Also called Baxter’s (1st Organization); Freeman’s Battery; Company “B”, Monsarrat’s Tennessee Light Artillery Battalion
This company was originally part of Captain George H. Monsarrat’s Battery, “The Harding Artillery,” which was enrolled at Camp Harris, Nashville, May 15, 1861. On November 20, 1861 it was reported as Company “B”, Monsarrat’s Battalion at Camp Lookout, near Chattanooga. On December 9, 1861, Brigadier General W. H. Carroll, at Knoxville, in reporting on the forces in East Tennessee, listed Captain Monsarrat’s Company near Knoxville, with E. Baxter as Senior 1st Lieutenant, and Freeman as 2nd Lieutenant. Captain Monsarrat was reported as Post Commandant at Knoxville, on December 27, 1861, and the battery, at about this time, was divided into two parts, one of which was Captain H. Baker’s Battery, the other this battery under Captain Ed Baxter, although it continued to be referred to as Monsarrat’s Battery until April, 1862.
On December 28, 1861, Major General G. B. Crittenden, in reporting on the forces in his command, listed: “Captain Monsarrat’s Battery, consisting of ten pieces, but the company is not yet filled up, the intention being to augment it to 250 men.” On January 24, 1862, General A. S. Johnston instructed the Ordnance Department at Nashville: “You will send to General Crittenden, by the Cumberland River, for Monsarrat’s Battery, composed of three 6-pound smooth bore and one 8-pound rifled cannon, a supply of spherical shells for 6s and shells for the rifled guns.” Evidently, some time between these two dates, the l0-gun battery had been divided into two parts.
On February 23, 1862, Baker’s Battery and Monsarrat’s Battery were both listed in Brigadier General W H. Carroll’s Brigade, Crittenden’s Division of the Central Army, with Headquarters at Murfreesboro. The battery here reported as Monsarrat’s was evidently now commanded by Captain Baxter, for Monsarrat was still at Knoxville in command of the post, and never had any further connection with either of these two batteries.
On April 26, 1862, Baxter’s Battery with 73 effectives was reported in Major General Hardee’s Corps, Colonel R. G. Shaver’s Brigade at Corinth, Mississippi. On June 30, still in Hardee’s Corps, it was reported in Brigadier General S. A. M. Wood’s Brigade. Captain Baxter was assigned to post duty, and the battery was organized as Captain Samuel L. Freeman’s Battery on July 20, 1862. Company reports state it was engaged in shelling the enemy at Battle Creek, near Chattanooga, August 27-28; and dislodged and routed the enemy in an engagement at Stevenson, Alabama on August 31, as part of a force under Colonel McKinstry, 32nd Alabama Regiment.
Early in September, 1862, the battery received 50 recruits from Loudon County. On September 21, Major General Sam Jones ordered Freeman’s Battery to march to Tullahoma, to be under the command of Colonel H. Maury, with the purpose of producing an impression that a force was moving on Nashville from Chattanooga. On October 4, Colonel Maury was directed to move up to Murfreesboro, and Freeman’s Battery to LaVergne. On October 9, Freeman’s Battery was ordered to report to Brigadier General N. B. Forrest, and it remained with his command until after the Battle of Chickamauga.
On November 5, the battery was with Forrest in his raid into the outskirts of Nashville, being stationed first on the Nolensville Pike, and later between the Franklin and Nolensville Pikes, where it did effective work in shelling the enemy troops on the pikes. General Forrest reported: “Great credit is due Captain Freeman and his officers and men for their coolness and discretion during this engagement.”
An inspection report dated November 11 showed Freeman’s Battery armed with two six-pounder guns and two 12-pounder howitzers, bronze, and stated that it required new harness. On November 14, Freeman’s Battery, with six guns, was reported with Forrest six miles from Nashville.
It accompanied Forrest in his raid into West Tennessee the last half of December, and was under his immediate command in his dash into Trenton, on December 20. It was with Colonel Dibrell in the Battle of Parker’s Cross Roads, December 31, 1862, and Colonel Dibrell spoke of the effective work of a pound howitzer, manned by Sergeant Nathan Baxter, of Freeman’s Battery.
Returning to Middle Tennessee, it was with Forrest in the capture of Thompson’s Station on March 5, and of Brentwood on March 25. But Freeman’s exploits came to an end April 19, 1863, on the Lewisburg Pike near Franklin. A Federal report stated: “Freeman’s Battery was taken and destroyed by chopping it to pieces. He, one lieutenant, and several men were killed; two lieutenants and 29 men captured. In other words, the battery was defunct.” Confederate reports of the engagement state that the attacking troops were from the 4th United States Cavalry. They are in practical agreement with the list of casualties; Lindsey’s Annals states: “As the enemy did not get any of the pieces off the field, Lieutenants Douglass and Crudup took charge of the battery and had it prepared for service, the wheels having been hacked up in the effort to cut the battery down.” A. L. Huggins was one of the lieutenants captured in this engagement, but when he was exchanged he became captain of the company, and served as such until the end of the war.
The Federal report was over-optimistic in stating that the battery was “defunct,” for on May 10, 1863, it reported four officers, 99 men present for duty, 110 present, 181 present and absent. Following the withdrawal to Chattanooga of Bragg’s Army in July, the battery was stationed at Kingston, Tennessee on August 3, 1863.
In the Battle of Chickamauga, September 19-20, Huggins’ and Morton’s batteries were attached to Colonel George G. Dibrell’s Brigade. Huggins’ Battery was sent to the relief of Maney’s Brigade, and General Forrest reported; “The conduct of the officers and men of the battery deserves special mention. They kept up a constant and destructive fire upon the enemy until they were within 50 yards of the guns, getting off the field with all their pieces, notwithstanding the loss of horses.”
Forrest’s high regard for the battery is evidenced by the fact that when he applied for transfer to West Tennessee he asked for either “Freeman’s” or Morton’s Battery as part of the minute expeditionary force which was to accompany him. Morton’s Battery was the one assigned to this duty, and Huggins’ Battery was placed in Brigadier General G. C. Wharton’s Division, Lieutenant General Long-street’s Corps, for Longstreet’s invasion of East Tennessee. On December 10, it was in Brigadier General F. C. Armstrong’s Division of Major General Joseph Wheeler’s Cavalry Corps, but reported as detached in East Tennessee. On December 31, it was reported in Brigadier General John T. Morgan’s Division of Major General William T. Martin’s Cavalry Corps, but on January 31, 1864, it was once again reported in Armstrong’s Division. At this time it reported five officers, 86 men present for duty, 101 present, and 141 present and absent, with four pieces of artillery.
On February 29, the report showed four officers, 77 men present for duty, 92 present, 110 present and absent. On April 1, it was with Dibrell’s Brigade, en route from East Tennessee to Dalton, Georgia. On May 5, at Dalton, Georgia, it was attached to Brigadier General John H. Kelly’s Division.
On June 30, Huggins’, Ramsey’s, and White’s Tennessee Batteries, Ferrell’s Georgia, and Wiggins’ Arkansas Batteries were reported in a battalion commanded by Lieutenant Colonel F. H. Robertson, forming the Artillery Reserve for Wheeler’s Cavalry Corps, and remained in this battalion through August 31, 1864. In August the battery accompanied General Wheeler in his raid into Tennessee, and returned with Wheeler to do what was possible in impeding General Sherman’s march to Savannah. Captain Huggins was placed on Brigadier General John K. Jackson’s Staff at Savannah, Georgia, as Chief of Artillery, and Lieutenant Nat Baxter took command of the battery. Upon the evacuation of Savannah, Captain Huggins rejoined the battery, and fell back with it through South Carolina to North Carolina.
On January 31, 1865, a report of the forces in Hardee’s Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, showed Huggins, White’s, Ramsey’s Tennessee, and Wiggins’ Arkansas Batteries in Major James Hamilton’s Artillery Battalion. The battery was surrendered as part of General Joseph E. Johnston’s Army and paroled at Greensboro, North Carolina May 1, 1865.
This unit history was extracted from Tennesseans in the Civil War, Vol 1. Copyrighted 1964 by the Civil War Centennial Commission of Tennessee and is published here with their permission. This history may not be republished for any reason without the written permission of the copyright owner.