East Woods, just after the killing of General Mansfield and wounding of General Hooker, and just as the Union forces were driven back out of the West Woods, across the Hagers-town Pike, past the Dunker Church, and across the open fields and into the East Woods. Passing rapidly throught the East Woods the batteries took position under a severe musketry fire from the enemy advancing across the Hagerstown Pike, — Knap's, across the road leading from the East Woods to the Dunker Church — and Battery M, with the leading gun 200 yards to the right of this road and 120 rods from the church, forming line by inversion, the left gun on the right, about 80 rods from the Hagerstown Pike. By the use of canister, and without aid from the infantry, these batteries stopped the enemy's advance, and drove them back across the Pike into the West Woods, holding this line for about five hours against repeated charges of the enemy, who on one or two of the charges were assisted by a Rebel battery on high ground on our front and right. When these batteries were finally relieved and ordered back to Keedysville to refill their ammunition chests, everything was quiet on that part of the line, the repulse of the enemy having been complete. When, three days after, the battery crossed this field " that had been in their front," the large number of the enemy's dead that lay, almost in rows, showed the efficiency of that fire of canister.
After camping in Pleasant Valley some time, Battery M, with General Kane's Brigade, was twice upon the summit of Loudoun Heights. Then with the Twelfth Corps, under command of Major General Slocum, at the time of Burnside's attack on Fredericksburg, Battery M moved to and past Fairfax Station. When Burnside's second (" stick in the mud") movement was begun, this corps moved again through Dumfries to Stafford Court House, where the battery camped under command of Lieutenant Winegar until it started for Chancellorsville.
Here after considerable moving about, Battery M, in position to the right and front of the Chancellorsville House, had a severe artillery duel with one of the enemy's batteries. When the giving way of the right wing was seen, the battery changed front, facing to the right, and a large portion of the stampeded men of the Eleventh Corps passed between its pieces as they went to the rear. As soon as they were past, the battery opened fire on the advancing enemy. Other batteries were brought up and placed on the right and left till a line of thirty guns or more was formed. The left of Battery M was just in front of the old loghouse. The battery took an active part in the severe fighting during that night and the next forenoon, and all its guns moved off the field, among the very last to leave. One, if not two guns, were drawn off by two horses only, and two caissons were left on the field — the horses having been killed. Lieutenant Winegar and one of his men were captured by the enemy while trying to see if there was not an opportunity to secure the lost caissons.
Returning to their old camp at Stafford Court House, and then camping awhile at Aquia Creek, the battery moved with the rest of the army until Gettysburg was reached, a little before night on July 1, 1863. Being unable to find a useful position in the line of the Twelfth Corps on Gulp's Hill, during the forenoon of July 2d, the sections of the battery — (there were only two sections since the severe losses of men and horses at Chancellorsville) were placed,— one, the right section, under Lieutenant Woodbury on Powers' Hill, and the other, the left, under Lieutenant Smith, and accompanied by Lieutenant Wine-gar, commanding battery, upon the McAllister Farm on the hill just in the corner of the Apple Orchard, a few rods to the right of the road leading from the Baltimore Pike to the McAllister House. The position of the right section on Powers' Hill was considerably farther to the left and front of that indicated by the battery's monument. Both sections aided the infantry of the Twelfth Corps in retaking their breastworks — (lost while they went to the assistance of the left wing, just at night on July 2d,) during the forenoon of July 3d, by firing in the direction of Benner's Hill. The right section fired over the heads of the men of the Twelfth Corps, and the left section past the right flank of the infantry. During the fight the enemy's sharpshooters occupying a stone house, said to belong to Zeb. Taney, did great damage to some of our infantry regiments, especially the Twenty-seventh Indiana, under Colonel Colgrove. At his request one or both guns of the left section were moved across the Baltimore Pike to a level spot of high ground, just back of a piece of woods, from which point an unobstructed view of this stone house was obtained. A few well-directed percussion shells knocked the front out of the house, killed or wounded many of the sharpshooters concealed in it, and relieved our infantry from further danger or annoyance from that source. Neither section came under musketry fire at this battle; but both were right in easy range of the shells that, fired by the enemy from Seminary Ridge, passed over our men on Cemetery Hill. Lieutenant Woodbury received his commission as captain just as the battery was leaving this field, on the morning of July 4th.
After accompanying the Army of the Potomac to near Raccoon Ford, on the Rapidan River, the battery with the rest of the Twelfth and the Eleventh Corps, returned to Washington and was sent by rail via Maryland, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee, to Murfreesboro. Thence Battery M marched to De-cherd and camped awhile. It then moved to Bridgeport, Ala., and spent the winter guarding the railroad bridge, steamboat landing, and accumulated stores.
On February 6, 1864, a sufficient number of the original number of Battery M signed papers to " veteranize," and a few days after sixty-three men were mustered out of their old enlistment, and mustered in for a new period of three years. In the fore part of March, the veterans received their furlough, and went home, returning about the middle of April. They were preceded a few days by some forty recruits enlisted mostly in Niagara County for service in that company. About twenty-five recruits had joined the battery just after the battle of Antietam. Five men who enlisted in Jefferson County for another battery of the First New York Artillery were permanently assigned to Battery M before that, in July or August, 1862. One recruit was received in the Shen-andoah Valley, a man mustered out with the Seventh New York Cavalry at Washington, D. C, March 30, 1862.
Moving to Chattanooga, the battery received a new armament of six brass twelve-pounder, smooth-bore guns, and necessary number of horses. As a part of the Twentieth Corps (Eleventh and Twelfth consolidated) under General Hooker, Battery M- took an active part in General Sherman's Atlanta campaign, being almost daily under fire for over two months. It took part in engagements at Resaca, Ga., May 15th; Pumpkin Vine Creek, May 25th; New Hope Church, June 16th; Kolb's Farm, June 22d; Dallas, June 28th; Peach Tree Creek, July 20th; near Atlanta in the breastworks during July and August; and entering the city September 2, 1864. The Twentieth Corps, including Battery M, occupied the city until starting on the " March to the Sea."
Arriving at the end of this march, in rear of Savannah, the battery took part in the operations against that city, and in guarding the river against attempts to send assistance to the city from Augusta. About January 1, 1865, the battery crossed into South Carolina, and moving as part of the Twentieth Corps across that State and into North Carolina, took an active part in the battles of Averasboro, March 16th, and Bentonville, March 19th. At Goldsboro, N. C., a rest was taken. Then the march continued to Raleigh, N. C. While near this city the war was practically closed by the surrender of General Johnston's army, the armv of General Lee having already surrendered to General Grant. Some thirty more recruits were received by the battery at Atlanta, shortly before starting on the " March to the Sea." From Raleigh the battery accompanied Sherman's army on the march to Richmond, and thence to Washington, where it took part in the Grand Review. It turned in its horses and equipments, came by rail back to Rochester, N. Y., where the men were mustered out June 23, 1865. Captain Woodbury resigned at Atlanta, in September, 1864, and Lieutenant Smith was in command for a time, after which Lieutenant Newkirk was assigned to its command. About the time of the review at Washington, Captain Underhill was assigned to the battery, and took command.
The battery had, all told, 262 officers and men. Of these, 2 were killed in battle at Winchester, Va., May, 25, 1862; 4 at Chancellorsville, May 3, 1863;, I at Antietam, Md., September 17, 1862; 1 at New Hope Church, Ga., June 16,. 1864; 1 at Kolb's Farm, Ga., June 22, 1864; and I in the works before Atlanta,,, July 30, 1864. One died of wounds received in battle at Winchester, Va.,., dying at Hagerstown, Md., July 4, 1862; and I died at Dallas, Ga., June: 28, 1864, of wounds received in battle; 20 died of disease; 39 were discharged; for disability; 2 were transferred to the Navy, and 5 to the Invalid Corps; 14. were mustered out at expiration of time of service of three years; and 16 are supposed to have deserted. Five officers resigned; 1 was promoted and transferred; 2 sergeants received commissions and were assigned to other companies; and 1 officer was discharged.
New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs: Military