Dearing’s Artillery Battalion - the Batteries of Stribling, Macon, Caskie and Blount

Tom Elmore

1st Lieutenant
Member of the Year
Joined
Jan 16, 2015
An effort is made here to examine the strength, composition and location of Major James Dearing's Confederate artillery battalion, namely its four component batteries, especially in their July 3 engagement in direct support of Major General George Pickett's division. (The term "public" animals denotes horses and mules common to the battery, such as those used to pull limbers, caissons, support wagons, forge, etc. "Private" animals were horses owned by individual officers.)

Dearing's Artillery Battalion, Major James Dearing

Staff: 5 officers, 5 enlisted men; 1 wounded (Major John P. W. Read).

Officers: Major James Dearing, Major John P. W. Read, 1st Lieutenant and Adjutant Thomas Lewis, 1st Lieutenant and Ordnance Officer Hodijah Meade, Surgeon J. F. Shackelford.

1 horse killed on July 3.

Notes: The total battalion strength (combatants and non-combatants) at Gettysburg was an estimated 19 officers and 417 enlisted men, of whom 29 were killed or wounded (all on July 3). The battalion brought roughly 385 horses (public and private) and 65 mules to Gettysburg, and lost at least 38 horses in action on July 3 – higher losses among the animals occurred along the march. Some replacements were obtained along the way through confiscations from the populace.

Comments: Stribling's battery was located on the right of the battalion, but the placement of the other three batteries is not known with certainty from extant sources, so reliance is placed on the Bachelder maps, which show the order (right to left) as Stribling-Macon-Caskie-Blount. It is the same order that Major Dearing lists them in his report, which is also the alphabetical order of the companies. See attached map for approximate positions of the batteries during the July 3 cannonade.

Sources:
-Official Report of Major James Dearing.
-Compiled service records, Fold3.
-Nothing But Glory, by Kathy Georg Harrison and John W. Busey.

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Company A, Fauquier Artillery, Captain Robert M. Stribling.

4 12-pounder Napoleons, 2 20-pounder Parrotts – or 6 12-pounder Napoleons (see Comments)

5 officers, 117 enlisted men; 6 wounded (4.9%).

Officers: Captain Robert Mackey Stribling, 1st Lieutenant William C. Marshall, 1st Lieutenant Milton M. Rogers, 2nd Lieutenant Thomas Marshall Archer, 2nd Lieutenant Gray Carroll.

73 horses, 22 mules (public animals, on June 25).
10 horses killed on July 3.
119 horses [and mules?] (public animals, on July 12).

Notes: On June 20, crossed the Shenandoah River at Castleman's ford. On the morning of June 25, crossed the Potomac River at Williamsport, Maryland. On June 26, entered Pennsylvania. In camp three miles north of Chambersburg from the night of June 27 until the evening of June 29, when moved to one mile south of Chambersburg. Marched at 2 a.m. on July 2 and halted at 3 p.m. four miles west of Gettysburg. Resumed march in the evening to a point two miles southwest of the town and halted until daylight on July 3, when posted just west of the Emmitsburg road, on the far right of the battalion. During the morning, the battery fired about a dozen rounds at Federal skirmishers, in addition to participating in the afternoon cannonade. All of the ammunition in the limbers and caissons was expended prior to Pickett's advance. The 1st Virginia Infantry passed through the guns on their way to Cemetery Ridge.

Comments: The battlefield plaque cites 4 Napoleons and 2 20-pounder Parrotts, however, Captain Stribling stated that his battery was equipped with 6 "Richmond-made" Napoleons just prior to the campaign. On the other hand, Major Dearing reported obtaining a 20-pounder Parrott from Colonel E. P. Alexander in exchange for a 12-pounder howitzer (Napoleon?). The swapping of guns between battalion commanders was apparently a fairly common practice in Lee's army, although it is not well understood.

Sources:
-Compiled service records, Fold3.
-Official Report of Major James Dearing.
-Confederate Casualties at Gettysburg, by John W. Busey and Travis W. Busey, 4:1867-1868.
-Nothing But Glory, by Kathy Georg Harrison and John W. Busey.
-Addendum to the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, vol. 27, serial nos. 43-44, Wilmington, NC: Broadfoot Publishing Co., p. 341.
-April 1898 letter of Capt. R. M. Stribling, Confederate Veteran magazine, vol. 9, no. 5 (May 1901), pp. 215-216.
-The Years of Anguish, From Markham to Appomattox with the Fauquier Artillery, by Col. Robert M. Stribling.
-Diary or Memorandum of the Loudoun Artillery During the Years 1861-1862-1863, Greg Coco Collection, Gettysburg National Military Park, Box B-18A. [Presumed to be Stribling's battery]

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Company B, The Richmond Fayette Artillery, Captain Miles C. Macon.

2 12-pounder Napoleons, 2 10-pounder Parrotts.

5 officers, 95 enlisted men; 6 casualties (6.0 %) – 3 killed, 3 wounded; 1 deserted.

Officers: Captain Miles C. Macon, Senior 1st Lieutenant William Izard Clopton, Junior 1st Lieutenant William Winston Jones, Jr., Senior 2nd Lieutenant Benjamin H. Robinson, Junior 2nd Lieutenant Peyton Johnston, Jr.

96 horses, 22 mules (public animals, on June 6).
Requisition for 5 horses submitted July 1 at Chambersburg.
8 horses killed on July 3.
69 horses, 12 mules (public animals, on July 12).

Notes: The available data suggests a loss of at least 27 horses and 10 mules during the active campaigning period between June 6 and July 12, but only a fraction is attributed to the battle itself.

Comments: Captain Macon reportedly commanded at Gettysburg, but he may have been absent, sick. He was an invalid for much of the war and did not always participate in combat actions; Lieutenant Clopton often assumed his duties, especially after August 1863. Macon felt compelled to rejoin his command in the final days of the war and was killed.

Sources:
-Compiled service records, Fold3.
-Official Report of Major James Dearing.
-Nothing But Glory, by Kathy Georg Harrison and John W. Busey.
-War History and Roll of the Richmond Fayette Artillery, 38th Virginia Battalion Artillery, Richmond, VA: Everett Waddey, Printer and Stationer, 1883.

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Company C, Hampden Light Artillery, Captain William H. Caskie.

2 12-pounder Napoleons, 1 3-inch Rifle, 1 10-pounder Parrott.

3 officers, 104 enlisted men; 3 casualties (2.8%) – 3 wounded; 1 deserted.

Officers: Captain William Henderson Caskie, 1st Lieutenant J. E. Sullivan, 2nd Lieutenant Lewis Booker.

61 horses, 13 mules (public animals, on June 25).
Requisition for 9 horses submitted July 1 at Chambersburg.
7 horses killed on July 3.
67 horses, 13 mules (public animals, on July 12).

Sources:
-Compiled service records, Fold3.
-Official Report of Major James Dearing.
-Nothing But Glory, by Kathy Georg Harrison and John W. Busey.

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Company D, The Lynchburg Artillery, Captain Joseph G. Blount

4 12-pounder Napoleons.

4 officers, 96 enlisted men; 13 casualties (13.0 %) – 5 killed or mortally wounded, 8 wounded; 2 deserted.

Officers: Captain Joseph Gray Blount, 1st Lieutenant James Woodson Dickerson, 2nd Lieutenant William H. Blackwell, 2nd Lieutenant Joseph L. Thompson.

73 horses, 18 mules (public animals, on June 25).
12 horses killed on July 3.
74 horses, 11 mules (public animals, on July 12).

Notes: Arrived Williamsport on June 25. Arrived Chambersburg on June 28 [27?], departed 2 a.m. on July 1, reached Gettysburg in the evening. Took position on the battlefield about noon on July 3, withdrew about 5:30 p.m. Left field evening of July 4, reached Hagerstown on July 6, recrossed Potomac River the morning of July 14.

Sources:
-Compiled service records, Fold3.
-Official Report of Major James Dearing.
-Confederate Casualties at Gettysburg, by John W. Busey and Travis W. Busey, 4:1867-1868.
-Nothing But Glory, by Kathy Georg Harrison and John W. Busey.
-Addendum to the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, part II, vol. 70, serial no. 82, Wilmington, NC: Broadfoot Publishing Co., 1998, p. 363.
 

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