Captain Joseph Graham’s Charlotte Artillery

Tom Elmore

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At Gettysburg, Captain Joseph Graham commanded the Charlotte (North Carolina) Artillery battery, also known as Company C, 1st​ North Carolina Regiment Light Artillery. Its plaque on Seminary Ridge states that the battery consisted of two (12-pounder) Napoleons and two 12-pounder Howitzers, and that only the Napoleons were engaged on July 3, while the Howitzers remained in the rear. However, this information may be in error, as it conflicts with two other credible sources who indicate the battery had two rifled guns and two bronze guns:

-According to the Supplement to the Official Records (ed. by Janet B. Hewett, part II, vol. 48, series no. 60, Wilmington NC: Broadfoot Publishing Company, 1997, p. 177), the battery arrived near Cashtown on June 30. On July 1, the battery departed Cashtown and marched to Gettysburg. The two “rifle” pieces were engaged in the battle (this could refer either to 3-inch Rifles, or possibly 10-pounder Parrotts).

-In a July 3 letter from Private Tilman Jenkins to his parents, he wrote that his battery (Graham’s) arrived about two miles from Gettysburg on July 1. He described bringing up ammunition early on July 3 “for our rifle cannon, as the bronze guns have no effect on the Yankee --------.” Napoleons and Howitzers were bronze guns; Rifles and Parrotts were made of iron.

-The artillery battalion commander, Major William T. Poague, later wrote [Gunner with Stonewall] that on the morning of July 3 he selected good positions for his batteries, that is, “ten (10) guns – rifles and Napoleons.” The remaining (shorter-range) Howitzers were held in reserve to the rear.

The source of the supposed error, evidently repeated on the plaque, is traced to Poague’s Official Report. Poague’s battalion was divided into two parts on the field. He indicated that five guns – three rifles from [Captain] Wyatt and two Napoleons from Graham – were posted on the left, while about 400 yards further south were placed the other five guns (Napoleons) from the batteries of Captains Ward and Brooke.

I believe we can reasonably conclude that the battery possessed two Howitzers. As for the other section of two guns, there is an inexplicable split between reliable sources. On the one hand, Poague said they were (smoothbore) Napoleons, while on the other, both a member of the battery (Jenkins) and an unidentified yet presumably authoritative source (recorded in Supplement to the Official Records) stated they were rifled cannon. Captain Graham left behind a summary of the battle in a July 30 letter, but unfortunately he provided no clue to help resolve this particular mystery.

However the battery’s participants can be identified, with considerable accuracy, by reviewing available Compiled Service Records (CSRs), which are complete for the time period covering the Gettysburg campaign. Below then is a list of officers, staff personnel and non-commissioned officers, along with the total number of privates, as determined from their CSRs, who likely participated in the battle:

-Captain Joseph Graham
-1st​ Lieutenant Arthur B. Williams (probably present)
-1st​ Lieutenant Abdon Alexander (possibly present)
-2nd​ Lieutenant Thomas L. Seigle (probably present)
-Junior 2nd​ Lieutenant Henry A. Albright (possibly present)
-Sergeant Major Dennis Collins
-Quartermaster Sergeant J. Perry Smith
-Bugler Mark H. Dobbins (possibly present)
-Bugler James W. Murray
-Guidon Richard R. Peoples
-Artificer Robert L. Johnson
-Artificer William H. Rumfelt
-2nd​ Sergeant Joseph L. Hoffman
-3rd​ Sergeant Robert E. Sloan
-4th​ Sergeant Robert V. Grudger
-5th​ Sergeant Mathew Chapman (reduced to ranks on August 29)
-6th​ Sergeant John E. Albright
-7th​ Sergeant Robert P. Chapman
-1st​ Corporal Maxwell A. Fulbright
-2nd​ Corporal James H. Potts
-3rd​ Corporal Winfield M. Bray
-4th​ Corporal Moses B. Blackwelder
-5th​ Corporal James T. Freeman
-6th​ Corporal John W. Summerville
-7th​ Corporal Samuel M. A. Yount
-88 Privates (approximately)

As of 15 June 1863, there were 94 horses and 14 mules listed as public animals in the battery.
 
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lelliott19

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Although I can't say whether or not they still had these cannon at Gettysburg, here's an article that might hint as to the kind of some of the cannon Graham's Battery might have had. I knew about the cannon of the Edenton Bell Battery (3rd Battalion NC Light Artillery aka Albemarle Artillery) but didn't know that church bell cannon were part of the Charlotte Battery.

"This was formerly Brem's Battery. The guns were made of the bells belonging to the different churches in this town."
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[The Western Democrat., February 23, 1864, page 1.]

Post-war confirmation of the church bell cannon - ten years later, the Baptist Church at Charlotte is attempting to replace their bell, given up to supply Brem's Battery.
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[The Charlotte Democrat., September 26, 1871, page 3.]
 
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lelliott19

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As for the other section of two guns, there is an inexplicable split between reliable sources.
Here's something else that might help you sort out the Charlotte Battery cannon mystery. Captain Arthur B Williams' sketch of Company C, 10th NC State Troops from Histories of the Several Regiments and Battalions from North Carolina in the Great War 1861-'65, Volume 1, pp 542-543. He says they received a captured 3 inch rifled cannon in exchange for one of their brass six pounders - presumably one of the church bell cannon (see second excerpt below confirming the casting of and receipt of the church bell cannon by the battery.)
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Link
[Sketch of Company C, 10th NC State Troops, Captain Arthur B Williams, Histories of the Several Regiments and Battalions from North Carolina in the Great War 1861-'65, Volume 1, pp 542-543.]

And Captain Williams' sketch includes further confirmation of the church bell cannon and details the casting/receipt of same by the battery.
1573966634532.png

[Sketch of Company C, 10th NC State Troops, Captain Arthur B Williams, Histories of the Several Regiments and Battalions from North Carolina in the Great War 1861-'65, Volume 1, page 538.]
 
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TullyMcCrea

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Gettysburg letter by a Confederate soldier, Tilman Jenkins of the 1st North Carolina Light Artillery, who experienced the ravages of war first-hand at the Battle of Gettysburg and would later die at Spotsylvania Court House. Letter to his parents datelined “July 3, 1863 / Gettisburg, Penna. / Grahams Battery” reads in part, “…I have yet survived this horrible place. We arrived July first about two miles from this place and engaged the enemy who seemed to be everywhere. Gen. Longstreet arrived near two and a half in the afternoon and engaged the enemy upon a hill along our right flank on the second day. Many good men left their lives on the bloody ground including young Jacob. The sight was as terrible as could be imagined and the anguish of both men and horses was liken to drive a sane man mad. John was brought from the field without his face or legs having felt the wrath of a Yankee shell that burst next to him. Oh the horror! Blood coats the fields and flies are all over us like the demons of Hell. I do not know how men can do to one another what they did today and ever sleep again. Last night we slept upon the rocky ground, and got no rest from the moans of those who lay dying still yet on the fields. I am detailed to bring up ammunitions for our rifle cannon as the bronze guns have no effect on the yankee bastards. I wish them all to die in hell for what they do and to suffer forever. Their unjust and unholy cause. If I live through this day I will find a way to tell you I am still alive. Pray for me, Mother, and never give up our holy cause we are dying for. Your affectionate son, Tilman Jenkins.”



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Incredible Gettysburg Letter re Battle — “John was brought from the field without his face or legs having felt the wrath of a Yankee shell.Blood coats the fields and flies are all over us like the demons of Hell.”
 
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