WARREN LIGHT ARTILLERY
(aka CAPT. CHARLES SWETT’S BATTERY)
(from Dunbar Rowland’s “Military History of Mississippi, 1803-1898”)
Of Warren County, organized May 1, 1861; in service August 9, 1861.
Captain -- Charles Swett.
First Lieutenants -- James M. Oslin, Harvey Shannon.
Junior First Lieutenant -- Harvey Shannon.
Second Lieutenants -- Thomas Havern, Joseph Ashton, H.N. Steele, F. M. Williams.
Total, of Warren County, 116; county enrollment, 1863.
October 23, 1861, Major-General Hardec reported that his command at Cave City, Ky., was four regiments infantry, three battalions cavalry. and one section of artillery, commanded by Lieutenant Oslin. One of Hardee's regiments was commanded by Col. T, C. Hindman, in 1847 a Lieutenant in the Second Mississippi Rifles. He was General in connmand of the Arkansas Brigade at Bell's Station in December, and reported Swett's Battery in action near Woodsonville, Decenther 17. The company continued in his command after the retreat to Tennessee and fought at Shiloh April 6-7 in the division which was under his command after General Hardee was wounded, and after Hindman was disabled they were under Gen. A. P. Stewart. The official reports indicate that the service of the battery was of the most important character, and dangerous. At one moment they were saved from a destructive fire by a charge made by Hindman's Brigade, which resulted in the capture of the camp of Peabody's Federal Brigade. Swett's Battery was among those massed to defeat the reinforcement of General Prentiss, causing the surrender of that General and a large part of his division.
The battery was on duty during the siege of Corinth, May, 1862, and the battle of Farmington. Attached to Hardee's wing of the army in the Kentucky campaign, and participated in the battle of Perryville, October 8, 1862.
Under the command of Lieut. Harvey Shannon, with Liddell's Arkansas Brigade of Cleburne's Division, Hardee's Corps, participated in the battle of Murfreesboro, beginning at dawn, December 31, 1862. In Cleburne's resistless chargc, two rifled cannon and ammunition were captured, which Shannon added to his battery and used at subsequent periods of the battle. General Liddell reported: "The battery under command of Lieutenant Shannon was of infinite service to me throughout the action, the men behaving with the greatest bravery, having the battery always ready, and, oftentimes, at the right place at the right time without receiving or awaiting orders, for which I am indebted to the good judgment and coolness of Lieutenant Shannon." Colonel Kelly, Eighth Arkansas, reported that he was saved from a flank attack by "the timely arrival of Swett's battery." The guns taken, after the battery had been silenced by Shannon, were a brass 6-pounder rifle and a 10-pounder Parrott gun, and as one of Shannon's howitzers was disabled, the rifle
gun was at once substituted. In this fight Corporal Martin Green was killed, Sergeant John McMullen and Charles MeDermitt, Peter Hogan, Frank Bonengal and E.H. Duggar, wounded. In the battle that followed, the battery was in action near the Federal hospitals, commanded the Nashvillc pike, driving the Federal trains from the road, and on January 1 was in action against the Federal cavalry on Overall's Creek. Thev fought over about four miles of ground, took fourteen different positions, and fired 153 rounds to the piece, making a total of 612 rounds. Sergt. William P. McDonald commanded one section and rendered valuable servicc. Lient. Thomas Havern had his horse killed under him by a cannon shot. Several men in all were wounded and 11 horses killed and disabled.
At Liberty Gap, June 24-26, the battery fired 136 rounds, the section under Lieut. W. P. McDonald, including the Napolean gun, first meeting the Federal attack, supported soon by Shannon and Swett with the other sections. After this engagement the retreat of Bragg’s army to Chattanooga was begun.
In defense of Rocky Face Mt., Ga., Februarv 25, 1864, and at some loss compelled withdrawal of a rifle battery, about one mile distance.
In the Chickamauga campaign the battery, Lieutenant Shannon commanding, two 12 -pounder Napoleons and two 6-pounder rifles, served under Captain Charles Swett, acting Chicf of Artillery for Liddell's Division, which included Walthall's Brigade. They were in action September 18th with Federal batteries at Alexander's Bridge on Chickamauga Creek, and that evening crossed the creek with Walthall's Brigade at Byram's Ford. In the dense woods Shannon could not do much but take a position from which he checked pursuit of the brigade when it was outflanked and driven back. Later, taking another position while Cleburne advanced, Shannon shelled the Federal rear for half an hour, and brought off the field some captured artillery and ammunition. September 20 they fought on the northern extremity of Bragg's line, supporting Breckenridge, taking position in an orchard near McDonald's house. When Shannon opened upon the one battery visible he was answered by that and four others that had been masked, and he retired "as expeditiously as possible." In this movement the Federal skirmishers caused the upsetting of one of the guns and captured Lieut. W. P. McDonald, who was mortally wounded, and several other wounded men, also Corporal Joseph Ashton, who, however, made his escape when part of the Arkansas Brigade came to their help and rescued the gun and the wounded. Colonel Govan, commanding this brigade, reported that Shannon handled his battery with distinguished skill and gallantry and most effectively. The casualties were 2 killed and 2 wounded. Lieutenant Shannon and Corporal Warren Huffman were mentioned in the Roll of Honor.
After Chickamauga the battery was included with Key's Helena Battery and Semple's Alabama Battery in Hotchkiss' Battalion, the artillery of Cleburne's Division. Major T. R. Hotchkiss, commanding the battalion, entered the service in July, 1861, from Mississippi, as a private of artillery.
In his telegrams to Stanton, United States Secretary of War, during the battle of Missionary Ridge, November 25, 1863, Charles A. Dana said of the fight on the extreme north of the line: "Sherman undertook to take by storm a battery which the rebels obstinately maintained upon the hill above the tunnel. I saw the column sent up for this purpose twice repulsed, falling back the first time in disorder." General Cleburne, who defeated Sherman on this field, said in his report: "On the top of Tunnel Hill a space was left clear of infantry, and Swett's battery of four Napoleon guns, commanded by Lieut. Harvey Shannon, was posted on it so as to sweep north," in the direction of the ridge that Sherman occupied. When the serious fight of the day began about 11 o'clock a heavy charge was made on Swett's Battery at the apex of the hill. "The artillerymen stood bravely by their guns under a terrible crossfire, and replied with canister at short range, but still the enemy advanced." When within fifty paces of the guns a charge by Smith's Texans drove back the Federal line, though Smith and Mills fell wounded. A second assault was made, which Lowrey's Mississippians aided the battery in repelling. "In these attacks Lieutenant Shannon, commanding Swett's Battery, was wounded. The command devolved on Lieut. Joseph Ashton; in a few minutes he was mortally wounded. The command then fell on Corporal F. M. Williams. So many non-commissioned officers and men had been killed and disabled in the battery that Colonel Granbury was forced to make a detail from the infantry to work the guns." (Cleburne). A lull coming in the battle, two of the guns were sent to take the place of others found inefficient, and Lieutenant Key with his battery came up and took command on Tunnel Hill, after which another attack was repulsed. Swett's Battery was bravely fought, said Cleburne in conclusion, "was hotly engaged all day and lost some noble officers and men."
December, 1863, near Dalton, Ga., four Napoleon guns, 107 men, Captain Swett commanding. When Sherman advanced from Chattanooga, the battery served in defense of Rocky Face Ridge, February 25, 1864, and at some loss compelled the withdrawal of a battery about one mile distant.
Up to 1864 the losses in killed had been 5 at Shiloh, 2 at Farmington, 2 at Perryville, 1 at Murfreesboro, 1 Lieutenant and 4 men at Chickamauga, 1 Lieutenant and 6 men at Tunnel Hill. Horses killed in the same battles, 33.
In the Atlanta campaign, 1864, at the battle of Resaca, May 14-15, Swett's Battery was one of those planted on the commanding hill, with Walthall's and Tucker's Brigades in support, forming a memorable feature of the conflict. General Walthall, in his report, gave "special commendation to Lieut. Harvey Shannon, the efficient officer commanding Swett's Battery, for his repeated acts of signal gallantry."
A newspaper account up to July 4 says: "The company threw up fourteen different breastworks from Dalton to the Chattahoochee and fought twenty days, firing 1,708 rounds of canister. At Resaca they wounded Brigadier-General Willich and killed or wounded three of his staff with one charge of canister. At Rocky Ridge a prominent gun was disabled by this battery, at New Hope good work was done and at Kenesaw Mountain four guns were disabled and an ammunition chest blown up." Casualties: Killed, at Resaca 2, at Rocky Ridge 1, at Kenesaw 1; wounded, at Resaca 12, at Calhoun 1, at New Hope 2, at Gilgal Church 4, at Kenesaw 8. Lieutenant Shannon is counted twice, with slight wounds, and Lieut. H. N. Steele was also slightly wounded. The killed were Sergeants William Fowler and W. Huffman, Privates C. C. Smith, F. B. Culbertson; P. Hogan mortally wounded.
Under Lieutenant-General Hood, Captain Swett was InspectorGeneral of Artillery, Army of Tennessee.
July 21, near Atlanta, Lieutenant Shannon was severely wounded, Lieutenant Williams slightly, Corporal Eckles and M. Kirmin and J. C. Mitchell killed, and 5 wounded. August 18, W. F. Johnson killed. August 2o and 25, 5 wounded. At the battle of Jonesboro, September 1, the men stood by their guns until the Sixteenth Illinois made a bayonet charge through the battery, capturing the colors and 16 of the men, including Lieut. F. M. Williams, who was severely wounded. Five of the company were killed, 14 wounded. Two of the guns were turned against the Confederate line; but they were not the only ones lost that day. This was the end of the campaign that began at Dalton. The company casualties had been 10 killed, 40 wounded.
The remnant of the company was left at Macon, Ga., when General Hood moved on his last campaign, and it served in the campaign of the Carolinas with the army of General Johnston, Lieut. Harvey Shannon commanding. Captain Swett continued on the staff o[ General Hood as Inspector-General of Artillery, through the Tennessee campaign.
The gallantry of Mississippi soldiers enlisted in the Army of Tennessee was not surpassed by those of any other army in the service of the Confederate States. At Shiloh, Franklin, Chickamauga. Atlanta and Vicksburg they displayed the same heroic qualities that marked the serrvice of their brothers in the Army of Northern Virginia. The men under Johnston, Bragg and Hood sustained the cause of the Confederacy with the same steadfast devotion that characterized the soldiers of Lee, Jackson and Longstreet. The Army of Tennessee developed such Mississippi commanders as E. C. Walthall, Earl VanDorn, James R. Chalmers and M. P. Lowrey, who were gallant leaders on every hard-fought field from Shiloh to Bentonville.