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The fact that there were over 45 Federal artillery pieces acting in direct support of the Sunken Road/Hornet's Nest is not really surprising (because that abundance of artillery is one of the factors that made the WHL Wallace-Prentiss-Hurlbut Line strong.) But the fact that only eleven of those guns were lost is truly amazing. Everyone is aware of the story of Myer's 13th Ohio battery: stampeded following a direct hit on their ammunition store, just as they were taking their position; and their two 6-pounder smoothbores and four James Rifles were eventually counted as lost. [Ohio Adj Gen Book 10, page 549]. The other artillery regiment to suffer significant loss belonged to Captain William Ross.

The story of Ross's Battery is difficult to track, due in part to the different names the unit is known by: officially Battery B of the 1st Michigan Regiment of Light Artillery, the organization was also called "the 2nd Battery" and the "2nd Michigan Battery."  Organized at Detroit in November 1861 with Captain Ross in command, the artillery-unit-without-guns departed Grand Rapids on December 17th and arrived soon after in St. Louis (where it was equipped with six 10-pounder Parrott Rifles.) Called to Cairo in early March 1862, the battery was onward-forwarded to Pittsburg Landing, arriving about March 25th; assigned to Hurlbut's 4th Division, Battery B was given a campsite at the west of Hurlbut's camps, almost a mile from Pittsburg Landing.

On the morning of April 6th Ross' Battery rushed forward with the rest of Hurlbut (minus Veatch, who was sent west) to support the in-distress Benjamin Prentiss. But on the way south, it was realized that Prentiss and his 6th Division were withdrawing north; Hurlbut arrayed his force in an L-shape along the south and west edges of a cotton field (as the 6th Division's commander rallied about 500 of his troops, along with two mostly-intact batteries belonging to Munch and Hickenlooper. Prentiss extended roughly northwest from Hurlbut's 4th Division, and adjoined Lauman's Brigade.) Meanwhile, Mann's Battery C, 1st Missouri Light Artillery [two 6-pounder smoothbores and two 12-pounder Howitzers] was placed at the bend of Hurlbut's " L " and Ross' Battery took station to Mann's left, and (ever so briefly) Myer went to Mann's right.

Not long after 9am -- and continuing for almost six hours -- Ross provided excellent service to the 4th Division [mentioned in despatches OR 10 page 204]; until Hurlbut determined the 1st Michigan Battery B had suffered enough losses, in men and horses... and withdrew Ross and sent his battery to the rear. But at 3pm (about the time Battery B left the line) General Hurlbut had made up his mind to withdraw his entire force and reposition to the north, along the line of his camps (which may explain why the 1st Michigan Light Artillery had stopped at its campsite, six hundred yards north of the Sunken Road.) Whatever the cause, Hurlbut changed his mind IRT fighting at the line of his camps; and the location of Ross' Battery came to the attention of Colonel Andrew Lindsay's 1st Mississippi Cavalry, and was soon under attack by a detachment of that cavalry, under LtCol Miller [OR 10 page 459]. And except for one section of guns [under Lieutenant Laing] the entire battery -- four guns and 56 men -- were captured by the 1st Mississippi Cavalry (sometimes called Lindsay's Improvised Mississippi Cavalry.) [OR 10 pages 245-6]. 

As far as is known, Ross' 1st Michigan Battery B and Myer's 13th Ohio bore the brunt of eleven lost artillery pieces, in action near the Sunken Road - Hornet's Nest. The other thirty-five or more artillery pieces escaped the collapse of the Hornet's Nest and were mostly redeployed in Grant's Last Line (including Welker (4 guns), Richardson (4 guns), Mann (3 guns), Stone (4 guns), Powell (5 guns), Hickenlooper (who joined Sherman/McClernand -- 4 guns), and last to arrive: Munch (5 guns).

Ozzy

 

References:   http://archive.org/stream/battleofshilohor00unit#page/n133/mode/2up   DW Reed's Shiloh map (Atwell Thompson 1900)

OR 10 pages 204 (Hurlbut), 459 (Colonel Lindsay), 245 (Lt Laing Battery B)

http://www.researchonline.net/micw/unit2b.htm#.V-zgO_B97IU   History of 1st Mich Lt Art Battery B

http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015008550108;view=1up;seq=17   Mich Adj Gen vol 42, pages 27-55  1st Michigan Lt Artillery Batt B

http://usacac.army.mil/cac2/cgsc/carl/download/csipubs/gudmens.pdf    Gudmen's Staff Ride Handbook for Shiloh

 

N.B.   As far as I can tell, Mann's Battery (under Brotzmann) was the only other Federal artillery unit to lose a gun after operating in vicinity of the WHL Wallace-Prentiss-Hurlbut Line. Hurlbut has nothing but praise for Mann's Battery [OR 10 page 207].

 

 

 

Edited by Ozzy

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