Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

AUG

Major
Retired Moderator
Joined
Nov 20, 2012
Messages
6,998
Location
Texas
As mentioned here a number of times before, Francis M. Cockrell's famed 1st Missouri Brigade was the only Confederate Missouri infantry to serve east of the Mississippi River and made quite a name for themselves throughout the Western Theater. However, there were a number of lesser-known C.S. Missouri artillery batteries that also saw service east of the river. One of those was Hiram Bledsoe's Missouri Battery which, like many C.S. Missouri units, had started in the Missouri State Guard and later transferred to Confederate service. Bledsoe's Battery had a combat record stretching from Carthage, Mo., in 1861 to the Tennessee Campaign in 1864. It was known as perhaps one of the best batteries in the State Guard and the Army of Tennessee.

Captain Hiram Bledsoe.jpg

Hiram M. Bledsoe Jr.

Hiram Miller "Old Hi" Bledsoe Jr. was born in Bourbon County, Ky., April 25, 1825; though he later moved to Lafayette County, Mo., with his parents in 1839. In 1846 Bledsoe enlisted in Col. Alexander Doniphan's 1st Regiment of Missouri Mounted Volunteers, seeing action in the battles of Brazito and Sacramento during the Mexican War. After returning to Missouri he was engaged in farming until the outbreak of the Civil War, soon after recruiting his battery, the Lexington Light Artillery.

As Missouri artilleryman Joseph A. Wilson of Lexington put it, "His [Bledsoe's] company—composed of boys from his old home, toughs from the cities, polished gentlemen, scholars, farmers, merchants, boatmen, bull whackers, from North, South, East, West—required firm, judicious management. But Bledsoe was equal to the task. He could be kind andsociable, yet maintain his authority, and all his men were attached to him. In the presence of his superior officers he wasdignified and courteous, without servility. In his society you felt the presence of a gentleman—a gentle man."


The following history of the battery is from Guide to Missouri Confederate Units, 1861-1865 by James E. McGhee, slightly edited:


This battery originated as the "Lexington Light Artillery," a unit of the 8th Division, Missouri State Guard. Bledsoe recruited the battery, one of the most storied outfits of the Guard, in Lafayette County in May 1861. The unit served at the skirmish at Rock Creek, Jackson County, on June 13. The battery formally mustered into state service on June 16 at Lexington.​
The company's initial armament consisted of one 6-pounder smoothbore manufactured at the Morrison Foundry in Lexington and a 9-pounder smoothbore known as "Old Sacramento" that had been captured in the Mexican War. This latter piece, eventually converted into a 12-pounder, had a distinctive and recognizable ringing sound when discharged [1].​
At some point the battery absorbed the "Independence Light Artillery," adding one 6-pounder Model 1841 field gun, called the "Black *****" by Bledsoe's cannoneers, that had been seized at the United States arsenal at Liberty before the outbreak of hostilities. Bledsoe's unit subsequently saw heavy action at Carthage and Wilson's Creek. A 6-pounder Model 1841 field gun captured from Colonel Franz Sigel's Union command at Wilson's Creek completed the battery's artillery complement.​
The battery subsequently saw combat at Dry Wood, the siege of Lexington [2], and finally at Pea Ridge, Arkansas. Bledsoe's Battery, commanded by Lieutenant Charles W. Higgins, deployed near Elkhorn Tavern on March 7-8, 1862, providing counterbattery fire and infantry support, losing 4 men wounded in two days of conflict.​
Some weeks following the Pea Ridge defeat, Bledsoe and his men crossed the Mississippi River to Memphis with the Army of the West. The battery transferred to Confederate service about April 21 at Memphis, at which time the artillerymen of Captain Francis M. Tull's Missouri State Guard battery joined the company. On May 5, the battery mustered at Corinth, Mississippi, with merely 53 soldiers present for duty. The battery composed part of an ambush on September 20 that blunted Federal pursuit following the Confederate retreat from Iuka. The battery served with Brigadier General John C. Moore's infantry brigade, Brigadier General Dabney H. Maury's division, at the battle of Corinth on October 3-4, where it lost 1 wounded and 1 missing.​
A section of the battery skirmished with Federal troops at Thomas's Plantation, Mississippi, on April 7, 1863. The battery then became part of Brigadier General John Gregg's infantry brigade and briefly served at Port Hudson, Louisiana. Bledsoe's Battery, the only Confederate artillery on the field, supported Gregg's brigade at Raymond on May 12 and lost an iron piece that burst from heavy firing. Two days later, as part of General Joseph E. Johnston's Army of Relief, the battery participated in the battle of Jackson but saw only light action.​
The battery next fought at Chickamauga, again in support of Gregg's brigade. Armed with two 3-inch ordnance rifled guns and two 12-pounder howitzers, it fired 125 rounds on September 19, silencing a Federal battery [the Chicago Board of Trade Battery] and receiving compliments for its "very efficient and important service throughout the day." The battery suffered known losses of 1 killed and 1 wounded in the battle, leaving 4 officers and 67 men available for duty.​
On November 4, 1863, the battery received four new 12-pounder Napoleon guns. It engaged in considerable combat during the siege of Chattanooga, losing its guns at the Missionary Ridge disaster on November 25, along with 2 soldiers killed and an unknown number wounded. Bledsoe's artillerymen, rearmed with four Napoleons, fought throughout the Atlanta Campaign of 1864, experiencing hard fighting at Resaca during May 13-16 and at Kennesaw Mountain on June 27. Bledsoe's company suffered casualties of 4 killed, 24 wounded, and 1 missing during the extended campaign (May—September).​
The battery accompanied General John Bell Hood's army into Tennessee in the fall of 1864. The Missourians took part in the Confederate debacle in front of Nashville and served in the rear guard as the army reeled in retreat. At Franklin, Tennessee, on December 16, Bledsoe's cannoneers checked Major General James H. Wilson's cavalry command by firing their guns down Front Street and permitted the escape of Brigadier General Randall Gibson's Louisiana brigade from imminent capture. The battery suffered losses of 1 wounded and 3 missing during the retreat from Nashville.​
Bledsoe's Battery did not accompany the Army of Tennessee to North Carolina but finished the war in Georgia. Most battery members surrendered at Augusta, Georgia, on May 1,1865, and received paroles at Nashville two weeks later. During the war Bledsoe's Battery had an enrollment of some 150 men. Known losses are 8 killed or mortally wounded in battle, 2 killed by accident, and 5 men lost to disease.​


[1] Bledsoe's Battery was probably best known for Old Sacramento - a legend in the Missouri State Guard. It was captured by Col. Alexander Doniphan's 1st Regiment of Missouri Mounted Volunteers (in which Hiram Bledsoe served) in the Battle of Sacramento River, Feb. 28, 1847, during the Mexican War. It was said to have been cast from church bells at Chihuahau, using bronze and silver in its construction. Before the war the gun was reportedly used for Fourth of July salutes in Lexington.

As to what later happened to Old Sacramento, according to one account (Here) the artillery piece was used throughout the battery's MSG service, but after they crossed the Mississippi River and transferred to Confederate service in 1862 it was then stored in Memphis, Tenn. Unfortunately, it was later sent to Selma, Ala., where it was melted down and recast.


[2] Bledsoe had been wounded at Dry Wood Creek - the battery temporarily commanded by Capt. Emmett MacDonald during his absence - but later returned to his post during the last few days of the Siege of Lexington and was said to have commanded the battery from a rocking chair.


Returning to Lexington after the war, Bledsoe married in 1869 and settled on a farm in Pleasant Hill, Mo. He served several terms on the Cass County Court, as county collector, and was elected to the Missouri State Senate. Bledsoe died at his home in Pleasant Hill, Mo., February 7, 1899, and is buried in Pleasant Hill Cemetery there.
 
Last edited:

alan polk

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Jun 11, 2012
Messages
2,635
Thanks. It is stated - I believe in Bearss' works- that Bledsoe had one Witworth at Raymond, but there seems to be no source for it. At the park at Raymond, the Withworth idea lives on. It would seem strange to have one gun with such different ammunition. Have you run across anything in regards to them having a Witworth?
 

AUG

Major
Retired Moderator
Joined
Nov 20, 2012
Messages
6,998
Location
Texas
Thanks. It is stated - I believe in Bearss' works- that Bledsoe had one Witworth at Raymond, but there seems to be no source for it. At the park at Raymond, the Withworth idea lives on. It would seem strange to have one gun with such different ammunition. Have you run across anything in regards to them having a Witworth?
Think I did read that somewhere searching on Google Books but couldn't find the original source so left it out. After their transfer to Confederate service up until Chickamauga I can't specify exactly what guns they were equipped with. One source stated that they received four new guns after transferring to Confederate service at Memphis in '62, but didn't state what they were. Other accounts claim that Old Sacramento was still in use after that, so I'm not certain.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

AUG

Major
Retired Moderator
Joined
Nov 20, 2012
Messages
6,998
Location
Texas
Joseph A. Wilson, "Bledsoe of Missouri," Confederate Veteran 7 (1899), p. 462-463.

Note that Wilson claims that Bledsoe surrendered in Hamburg, SC, however every other source that I have seen states that he surrendered in Georgia.

Bledsoe of Missouri 1.jpg

Bledsoe of Missouri 2.jpg

Bledsoe of Missouri 3.jpg
 
Last edited:

SWMODave

First Sergeant
Forum Host
Thread Medic
Joined
Jul 23, 2017
Messages
1,437
Location
Southwest Missouri
Thanks for sharing this information. Bledsoe took a serious beating at Wilson's Creek when he got into an artillery duel with Sigel at near point blank range. After the 3rd Louisiana had defeated Sigel, they were sent to the left flank of the Missourian's fighting on Bloody Hill and would participate in the third and final charge up the hill. As they marched thru the valley, both soldiers that kept diaries in the 3rd noted Bledsoe's condition.

Sgt William Watson with Co K wrote - "As we moved onwards we passed Price's battery, which was silenced. The place here showed signs of rough work; the ground was much ploughed up by cannon shot, and the dead and wounded lay thick. The place was enveloped in smoke from the burning grass and debris....This was all the better for us, as it hid our approach from the enemy."

Sgt William Tunnard also with Co K wrote - "This battery had taken a position within point-blank range of Sigel's guns, with the disadvantage of being in the valley. As the Louisiana Regiment passed this battery to charge the enemy's guns, only a single man stood near it, his head bandaged with a red handkerchief, his face and person blackened with powder and smeared with blood. One gun was upset, the ammunition-wagon scattered in pieces around, the horses lying around dead, horribly mangled, the ground trodden down in many places, and, in others, torn up by the plunging shot, actually grimson with gore. As the regiment passed the spot, the men exclaimed, "Give it to them boys. They have ruined our battery, killed our men and our ammunition is gone." He looked the impersonification of one of war's grim demons. That scene will not soon be forgotten by those who witnessed it."

As to the Old Sacramento, after researching this for an artillery outfit, it is my opinion that the Old Sacramento name was attached to more than one cannon that was captured at the Battle of Sacramento. Here are a few accounts I can find at the moment, I would have to try to find the report I did years ago
http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/kansas/Old-Sacramento.pdf
https://books.google.com/books?id=4Ztz5znHbVAC&pg=PA541#v=onepage&q&f=false

We Missourian's aren't real keen about the Kansan's always trying to 'up' us, but in this case, they actually have what's left of theirs, ours got melted apparently :whistling:
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

AUG

Major
Retired Moderator
Joined
Nov 20, 2012
Messages
6,998
Location
Texas
Thanks for the additional info @SWMODave. When first reading into Bledsoe's Battery I was pretty confused with there apparently being two Old Sacramentos.

Here's a picture of the other Old Sacramento on display at the Watkins Museum of History in Lawrence, KS: http://www.watkinsmuseum.org/tour/image-html/10_cannon.html


Also, I've since found the following article on the battery in History of Lafayette County, Mo. which includes some interesting tidbits.

BLEDSOE'S BATTERY.

This was originally a Lafayette county organization, and therefore a sketch of its history properly belongs in this history of Lafayette county. The battery was organized at Lexington, about the middle of June, 1851, in response to Gov. C. F. Jackson's proclamation calling out 50,000 state militia. The officers then were: Hiram M. Bledsoe, captain; Curtis O. Wallace, 1st lieutenant; Charles Higgins, 2d lieutenant; Frank S. Trigg, 3d lieutenant. The names of other members of the battery at this time, we have not been able to ascertain.

At first they only had two guns; one was "old Sacramento," the gun which Col. Doniphan had captured from the Mexicans at Sacramento in 1846, originally a nine-pounder, but now bored out to a twelve-pounder. (See article headed "Lafayette Men's First Battle.") The other one was an iron six-pounder, one of the two that had been cast at Morrison's foundry. A brass six-pounder from Independence was afterwards added to the battery. But during the course of the war Bledsoe's battery lost, captured, exploded and wore out guns, so that first and last it had in use every kind of gun known to modern artillery service — howitzers, parrotts, Rodmans, Napoleons, — brass, iron, steel amalgum; rifled and smoothe bores.

The battery was engaged, under its original commander, Capt. Bledsoe, of Lexington. . . . Owing to the uniform success and skill with which this battery was managed, and the fact that it retained the same name and commander from the first battle in Missouri to the final close of the war, there was probably no artillery command on either side, which won so wide a fame as "Bledsoe's battery."

The following list of members and casualties is all we have been able to gather of men from Lafayette county:

Captain, H. M. Bledsoe, of Lexington.

1st Lieut., Curtiss O. Wallace, of Lexington; resigned in 1862.

2d Lieut., Charles Higgins, of Lexington; wounded in hip with grape shot at Battle of Carthage.

3d Lieut., Frank S. Trigg, of Lexington; wounded at Pea Ridge.

At Battle of Wilson's Creek it had 40 men engaged. David Morris was killed. Wm. Young, of Lexington, had left arm shot off at shoulder, and right hand, all except the thumb and forefinger. H. P. Anderson shot in face and breast. Horses nearly all killed.

At Carthage, Charles Wallace, Lieut. Higgins and Thomas Bratton were wounded, besides eight others, names not learned. Seven of the battery horses were killed.

At Dry Fork Capt. Bledsoe himself was severly wounded, but recovered sufficiently to reach Lexington and take command of his battery in the last day's fight there.

J. S. Wheatley, lieutenant, enlisted, 1861; wounded at Jackson, Miss., July 10, 1863; discharged, 1865.

Wm. B. Steele, of Lexington; enlisted in 1861, and served till the final surrender in 1865.

John Santameyer, Davis township.

Hezekiah Santameyer, from Davis township.

Amos Anson, from Davis township.

Wm. Summers, from Lexington.

C. L. Bradley, of Lexington, enlisted in 1861, and went through.

Arthur Brown, from Mayview.

Charles Wallace, from Lexington, went through.

F. S. Letton, from Lexington, sergeant all through.

Thomas Young, from Lexington, from 1861 through.

Hamilton Atterberry, from Aullville.

Benj. Atterberry, from Aullville.

Lee Boak, from Clay township.

Charles Anderson, from Aullville.

J. R. Martin, from Lexington, served all through.

Several years ago a consecutive sketch of the different actions engaged in by this battery, was written by W. B. Steel, Esq., for six years past the efficient and popular county clerk. From this document, still in manuscript, we copy a few stirring incidents. In September, 1862, while the confederates were marching south from Iuka, and being pursued and annoyed by the federal cavalry, the narrative says:

Our guns, were placed in line by the side of the road; the 2d Texas regiment formed on us and in line between our guns; the balance of the brigade, were formed to our right and left, and to our rear. Our cavalry had formed on a ridge some 200 yards in our rear. The enemy were seen forming in our front about 200 yards off; they seemed to be observing our cavalry, and took no notice of us. We waited until about 500 or 600 had gotten in line, when we opened with our battery and that of the 2d Texas; we fired very rapidly for a few minutes, and greatly surprised the Texans by the rapidity with which we could fire, for we fired six rounds while they only got in two. This had a good effect; it stopped the enemy from any further annoyance and caused our trains to move up. See Gen. Maury's report of battle of Iuka, to Gen. Price. Also Bevier's "Confederate Brigades," page 135.

At the battle of Resaca, second day, the narrative says:
When the sun was fairly up, the enemy made his appearance, and our battery was the first to welcome them. We had hardly fired the second round when the enemy's batteries to our left opened on us; we at once turned on them, when suddenly twenty or thirty rifled guns at long range poured their fire upon us, and it looked as if the whole earth would be torn up. We kept up our firing on those batteries that were within range until about 2 o'clock p. m., when one of the enemy's balls from a rifled gun struck the right wheel of our left gun about middle way, going through the tire and hub, which at once dismounted our gun and she fell to the ground; out of nine cannoneers seven were wounded, and but two left to mount the gun. It was hardly a minute, however, before she was remounted and again engaged with the enemy.

At the battle of Nashville:
The enemy came out above Nashville on our left, in strong force, and succeeded in breaking our lines. Our division was ordered to reinforce the left, but the artillery was ordered to remain on the right to defend that part of the line, should the enemy advance. While the fight was progressing on the left, and we were on a high elevation anxiously gazing on the scene, some one called, "Look, look, here they come!" "To guns, "to guns!" was the order. We were at once ready for action, and Captain Bledsoe gave orders to hold fire — not to fire until the enemy were within twenty paces. Captain B. had his own battery, besides Capt. Goldthwait's and Capt. Beauregard's, making twelve Napoleon guns. Our guns were double charged with canister, awaiting the near approach of the enemy. Soon we discovered a line of battle — colored troops advancing on us through a blue grass pasture, and behind them a line of white soldiers. We held fire until they were close, when it seemed that every gun was fired at the same time, which created great confusion and panic with the enemy. We fired as fast as we could; the enemy were fleeing in the greatest disorder; we kept up the fire until they were out of sight. We found the field strewn with dead and wounded in our front; one of our men counted sixteen federal soldiers touching each other, so close were the dead lying.
 

Legion Para

Captain
Retired Moderator
Joined
Jul 12, 2015
Messages
6,116
Moderators (@bdtex ): Could you please move this thread to the Regimental Histories Forum. Thank you.
 

major bill

Colonel
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 25, 2012
Messages
15,829
Purchased this today, but am not sure who the Bledsoe's Battery war. Beldsoe's Battery Missouri Light Artillery perhaps?

texas 7.jpg


If you are going to wear a secession cockade, pick one big enough for people to see.
 
  • Like
Reactions: AUG
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

major bill

Colonel
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 25, 2012
Messages
15,829
Great update on Bledsoe's Battery. I had not greatly researched the image which I purchased today. It is kind of a fun image and I am not sure what I will do with it. I had several other prints I could buy, but for some reason liked this image.
 

major bill

Colonel
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 25, 2012
Messages
15,829
I visited the Michigan Military Heritage Museum today and head someone say the cannon they have on display belonged to this battery. I did not really look into it, but thought buying the uniform print was worth purchasing.
 
Top