Culbertson’s Battery

aka McLendon’s Battery

(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’)

Capt. Jacob Culbertson.

No information on this unit in Rowland on Culbertson’s Battery per se.

However, Culbertson’s Battery is, in fact, McLendon’s Battery, i.e., Co. C, 14th Battalion Mississippi Light Artillery [which see]. (Some confusion in the records makes it seem like Culbertson’s Battery was a separate battery, which, however, it was not.)

The Official Records do make mention of McLendon’s Battery under the name Culbertson’s Battery. They state that the battery participated in the Fort Donelson Campaign, against Grant in his Mississippi Central Railroad Campaign in the fall of 1862, and in resisting Grant’s drive from Jackson, Mississippi, to Vicksburg, Mississippi, in May 1863. During its service in 1863 in Joseph E. Johnston’s army in Mississippi, the battery was in Tilghman’s Brigade, Loring’s Division, and, later, in Featherston’s Brigade, Loring’s Division. No record of its service under the name Culbertson’s Battery is found after 1863. Capt. Culbertson’s report of the service of the battery at Fort Donelson follows.

JACKSON, TENN., October 3, 1862.

COLONEL: The command of the river batteries at Fort Donelson having devolved upon me upon the death of Capt. Joseph Dixon, it becomes my duty to report to you the operations in said batteries during the siege. The four guns on the right of our 32-pounder battery were manned by Company A, Fiftieth Tennessee Volunteers.; the four on the left by Company --, Thirtieth Tennessee--both companies commanded by their captains (Beaumont and Bidwell) in person. Our two heavy guns (a 10-inch columbiad and a 68-pounder rifle)were manned by Capt. Ross, Maury Light Artillery, the rifle being under his personal direction in all the actions.

The first engagement took place on Thursday, February 13, about 11 a.m., when one gunboat approached and took position about a mile off and commenced a bombardment, obviously to draw out an exhibition of our strength. We responded with our rifle and 10-inch gun. Being in command of the 32-pounder only, I did not open fire until directed to do so by Captain Dixon, half an hour after action commenced. We opened with the 32-pounder at our maximum elevation; but our shot all fell short. The enemy then immediately retired. One of their last shot (from a rifle) striking one of our guns, dismounted it and instantly killed Captain Dixon. This was the only damage done to the batteries during the siege.

The next day, Friday, February 14, a combined land and naval attack was made on our works, six of the enemy's gunboats shelling our batteries during nearly an hour and a half. By General Pillow's order I withheld the fire of the 32-pounder until the enemy reached our point-blank nearly. This was opposed to my judgment, as it showed the enemy the positions of our two heavy guns, which I regarded as constituting our only hope. They took no advantage of it, however, but fired almost at random, and the fire of the 32-pounder became so destructive when the enemy had advanced to within 300 yards that they were compelled to retire.

It is to be remarked that the after portion (about one-third) of the armor of the four boats which approached so close to our guns is of wood, and that a further advance would have exposed them to a reverse fire through this portion.

In this action our rifle became unserviceable after the third or fourth shot, a priming wire having become lodged in the vent through the want of skill of the cannoneers in loading. They had had but two days' experience.

In the first day's fight Captain Shuster was disabled by the blast from one of the 32-pounders, near which he was standing when it was fired.

The gunboats remained with steam up just out of range for four days and nights, obliging our men to sleep by their guns ready for an attack. They suffered severely from the cold, want of sleep, and properly-prepared food.

Our then recent disaster at Fort Henry was calculated to inspire distrust of our own guns and a belief in the invulnerability of the gun-boats. Nevertheless the men went to their work with heroic alacrity, and bore themselves with a steadiness worthy of veterans. Their conduct is the fitting and only necessary encomium upon the efficiency and bravery of their company commanders.

My thanks are due to Major Robertson, of the Fiftieth Tennessee, for his very valuable and voluntary aid in both actions. Much praise was deserved by Lieut. H. S. Bedford, to whose skillful direction of the 10-inch gun our success is mainly to be attributed.

For further particulars I refer you to the accompanying reports of Captains Beaumont and Bidwell.

Your obedient servant,


Captain of Artillery, Commanding Batteries.”