What Light Artillery Battery had the highest casualty rate in a single engagement during the Civil War?

The Walking Dead

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The “Ragged Old First” (1st Texas Infantry) nickname was now painfully fitting. Of the 226 that had gone into battle, 45 had been killed, 141 wounded. That's an 82 percent casualty rate, and would stand as the worst toll for any regiment, Confederate or Union, during a Civil War battle.

What Light Artillery Battery had the highest casualty rate in a single engagement during the Civil War? Please name the battery and engagement.
 

Joshism

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Are we only counting killed and wounded for this question?

If we include prisoners there are a number of instances of batteries being overrun which would likely win.

Either way, a few contenders worth checking out would probably be:
Confederate batteries at the Spotsylvania Mule Shoe
Union batteries at the Gettysburg High Water Mark
Union batteries overrun at Perryville (which I think included a rare 8-gun battery)

I seem to recall some small Union batteries at New Market and Confederate batteries at Pea Ridge and/or Prairie Grove also suffered badly.
 

Belfoured

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Are we only counting killed and wounded for this question?

If we include prisoners there are a number of instances of batteries being overrun which would likely win.

Either way, a few contenders worth checking out would probably be:
Confederate batteries at the Spotsylvania Mule Shoe
Union batteries at the Gettysburg High Water Mark
Union batteries overrun at Perryville (which I think included a rare 8-gun battery)

I seem to recall some small Union batteries at New Market and Confederate batteries at Pea Ridge and/or Prairie Grove also suffered badly.
There are probably even more contenders, such as the Federal batteries at Glendale. One potential problem is that during a battle it wasn't unusual for a battery to grab volunteers from an adjoining infantry regiment. My guess is that any casualties among those would be listed as the regiment's. And while we're at it, we should include some of the hardest working "crew members" - the four-legged members who were so crucial to the work and who often suffered disproportionate casualties.
 

Joshism

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And while we're at it, we should include some of the hardest working "crew members" - the four-legged members who were so crucial to the work and who often suffered disproportionate casualties.

I can't recall specific battles, but I'm sure I've read a number of instances of batteries suffering horsw casualties in battle to the point where most of the battery could no longer be moved.

If I understand correctly, counter-battery fire was usually solid shot: longer ranged and good for smashing cannons, caissons, and horses but less effective against the gun crews.
 

DixieRifles

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Check out the story of the 13th Ohio Light Artillery at Shiloh. They may not have had a lot of casualties but the entire crew fled and abandoned their guns. The officers were court-martialed.

Check out the wiki article on them. Here is a quote from it:
“The battery lost a total of 20 enlisted men during service; 3 enlisted men killed or mortally wounded, 17 enlisted men died due to disease.”
 

Belfoured

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I can't recall specific battles, but I'm sure I've read a number of instances of batteries suffering horsw casualties in battle to the point where most of the battery could no longer be moved.

If I understand correctly, counter-battery fire was usually solid shot: longer ranged and good for smashing cannons, caissons, and horses but less effective against the gun crews.
As for counter-battery fire, it was solid shot, case/shrapnel, and shell, affected to some (but not a significant) extent by range. Case/shrapnel and shell were effective in disabling crew and horses, which was just as important as dismounting guns, etc. Add in small arms fire if within range - that also caused significant casualties in a battery. The horses were often selected targets for the reason you mention.
 

Belfoured

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The greatest loss sustained by any battery in the Civil War, in a single engagement, was the 11th Ohio Battery at Iuka. Forty-six killed and wounded out of 54 present for duty.
IIRC, your numbers are just the gun crews, but even adding in the other battery members the rate was "off the charts". I also recall (from Cozzens' book, I believe) that their loss in horses was staggering.
 

Belfoured

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Listed below is the link to the thread i had psoted regarding the dreadful behavior of the 13th Ohio Light Artillery at Shiloh.
Regards
David

https://civilwartalk.com/threads/13th-ohio-independent-battery-at-shiloh.155306/#post-1998378
The "good news" example for rookie batteries at Shiloh that hadn't fired a shot before April 6 is the 1st Minnesota Light. Originally recruited as infantry, they were ordered to rush to the front of Prentiss's Division at 7 AM; were placed in a position that was being flanked almost immediately; saw their CO go down with a disabling wound; had 2 of their 6 guns disabled at that position by mechanical failure; were able to limber and get all 6 guns out of the position at the last second; unlimbered and re-limbered the 4 good guns another 4 times (including the Hornet's Nest, where they had their second narrow escape of the day); saw some of their members get the two damaged guns through the mob at the Landing, where they re-mounted the good tube on the good carriage; and those members were able to take the re-mounted gun and rejoin the other 4 guns, who by that time had unlimbered at Grant's final line. All by a group of guys who had never spent one second under fire.
 

Belfoured

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I would think it has to be. 54 men would be a very small battery. Wasn't a full six gun battery more than twice that at full manpower?
Yes. So I did a little research - total casualties were 57, total complement at the time 102. That's still an extremely high % for a battery, and was due largely to their close proximity to small arms fire. General doctrine was that a battery in reasonable danger of being overwhelmed should limber and "get out of Dodge". The obvious priority was to save the guns for another day, and following that significantly reduced the casualties. One of Henry Hunt's directives to his gunners ws that when choosing a position they should determine whether there were obstacles that could impair removing the guns and should assess whether the value of a position justified any obvious risk to the guns. Of course, being positioned to support infantry and having the foot soldiers bolt was a problem, as well.
 

rpkennedy

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At Gettysburg, two Union batteries suffered more than 30% casualties: Batt. I, 5th United States Artillery (Lt. Malbone Watson) and Battery A, 4th United States Artillery (Lt. Alonzo Cushing), 31% and 30.2% respectively.

For the Confederates, three batteries lost more than 30%. The Brooks (South Carolina) Artillery lost 50.7%, Morris (Virginia) Artillery lost 34.2%, and the Pulaski (Georgia) Artillery lost 30.2%.

Ryan

Edit: I mixed up who was commanding what battery. Lt. Hazlett commanded Battery D, 5th US, not Battery I.
 
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John Winn

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Are we only counting killed and wounded for this question?

If we include prisoners there are a number of instances of batteries being overrun which would likely win.

Either way, a few contenders worth checking out would probably be:
Confederate batteries at the Spotsylvania Mule Shoe
Union batteries at the Gettysburg High Water Mark
Union batteries overrun at Perryville (which I think included a rare 8-gun battery)

I seem to recall some small Union batteries at New Market and Confederate batteries at Pea Ridge and/or Prairie Grove also suffered badly.
Third Co., Richmond Howitzers, of which my great grandpa, John Winn, was a member and present. He survived the war. I stood at the exact spot where the battery was located. It was really peaceful and we were the only two people present. I'm not a spiritual person but I admit to having some strong emotions and "vibes."
 

Belfoured

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At Gettysburg, two Union batteries suffered more than 30% casualties: Batt. I, 5th United States Artillery (Lt. Malbone Watson) and Battery A, 4th United States Artillery (Lt. Alonzo Cushing), 31% and 30.2% respectively.

For the Confederates, three batteries lost more than 30%. The Brooks (South Carolina) Artillery lost 50.7%, Morris (Virginia) Artillery lost 34.2%, and the Pulaski (Georgia) Artillery lost 30.2%.

Ryan

Edit: I mixed up who was commanding what battery. Lt. Hazlett commanded Battery D, 5th US, not Battery I.
Your post leads to an important point. Cushing was kllled and Watson was severely wounded. Commanding a battery was dangerous to an extent not reflected by the battery's overall casualty rate. Names like Kirby, Woodruff, Dimick, Wilkeson, Hazlett, and Rorty - young officers all - died at their guns. At Gettysburg a number of other Union battery commanders were wounded.
 

Ole Miss

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Below is a link to a thread I had posted about Munch's 1st Minnesota Battery. The vast majority of artillery units fought well at Shiloh despite being mostly green and poorly trained. The fighting was brutal and continuous, especially on the Sunday, with the 9th Battery of Indiana Light Artillery with four 6-pounder smoothbores and two 12-pounder howitzers firing 1,152 rounds of ammuniton.
Regards
David

https://civilwartalk.com/threads/1st-minnesota-battery-at-shiloh.155632/#post-2004800
 

Belfoured

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Below is a link to a thread I had posted about Munch's 1st Minnesota Battery. The vast majority of artillery units fought well at Shiloh despite being mostly green and poorly trained. The fighting was brutal and continuous, especially on the Sunday, with the 9th Battery of Indiana Light Artillery with four 6-pounder smoothbores and two 12-pounder howitzers firing 1,152 rounds of ammuniton.
Regards
David

https://civilwartalk.com/threads/1st-minnesota-battery-at-shiloh.155632/#post-2004800
Thanks. In addition to the accounts cited, two brothers in the battery - William and Thomas Christie - and Sergeant William Clayton wrote several letters about the battery's actions on April 6. Not surprisingly, there are some gaps/inconsistencies between Pfaender's multiple accounts and between his accounts and those of the Christies and Clayton. The two disabled guns were in the same (Fisher's) section of two 3.67" "James" rifles. One of the other sections (which was Pfaender's) had two M1841 12 lb field howitzers - it accompanied Sherman's division upstream on an expedition on April 1-2 which resulted in no action (on April 4 the battery was re-assigned to Prentiss's division). The other section (Peebles) had two 3.67" "James" rifles. The real confusion was in the position at the Hornet's Nest, where the two sections operated independently for awhile. The men of this battery underwent incidents on April 6 that would have strained the skills of a much more experienced unit. I find their performance as rookies remarkable.
 
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