Jefferson Flying Artillery

(aka Capt. Darden’s Company)

(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 Jefferson County, Mississippi, organized May 6, 1861; entered Confederate States service April 3, 1861. Captains -- William L. Harper, Putnam Darden. First Lieutenants -- Howell Hinds, A. J. Cameron. Second Lieutenant -- Archibald J. Cameron.

Third Lieutenant -- Putnam Darden, August, 1861.

The company was first organized as the Jefferson Troop, for cavalry. Lieutenant Darden was promoted Captain after Shiloh. Lieutenants promoted: First, H. W. Bullen, F. W. Coleman, Cabell B. Richardson; Second, Thomas Reed, J. D. Chamberlain, Edward W. Crozier. Total roll 245, published in Fayette Chronicle, 1895.

The company was originally organized as a cavalry company, the Jefferson Troop, and mustered into State service at Fayette about April 1, but soon afterward equipped as artillery. After some time in camp at Cane Ridge Church and Camp Dunbar, ordered in July or August to Mississippi City, opposite Ship Island. About October 1 ordered to Richmond, Va. Going by way of New Orleans and the river to Memphis, were held a week and posted on the river bank to stop a steamer supposed to be running blockade. Took railroad to Chattanooga, thence ordered to Bowling Green, Ky., arriving October 13, 1861. (Sergeant D. B. Wade's narrative). The battery passed the winter of 1861-62 at Bowling Green with Gen. A. S. Johnston's army, until the retreat to Tennessee. In the reorganization at Murfreesboro, February 23, 1862, it was assigned to Wood's Brigade, which was in Hardee's Corps at the battle of Shiloh, April 6-7, 1862. The attack on the morning of the 6th was so successful that Captain Harper had difficulty in following the infantry with his four guns. The battery charged through the camp of the Sixteenth Wisconsin. Becoming separated from the brigade, Captain Harper joined Smett's Battery in bombarding a Federal camp, and later, after changing position, he was posted by General Cheatham within 400 yards of a Federal battery, with which his gunners were in an artillery duel until the infantry took up the fight. Seventy men were in the battle, of whom eight were wounded. Among the wounded was Captain Harper, who turned command over to Lieut. Putnam Darden on the 7th, when the battery was fought in line with the Washington artillery of New Orleans, at the most hotly contested place of the field. Darden had only six men to work at each gun and they were worn out with the arduous labor of the day before. They made a desperate effort for about half an hour, and began to fall at their posts from exhaustion. The supporting infantry was gone when the men limbered up under a galling fire and retired, being compelled to leave one gun on account of the horses being killed, but bringing off a 12-pounder howitzer that had been captured from the Federals. April 26, at Corinth, the company had an effective total of forty-two men.

The siege of Corinth followed, after which the battery fell back with the army to Tupelo and in July accompanied General Bragg to Chattanooga. Continued in General Hardee's command, known as the left wing, Army of the Mississippi, after the reorganization in August, 1862. Under command of Capt. Darden they accompanied the army to Kentucky and participated in the battle of Perryville, October 8, where the battery had two men wounded. They were posted on a hill east of Perryville, supported by Bushrod Johnson's Tennessee Brigade, and actively engaged the enemy from that position and others which it took as the brigade advanced, in the last position being exposed to a particularly heavy fire of artillery.

Captain Darden's Battery (four guns, seventy men) went into the battle of Murfreesboro much fatigued by its battle of December 27, at Triune, supported by Wood's Brigade, and on the morning of December 31 moved upon the field with Johnson's Brigade, about the center of Cleburne's Division. As soon as opportunity presented, in the rapid advance of the division, Darden took position and silenced, in succession, two Federal batteries. When they had advanced again near the Federal hospital, Captain Hotchkiss, chief of artillery, placed Darden's Battery and Calvert's in position to engage some heavy rifled batteries that enfiladed the advanced position of Cheatham's Division. Here a bloody battle was fought, in which the Federal General Sill was killed. (Hardee’s report). Darden reported that he moved into the woods about midnight and checked the Federal pursuit of Wood's Brigade, then moved around to the right and with two guns of Humphreys' Battery silenced four guns of a Federal battery, which the Confederate infantry captured. "By this time our infantry had rallied, reformed and did the rest of the work for that battery." During the following days they were not engaged. They moved five pieces of artillery off the field. Darden reported Corpl. H. A. Hendrixson and Private J. T. F. Waters wounded, and four others slightly. He commended the judgment, prudence and courage of his Lieutenants, H. W. Bullen, F. W. Coleman and C. B. Richardson, and the gallantry of his whole command. Captain Darden was selected to represent the command in the Roll of Honor.

The battery was actively engaged June 24 to July 4, 1863, when George H. Thomas' Federal Corps occupied Hoover's Gap, compelling the retreat of General Bragg to Chattanooga. Darden's four Napoleon guns were depended upon constantly, according to the report of Gen. Bushrod Johnson, brigade commander. Darden opened fire on the evening of June 24, in support of Bates' Brigade, and next morning opened on the Federal line advancing. He was replied to by artillery and a great improvement in the Federal aim was observed. Darden expended about 3oo rounds of ammunition from Johnson's position before retiring, on orders from General Cheatham. July 2, at Morris' Ford of Elk River, with General W. T. Martin's Cavalry Brigade, Darden fired forty-eight rounds of shell at the moving columns of Federal artillery, cavalry and wagon trains, producing great confusion and loss. Attached to Bushrod Johnson's Brigade in the movement of Buckner's Corps from Loudon to Charleston, Tenn., September, 1863.

Capt. Putnam Darden commanding, in reserve corps artillery, under Maj. Samuel C. Williams, in Chickamauga campaign. The battery crossed Chickamauga Creek September 19, 1863, as reserve artillery of Buckner's Corps, was under heavy fire, but did not go. into action until the 20th, supporting the assault upon the Federal right at the Snodgrass place. The battery of four 12-pounder Napoleons fired eighty-nine rounds, had one man and eight horses killed and two men wounded.

The battery was on the line during the investment of Chattanooga, but was at Chickamauga Station during the battle of November 25. Went into winter quarters near Dalton, Ga., December, 1863, 81 present. Engaged in repulse of Federal demonstration against Rocky Face Gap, February 24-26, 1864. March, 1864, report, four Napoleon guns, 115 men present. Captain, Put Darden; Lieut., H. W. Bullen; Second Lieutenants, P. W. Coleman, C. B. Richardson. Captain Darden mentioned as conspicuously deserving promotion.

In Atlanta campaign, May to September, 1864, in reserve artillery, Col. J. H. Hallonquist commanding, with Kolb's Alabama Battery and Jeffress' Virginia Battery composing Williams' Battalion.

The company was in constant activity through the campaign. At Atlanta they took part in the battle of July 22, and one section was in the battle of July 28, on the other side of the city, under Gen. Walthall. Men were killed and wounded each day. Tennessee campaign November and December, 1864, in artillery of Stewart's Corps, Col. S.C. Williams commanding, with Cowan's Mississippi Battery and Bounachaud's Louisiana Battery composing Myrick's Battalion. At Decatur, Ala., in November, the company suffered considerable loss. In the flank movement to Spring Hill Lieutenant Coleman and twenty men were detached to accompany the infantry, to take charge of guns expected to be captured. At Franklin the company was not engaged. In the disaster at Nashville the battery lost Lieutenant Bullen and Sergeant Turpin and two guns. At Selma, Ala., April 2, 1865, when the works were carried by Wilson s Cavalry, the battery lost its guns and about half the men. captured. Some of the remainder gathered at Meridian with Captain Darden and were paroled May 9, 1865.