“Rock City Artillery”
Formerly Captain Jesse Taylor’s Battery-Captain Peter Stankiewicz’s Battery. Served in Tennessee Artillery Corps; as Company “B”, First Tennessee Heavy Artillery Battalion; as Company “B”, First Tennessee Light Artillery Battalion; as Company “B”, First Artillery Regiment.
This company was enlisted at Nashville in the summer of 1861. Jesse Taylor was appointed captain by Governor Isham G. Harris on July 20, 1861. The company was mustered into Confederate service at Fort Henry September 2, 1861. Captain Taylor was captured at Fort Henry, and assigned to post duty when exchanged. Lieutenant Stankiewicz was captured at Fort Donelson, where he had been appointed captain by General Pillow. After being exchanged, he tendered his resignation on account of his age on November 19, 1862, but it was not accepted until February 10, 1863. Lieutenant Weller then became captain and served until he was killed at Port Hudson in June, 1863.
On October 18, 1861, Colonel A. Heiman, l0th Tennessee Infantry, at Fort Henry, reported: “I have at present for the defense of this fort my own regiment, 820 men, and Captain Taylor’s Company of Artillery, aggregate 50 men. I have repeatedly requested this company to be recruited to its full strength. In its present condition there are not enough men to work all the guns at the same time and to properly arm the fort.”
Colonel Milton A. Haynes, reporting on the surrender of Fort Henry on February 6, 1862, stated: “Its defense was made by one small company of artillery commanded by Captain Jesse Taylor, General Tilghman and other officers taking part in the action. The whole force numbered, rank and file, less than 70, not enough to man all the guns.
“Captain Jesse Taylor, Second Lieutenant J. F. Weller, and 50 non coms and privates, of whom ten or 12 were wounded, were taken prisoner.”
Prior to the beginning of the bombardment, First Lieutenant Stankiewicz and some of the men were detached to man a light battery at Fort Heiman, across the river. These forces were evacuated, and along with all the other forces at Fort Henry, were withdrawn in time to prevent capture, as it was apparent that the fort could not be held. They withdrew to Fort Donelson, on the Cumberland River, where Lieutenant Stankiewicz with his men and a detachment from the Maury Artillery, (q.v.) manned the eight inch howitzers and two nine-pounder nondescripts in the river batteries. Stankiewicz and the rest of the battery were surrendered here on February 16, 1862 and sent to prisoner of war camps at Camp Morton, Camp Douglass, and Alton, Illinois. The battery was sent to Vicksburg, Mississippi for exchange in September, 1862, and on September 30 was stationed at Jackson, Mississippi. After being declared exchanged in November, 1862, the battery moved to Port Hudson, Louisiana, where it remained until the surrender of that point on July 10, 1863. The muster roll for February 2, 1862-Sep-tember 30, 1862, described it as Company “B”, 1st Artillery Regiment. The muster roll for October 31-December 31, 1862 called it Stankiewicz’ Company “B”, 1st Artillery Regiment; the roll for April 30-October 31, 1863 described it as Weller’s Company B”, 1st Tennessee Light Artillery Battalion. After being surrendered and paroled at Port Hudson, it was mustered October 31, 1863 at Smyrnia Camp Ground as Companies “B” and “G”, 1st Tennessee Light Artillery Regiment. Captain Fisher’s company was
At Port Hudson, the Maury Artillery (Captain Sparkman), the Nelson Artillery (Captain Fisher) and the Rock City Artillery (Captain Weller) formed the 1st Tennessee Heavy Artillery, which, along with the 12th Louisiana Artillery Battalion, was under the command of Lieutenant Colonel P. F. DeGournay, of the 12th Louisiana. These batteries, with a portion of the 1st Alabama Artillery Regiment, manned the heavy batteries at Port Hudson, under the overall command of Lieutenant Colonel Melanethon J. Smith, Chief of Artillery. They endured the heavy bombardment of the port on March 14, 186.3, and the 48 day siege prior to the surrender on July 10, 1863. At the time of the surrender, Lieutenant Oswald Tilghman was in command.
After being paroled and exchanged, the battery served briefly as infantry, then as light artillery, and about January 1, 1864, was merged into the 1st Tennessee Heavy Artillery Regiment.
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.