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10th South Carolina AOT

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History of the Pee Dee Artillery



The men who made up the Pee Dee Light Artillery came from the Darlington District in South Carolina. They were Company D, (Pee Dee Rifles) of the First Regiment South Carolina Volunteer Infantry. This was one of the regiments that comprised Maxcy Gregg's Brigade. These men were part of the troops raised in South Carolina to lay siege to Fort Sumter. They were sent to Virginia in August 1861.

By the spring of 1862 the enlistments of the men of the First had run out. Being Southern patriots, they immediately re-enlisted. The regiment was made up of eleven companies. This being one company more than a standard regiment, it was decided to convert Company D into a field artillery unit. The battery was put in the command of Captain David McIntosh, and was known as either McIntosh's Battery or Pee Dee Light Artillery. This battery was equipped with four guns, two 6-pounders (another account indicates two 12-pounder howitzers) ,and two 3-inch rifles. The rifles proved to be very inaccurate and were returned to Richmond, Virginia, to be melted down. These would be the first of several guns to be used by the Pee Dee Light Artillery. By now you are probably wondering where these men came up with the name "Pee Dee". These men came from the Darlington District through which runs the Pee Dee River, which got its name from a tribe of Indians by that name.

The first major action that the Battery took part in was at Mechanicsville, June 26, 1862. Here it is believed that they were the first battery to open fire on the enemy. The Battery supported General A.P. Hill's Division during its attack on General McCall's Division of Pennsylvanians. The Federals occupied a very strong natural position on a rise above Beaver Dam Creek, and they were supported by 36 pieces of artillery. The Battery was ordered into a position on the Confederate right to support the advance of A.P. Hill's men. The Battery went in at a gallop, and unlimbered under fire about 4 PM. The men immediately commenced a very heavy and rapid fire on the enemy artillery, during which one of the howitzers broke its axle after discharging several rounds. Most of the men of the Battery had been greatly weakened by disease, but they manned the remaining three guns for another five hours, expending an average of 160 rounds per gun. One howitzer was discharged 239 times causing it to heat up so much that the chase drooped. Having used up all of its ammunition, the Battery withdrew during the night to obtain a fresh supply. The ruined howitzer barrel was buried in a ditch near Drainsville. Casualties sustained during this action were: one killed, one wounded, seven horses killed, and one gun dismounted.

The Battery having received a new supply of ammunition returned to action at Cold Harbor. There they fired a few rounds, but had to stop as their own troops were in the line of fire. During the next two days the Battery was under fire at Frazier's Farm and Malvern Hill, but did not engage the enemy.

During this time the artillery was reorganized. McIntosh's Battery became part of the artillery battalion commanded by Col. R. Lindsay Walker, A.P. Hill's Light Division. The other batteries of the battalion were: Fredericksburg Artillery, Crenshaw's Battery, Letcher Artillery, Middlesex Artillery, Branch Artillery, and Purcells Artillery.

On August 24, 1862, the Battery took part in a cannonade across the Rapponhannock near Warrenton Springs. Two days and fifty some miles of marching later, the Battery took part in driving off a New Jersey Brigade at Manassas Junction. Their commander, Brig. General G.W. Taylor, foolishly marched four regiments into Manassas Junction, which was occupied by General Jackson's troops. The Confederates were in the process of re-supplying themselves from the Federal supply depot located there. Both sides were somewhat surprised at seeing each other. The Federals, however, were caught in a crossfire between the Confederate infantry and artillery. This fire quickly routed them. The Battery suffered no casualties here.

August 28, 1862, the Battery came under heavy musket fire near Groveton, Virginia, but suffered no casualties. The next day the Pee Dee Lt. Art. was engaged at Second Manassas. Here they supported General Maxcy Gregg's Brigade, and helped break up six determined charges by the Federals against the Confederate left. General Gregg's men held a position in an unfinished railroad cut located along a wooded ridge overlooking the Sudley Road. The Battery was located on higher ground behind them. Early in the fighting General Gregg ordered Captain McIntosh to get the range of a distant point on the left. The battery then resumed firing upon the enemy in their front. Some time later a cannon shot ricocheted past from the very spot that had been ranged in on. Captain McIntosh brought a section to bear on the enemy battery and silenced it with a few well aimed shots, dismounting one of the enemy's guns. After the battle the Battery was given two Napoleons to replace their two six pounder howitzers. The Battery's losses were one killed and one wounded. Considering the nature of the battle they were indeed fortunate.

About nightfall on September 1st, the Battery supported the Gregg's Brigade at Ox Hill. The battery was ordered into a position on some high ground to the left of the Little River Turnpike. This action took place during a driving rainstorm, and after it was over the men had great difficulty getting their guns out of the mud and back on the road. The Battery had no casualties during this engagement.

On September 16, 1862 one of the Battery's guns had the honor of signaling the attack on Harper's Ferry. Another gun of the unit pushed forward during the fighting almost under the enemy's works, when finally the Federals surrendered. The Battery received food, clothing, ammunition, horses, and two guns, a Napoleon and a rifle, all at the expense of the Federals. At this point the battery was equipped with a 10-pounder Parrott, a 3-inch rifle, a Napoleon, and a 12-pounder howitzer. There were some casualties, but I haven't been able to find how many.

The following day the battery made a forced march to Sharpsburg going into battle short of men as some had not been able to keep up with the rapid movement. This shortage was made up with officers and drivers. The Battery took a position along the Harper's Ferry Road where the Sawmill Road meets it, and fired a few shots. Seeing that they were needed closer to Sharpsburg, they limbered up and moved 400 yards down the Harper's Ferry Road and moved into a field. One of the guns broke an axle crossing a ditch. The remaining three guns took a position that raked the advancing lines of the 8th Connecticut, with double charges of canister, as they tried to pass in front of them. Finally, with ammunition almost gone and the enemy almost on top of the guns, the men retreated with their limbers, sponges, and flag taking up a position with the caissons. The action on the part of the Battery helped buy Lee's army enough time so that A.P. Hill's infantry could get there and throw back the Federals, saving the Army of Virginia from defeat. The guns had been lost to the enemy, but only for about 20 minutes as the Federals were unable to drag them off before being forced to retreat. After the battle, 80 Yankee dead were counted in front of one of the guns. The Battery's losses were one killed, one wounded, and many of the horses it had gotten at Harper's Ferry were also killed.

At the Battle of Fredericksburg in December the Pee Dee Battery teamed up with Marmaduke Johnson's Battery and Purcell's Battery in a position on a wooded crest to the left of Hamilton's Crossing. The Battery helped repel six determined charges, four of which came within close quarters, requiring the use of double charges of canister. During this time the battery was ordered to fire only on the infantry, and so had to endure the undistracted fire of the enemy artillery. That night the Battery was relieved and ordered to the rear to replenish ammunition. The next day General Jackson, who had been pleased with their work the day before, ordered their return to the same position. They stayed there "a short time before being relieved again. This battle had been a costly one for the Battery. A third of its sixty-six men were killed or wounded. Twenty-five horses were killed or disabled, two guns were dismounted, and one limber and one caisson exploded.

The Battery then went into winter quarters near Milford Station until spring. Captain McIntosh was promoted and given command of a battalion of light artillery. The command of the Pee Dee Lt. Art. was given to the newly promoted Captain Ervin Brunson. The Battery was then transferred to Major Pegram's Battalion.

The Pee Dee Lt. Art. arrived in the Chancellorsville area Friday, May 1, coming under fire, but not engaged. The next morning a section from another battery, and one gun from the Pee Dee was sent forward to feel the Federal position on their left. This small group immediately came under the fire of 18 of the enemy's guns as they unlimbered. The sections were pulled back to a position on a hill were they all continued to receive heavy fire. The Battery suffered a loss of three killed, two wounded, four horses killed, and one cassion exploded. That afternoon the Battery moved with General Jackson's troops around to the enemy's right flank, and took part in routing Major General Howard's men of the 11th Corps. That evening General Jackson was shot, and one of the battery sergeants was sent out to inform General JEB Stuart.

The next morning the Pee Dee Battery took a position on the Turnpike Road leading into Chancellorsville. Following a general advance by the Confederate forces, they occupied the abandoned works of the Federals. In this position they gave and received a heavy fire, but being protected by fortifications left by the enemy, they only suffered four wounded and eight horses killed. After the Chancellorsville campaign, the Battery went into camp near Milford, Va. for rest and recruitment. While there twelve men were captured while out looking for horses.

The Pee Dee Light Artillery was part of the Confederate artillery that opened the Battle of Gettysburg. The unit was posted along the Chambersburg Pike with the batteries of Pegram, and Poague. There they opened on Federal artillery forcing them to limber up and retreat three separate times. During the firing one of the guns broke an axle while discharging. The combined fire of the Confederate artillery also inflicted severe loses upon the enemy infantry. On the second day, the Battery was positioned a mile to the right of the Pike and forward of its previous position. From there they opened on the Federals whenever they could. They stayed in this position and were part of the artillery that bombarded the Federal artillery prior to Pickett's Charge. During this battle, the Battery lost two killed, seven wounded, twenty horses, one gun and one caisson dismounted, and one caisson exploded.

In 1864, the Battery was unable to take part in the Battle of the Wilderness because they didn't have enough horses. They were able, however, to participate in the battles around Spotsylvania Court House, where they lost one killed and three wounded. Their last engagement in Virginia was June 3rd. on the Chickahominy near Cold Harbor.

By this time the Battery had lost so many men that it was feared that they would be converted back to infantry. So a deal was made with Captain Thomas Gregg who commanded a light battery in Charleston, South Carolina to switch men. This was done so that the Pee Dee Lt. Art. would have the opportunity to recruit new men, and build up their depleted ranks. In sixty days they had done so. The unit then served for several months as a heavy artillery battery at Battery Ryan on James Island.

By January, 1865, the Battery was again equipped with light artillery, and attached to Major General William Hardee's command. The Battery took part in the River's Bridge action on the Salkahatchie. This was an attempt to stop Gen. Sherman's forces from advancing into South Carolina. The Confederates were forced to retreat northward and join Gen. Johnston's Army near Greensboro, North Carolina. It was here that the Pee Dee Lt. Art. was surrendered on April 18,1865.

However, the Colors were never surrendered, but were concealed under the clothes of R.C. Nettles and returned to Miss Lou McIntosh who had helped make the flag at the beginning of the war. The flag was featured at all the reunions of the Battery after the war until 1904. By this time there were very few men left, and it was decided to turn the flag over to the State of South Carolina.

Most of this material was summarized from PEE DEE LIGHT ARTILLERY of Maxcy Gregg's (Later Samuel McGowan's) Brigade, First South Carolina Volunteers (Infantry) C.S.A. A Historical Sketch and Roster by Sgt. Joseph Woods Brunson Introduced and edited by William Stanley Hoole 1983, and from Norm Gibson.


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