Stanford’s Battery

(aka Stanford’s Light Artillery)


(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’)



Of Yalobusha County, organized May 17, 1861; mustered into service of Confederate States at Grenada November 6, 1861.

Captain -- Thomas J. Stanford. First Lieutenant -- Hugh R. McSwine. Junior First Lieutenant -- Ansell A. Hardin. Second Lieutenants -- Tillman R. Trotter, James S. McCall. Junior Second Lieutenants -- James S. McCall, William A. Brown.

Muster roll of November 6, 1861, for twelve months, 11 officers and

70 men. Roll of June 30, 1862, 21 officers and 117 men (includes 5 died). Stanford's Battery was ordered to Columbus, Ky., November 7, and remained there with General Polk until the evacuation and retreat to Corinth. The battery was then, in March, 1862, fully equipped, with two 12-pounder howitzers, three 6-pounders and one 3-inch rifle. At the reorganization of Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston's army, the battery was attached to A. P. Stewart's Brigade, and at the battle of Shiloh was the only Mississippi organization in the division commanded by Gen. Charles Clark, who was wounded and succeeded by Stewart. The battery was reinforced before going into the battle of April 6, 1862, by a detachment of the Vaiden Artillery, taking the place of men that were sick. Because of the scarcity of ammunition, General Polk said, Stanford's men had never before heard the report of their own guns, but they fought with the steadiness and gallantry of well-trained troops. As was the case with most of the batteries, Captain Stanford was left at first to find his own position and work where he seemed most needed. He found a Federal battery in action and opened upon and silenced it at 600 yards distance.

According to General Ruggles, in the course of the fight that compelled the surrender of General Prentiss' Federal Division, he brought up Trabue's and Stanford's Batteries to oppose a Federal column advancing and gaining ground, "and when the conflict was at its height these batteries opened upon his concentrated forces, producing immediate commotion, and soon resulted in the precipitate retreat of the enemy from the contest. At this moment the Second Brigade and the Crescent Regiment pressed forward and cut off a considerable portion of the enemy, who surrendered." On the second day, April 7, Stanford and his gunners were sent to the support of a column commanded by General Breckenridge and engaged a Federal battery at a range of 500 yards, keeping up the battle gallantly, though Breckenridge's charge failed, until almost surrounded, when Stanford brought off as much of his battery as he could. Meanwhile, his persistent stand had enabled the infantry to rally before falling into a complete rout. He gave honorable mention to Lieutenants McSwine, Hardin, Trotter and McCall, and to Lieutenant Dunlap, temporarily attached. The battery had 131 men in the battle, of whom 6 were killed or mortally wounded, 15 wounded and 2 captured. They lost also fifty horses and four of their six guns, but this was through no fault of their own. The guns were afterward recaptured but could not be brought away.

During the siege of Corinth, with Stewart's Brigade, Clark's Division. Died at Corinth, 2o or 25. After the retreat to Tupelo, the company set out July 23 on the march to Chattanooga.

After the transfer to Chattanooga, organization of August 18, 1862, Capt. T. J. Stanford commanding, attached to Stewart's Brigade, Cheatham's Division, Polk's right wing, Army of the Mississippi. Accompanied the army to Kentucky and were engaged in the battle of Perryville, October 8, 1862, where the casualties were 2 killed, 1 wounded, by a single shot in an artillery duel with a battery a mile distant. When the infantry charged the battery advanced and aided materially in the victory won in that part of the field. After this battle they marched back through Cumberland Gap to Knoxville, and across the mountains to Tullahoma. Since leaving Tupelo they had marched 1,200 miles.

At Murfreesboro, Tenn., on Tuesday afternoon, December 30, 1862, General Stewart was asked for artillery to support Manigault's Brigade. "Knowing that Stanford, his officers and men, were always ready to go wherever needed, two pieces were promptly dispatched in charge of Lieut. A. A. Hardin. On their return I was informed that they were not properly supported; that they were required to engage, at a distance not exceeding 600 yards, guns that were throwing shell, canister and spherical case; that they accomplished no useful purpose but sustained some loss, one or two men being wounded, and Lieut. A. A. Hardin, a most estimable and gallant young officer, being killed." Stanford reported that Hardin had performed the object of his mission and was returning to the battery when he was killed by a cannon shot. In the great battle of the 31st Stanford was employed under the immediate orders of General Polk. He fought effectively from the old field on the right of the Wilkinson pike, replying to the fire of the Federal artillery, protected the Confederate columns when repulsed, and checked the Federal advances. Advancing as far as the Cowan house on the Nashville pike, later he gave material aid to the Confederate advance, though exposed to a galling fire, which killed two of his gunners. January 1, the batteries of Stanford, Carnes and Smith were posted near the railroad, where they were in action on the 2d. To assist the attack by General Breckenridge, at four in the evening, Stanford was instructed to open on the left of the woods to draw their fire from our right. "This I evidently succeeded in doing," Stanford reported. "They turned all their batteries on me, producing a concentration of shot and shell such as I never before witnessed." This artillery force that Rosecrans massed to repel the attack by Breckenridge was the greatest known to that time during the war in the west, and was only equaled by the artillery battle in the same month at Fredericksburg, Va. Stanford cared for his men so well that in the battle only 3 were killed and 4 wounded, and 7 horses killed. He complimented the conduct of Lieutenants McSwine and McCall. "The whole company acted bravely, doing no discredit to their reputation gained at Shiloh and Perryville." Private Richard H. Elliott was chosen to represent this command on the Roll of Honor for this battle.

May 5, 1863, Brig.-Gen. A. P. Stewart recommended the promotion of Captain Stanford to a majority. "Were I permanently in command of a division he would be my choice as a Chief of Artillery."

Capt. Melancthon Smith was promoted to command of the artillery battalion of Cheatham's Division, to which Stanford's Battery was assigned during the Chickamauga campaign of September, 1863. The battery was attached to Strahl's Tennessee Brigade, which suffered heavily in the battle of the 19th against Thomas' wing of the Union army. The forest did not permit much use of Stanford's four 3-inch rifles, and they were not engaged until Strahl had been driven back. Strahl wrote: "My battery was at all times immediately in my rear and ready at a moment's notice to go into position had an opportunity offered where it could have been used with effect."

After the siege of Chattanooga and battle of Missionary Ridge, November 25, 1863, the company was transferred to Stewart's Division, Captain Stanford commanding the battery, 116 present, four 12-pounder Napoleon guns. The winter was spent in camp near Dalton, Ga. In March, 1864, the company had 125 men present and absent. In the battles of Shiloh, Perryville, Murfreesboro, Chickamauga and Missionary Ridge, 39 men had been killed and 11 horses. Major Eldridge, commanding the battalion, wrote at this date: "Captain Stanford is one of the eldest Captains of Artillery in this army; has seen much service and been in all the important battles fought. He is, therefore, respectfully recommended for promotion."

During Atlanta campaign, in Eldridge's Battalion, Stewart's Division, Hoods' Corps. In his report of the battle of Resaca, May 15, Gen. A. P. Stewart wrote: "During the advance Stanford's Battery was of material assistance, and I deeply regret the loss of that skillful and brave officer, Capt. T. J. Stanford, with whom it has been my good fortune to be associated with little interruption since March, 1862." Stanford's Battery was posted along the line of Gen. H. D. Clayton, who also mentioned the Captain's death. The gunners of the gun at which he fell having been ordered to bear his body to the rear, Private John S. McMath continued to serve the gun alone until the brigade had returned from a charge. In the battle of New Hope Church, May 25, Eldridge's Battalion of three batteries, Stanford's, Oliver’s and Fenners', "was admirably posted, well-served and did great execution. They had 43 men and 44 horses killed and wounded." They repulsed, during nearly three hours, an attack by Federal infantry. "No more persistent attack or determined resistance has anywhere been made," said Stewart. Stanford's Battery had 2 killed and 13 wounded. Lieutenant McCall was commanding the battery in June, July and August.

In the final campaign of the army under General Hood the battery was commanded by Lieutenant McCall, Fenner of Louisiana commanding the battalion, attached to S.D. Lee's Corps. Colonel Hoxton, Chief of Artillery, reported that eight guns of the battalion (which included McCall's four) were posted on the hill near Nashville to the right of the Franklin pike on General Clayton's line, on the morning of December 16. When the Federal charge was made Fenner's guns "did most splendid execution upon them with canister." During the whole day the batteries were subjected to a terrible artillery fire, which killed many horses, and exploded two limber chests. When the infantry gave way, the artillerymen did their best to save their guns, and succeeded in limbering up nearly all of them, but the horses were shot down before they could get away. The Stanford Battery was unable to attempt to save anything. General Holtzclaw reported that the battery "was so badly crippled as to be immovable, scarce a whole wheel remaining in its carriages, sustaining, without works, a fire from eighteen of the enemy's guns for seven hours." McCall lost his four guns. The loss of men in the artillery of the army was small, said Hoxton, "except in Stanford's Battery, which lost 12 men killed and wounded."

Capt. A. P. Baldwin, Sixth Ohio Battery, reported: "December 16, battery was placed in position to the left of the Franklin pike, fronting Overton Hill, which was held by the enemy's infantry and Stanford's Mississippi Battery. Battery opened fire and expended 696 rounds of ammunition. During the firing two of enemy's limbers exploded with shells. This line of works was carried with the capture of Stanford's battery about 4 P. M."

A history of this battery was published by B. W. L. Butt, in a newspaper in 1866; not available.