Ritter's Battery, 3rd Maryland Artillery, CSA

Legion Para

Retired Moderator
Jul 12, 2015

3rd Maryland Artillery, CSA

Alternate Designation
Ritter's Battery

One of the most traveled units in the Civil War, seeing action in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee, Ritter's Battery was originally organized by Captain John Latrobe, of Baltimore, in the fall of 1861 in Virginia.

Initial training began at Camp Dimmock near Richmond in November. On the 15 the battery lost it's first casualty to the war when Lieutenant H.A. Steuart attempted to return to Maryland to collect medical supplies and more recruits. Steuart was captured and held at the old Capitol prison for about a year before being shot while attempting to escape.

In December the battery moved to Camp Lee and was mustered into the Confederate Army on January 14, 1862. Term of service: duration of the war. Contingent: originally 92 men. Armament: 2 six-pounder smooth bore, 2 twelve-pounder howitzers and 2 three-inch rifled pieces.

In February the battery was transfered to Knoxville, and the pattern for it's diverse future was established when part of the crew was detached to guard the home of Parson Brownlow, who had openly attacked the Confederacy from his pulpit; part was detached to defend Cumberland Gap; and by April the remainder had marched off with General Leadbetter on a raid to the Clinch River. In mid-April part of the detachment with Leadbetter returned to Knoxville, only to be put on a train to Chattanooga where they were to seek out any enemy force thought to be in the area. The alarm was false and the detachment under Lieutenant John Rowan (Rowan was from Elkton, Md., a community staunchly Unionist, and my home town) returned to Knoxville, where they re-united with the crew from Cumberland, which had endured fighting off Federal assaults in the middle of snow storms, short rations and freezing cold.

In May, 25 Tennessee recruits joined the battery before it marched as a unit to Clinton Tennessee. In June it was back to Chattanooga, then to Morristown, Loudon and Blain's Cross Roads, where 50 Georgians joined the battery. Then back to Tazewll in east Tennessee, where, as a part of General Reynolds' brigade the battery helped puch Federal troops back to Cumberland Gap. For several days Reynolds engaged Federal troops around the Gap. On the 23rd General Kirby Smith ordered Reynolds to join him in Kentucky.

The battery marched to Richmond, Lexington and finally Covington, oppossite Cincinnati, Ohio. The move by Smith was a feint to draw troops away from Louisville, General Braxton Bragg's objective. The battery moved with the army from point to point through September. On October 4th the battery was to provide a 14 gun salute during the inaguration of Governor Hawes (the Confederate Military Governor), but Frankfort was threatened by a large Federal force on the 3rd and abandoned. Smith retired to Harrodsburg. After the Battle of Perryville, Bragg retired to Tennessee, the 3rd Maryland returned to Knoxville, serving in the army's rear guard during the retreat.

In January the battery was sent to Vicksburg, and again split up. On the 23rd three guns were sent down river to Warrenton. A crew was placed on the "Archer"and sent down river a few days later. On the 30th a detachment was sent up river to General Ferguson's command at Deer Creek. On the 27th the crew on the Archer fired with effect on the DeSoto, a Confederate ship captured by the Federals. In February the Federal Ram "Queen of the West" was captured and the crew on the Archer was transfered to her. On the 24th the "Queen" the "Webb" and the "Grand Era" sailed up river and captured the formidable "Indianola." During the action the "Queen" came alongside the "Indianola" and the Maryland crew fired point blank into the Federal ship while exposed to point blank fire from the Federal crew. On April 14th the "Queen" was sunk at Grand Lake, Louisiana. Nine of the 13 man crew were killed, drowned, or captured.

Captain Latrobe left the service in March. Lt. Claiborne was promoted to Captain, and Orderly Sergeant William Ritter to Junior 2nd Lt. On the 21st he was promoted again to Senior 2nd Lt.

During the siege of Vicksburg several men were wounded and two killed, including Claiborne. Lt. rowan replaced Cliaborne, and Ritter was promoted to Senior 1st Lt. When Vicksburg fell, 3 officers, 70 men, 5 guns and 135 horses and mules of the 3rd Md. fell into Federal hands. However, one gun, the one Toomey had taken north with Ferguson, under the command of Lt. Ritter, was not in Vicksburg at the time of the surrender. Ferguson had attached the battery to Missouri artillery along the Mississippi River harassing transports moving reinforcements to Vicksburg. When Federal forces moved to Black Bayou in March, Ferguson met them at Rolling Rock and a three day battle ensued in which the battery was heavily engaged. On April 29th the battery was moved to Fish Lake, near Greenville, Mississippi, and here harassed transport moving toward Vicksburg. On several occassions the battery engaged heavily armoured gun boats, and was instrumental in the capture of the supply laden "Minnesota," transporting an estimated $250,000 of food stuffs that Ferguson troops were in great need of. The battery participated in several bloody skirmishes as the army moved towards the Yazoo River. At Vernon, Mississippi the battery was attached to General Walker's division under the command of an Arkansa battery whose commander was senior to Ritter. General Johnston moved to Jackson, and there the battery was hotly engaged for seven days, loosing two men and several wounded, including Ritter.

The Marylanders captured at Vicksburg were paroled on July 12th and furloughed for thirty days on the 26th. They then reported to Decatur , Georgia, where Rowan aquired four guns and a number of replacements. Ritter moved to Demopolis, Alabama in September for repairs, and on October 19th was order to join the 3rd Maryland at Decatur.

The battery moved to Sweet Water, Tennessee, then joined General Bragg at Lookout Mountain. The battery was positioned as reserve artillery on Cemetery Ridge and was not engaged in the Battle of South Mountain. The army fell back to Dalton, Georgia and went into winter quarters. On January 20, 1864 the battery was moved to Kingston, and did not stir from their until May 7th, when it was moved to the front near Crow's Valley to face an expected attack, which came on the 8th and 9th. Afterwards, the army, now under Johnston, fell back to Resaca, and the 3rd Maryland took up a position near there to the left of the Dalton Road. The battery was still working on it's position when a Federal assault drove in the Confederate skirmishers. An Alabama battery to the left of the 3rd Maryland had so many casualties that it was forced to withdrawl, leaving the batttery to virtually vend for itself. But the battery held it's forward position for two days while the army started to pull back across the Oostenaula River. The battery had three killed and several wounded, among them once again was Lt. Ritter.

A defensive line was established at New Hope Church on the 25th and sporatic fighting continued until the army fell back to the Lost Mountain line on June 4th. The 3rd was moved to Marietta, and on the 22nd participated in General Stevenson's charge on the Federal right. Stevenson lost an estimated 1,000 men, but the 3rd was remarkably unscathed. On July 4th the 3rd mved to the Chattahoochee River, and was engaged in vending off another Federal assault at Mill Creek Road on the 20th.

Hood replaced Johnston, and the 3rd was moved to Atlanta and assigned to the Peach Tree Street redoubt which included several other batteries, all commanded by a Captain Corput. On August 20th Corput was wounded, Rowan took command of the artillery battalion, and Ritter command of the 3rd Maryland. When Hood moved out of Atlanta in late September to confront Sherman, the 3rd Maryland accompanied Stevenson's Division, and accompanied Stevenson to Nashville. On December 16th the battery was moved to the top of a hill in an open field about 1/4 mile from the Franklin Pike. Here the battery became involved in an artillery duel with six Federal guns. During the duel Ritter was nearly killed, and Captain Rowan, struck by a piece of an exploding shell died instantly. Around 3:00 P.M. the Confederate line began to give way. Realizing that he did not have time to remove his guns, Ritter decided to stay at them to the last. The Condfederate flank soon gave way and the Marylanders found themselves fighting an enemy to their front and a nother on their flank. They stayed at their guns until the Federal poured over their works, capturing sixteen men, the rest, including Ritter, managed to escape on foot at the last moment.

The Confederates stumbled back from nashville to Columbus, Mississippi. Here, on January 20th Ritter was promoted to Captain. On February 2nd the remnants of the 3rd Maryland were transfered to Mobile, Alabama, where they manned Battery D along with Phillip's battery. Battery D. consisted of seven guns, 2 twelve-pound siege guns, 4 thirty-two pound navy guns, and an army gun of the same caliber. Ritter commanded the battery.

On April 11, 1865 Mobile was evacuate. Confederate troops were conveyed by transport to Demoplois, Alabama. Frpm there the 3rd moved to Meridan, Mississippi. General Dick Taylor surrender Mississippi force to General Canby on May 4th, 1865. The 3rd Maryland was paroled on May 10th, and began it's final journey, home.

History provided by Gary Baker of the Association of Carroll's Sacred Trust.

Published Sources

  • Ritter, William L. "Operation of a Section of the Third Maryland Battery on the Mississippi in the Spring of 1863." Southern Hist Soc Papers 7 (1897): pp. 247-49.
  • "Sketch of the Third Maryland Artillery." Southern Hist Soc Papers 10 (1882): pp. 328-32, 392-401 & 464-71; and 11 (1883): pp. 113-18 & 186-93.
  • "Sketches of the Third Maryland Artillery." Southern Hist Soc Papers 11 (1883): pp. 433-42 & 537-44 and 12 (1884): pp. 170-72
  • "Third Battery of Maryland Artillery, C.S.A., Its History in Brief, and Its Commanders." Southern Hist Soc Papers 22 (1894): pp. 19-20