Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Captain Stanford's Battery, Mississippi Light Artillery: Private John Pipkin Nowell, my 1st cousin 5x removed

Flag of Lieutenant General Leonidas Polk's Corps, Army of Mississippi

Captain Stanford's Battery of the Mississippi Light Artillery completed its organization on May 17, 1861.  It was mustered into the service of the Confederate States of America on November 6, 1861 in Yalobusha County, Grenada, Mississippi.  About that time, the Battery received their first two Artillery Pieces, Two Twelve-Pounder Howitzers.  The Battery was ordered to Columbus, Kentucky on November 7, 1861 and was attached to the Army of Mississippi, under the command of Lieutenant General Leonidas Polk.   The Battery remained in Columbus, Kentucky until the evacuation and retreat to Cornith, Mississippi, which began on March 1, 1862.

Lieutenant General Leonidas Polk a/k/a "The Fighting Bishop"

General Polk was born in Raleigh, North Carolina on April 10, 1806.  Prior to the Civil War, he was a successful Planter in Maury County, Tennessee during the 1830's.  In 1841, he was elected Bishop of  the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana, thus earning him  the nickname "The Fighting Bishop."  Bishop Polk was also the leading founder for the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee.  Polk was killed in action on June 14, 1864 during the Atlanta Campaign when a Federal 3 inch Artillery shell struck his left arm, went through his chest, exited hitting his right arm before it exploded against a tree.  According to witnesses, General Polk was nearly cut in two.

6 Pounder
3" Ordnance Rifle
12 Pound Howitzer

While in Cornith, Mississippi, the Battery became fully equipped with Two 12-Pounder Howitzers, Two 6-Pounders, One 3" Ordnance Rifle and the appropriate number of horses required to pull them.  Although the men were able to train with the guns, they weren't able to actually fire them until early April of 1862.

After the reorganization of General Albert Sidney Johnston's Army of Tennessee in early 1862, the Battery was attached to Brigadier General Alexander P. Stewart's Brigade in Major General Charles Clark's First Division. 

The Battery took part in the bloody Battle of Shiloh, which took place from April 6 - 7 of 1862.  During the battle, Captain Stanford's Mississippi Light Artillery was the only Mississippi organization under the command of future Governor of Mississippi, Charles Clark.  General Clark was wounded early during the Battle and was replaced by General Stewart.

Major General Charles Clark

General Polk reported that due to the scarcity of ammunition, before going in to battle on April 6th, Captain Stanford's men had actually never fired their guns, but "they fought with the steadiness and gallantry of well-trained troops."  As was the case for most Artillery Units early in the war, Captain Stanford was left to find his own position on the field and work where he was deemed most needed.  He found a Federal Battery in action and opened upon and silenced it at a distance of 600 yards. 

The Bloody Battle of Shiloh

During the fighting on April 6th that compelled the surrender of Union General Prentiss' Federal Division from the "Hornet's Nest", Confederate General Daniel Ruggles brought up Colonel Robert Trabue's 4th Kentucky and Captain Stanford's Mississippi Light Artillery to oppose a Federal column that was advancing and gaining ground.  According to General Ruggles: 
"when the conflict was at its height these batteries opened upon the Federals' concentrated forces, producing immediate commotion, and soon returned in the precipitate retreat of the enemy from the contest.  At this moment the Second Brigade and the Crescent Regiment pressed forward and cut off a considerable portion of the enemy, who surrendered."
On April 7th, Captain Stanford and his gunners were sent to support a column of Infantry commanded by General John Cabell Breckinridge.  The Battery engaged a Federal Battery at a range of some 500 yards.  Although Breckinridge's charge failed, Captain Stanford and his men held their position until they were almost completely surrounded.  Stanford then brought off as much of the Battery as he could.  The Battery's persistent stand enabled the Infantry to rally before falling into a complete rout. 

Captain Stanford's Battery of Mississippi Light Artillery had 131 men engaged in the Battle of Shiloh.  The Battery suffered 4 killed or mortally wounded, 14 wounded and 2 men captured.  The Battery also lost Four guns, which were later recaptured, but had to be left on the field due to there not being enough horses to draw them away.

Below is Captain T. J. Stanford's Report that followed the Battle of Shiloh:

Report of Capt. T. J. Stanford, Mississippi Battery.

CAMP, NEAR CORINTH, MISS., April 10, 1862.  I have the honor to report that, owing to the fact that there were no distinct roads through the woods, and the undergrowth being quite thick, I found it quite impossible to follow the course taken by the brigade on the morning of the 6th sufficiently fast to keep in position; consequently soon found my command entirely disconnected. Left to my own judgment, I determined to advance in the direction of the enemy as indicated by the firing. I soon found myself in front of one of their batteries, which opened fire upon us at a distance of about 600 yards.  My guns were placed in position as soon as possible in the face of a fire that was telling both on men and horses with terrible effect. In about fifteen minutes their firing ceased, and I was gratified to know that an infantry regiment very soon took possession of it without firing a gun.  Subsequently during the day I occupied positions under orders from Gen.'s Beauregard, Ruggles, and others.

On Monday morning (the 7th), while awaiting orders from you, orders were received from Gen. Beauregard to advance to the support of a column commanded by Gen. Breckinridge. 

About 11 a.m. a battery, which had been firing all the morning and up to this time I had supposed to be one of our own, opened fire upon us.  After assuring myself that they were certainly our enemy, I opened upon
them with solid shot and spherical case at a range of 500 yards. The cannonading continued about thirty minutes, they changing their position once during the time.

At this juncture Gen. Breckinridge moved forward his column with a view of capturing the battery. The charge was a gallant one. The men, promptly answering the call of their leaders, went forward with a shout.
They met with a check, however, from the enemy, who were lying in ambush in numbers not less than 3,000 strong. When I saw the command of Gen. Breckinridge retiring, I gave orders for canister to be brought forward, and prepared to give them a warm reception. This we did as soon as their front was unmasked, and for thirty minutes we held them in check, their ranks broken and wavering in many places, showing plainly that but a little better support from infantry, which was not given us, would have sufficed to have routed them completely. At no time was the distance more than 300 yards, and this was reduced to 50 yards when the last gun was discharged. A part of the time they filed passed in four ranks, with the intention of flanking us. It was then the grape had the most terrible effect upon them. Large gaps were made by every gun at each discharge. Three regimental flags being in full view, I gave orders to point at them, and soon had the satisfaction of seeing two of them fall to the ground, both being raised again. One was again cut down. Being hard pressed, and almost surrounded by their large force, I determined to withdraw my command, or such part of it as I could move. My horses being nearly all killed, I could only bring away two pieces, leaving four upon the field. These, however, we did not abandon till the last moment, making them pay dearly for their purchase. The effect of my determined stand, after all support had left me, though disastrous to my immediate command, was certainly beneficial to our common cause, as it gave commanders of infantry regiments time to rally their forces before getting into a complete rout. This I saw at a glance, and determined, if need be, to sacrifice my battery.

Our losses were 4 killed, 14 wounded, and 2 taken prisoners; also about 60 horses, most of which were killed.

The officers and privates in my command acted with much bravery and deliberation. Where all did so well it would be improper to make distinctions.

Lieut.'s McSwine, Hardin, Trotter, and McCall all participated in the two days' fight, and gave me efficient aid in the management and firing of the pieces, frequently pointing and ranging them in person.

To Lieut. Dunlap, temporarily attached to my command, I am indebted for valuable services during the battle. He showed himself equal to the occasion.

I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,

Cmdg. Stanford's Battery.

Following the Battle of Shiloh, General P. G. T. Beauregard, who replaced the deceased General Albert Sidney Johnston as the commander of the Army of Tennessee, moved the Army to the railroad depot near Cornith, Mississippi.  During the Siege of Cornith, which took place from April 29 - May 29, 1862, the Battery was re-fitted with Four 3" Brass Cannons.  On May 30, 1862, the Confederates withdrew from Cornith and moved south to Tupelo, Mississippi. 

After their retreat to Tupelo, Mississippi, the Battery set out on the march to Chattanooga, Tennessee on July 23rd.  They arrived at Chattanooga on August 7th, just in time for another reorganization on August 18th.  This reorganization allowed Captain Stanford to maintain command of the Battery, however the Battery was now attached to Brigadier General Alexander P. Stewart's Brigade, Major General Benjamin Franklin Cheatham's Division of Lieutenant General Leonidas Polk's Right Wing of the Army of Mississippi, now commanded by Major General Braxton Bragg, who had taken command in June. 

Stanford's Battery followed General Bragg's Army into Kentucky where they were involved in the capture of Federal soldiers at Munfordville on September 17, 1862.  The Battery was heavily engaged during the Battle of Perryville, Kentucky on October 8, 1862, where a single shot by a distant Federal Battery killed one and mortally wounded two other men from Stanford's Battery. 

The Unit was also engaged in the Battle of Murfreesboro also known as the Battle of Stones River which was fought from December 31, 1862, to January 2, 1863.

General Rosecrans rallies his troops at Stones River.  Illustration by Kurz and Allison (1891).

Of all the major engagements of the Civil War, the Battle of Stones River had the highest percentage of casualties on both sides.  On December 31st, Captain Stanford was employed under the immediate command of General Polk to fire on a Federal Battery that was pestering an advancing column of Confederate Infantry.  The Battery advanced as far as the Cowan House on the Nashville Pike and gave cover fire to the Confederate advance.  This manuever by Stanford exposed his Battery to heavy Federal fire, which in turn killed two of his gunners. 

On January 1, 1863, Captain Stanford's Battery was posted near the Railroad, where they went into action on January 2nd to assist with the attack by General Brekinridge at Four o' clock in the evening.  Captain Stanford was instructed to open fire on the left of the woods, to draw fire from the Battery's right.  "This I evidently succeeded in doing" Stanford reported.  "They turned all their batteries on me, producing a concentration of shot and shell such as I have ever witnessed."   The Artillery forces that Union General William S. Rosecrans massed to repel the attack by Confederate General Breckinridge was the greatest known to that time during the War in the Western Theater, and was only equalled by the Artillery battle earlier in December of 1862 at Fredericksburg, Virginia.  This massing of Artillery caused Bragg's forces to withdraw from the field. 

Total casualties in the Battle of Stones River were 24,645: 12,906 on the Union side and 11,739 for the Confederates.  Considering that only about 76,400 men were engaged, this was the highest percentage of killed and wounded of any major battle in the Civil War.  Captain Stanford's Battery suffered only 3 killed, 4 wounded, and 7 horses killed during the battle. 

Below is Captain Stanford's Report that followed the Battle of Stones River:

Report of Capt. T. J. Stanford, Mississippi Battery.

January 12, 1863.

On Monday morning, December 29, 1862, the battery moved from the camp, 1 miles west of Murfreesborough, to its position, with the brigade, in line of battle on the west side of Stone's River, in rear of Mrs. James' house. Here we remained all day, nothing of interest occurring, and the monotony disturbed only by an occasional shot from the rifle batteries of the enemy passing over us.

On Tuesday morning heavy skirmishing commenced on our left, and was kept up with but little intermission during the day, and, though we did not participate in the fight until evening, the battery was more exposed to random shots than on the previous day. About 3 o'clock in the afternoon an order was received to send two of my pieces to the left, to assist in dislodging the enemy from a certain point. Accordingly, I dispatched Lieut. Hardin with the first section, who promptly went forward to perform the duty. After an absence of about an hour the section returned but without its leader. Lieut. Hardin, after having performed the object of his mission, and withdrawn the section with the view of rejoining us, was suddenly killed by a cannon shot. A gallant officer, a true soldier, and a Christian gentleman, he adds another to the long list of martyrs who have given their lives to their country's cause. Private M. Hartsfield received a painful but not dangerous flesh wound in this engagement.

On Wednesday morning about 9 o'clock I moved in rear of the brigade, on the road leading through the wood on our left, and while moving received an order from Gen. Polk to take position in the old field on the right of the Wilkinson pike, and support Capt. [O. W.] Barret's battery. This field, you will recollect, is the one extending to the enemy's lines, and, being for the most part level, his works covered and his guns swept every foot of the ground. Here I remained during the day, changing position only as circumstances required, or the retreating enemy invited to follow. Several times during the day the fire of the battery had a telling effect upon their lines of infantry, which were plainly to be seen. At one time they occupied a strong position in front of the little log-house (daubed with red mud), and held in check our forces, who had to march across an open flat of ground to attack them.  Arriving in position in time to observe the enemy and the repulse of our forces at the same time, I threw a few well-directed shots into their ranks, which caused them to retreat precipitately. Our lines immediately advanced, occupied the position, and continued to drive them. Again, later in the afternoon, I advanced as far as the Cowan or burnt brick house, on the Nashville pike, from which point although exposed to a galling fire from their batteries, we succeeded in pouring a very destructive fire into their ranks, causing them to give back from several points, and materially aiding our infantry in their advance. Here we lost 2 men and several horses killed and one limber disabled. All day we were under fire from their batteries, until late in the evening, when we were ordered to resume our original position.

On Thursday morning I moved to a position on the Nashville pike, at the point where the railroad crosses that road, and remained all day and part of the following night without firing a gun. Indeed, there was no fighting and but little skirmishing on our lines during the time. Orders being received during the night, my battery, together with the other batteries of the division, moved, and was placed in the open woods on the right of the railroad, about 500 yards north of the Cowan or burnt brick house. Chalmers' brigade was sent to support us.

Very early in the morning (Friday) it became evident that the enemy would dispute with us for this ground. Twice during the day their skirmishers drove ours in, and the heavy columns of infantry following were only repulsed by our artillery. It having been determined that Gen. Breckinridge should attack them on our right, orders were sent to me that precisely at 4 o'clock I should open with my battery on the left of the woods skirting the river bank, and upon the enemy's batteries, in order, as I inferred, to draw their fire from our right. This I evidently succeeded in doing. They turned all their batteries on me, producing a concentration of shot and shell such as I never before witnessed. During the night I returned to the place I had left in the morning, and on Saturday morning moved to our extreme left, to resist a movement the enemy were supposed to be making in that direction. Here we remained until late in the evening, when orders were given to move to the rear of Murfreesborough. My movements each day of the fight were governed by orders directly from Lieut.-Gen. Polk. As usual, I did not move with your brigade in the fight, but I do not doubt but that I gave you as much support as though I had, for my positions covered your right and front as effectually as if I had been with you, and perhaps better.

I feel satisfied with the part the battery played, and know that I did our cause some service. Considering the exposed situation of the company, if would appear strange that we lost so few killed and wounded. This must be accounted for from the fact that I kept my caissons in the rear, out of range of the shot, and the limbers and drivers were, for the most part, sheltered. Only the officers and cannoneers were exposed all the time; nevertheless, we have to mourn the loss of 3 killed and 4 wounded-all by cannon shot. There were also 7 horses killed.

To Lieut.'s [H. R.] McSwine and [J. S.] McCall I am much indebted for the proper management of the battery in the several engagements in which participated. The whole company acted bravely, doing no discredit to their reputation gained at Shiloh and Perryville.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully,

Capt., Cmdg. Light Battery.

Following the Battle of Stones River, Captain Stanford's Battery took part in the Atlanta Campaign.  Captian T. J. Stanford was killed in action during the Battle of Resaca, Georgia.  Apparently Stanford was warned to protect himself from exposure to the enemy.  Reportedly, his last words were "I reckon not."

Funeral Program for Captain T. J. Stanford

Following the Atlanta Campaign, The Battery also took part in Lieutenant General John Bell Hood's operations in Tennessee.  The Battery was captured in its entirety during the Battle of Nashville, Tennessee in December of 1864.

John Pipkin Nowell was born in Bertie County, North Carolina in 1830.  He is my 1st cousin 5x removed.  By 1850, John's family had relocated to Mississippi.  The 1850 Federal Census found John living south of the Yalobusha River, Yalobusha County, Mississippi.  John enlisted as a Private in Captain Stanford's Mississippi Light Artillery on November 6, 1861. 

1st Muster Roll for John

He was reported as absent for the period of May - June of 1862.  His records indicate he was sent to a hospital in Meridian, Mississippi on June 7, 1862. 

Muster Roll showing John was hospitalized in Mississippi

John, along with the rest of Captain Stanford's Battery, was captured during the Battle of Nashville in December of 1864.  John appeared on a Prisoner of War Roll for May of 1865.  John formally surrendered with Lieutenant General R. Taylor, CSA at Citronelle, Alabama on May 4, 1865.  He was paroled on May 11, 1865.

Prisoner of War Roll showing John's surrender and parole

John Pipkin Nowell lived an additional 44 years following the end of the Civil War.  He died in Grenada County, Mississippi on December 20, 1909.  He was 79 years old at the time of his death.  He is buried in the Odd Fellows Cemetery in Grenada County, Mississippi.

Grave of John Pipkin Nowell

Here's my relation to John:

John Pipkin Nowell (1830 - 1909)
is your 1st cousin 5x removed
William Nowell Esq. (1790 - 1831)
Father of John Pipkin
Dempsey Nowell Jr. (1755 - 1810)
Father of William
Rev. John Nowell (1803 - 1859)
Son of Dempsey
Joseph Warren Nowell (1829 - 1889)
Son of Rev. John
Walter Hinton Nowell (1855 - 1922)
Son of Joseph Warren
Joseph Warren Nowell (1889 - 1954)
Son of Walter Hinton
Ruth Adelaide Nowell Stokes (1918 - 2013)
Daughter of Joseph Warren
Selby Edward "Stokey" Stokes Jr. (1946 - )
Son of Ruth Adelaide
Chip Stokes
You are the son of Selby

1 comment:

  1. Be it known that my Great Uncle William B. Rose, fought with Stanford's Battery at Shiloh,, was mortally wounded on April 7, 1862 and Died on April 13, 1863 in Corinth, Ms.. He was from Yalobusha County, Ms, and lived near Gore Springs,, (now Grenada County, Ms. He was a Private and one of the original members of this Battery.