Thursday, October 11, 2012

Company E New York 16th Heavy Artillery: Sergeant Alexander Manning, the husband of my 2nd Great Grand Aunt


Artillery crossed cannon insignia

The Harris sisters both married men who served in the Artillery during the Civil War.  The men that the Harris sisters married had other things in common.  They were both the same age, having been born in 1840.  There was a difference though, a rather large difference, the men that the Harris sisters married had served on opposite sides of the nations greatest conflict.  

The Harris sisters were both born in New York.  Emma in 1853 and Virginia in June of 1856.  Virginia Harris moved to the State of Virginia in 1880.  On July 19, 1882 she married my 2nd Great Grandfather, George Patterson Vaden in Manchester, Virginia.  Virginia Harris would remain in the state that bared her name until her death sometime after 1930.  In the 1930 census, she was living with her daughter, also Virginia, and her family. 

Emma Harris stayed in New York.  Sometime after the war she married Alexander Manning.  Manning was born in Hyde Park, New York in June of 1840.  He had previously served a short enlistment in Company D, New York 5th Infantry Regiment.  It is unclear why Manning chose not to re-enlist with the New York 5th Infantry. 

Index card showing Manning's service with the NY 5th Infantry

On December 16, 1863, Alexander Manning enlisted as a Private in Company E, New York 16th Heavy Artillery Battalion.  Sometime after his enlistment, he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant. 

Index card showing Manning's service with the NY 16th Heavy Artillery
The New York 16th Heavy Artillery Battalion was organized in New York from September of 1863 to February 2, 1864.  The men were primarily recruited from the New York City and its surrounding areas.  Manning began his service to the Union at Fortress Monroe in early 1864. 


The "Lincoln Gun" a 15-inch Rodman Columbiad at Fortress Monroe, Virginia taken in 1864

The Battalion served regimental duty at Fortress Monroe, Yorktown and Gloucester Point, Virginia til June of 1864.  Through December of 1864, the unit was attached to the X Army Corps, Army of the James.  There they took part in the Bermuda Hundred Campaign and played a principal role in the unsuccessful attack on Drewry's Bluff (where CSA Private George Patterson Vaden was injured).  They also took part in the attack on Cold Harbor in conjunction with units of the Army of the Potomac.  The X Corps also played a major role in the early stages of the Siege of Petersburg.

The X Corps was disbanded in December of 1864.  It's white members were reassigned to the XXIV Corps, while it's black members were reassigned to the XXV Corps.


Capture of Fort Fisher by Kurz and Allison, 1890

The New York 16th Heavy Artillery Battalion took part in the Union bombardment of Fort Fisher in mid January.   At this time the Battalion was commanded by Major Frederick W. Prince.  Fort Fisher was the last major coastal stronghold of the Confederacy, aptly nicknamed the "Gibraltar of the South".  Fisher had served as a port of call for the blockade runners who helped supply the Army of Northern Virginia.  Nearly 10,000 Union soldiers, sailors and marines along with 52 Union vessels attacked the Confederate garrison of 1,900 soldiers.  The gross mismatch proved to formidable for the Confederate forces.  Confederate casualties numbered 583 killed and wounded.  The Confederate hold on Fort Fisher was no longer defensible.  Fort Fisher's commander, Major Reilly raised a white flag and announced the surrender of his garrison. 

The Battalion served in a few minor skirmishes before finally being mustered out of the service on August 1, 1865 in Washington D.C.


Record showing Alexander Manning was mustered out of the service on Aug. 1, 1865

Alexander received a pension for his service to his country for his service with the NY 5th Infantry and also the NY 16th Heavy Artillery Battalion.


Pension document for service with NY 5th Infantry


Pension document for service with NY 16th Heavy Artillery

Alexander Manning died in New York in 1906.  His burial location is not known at the time of this entry. 

I find it incredibly interesting that the Harris sisters married Artillery men from opposing sides of the Civil War.  Both men survived the war and went on to live full lives.   There is at least one record of George Patterson Vaden taking a trip to New York in 1891.  Certainly the Harris sisters remained in contact after the war.   I can only imagine the conversations that could have possibly taken place between Vaden and Manning.   Surely they could have discussed Vaden's injury at Drewry's Bluff and Manning's participation in that conflict.  The two men who once faced each other on the field of battle now faced each other as members of the same family. 

Here's my relation to Alexander Manning:

Alexander Manning (1840 - 1906)
relationship to you: husband of 2nd great grand aunt
Emma Harris (1853 - )
Wife of Alexander
William C. Harris (1822 - )
Father of Emma
Virginia S. Harris (1856 - 1930)
Daughter of William C.
William A. Vaden (1885 - 1916)
Son of Virginia S.
Robert William Lewis (1913 - 1990)
Son of William A.
Joyce Elaine Lewis (1948 - )
Daughter of Robert William
Chip Stokes
You are the son of Joyce

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