Captain D. Breck Ramsey’s Tennessee Battery

Formerly Gustave A. Huwald’s Howitzer Battery-Huwald’s Battery, Horse Artillery.

This battery was mustered into service at Knoxville, June 21, 1862 by order of Major General E. Kirby Smith, with only 10 men on roll, commanded by First Lieutenant Gustave A. Huwald, and later attached to Colonel Starnes’ 4th (3rd) Cavalry Regiment. It served throughout the war attached to cavalry units; first in East Tennessee and Kentucky; then with General N. B. Forrest’s Corps at Chickamauga; and finally with General Joseph Wheeler’s Corps for the balance of the war.

Additional men were transferred to it from infantry and cavalry units, and it left Knoxville June 30, for Rogersville, where it was assigned to Colonel B. J. Allston’s Cavalry Brigade, of which Starnes’ regiment was a member. Allston’s Brigade was in Brigadier General Henry Heth’s Division. On August 4, Brigadier General Forrest, in Middle Tennessee was advised that Starnes’ regiment, Howard’s Battalion, and Huwald’s Mountain Howitzer Battery had been ordered to join him, but that it would be probably two weeks before Starnes and Huwald could join him. This was a decidedly optimistic estimate, for Huwald’s Battery never did join Forrest until just before the Battle of Chickamauga, by which time Forrest was a corps commander rather than a brigade commander.

In the meantime, it remained in the vicinity of Rogersville for about six weeks, and then crossed the Cumberland Mountains with General E. Kirby Smith’s Army on August 17, 1862, en route for his invasion of Kentucky, attached to Brigadier General T. J. Churchill’s Division. At the capture of Richmond, Kentucky, August 30, the battery was attached to Colonel Scott’s Cavalry Brigade, and one piece under Lieutenant Ramsey stationed on the turnpike to Tate’s Creek, three pieces under Lieutenant Huwald on the turnpike to Lexington, with no infantry support. A company report states they were driven from these positions by enemy sharpshooters. The report goes on that on September 4, near Shelbyville, Kentucky, Colonel Starnes with 600 men and this battery attacked an enemy column 9000 strong, with nine pieces of artillery, which was retreating to Louisville. On September 14, in the attack on Fort Munfordville it shelled the enemy camp south of Green River for two hours. On September 28, it was within eight miles of Louisville. On October 4 it was engaged in a skirmish at Hardinsville, on October 8 took part in the attack and capture of Frankfort, in an engagement lasting six hours. When Bragg retreated from the Battle of Perryville, which took place on the same day, the battery fell back into Tennessee, arriving at Sparta October 22, and was sent to Knoxville, where it arrived on October 26, to be refitted.

Here it was assigned to Brigadier General John Pegram’s Cavalry Brigade. It remained at Knoxville for about three months, recruiting and refitting. On January 25, Lieutenant Ramsey was sent to Hawkins County for 30 days to recruit. On February 7, a detachment of 24 men under Captain Huwald, with one three-inch rifled gun left to join General Pegram, moving first to Rogersville; then to Holston Springs; then to Moccasin Gap; then to Clinton, Anderson County; and on February 24 arrived at Beaver Creek where it went into camp. On February 20, 1863, one detachment of the battery was reported at Knoxville, with Captain J. W. Stokes commanding the post; the other with General Pegram.

On March 19, the battery was reported with Pegram’s Brigade en route to Kentucky, and General Pegram reported he had crossed the river by the morning of March 23, with 1500 men and Huwald’s Battery of three pieces. After rounding up cattle and supplies, and starting them back to the river, he had an engagement with the enemy near Somerset, Kentucky on March 29.

On April 25, the battery was reported in Colonel J. J. Morrison’s Brigade at Albany, Kentucky; and Colonel Morrison reported an engagement between Albany and Monticello, Kentucky on May 2nd, in which Huwald’s Battery did excellent service.

On July 31, the battery was once more reported in Pegram’s Brigade, at Ebenezer, Tennessee. At Chickamauga, September 19-20, Pegram commanded a division in Forrest’s Corps and the battery was attached to Brigadier General H. B. Davidson’s Brigade of this division.

Sometime after the Battle of Chickamauga, the exact date not known, Robinson’s Louisiana Battery was consolidated with Huwald’s, with Lieutenant Turner, of the Louisiana Battery becoming the second lieutenant of Huwald’s Battery. A company report stated the battery was in camp at Cleveland on November 1; and that on November 15 the first section, under Lieutenant Turner, moved to Blythe’s Ferry and bombarded the enemy on the 17th and 18th. Lieutenant Ramsey relieved Turner on the 20th, and rejoined the battery at Dalton, Georgia, on November 30. In the meantime, the battery, on November 22, was ordered to Charleston to report to Brigadier General John Kelly, of Wheeler’s Cavalry Corps, and remained attached to his division until April 3, 1864. The battery moved from Charleston to Dalton, Georgia, and on January 10, 1864 moved to Boiling Springs, Calhoun County, Alabama, to rest and recruit horses and men. During January and February, Lieutenant Ramsey was detached to become acting Adjutant to Captain Scott, Chief of Artillery.

On April 3, 1864, Major F. H. Robertson’s Artillery Battalion, attached to Wheeler’s Cavalry Corps, was formed, with Huwald’s, Ferrell’s Georgia, and Wiggin’s Arkansas Batteries. In June, Huggins’ Tennessee Battery was added to the battalion, and Huwald’s Battery continued to be reported in this battalion until September 20, 1864. Captain Huwald was taken prisoner March 30, and Lieutenant Ramsey took command of the battery, and was commissioned captain some time in August, although the battery continued to be generally referred to as Huwald’s Battery. On September 20, Major James Hamilton took command of the battalion, and it was known as Hamilton’s Battalion until the end.

A report dated December 31, 1864 showed the battery stationed at Purisburg, near Hardeeville, South Carolina, on that date, but no records were found of the battery’s activities in the intervening period. The last report found was dated January 31, 1865 at which time the battery, still in Hamilton’s Battalion, was in Wheeler’s Corps, Lieutenant General Hardee’s Department of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

On February 11, 1865, Captain Ramsey was relieved of command, and instructed to report to the Adjutant General for orders. The circumstances were explained in a letter from John H. Morton to the Adjutant Generals Office, dated February 8, 1865: “As the friend of Surgeon and Medical Director Frank A. Ramsey, I would most respectfully submit the following statement in reference to Captain D. Breck Ramsey, of Wheeler’s Cavalry Corps.

“Huwald’s Battery, of Tennessee, was in 1863 consolidated with Robinson’s Battery of Louisiana. Lieutenant Ramsey, of Huwald’s Battery became First Lieutenant; Lieutenant Turner, of Robinson’s, next in rank. In 1864, Ramsey was promoted Captain. On his assuming command, some 15 men of the Louisiana portion deserted, not the service, but with the design of attaching themselves to the Army of the Trans-Mississippi Department. Ramsey was very active and efficient in having them caught, brought back, and placed under charge of desertion, from which they were released by an amnesty order of General Johnston. Subsequently their conduct was rebellious in a marked degree. Being sustained in their acts of disobedience by Lieutenant Turner, a difficulty necessarily arose between that officer and Ramsey in the latter’s attempt to maintain discipline in his command, eventuating in the death of Turner. Since which occasion, several attempts have been made to assassinate Ramsey, and from the deadly animosity entertained against him by the Louisiana portion of the battery, and from the boldness and persistence of their attempts, he is hourly apprehensive that they may be successful; he would therefore most respectfully ask to be assigned to another command, and thus removed from the unseen but certain danger which surrounds him.”

The battery does not seem to have been surrendered and paroled as a unit, for parole records were found as of Charlotte, North Carolina; Augusta, Georgia; Albany, Georgia; and Nashville, Tennessee.

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.

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