1st Michigan Light Artillery

Battery A


Was mustered into the service as the 1st Michigan Light Artillery, and although on the formation of the Artillery Regiment it received the alphabetical designation, it was known throughout the war, and by the whole army, as the "Loomis Battery".

Attached to State Militia. Tendered its services to the government as an organization and accepted by the government April 23, 1861. On duty at Fort Wayne, Detroit, Mich. Battery reorganized for three years' service and mustered in May 28, 1861. Left State for Cincinnati, Ohio, May 31. Duty at Camp Dennison, Ohio, until June 12. Ordered to West Virginia June 12. Attached to McCook's Brigade, Army of Occupation, West Virginia, to August, 1861. Reynolds' Cheat Mountain District, West Virginia, to December, 1861. Artillery, 3rd Division, Army of the Ohio, to September, 1862. 17th Brigade, 3rd Division, 1st Corps, Army of the Ohio, to November, 1862. 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, Center 14th Army Corps, Army of the Cumberland, to January, 1863. Artillery, 1st Division, 14th Army Corps, Army of the Cumberland, to December, 1863. Garrison Artillery, Chattanooga, Tenn., Dept. of the Cumberland, to July, 1865.

Long before the breaking out of the rebellion, there had been at Coldwater an artillery company, mounted and equipped as a light battery, efficient and well up in drill, and known as the Coldwater Light Artillery, and was recognized as part of the State militia. Its officers in 1860 were Captain Henry Lewis, Lieutenant John Culp and 2nd Lieutenant William Cartshuff.

The citizens of that place, prominent among whom were Captain Lewis and O.B. Clark Esq., being most anxious to take an early part in suppressing the rebellion, tendered the services of the Battery to the Governor, Mr. Clark agreeing to furnish the horses for the Battery, being afterward paid for by the State and the amount then refunded to the State by the Federal government. All promptly agreed to by the War Department in Washington.

Under this agreement, the Battery was ordered to Fort Wayne, near Detroit, arriving there without delay under the command of Captain Lewis, bringing cannon and equipments, with sufficient horses for a complete battery of six guns, however upon arrival, they were notified that the government did not deem it necessary to accept any more artillery in addition to that already accepted from Eastern States, and declined to pay as previously agreed upon.

This was a great disappointment to the Battery, and placed the State authorities in a perplexing situation, but measures were at once commenced through the influence of Governor Blair , and others, to the War Department to recede from its decision, and after considerable delay, the department finally agreed to accept their services, but only on the condition that they enlist as a three year Regiment. This gave rise to much dissatisfaction, both among the officers and the men, and as a result, a large proportion declined to muster for that term, their business and other reasons interfering, necessarily preventing them, from at that time, from entering to a longer term of service than that for which they had made arrangements for. The Battery, however, was re-organized and it was soon filled up to its maximum standard, then was at once put in process of equipping by Cyress Loomis, who had been appointed its commander.

They were mustered into the service of the United States May 28, 1861, with the following officers: Captain Cyruss O. Loomis, Coldwater; First Lieutenant Otis H. Gillam, Coldwater; First Lieutenant Charles A. Edmunds, Quincy; Second Lieutenant Roland Root, Coldwater; and Second Lieutenant Robert G. Chandler, Coldwater.

The Battery being fully equipped, left the State under the command of Captain Loomis, for the field in West Virginia, May 31, 1861, via Cincinnati, taking with them six brass six-pounders with the complete equipments, furnished by the State.

The appearance of this Battery while passing through Ohio, especially at Cincinnati, attracted much attention, and its completeness of outfit on such short notice, as well as the fine appearance of the men, were subjects of enthusiastic praise, while the superior quality of the horses did not pass without favorable comment. In fact, the organization of this Battery taking place almost on the threshold of the Rebellion was one of the events which so early brought Michigan to the front, before the country, as a wide awake State, and reliable in war, in some instances really setting examples on the start in the war which were elsewhere followed.

The Battery, on arriving at Cincinnati, was ordered to Camp Dennison, on the river above that place. Remaining there two weeks, they marched to Marietta, Ohio, then took transports to Parkersburg, West Virginia, from thence took rail to Clarksburg, where they took position on the heights above the town, which was expected to be attacked by the rebel General Wise. June 28th., they took up the line of march for Buchannon, arriving there on July the 1st. On the 4th. of July the Battery was inspected by Colonels Sill and Lander, whose report to General McClellan gave it great credit for discipline and efficiency in drill. July the 6th. they again took up the line of march, having a slight skirmish at Middlefork Bridge, and on the 10th. marched to the Roaring River. On July 12th., the Battery participated in the battle on Rich Mountain, in which the Confederates were driven from his position, said to be almost impregnable, causing the capture of his subsistence and ordnance stores, including several pieces of artillery, which were turned over to the Battery by order of the General, commanding. At this point they were supplied with six ten-pounder Parrots, sent by the order of General McClellan, when the old brass pieces were laid aside and not afterwards used by the Battery. They moved to Beverly on the 12th. then to Cheat Mountain Pass on the 13th., going into camp, then on the 14th. of August, moved to Elkwater.

The Battery was constantly employed in scouting, difficult, owing to the nature of the country, and had frequent skirmishes with the Confederates. In one of the Colonel Washington was killed, and it is believed that a few well-directed shots prevented Lee's column from taking position to attack the Union front.

They crossed Cheat Mountain on October 1st., then on the 3rd., marched to Greenbriar and took part in the action at that point. After a severe cannonading of four hours, the Union forces retired, without loss. After the engagement the Battery returned to Elkwater, remaining there until the 30th., then moved to Huttonsville and encamped. On December 6th., they moved to Phillippi, West Virginia, then on the 16th., were ordered to report to General Buell, at Louisville, Kentucky, reaching there December the 22nd., where the Battery on the 31st., was ordered to Bacon Creek, doing considerable duty at that point.

From Bacon Creek the Battery moved with General Mitchell's command in the advance of General Buell's army southward to Bowling Green, then considered a rebel stronghold. They were the first to cross the bridge over Green River at Munfordsville which had just been completed, taking the advance on Bowling Green, reaching that point on February 14th., 1862, and taking position on Bakers Hill in advance of the cavalry, having been on the double quick for some distance, at once threw a shot and shell into the rebel encampment, much to their surprise, as it was understood that Buell's advance had only reached Cave City. The whistle of the first shell, fired at a locomotive, disturbed them in the preparations then being made for their retreat, and the destruction of such stores as could not be carried off. The fire, although from a distance of about a mile and a half, was so precise that the first shell passed through the boiler of an engine, disabling it and thereby detaining nine others that could not be moved on account of its obstruction of the track.

A fire so rapid and accurate being kept up, the rebels hurriedly made a retreat before they could make preparation either for the removal of their stores or for accomplishing their destruction.

On the completion of this valuable service and most excellent practice, the Battery was complimented by General Mitchell, who was himself an accomplished artillerist, having entered that arm of the service from West Point; while they also received from the War Department a highly commendatory order for its extraordinary march on Bowling Green, and the important part it took in that affair.

The Battery was then ordered to Nashville, going into camp at Edgefield, where they were then engaged on many scouts, acting as cavalry in chasing the rebels under Morgan and other guerrillas between that point and Huntsville, Alabama, with occasional skirmishes. On the 29th. of May, two guns were sent from Huntsville to Bridgeport and assisted in the defeat of the rebels at that point.

The services of the Battery while with General Mitchell's command in Northern Alabama were varied, and were mostly performed by dividing them up into detachments. One piece, under the command of Lieutenant O'Riordan was on a gunboat in service on the Tennessee River, while another was on a rail car doing duty with a car fitted for that purpose, being faced with railroad iron and so arranged and built up as to give the structure on the car the form of a wedge, while other portions of the Battery were on detached service at various points.

On the 1st. of August, 1862, the Battery left Huntsville with Mitchell's command and commenced the memorable retreat of Buell to Louisville, and reaching there, remained until the advance was commenced from that point.

At Perryville on October the 8th., the Battery took an important part, saving by its gallant and efficient service the right wing from being flanked, and is said to have fired the first and the last artillery shot in that important battle.

They opened the fight, and for an hour was engaged in a duel with a battery belonging to what was then known as the Washington Artillery, doing it much damage, as afterwards was stated by one of its officers. The Battery continued engaging the southern forces until darkness put an end to the contest, having during the afternoon repelled five charges, leaving 1500 rebels laying in front of its position. The last position held by them was taken about 3 P.M., with instructions to hold it at all hazards, as it was recognized the key to the field. The Battery was without support, and could not obtain any, the guns were planted on one of a succession of knobs. The intention of the General, commanding (as was afterwards ascertained) was to hold the position as long as possible to save the other commands, and finally, if needs be, abandon the guns. At one time, orders were received by Loomis to spike the guns and save his men, but this he declined to do, preferring rather to hold on so long as he had a man or a gun left, and in the event of being overpowered and captured, to go with the guns rather than leave them than leave the field without them. This decision was a bold but fortunate one, being made almost against all hope, and to the surprise of himself and his superiors in command, he gallantly repelled every attempt of the Confederates to dislodge him or capture his guns, and succeeded in bring off his entire battery.

Their loss was heavy, being 18 killed and wounded, with 33 horses killed or disabled.

After this, the Battery was on several marches and engaged in several skirmishes in that section of the country, and during the month of November, marched from Lebanon, Kentucky, to Tyre Springs, near Nashville, Tennessee.

They participated with the advance of Rosecrans on Murfreesboro, fighting through many other battles where its vigorous action, stubborn pluck and brilliant dash, gave it an enviable reputation throughout the whole army. They are found hotly engaged during the memorable days and nights of hard and desperate fighting in the battles of Stone River, where they lost heavily, but achieved a most noted distinction, second to no battery in the service, and the history of the times will bear witness to its noted fame in the ages that shall follow.

General Rosecrans at one time gave Loomis to understand that his battery held the key to his position, and cautioned him to hold it at all hazards. Their loss was heavy, being 22 men killed, wounded or missing, with nearly forty horses killed or disabled.

The gallant services of this battery and Guenther's, fighting on their side, were conspicuous, demanding the attention of the general officers, while General Rosseau, specially noticed them in a report to the War Department.

They remained in camp near Murfreesboro until June 24, 1863, when they moved with the advance of the army. On the 25th., they silenced rebel batteries at Hoover's Gap, then between the 4th. and 19th. of September, they crossed the Tennessee River, Raccoon and Lookout Mountains, having on the way a skirmish at the foot of Lookout Mountain.

At Chickamauga, September the 19th., their record is nobly maintained and almost ended. There, sooner than abandon their position, they suffered near annialation, making one of the most determined defenses on record, dealing to the rebel hosts, pressing up in masses to the muzzle of the guns, utter destruction within its entire range, but finally had to surrender their guns so dearly prized, Lieutenant Van Pelt, its commander, fighting most heroically for their preservation, dying at their wheels. The entire loss of the Battery at Chickamauga, was one officer and thirteen men killed or wounded, with thirteen missing, while 50 horses were killed or disabled. By sheer chance, one gun was not captured, being saved at the last possible minute, from the field of combat.

After the death of Lieutenant Van Pelt, an aide-de-camp delivered orders to the Battery to retire and save themselves if possible. The rebels at this time, in considerable force, had entered the space occupied by the Battery, and were really in possession of some of the guns, and it was found impossible to hold the position and at the same time just as impossible to save all the guns by retiring. However an attempt was made, but as over 50 horses had been killed or disabled, the guns could not be moved. One gun, the horses of which had been somewhat sheltered by timber, escaped injury. The cannoneers of this piece hurriedly ran it back to the limber, "limbered up" and ran the piece off. This was the only gun brought from the field. Lieutenant A.H. Bachman had charge of the section to which this gun belonged. In the saving of this piece much credit is due to Sergeant H.E. Burchard, afterwards promoted to Lieutenant for bravery and great determination in his efforts to save it, and that too in the face of hostile fire. Lieutenant Bachman, while retiring with this part of his section, turned on the rebel Colonel commanding the advancing force, rapidly pressing the gallant little squad in overwhelming numbers. Bachman attempted to fire on him, but most singularly every cap exploded in its turn, but the pistol did not fire, and more singular still, when he got from the field, he recapped his revolver, and every charge fired. Bachman said it was a happy miss for him, for if his revolver had fired, the Colonel would most certainly have fallen, which would at once have brought a volley on him, and he would have been numbered among the dead of Chickamauga.

The strong attachment of the men to this battery and all that belonged to it was most forcibly illustrated on this occasion by John Streeter, afterwards an officer, then after the war, a physician in Chicago. After the retired gun was safely out of range, he noticed that the sponge bucket, in the hurry to get from the rebel fire, had been forgotten, he at once returned again to the field, exposed to Confederate fire, and safely returned with the bucket.

The loss of these guns, so long an everyday companion, having been their defenders at Perryville, Stone River and Chickamauga, was a source of irredeemable sorrow, and they clung to the saved one like a mother to a saved child, when all of the others had perished in the storm of an angry sea; but, they were not doomed to mourn always, time was passing, and with it was to come relief.

Towards evening of the first days battle, one of the guns was delivered them with three caissons, and one disabled limber. Next morning it was ascertained that two more of the guns had been recaptured and were at some distance out on the pike. Lieutenant Walker, then in command of the Battery, along with a squad of men went out and secured them. This gave the Battery, four of the guns, with caissons, but they were unfit for service, and so reported to General Rosecrans, who ordered the Battery to Chattanooga. The third day of the battle, the Battery reported two guns ready for service and went to the front, but did not become engaged and were returned to Chattanooga and assigned to a position near the railroad in front of Mission Ridge. At the battle of Mission Ridge, one more of their guns was recaptured and returned, then after the fall of Atlanta another was returned, making up the entire number captured at Chickamauga.

The Battery remained stationed at Chattanooga during 1864, twenty-two of the members re-enlisting as veterans in January of that year. Up to the close of the war, they remained at that point, having been under the command of Lieutenant Francis E. Hale from October, 1863, until the 18th. of June, 1864, when Lieutenant A.W. Wilber again assumed command, retaining it until the muster out of the Battery when they were returned to Michigan on July 12, 1865, arriving at Jackson on the 28th., there paid off and disbanded.

During their term of Federal service, they were engaged at :

Elkwater,W.Va Hoover's Gap,Tn Gunter's Landing,Al
Whitesboro,Al Perryville,Ky Athens,Al
Green Briar,W.Va Chickamauga,Ga Rich Mountain,W.Va
Stone River,Tn Bridgeport,Al Mission Ridge,Tn
Bowling Green,Ky Lookout Mountain,Tn

SERVICE.--At Clarksburg, W. Va., June 28, 1861. March to Buckhannon June 28-July 1. Middle Fork Bridge July 6. Camp Garnett, Rich Mountain, July 10. Battle of Camp Garnett, Rich Mountain, July 10-11. Battery remounted with six 10-lb. Parrotts by order of the General commanding. At Beverly July 12. Moved to Cheat Mountain Pass July 13, thence to Elkwater August 14 and duty there until October 30. Operations on Cheat Mountain September 11-17. Point Mountain Turnpike and Cheat Mountain Pass September 13. Elkwater September 14. Greenbrier River October 3-4. Moved to Huttonsville October 30, thence to Phillippi December 6. Ordered to Louisville, Ky., December 16; thence to Bacon Creek December 31 and duty there until February, 1862. Advance on Bowling Green, Ky., February 14-15. Occupation of Bowling Green February 15. Advance on Nashville, Tenn., February 22-25. Occupation of Nashville February 25. Engaged in scout and patrol duty in Northern Alabama by detachments and at Edgefield, Tenn., until August. Action at Bridgeport, Ala., April 29. Gunter's Landing May 15 (Detachment). Athens May 29 (Detachment). Whites, bore June 13 (Detachment). Expedition from Woodville to Guntersville July 27-30 (Section). March to Nashville, Tenn., thence to Louisville, Ky., in pursuit of Bragg August 21-September 26. Pursuit of Bragg to Crab Orchard, Ky., October 1-15. Battle of Perryville, Ky., October 8. March to Nashville, Tenn., October 16-November 7, and duty there until December 26. Advance on Murfreesboro, Tenn., December 26-30. Battle of Stone River December 30-31, 1862, and January 1-3, 1863. Duty at Murfreesboro until June. Expedition to McMinnville April 20-30. Middle Tennessee (or Tullahoma) Campaign June 23-July 7. Hoover's Gap June 24-26. Occupation of Tullahoma July 1. Occupation of Middle Tennessee until August 16. Passage of the Cumberland Mountains, and Tennessee River and Chickamauga (Ga.) Campaign August 16-September 22. Davis Cross Roads, near Dug Gap, September 11. Battle of Chickamauga September 19-21; 5 pieces captured after 27 Officers and men and 50 horses had been killed and disabled; one with 3 caissons was recaptured on September 19, and two more on the 20th, but all were unfit for duty and the Battery was ordered to Chattanooga; one gun was recaptured at Mission Ridge and the last at Atlanta. Siege of Chattanooga, Tenn., September 24-November 23. Battles of Chattanooga November 23-25. Battery stationed at Chattanooga as garrison until July, 1865. Demonstration on Dalton February 22-27, 1864 (Section). Tunnel Hill, Buzzard's Roost Gap and Rocky Faced Ridge February 23-25, 1864. Mustered out July 12, 1865, and discharged at Jackson, Mich.; July 28, 1865.

Total Enrollment--311
Killed in Action--11
Died of Wounds--1
Died of Disease--25
Total Casualty Rate--9.7%

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