Smith’s-Turner’s Battery

(aka Chickasawhay Desperadoes)

 

(from Dunbar Rowland’s "Military History of Mississippi, 1803-1898"; company listing courtesy of H. Grady Howell’s "For Dixie Land, I’ll Take My Stand’)

 

 Organized July 1, 1861; in active service from August, 1861.

Captains -- Melancthon Smith, promoted; William B. Turner. First Lieutenant -- A. G. Hough. Junior First Lieutenant -- John G. Dables. Second Lieutenant -- Joseph W. Eckford.

The company was first organized as the Chickasawhay Desperadoes of Clarke County, Captain James S. Terrall, April 24, 1861 for infantry service, original roll, 51. Consolidated with company raised by Captain Smith, commissioned July 14. Smith was a native of Alabama, graduate of West Point, who had resigned from the United States Army, in 1854, after nine years' service.

Captain William B. Turner entered the Confederate service April 24, 1861, as a private of infantry, promoted First Lieutenant; commissioned Captain May 2, 1863, for skill and valor. His battle record was Belmont, Shiloh, Perryville, Murfreesboro, Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge. First Lieut. Chandler S. Smith entered the service as Second Lieutenant of infantry, April 24, 1861. Second Lieutenant W. W. Henry as Sergeant of infantry same date, Second Lieutenant B. T. Harman as Sergeant same date. Lieut. C. LeB. Ingraham killed at Chickamauga.

The battery was with General Clark at Union City, Tenn.; August 5, 1861, was ordered to report to General Pillow at New Madrid. In October it was attached to Colonel Stephens' Brigade of Cheatham's Division in Polk's army at Columbus, Ky. When General Grant landed a force to attack the Confederate post at Belmont, on the Missouri shore, November 7th, Smith's Battery was ordered to the river bank, where it opened upon the Federals across the river. General Polk reported that he was particularly indebted for victory to Captain Smith, of the Mississippi battery, and to Major A. P. Stewart, who directed the artillery in the fort.

After the retreat to Corinth the battery continued with Cheatham's Division, Col. George Maney succeeding to command of the brigade.

At the battle of Shiloh, April 6-7, the battery had 12o men and 6 guns engaged, 1 man killed and 13 wounded, lost 23 horses, 3 guns and 5 caissons, but took 5 guns on the first day. It happened that General Cheatham encountered the left of the line of General Sherman, reinforced by Hurlbut's Division, which marched up to Sherman's position through the remnants of Prentiss' Division streaming to the rear, and consequently Cheatham had the most determined opposition found on the field that day. He brought up Smith's guns to oppose Hurlbut's Artillery, and the Mississippians unlimbered and came into battle with the utmost promptness, under a fire that disabled some of their horses. Their first shot stampeded one of Hurlbut's Batteries (Myers' of Ohio) but Ross' Michigan Battery made a gallant fight and was a worthy antagonist of Smith during an artillery duel of an hour, in which the Michigan company lost 50 killed and wounded. When Breckenridge came up and went into line on the right of Cheatham, a charge was attempted across an open field against the Federal line, but the Confederates were driven back with heavy loss. Later in the day, when Breckenridge had pushed around to the flank of the Federal line, a second assault was successful and Hurlbut fell back toward the river. In the course of his retreat, Miller's Mississippi Cavalry made a dash and captured the Michigan Battery before it could unlimber -- at least four of the guns and 27 men as stated in the Federal reports. "Capt. Melancthon Smith's Light Battery did splendid service," General Cheatham wrote, "and Captain Smith and his officers were distinguished examples of gallantry." Casualties, killed, 2. Smith's Battery fought gallantly through the second day also when victory was with the Federal troops. Cheatham held from morning until after 2 o'clock, when he was ordered to retire from the position he had gained, and was supported effectively by Lieutenant Eckford, of Smith's Battery, with two guns of the battery.

Lieut. W. B. Turner, commanding, in battalion of artillery under Maj. Melancthon Smith, attached to Cheatham’s Division, Polk’s' Corps. In the battle of Chickamauga, September 19-20, 1863, Turner had four 12-pounder Napoleon guns, served them at short range, fired 220 rounds and did great execution, at a loss to the battery of 2 killed and 5 wounded, and 2 horses killed. They crossed the Chickamauga on the 19th, with Maney’s Brigade, marched to the north and went into battle where Forrest’s Cavalry was attacking the left flank of General Thomas on the Chattanooga road. The place was one of great confusion and danger and in obedience to orders Turner posted three guns on a hilltop to the rear, which then became, because of his occupancy of the position, one of the chief historic spots of the field. One gun, under First Lieutenant Smith, remained with Maney's Brigade, which was driven back in a shattered condition. Maney reported: "My advance gun, under the immediate command and efficient management of Lieutenant Smith, after covering the retiring line with several well-directed shots at short range, was withdrawn to the hilltop and took position with the other three, the battery, by order of the Division General, being retained there with the line formed to check the enemy's advance." The battery was the rallying point of the division: of Cheatham, who reported that Jackson's and Smith's Brigades were now advanced to the right and left of Turner's Battery. "The enemy, flushed with a supposed victory, boldly advanced upon my line, and coming within short range was checked and forced back in disorder by the well directed discharges of shell and canister from the guns of Turner's Battery." In his report of that day's battle Cheatham made personal reference to this, "I cannot forbear to refer to the important service rendered by Lieut. William B. Turner, commanding battery. Posted on an elevation commanding the approach of the enemy, he used his advantage with great effect and displayed a degree of efficiency in the service of his guns highly commendable to himself, his officers and men, and accomplished a result the importance of which it is difficult to estimate." The division rested quiet under the protection of Turner's guns until ordered into the fatal night attack. Maney proudly mentioned his "four as good guns, and in my judgment, as gallantly and efficiently manned and served as any our service can boast." Three times, he said, the Union lines were shattered by the artillery fire, and this conduct was but a repetition of what Turner and his men had done at Perryville and. Murfreesboro.

After the siege of Corinth the battery accompanied Bragg's army to Chattanooga. In the organization of August 18-20, 1862, attached to Maney's Brigade of Cheatham's Division, Polk's right wing, Army of the Mississippi, Capt. Melancthon Smith was made Chief of Artillery, and the battery was commanded by Lieut. W. B. Turner. The battery accompanied the army in the Kentucky campaign, and at the battle of Perryville, October 8, 1862, had 4 wounded. The battery was placed on a hill on the extreme right, overlooking the Federal line of battle, and Turner opened an enfilading fire at a distance of 250 or 300 yards, with canister and shell, until the Federals fell back, when the Confederate infantry captured the battery which had been replying to Turner. That night Turner and his men took their horses to the front and brought off seven pieces of artillery that had been captured. Under the command of Lieutenant Turner the battery, two 12-pounder Napoleons and two 12-pounder howitzers, took part in the battle of Murfreesboro. Maney’s, Brigade advanced to Lavergne, where General Wheeler was stationed, December 26, and advised General Bragg that Rosecrans' army was advancing, whereupon Bragg fell back to Murfreesboro, and went into line of battle. In the battle of the 31st, Cheatham reported: "General Maney placed Turner's Battery of Napoleon guns in position near the brick-kiln, which in a short time silenced the battery on the east side of the road (Wilkinson pike)." This was the only one of Cheatham's batteries used that day (Wednesday) and it "did good service," Cheatham said. "On Friday and Saturday Captains Stanford, Scott, Carnes and Turner did excellent service with their guns, which had been advanced up the railroad by order of Lieutenant-General Polk," to assist in the attack on Round Forest. Turner reported that the battery was engaged four times Wednesday and six times Friday. "We drove back a line of infantry on Wednesday, and on Friday, in conjunction with Carnes' and Stanford's Batteries, were engaged with several of the enemy's batteries and drove back a column of their infantry." That evening, at sundown, Turner opened with his two light 12-pounder guns on an approaching column of infantry and repulsed it. During the two days they fired about 800 rounds. One man was killed, Henry Sellers, and 4 wounded. Smith was severely wounded as he was covering the retreat of Maney's Brigade, and Turner put in his place Lieut. C. LeB. Ingraham, who was killed in the fight that followed. "My battery fired during the engagement, which lasted one hour, 220 rounds of solid shot, shell, spherical case and canister. The repulse of the enemy was effected by my battery alone, as there was only an occasional shot fired by a few sharpshooters who had remained to support it." (Turner). On the 22d Lieut. W. W. Henry's section was the first to take position on Missionary Ridge, opposite Chattanooga, and that night the entire battery moved over the ridge to the place assigned them in the line of siege. The casualties of the 19th were 2 killed and 4 wounded. The battery was not in action on the 20th. Private F. H. Hendrix, killed, was named in the Roll of Honor.

In December, 1863, after the battle of Missionary Ridge and retreat to Dalton, Turner had been promoted to Captain. Present for duty, 107. Early in 1864 Lieutenant Smith was on detail as Regimental Adjutant. He had once been passed for promotion to Captain, was again recommended for promotion. March 29, 1864, four Napoleon guns, 89 men present for duty.

During the Atlanta campaign, 1864, Col. Melancthon Smith commanded the artillery of Hardee’s Corps, Hoxton commanded the battalion, Captain Turner commanded the battery.

September, 1864, Captain Turner commanding the battalion, Lieutenant Henry the company. In the Franklin-Nashville campaign, Colonel Smith, commanding artillery of Cheatham's Corps, battalion commanded by Captain Turner. March, 1865, Colonel Smith commanding right wing defenses of Mobile, Captain Turner commanding the company.

 

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