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Sketch of Third battery of Maryland Artillery.

by Captain William L. Ritter.

Paper no. 4.

Thursday evening July 16th, 1863, the Confederate works at Jackson, Mississippi, were abandoned, Lieutenant Ritter's section being the last to leave them. Next day, the 17th, Brandon was reached, and on the 20th Morton. Here the section was paid off, after considerable insistance, not having received any money for a number of months. On the 24th of August the battery was attached to Preston's battalion of reserve artillery, and on the 5th of September, ordered to Demopolis, Alabama, for repairs.

In new uniforms, well dressed, well drilled, and well equipped, on the 12th of October the battery took part in a review had for General Johnston, and was chosen to fire a salute of eleven guns in his honor; [114] as also one afterwards on the 15th, in honor of the arrival of President Davis.

At this place an effort was made to consolidate Moore's and Ritter's sections, but it failed, as the sequel will show. Lieutenant Ritter had now been on detached service for some time, and being anxious to return to his old command, on the 2d August, 1863, he wrote to Brigadier-General A. W. Reynolds, and also to Major-General Carter L. Stevenson, asking their influence to that end. He made an application likewise to General Joseph E. Johnston, sending it through the regular channel. He heard from none of these except the one sent to General Stevenson. That officer approved of the application, and sent it to General Hardee's headquarters in Mississippi, who referred it to General Johnston. General Johnston's Adjutant, thinking the section had accompanied General Walker's division to Chickamauga, sent the application to General Walker for further action. But this not being the case, General Walker endorsed on the paper that the section was not with his division, having been left at Morton, Miss., and sent to General Bragg. The application was returned to General Stevenson, through General Longstreet's headquarters. General Stevenson sent it by Lieutenant Stillwell of Corput's battery, to General Johnston's headquarters at Meridian, Miss. The General's Adjutant referred him to General Hardee, who told him he had nothing to do with the section; but at the same time instructed Colonel Wickliffe, by telegraph, not to let the section leave Demopolis, as a battery had already been taken from his department, and he did not intend any other should leave. This information was received from Colonel Wickliffe, who also told the Lieutenant that it was General Hardee's determination to consolidate the two sections, and promote Lieutenant Ritter to Captain.

On the return of Lieutenant Stillwell from Meridian, Miss., he met General Johnston in Demopolis, who expressed a desire to see the commander of the section that evening at Mrs. Whitfield's residence, where he was stopping. Ritter in company with Stillwell, went there and met the General at the gate, as he was leaving for Mississippi. Being introduced by Lieutenant Stillwell, Ritter stated his business. The General asked him a great many questions with regard to his section, how long it had been on detached service, where it had been, &c. He said that as soon as he returned to his office, he would order the section to its original command. On the 19th of October the order came, and the next morning Lieutenant [115] Ritter and his men proceeded to the depot, and took the cars for Selma, having turned over the guns and horses to the quartermas-ter. From Selma to Montgomery, and thence to Atlanta, Georgia, where they arrived on the 23d. The next day they rejoined the battery at Decatur, Ga., having been absent from the old command over six months.

The re-organization.

The number of men in the battery had been much reduced by its losses in Louisiana and Mississippi, so that Captain Rowan applied to the Secretary of War for seventy-five conscripts. While at Decatur the guns, horses and equipments of a four gun battery were received, and Dr. Thomas J. Rogers was assigned to the battery as surgeon. On the 29th of October, it was ordered to Sweet Water, East Tennessee, to rejoin Stevenson's division; whence, on the 5th of November, the whole division marched to reinforce General Bragg at Missionary Ridge. On the 12th, twenty-seven men were transferred to the battery from the Fortieth, Forty-first, Forty-third, Fifty-second and Fifty-sixth Georgia regiments to act as drivers. The battery encamped at the foot of Lookout Mountain on the 13th, and on the 23d joined Johnston's battalion, which was then encamped across Lookout Creek, near Missionary Ridge.

On the morning of the 23d of November, the enemy, under cover of a heavy fog, moved up and attacked the left wing of General Bragg's army, at the foot of Lookout Mountain, and drove it back rapidly, the line at that point being weak and the attack unexpected. The evacuation of Lookout Mountain followed and Bragg withdrew to Missionary Ridge.

Early the following morning Johnston's battalion was ordered to the extreme right of the Confederate line, and reached the position assigned it at 2 o'clock in the afternoon. Two of the batteries, Corput's and Carnes's, were ordered to the front at once, while the Third Maryland was held in reserve. In the struggle which ensued, the enemy was three times repulsed by Stevenson's division, losing a number of prisoners and the colors of three regiments. Their attack on the center was more successful, our troops at that point of the line giving way and retreating precipitately. The Orderly Sergeant of the Third Maryland, Johnny Hooper, who had been back with the wagons two miles in the rear, came up about dusk with the information that the center of the army was retreating, followed closely by the enemy, and that if we did not soon leave the field we should be [116] captured. Nothing, of course, could be done without orders from General Stevenson, whose division was yet on the Ridge, fighting the enemy. About 7 P. M. he moved off the field, and sent orders to the Third Maryland to march to Chickamauga station, crossing Chickamauga river at the railroad bridge.

An artillerists troubles.

Then followed a series of troubles peculiar to the artillery service. On account of the darkness and the crookedness and roughness of the road, one of the gun carriages ran against a tree, and occasioned an unwelcome delay, as the enemy was in pursuit and not far behind. The piece had to be unlimbered, the gun-carriage run back, the piece limbered up again, and a cautious drive around the tree made. This mishap having been overcome, others followed. The battery had not gone far before another gun ran against a stump; and soon after, in crossing the branch near Stone Bridge, a wheel slipped into a deep chuck-hole on the side of the road. The canoneers had to unlimber again, to pull the piece out. Owing to the detentions the rest of the battery got a mile ahead. The Captain sent back four horses to assist in pulling the piece up the hill, near the bridge; and instructed the officer in charge of the bridge not to fire it till the last gun had crossed. The bridge had just been fired, however, and was already in flames when the gun crossed over.

Again, when near the railroad, the battery encountered a boggy place, in which Lieutenant Ritter's piece stuck fast. The horses were untrained and balky, and refused to pull, while the drivers could not well see which way to move, because of the darkness. A sergeant was sent to Captain Rowan requesting him to send a mule team. About day-light the mules came, the gun carriage was soon out of the mud, and at the station.

Ordering the mule team to go on with the gun, Lieutenant Ritter remained behind with the horses, to bring up the forge from which the mules had been taken. His troubles began anew. Although the forge had been lightened by the removal of all the iron, still the horses, when hitched to it, would not budge a step. He was determined not to lose the forge, and rode on to inform Captain Rowan of the situation, and ask for four mules.

The Captain referred him to General Pettus who had that morning lost some wagons, and probably had mules to spare. His quarter-master turned over the mules, but without stretchers, so that only [117] two of them could be used. These two were hitched to the forge, and the six horses placed in front. One of the canoneers was asked to drive, but replied that he ‘knew nothing about mules.’ Not having leisure just then to attend to the question of military discipline raised by this reply, Lieutenant Ritter told the man to take his horse and ride, and that he himself, though no expert in the art, would drive the mules.

The infantry rear-guard was at this time passing by, and told Ritter that he had better abandon his forge; that the enemy was coming up, and he would certainly be captured, as he would be between the lines. Being bent on succeeding in the task he had assigned himself, he mounted his team, and by a little perseverance, all difficulties were overcome.

Ringgold was reached on the night of the 25th, and the next day at 5 P. M., the battery encamped near Dalton.

General Bragg was here superseded in the command of the army by General Joseph E. Johnston.

In winter quarters.

The command proceeded to Sugar Valley on the 27th of November, to go into quarters for the winter, and during all the early part of December the men were engaged in building houses for themselves and stables for the horses. The officers, Captain Rowan, Lieutenants Ritter, Giles and Doucaster, and Surgeon Rogers built themselves a cabin twelve by sixteeen feet, with a fireplace and chimney, window and door. After their long campaigning, this was a delightful change.

On the 20th of January, 1864, the whole battalion, for easier access to long forage, was ordered to Kingston, where it again built winter quarters. Between the 1st and 10th of January sixty men were received from the State of Georgia, and the battery was shortly afterwards joined by fifteen volunteer recruits. This accession necessitated drill, which was had twice a day. The camp here was in a wood near Hightower Creek, a beautiful stream emptying into Etowah river

The Third Maryland was, on the 23d of March, ordered to Dalton to rejoin the battalion which had been sent thither, to aid in repelling the enemy, now pressing that point. The command remained encamped near Dalton till the 6th of May.

On the reorganization of the Artillery of the Army of Tennessee, [118] Johnston's battalion, to which the Third Maryland belonged, was put in Smith's regiment, but was soon afterwards transferred to Beckham's regiment, of Hood's corps. The artillery was made an independent body, no longer subject to the orders of division commanders, and constituted a brigade under General Shoup.

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