Battery C, West Virginia Light Artillery

Pierpont Battery

HISTORY

Battery C (Pierpoint battery) was organized January 25, 1862, with Frank Buell, captain, and Dennis O’Leary and Wallace Hill, as first lieutenants. These officers were well fitted for the service. The two first named, Buell and O’Leary, having had service from the beginning of the war, in the 18th Ohio (three months’ troops), they were both commissioned by Governor Peirpoint on the 19th of September, 1861, as captain and lieutenant respectively, as recruiting officers, when they went to Charleston to recruit the battery, where they remained until its enlistment was completed.

In April, 1862, the battery was ordered to Wheeling Island, where they were furnished with a full battery of six Parrot guns. Left Wheeling, May 2, 1862, for Franklin, Va., to join General Fremont’s army; went with that general to Petersburg, Strasburg, Woodstock, Mount Jackson and New Market, having participated in harrassing Stonewall’s Jackson’s retreat up the valley at that time. On the 8th of June, 1862, was hotly engaged at the battle of Cross Keys, was under fire from half past eleven A.M. until half past four P.M. In this engagement the battery received a terrific charge by the enemy, and had it not been for the timely advance of the “Pennsylvania Bucktails” who gallantly drove back the advancing Confederates saved the battery from capture.

Following that battle the battery was engaged with Sigel and Pope, was in the battles of Port Republic, Luray, Cedar Mountain and Freeman’s Ford. At this last engagement, August 22, 1862, the battery met with an irreparable loss-the brave Captain Buell was killed.

Two batteries had been driven by the Confederate guns from their position when Buell’s battery was ordered to replace those which had been driven from their position. So rapidly and accurately did Buell handle his pieces that one of the enemy’s batteries was silenced and the other disabled. The second last shot fired by the Confederates was a solid shot which struck Captain Buell’s horse in the right shoulder killing the horse instantly, the animal falling upon the captain and crushing him so seriously that he died that evening. The last words spoken by Captain Buell were, “I want those batteries silenced, I want my boys to do it.”

Captain Buell’s remains were embalmed in Alexandria, Va., and sent to his old home where they were buried in the family lot on his farm. The members of his battery erected over the remains a handsome marble shaft.

The battery under Captain Hill, a brave and intelligent officer, who was soon promoted, fought in the battles of Sulphur Springs, Waterloo Bridge, and at the second battle of Bull Run. Lieutenant O’Leary at this time was on detached service as A.A.D.M. of reserve artillery, Army of the Potomac.

May 2, 1863, the battery was in that terrible two days’ hard fighting at Chancellorsville, Va. The battery was served by Captain Hill and Lieutenants O’Leary and Theis; the battery was opposed by Stonewall Jackson’s command, and after a severe struggle the battery was forced to retire, having lost one gun and two caissons. After a short rest the battery was again on the move, and we find it at Gettyburg, July 2 and 3, 1863. The battery had position on Cemetery Hill, the right resting on the cemetery and the left near the stone wall by the Jamestown road. The battery being the very center of that great battlefield, it was exposed to a front fire and a right and left enfilading fire as well. The battery did its part well, officers and men standing to their guns during the two days’ fighting. After the battle of Gettysburg, the battery recrossed the Potomac into Virginia. The next and last battle in which the battery was engaged, was at Mitchell’s Ford, when the Union arms were successful. During the winter of 1863-64, the battery reenlisted, and was ordered into the defenses of Washington, where it remained until June 28, 1865, when it was mustered out of service. The battery did its duty well.

[Source: Loyal West Virginia 1861-1865, by Theodore Lang]

SERVICE

Organized at Wheeling, W. Va., January 25 to March 30, 1862. Served unattached, Railroad District, Dept. of the Mountains, to May, 1862. 1st Brigade, Blenker’s Division, Dept. of the Mountains, to June, 1862. Reserve Artillery, 1st Corps, Pope’s Army of Virginia, to September, 1862. Artillery, 3rd Division, 11th Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, to March, 1863. Reserve Artillery, 11th Army Corps, to May, 1863. 3rd Volunteer Brigade, Artillery Reserve, Army of the Potomac, to August, 1863. 4th Volunteer Brigade, Artillery Reserve, Army of the Potomac, to October, 1863. 2nd Brigade, Artillery Reserve, to November, 1863. 1st Volunteer Brigade, Artillery Reserve, Army of the Potomac, to March, 1864. Camp Barry, Washington, D.C., 22nd Corps, to May, 1864. 2nd Brigade, De Russy’s Division, 22nd Army Corps, to July, 1864. 4th Brigade, De Russy’s Division, 22nd Army Corps, to October, 1864. 3rd Brigade, De Russy’s Division. 22nd Army Corps, to December, 1864. 1st Brigade, De Russy’s Division, 22nd Army Corps, to June, 1865.

SERVICE.–Duty at Franklin, Va., till May 25, 1862. Pursuit of Jackson up the Shenandoah Valley May 25-June 14. Mount Carmel Road, near Strasburg, June 1. Strasburg June 2. Tom’s Brook June 3. Mount Jackson June 6. Battle of Cross Keys June 8. Port Republic June 9. At Sperryville till August. Pope’s Campaign in Northern Virginia August 8-September 2. Battle of Cedar Mountain August 9 (Reserve). Rappahannock Station August 20-21. Freeman’s Ford August 22. Sulphur Springs August 24. Waterloo Bridge August 24-25. Plains of Manassas August 27. Gainesville August 28. Groveton August 29. Bull Run August 30. Duty in the Defences of Washington, D.C., till December. Reconnoissance to Leesburg and skirmish September 16-19. March to Fredericksburg, Va., December 10-16. Raid on Dumfries and Fairfax Station December 27-29. At Falmouth, Va., till April, 1863. “Mud March” January 20-24. Chancellorsville Campaign April 27-May 6. Battle of Chancellorsville May 1-5. Gettysburg (Pa.) Campaign June 12-July 24. Battle of Gettysburg, Pa., July 1-3. Bristoe Campaign October 9-22. Advance to line of the Rappahannock November 7-8. Mine Run Campaign November 26-December 2. Ordered to Washington, D.C., and duty in the Defences of that city south of the Potomac till June, 1865. Repulse of Early’s attack on Washington July 11-12, 1864. Mustered out June 28, 1865.

[Source: Compendium of the War of the Rebellion, by Frederick Dyer]

LOSSES

The 1st West Virginia Light Artillery regiment lost 33 men, killed and died of wounds; 131 men, died of disease, accident or in prison; total deaths, 164 men. (all 8 batteries)

[Source: Regimental Losses in the American Civil War, 1861-1865, by William F. Fox]

BIBLIOGRAPHY