Losses in William Nelson’s Confederate Artillery Battalion in the Gettysburg Campaign

Tom Elmore

Sergeant Major
Member of the Year
Joined
Jan 16, 2015
Messages
2,413
Lieutenant Colonel William Nelson’s artillery battalion of the Confederate Second Corps comprised just three batteries (instead of the usual four), with a total of 11 cannon. It entered the Gettysburg campaign with an estimated 293 officers and enlisted men. During the entire battle the battalion was largely held in reserve (Milledge’s battery alone fired 48 rounds). Only one man was listed as being wounded.

The usual percentage of overall manpower (my rule of thumb is 15 percent) was detailed to logistical support functions, including (reportedly) at least five slaves whose principle duty was probably to cook for the command. In addition to limbers and caissons, each battery probably had three or four wagons to haul food for the animals and men, along with officers’ baggage and soldiers’ knapsacks, cooking utensils, the ubiquitous paperwork (rolls and reports), etc.

Altogether the battalion may have had about 15 support wagons. Many of these wagons, together with 25 personnel (mostly in the support services, with perhaps some sick artillerymen), along with five slaves, were captured in Pennsylvania on the retreat, during a Federal cavalry raid on the night of July 4/5 at Monterrey Pass (also referred to as Jack’s Mountain, South Mountain or Waterloo – a nearby village).

While unfortunate for the battalion, it does allow us to help reconstruct the supporting non-combatant portion of one of Lee’s 16 artillery battalions, including accompanying slaves who were never counted officially. Here is a breakdown by battery:

Nelson’s Battalion, Captain Thomas Jellis Kirkpatrick’s Battery (Amherst Artillery, Virginia), three Napoleons and one 3-inch Rifle. A member of the battery, Private Henry R. Berkeley, wrote that all of the battery’s knapsacks, cooking utensils and extra clothing were lost, and Kirkpatrick’s spare horse was taken. Also, their “beloved cook” Henry was captured (odds are good that Henry was a slave, as he is referred to only by first name). Other personnel losses included:
-1st Lieutenant Ambrose R. Woodroof (or Woodruff), captured, sent to Johnson’s Island, Ohio, exchanged February 26, 1864 in return for Lt. Doughty, 53rd Indiana.
-Quartermaster Sergeant Isaac W. Rucker, captured, released from Fort Delaware on June 21, 1865.
-4th Corporal Thomas D. Smoot, captured, released from Fort Delaware June 14, 1865.
-Private George T. Bennett, detailed as teamster to Major John Page, captured, exchanged in 1864 from Fort Delaware.
-Private William J. Bethel, detailed as teamster in the battery, captured, released from Fort Delaware on June 19, 1865.
-Private Moses W. Butterworth, captured, released from Fort Delaware June 19, 1865.
-Private James T. Campbell, captured, died at Fort Delaware October 12, 1863.
-Private Elijah William Harris, captured, released from Fort Delaware June 20, 1865.
-Private John W. Manly, captured, released from Fort Delaware June 20, 1865.
-Private Henry L. Motly, captured, died at Fort Delaware October 18, 1863 of smallpox.
-Private John L. Williams, captured, died at Fort Delaware May 24, 1864 of smallpox.
-Private Chesley D. Wills, captured, took Oath of Allegiance at Point Lookout in January 1864.
-Private William H. Woody, detailed as teamster in the battery, captured, died at Fort Delaware August 14, 1863.

Nelson’s Battalion, Captain John Livingston Massie’s Battery (Fluvanna Artillery, Virginia), three Napoleons and one 3-inch Rifle. Private Meredith F. “Merrit” Seay informed his wife Martha in a letter dated July 20 that his battery had lost all their knapsacks with their best clothing (knapsacks frequently contained a set of the best clothes possessed by a soldier, who usually chose to wear his worst set when a battle was imminent).
-Private John M. Blackwell, detailed as teamster for Quartermaster Captain Francis Browne Deane, captured, released June 19, 1865.
-Private James E. Smith, detailed as teamster for battalion Quartermaster, captured, released June 21, 1865.
-Private John M. Smith, detailed as teamster for battalion Quartermaster, captured, released June 21, 1865.
-Private Henry D. Willis, detailed as teamster for battalion Quartermaster, captured, released June 22, 1865.
-Private Gideon R. Rilee, detailed as blacksmith/artificer for battalion Quartermaster, captured, died at Fort Delaware September 18, 1864 of dysentery.
-Private James F. Payne, captured, died at Fort Delaware March 6, 1865 of acute diarrhea.
-Private Thornton R. Cawthorn, captured, released June 22, 1865.
-Private Robert J. Herndon, captured, released June 20, 1865.
-Private William Shipp, captured, released June 21, 1865.
-Private Joseph H. Taylor, captured, released June 21, 1865.

Nelson’s Battalion, Captain John Milledge’s (Jr.) Battery, Georgia Artillery, two 3-inch Rifles and one 10-pounder Parrott. The existing service records for this Georgia battery do not show comparable losses at Monterrey. It suggests either: the records are incomplete; the battery was not with the battalion at the time of the Federal cavalry raid; or by good fortune it largely escaped the same fate.
-Private James Blackmon, captured, released from Fort Delaware on June 10, 1865.
-Private William J. Turner, captured, released from Fort Delaware on July 3, 1865.

Sources:
- Compiled Service Records.
-Four Years in the Confederate Artillery, the diary of Private Henry Robinson Berkeley, ed. by William H. Runge (University of North Carolina Press, 1961)
- The Bulletin of the Fluvanna County Historical Society, No. 41 (April 1986) and No. 42 (October 1986), The Boys Who Wore the Gray, A Collection of Letters and Articles Written by Members of the Fluvanna Artillery 1861-1865, parts I and II, ed. by Ellen Miyagawa.
- https://southmountaincw.wordpress.com/
 
Last edited:

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

lelliott19

Captain
Forum Host
Silver Patron
Joined
Mar 15, 2013
Messages
5,796


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