“Johnston Light Artillery”
Formerly J. Wesley Eldridge’s-Eldridge E. Wright’s-John W. Mebane’s.
This company was organized October 15, 1861 in Hardin County, with J. Wesley Eldridge as captain; some of its men came from Fayette and Wayne Counties. On December 3, 1862, at Murfreesboro, it was reorganized with E. E. Wright as captain. Wright was killed in the fighting around Murfreesboro, and Lieutenant John W. Mebane succeeded him as captain in February, 1863. Lieutenant I. W. Phillips was reported as commanding the company in June, 1864, and continued in command until the end. Sometime later, date not known, he was commissioned captain. The company was paroled at Meridian, Mississippi May 10, 1865.
On December 20, 1861, General Reuben Davis, Mississippi Volunteers, was assigned to command of the fortifications in and around Bowling Green, Kentucky, and the battery was placed in his command. On January 31, 1862, it was placed in Colonel John S. Bowen’s Brigade, Brigadier General John B. Floyd’s Division, of Major General Hardee’s command. The next time it was reported was in May, 1862, when it was in Brigadier General S. B. Maxey’s Brigade, at Corinth, Mississippi. As part of this brigade it moved to Tupelo, and from there to Chattanooga, where the brigade formed part of Major General Sam Jones’ command.
On September 17, General Jones, at Chattanooga, wrote General Bragg, in the field, with regard to strengthening the forces in Kentucky, I shall send Howard’s Cavalry and Eldridge’s Battery with General Maxey, and there shall be no delay which I can prevent in pushing forward Maxey’s Command.” No record was found as to when, or to what point, Maxey’s Command was pushed forward, and the report on November 11, 1862 showed the battery in King’s Battalion of Artillery, Colonel F. M. Walker’s Brigade, Brigadier General J. C. Breckinridge’s Division of the Army of Middle Tennessee with Headquarters at Murfreesboro.
On November 29, an inspection report showed Eldridge’s Battery armed with two six-pounder guns, and two 12-pounder bronze howitzers, but in need of horses and harness. A few days later, the battery was reorganized, and Captain Eldridge was not re-elected. He was later given staff duty.
In the Battle of Murfreesboro, December 31, 1862-January 2, 1863, the battery was attached to Brigadier General William Preston’s Brigade, of Breckinridge’s Division, and lost six killed, 14 wounded and two missing, including Captain Wright, who was killed, and Lieutenant Mebane, who was wounded.
The battery was stationed at Tullahoma and Wartrace until June, 1863, when Breckinridge was sent to Jackson, Mississippi, where, on June 6, the battery was reported as the Johnston Artillery, Captain Mebane, in Brigadier General M. A. Stovall’s Brigade. On July 30, again as the Johnston Artillery, the battery was reported in Major Rice E. Graves’ Artillery Battalion along with Cobb’s Kentucky and Slocomb’s Louisiana Batteries. The battalion was attached to Breckinridge’s Division, in Hardee’s Department of Mississippi and Eastern Louisiana. These batteries remained together until near the end of the war, and the battalion was later known as Captain (later Major) Robert Cobb’s Battalion. While in Mississippi, the division was engaged in General Joseph E. Johnston’s effort to relieve Vicksburg, Mississippi.
The division returned to the Army of Tennessee in time for the Battle of Chickamauga, September 19-20, 1863, where Mebane’s Battery was attached to Stovall’s Brigade. General Breckinridge reported: “The excellent battery of Captain Mebane, from the nature of the ground, was able to take but little part in the action.” It had three men wounded; was armed with four 12-pounder howitzers; expended 76 rounds of ammunition; and had five officers and 68 men engaged.
It was again engaged in the Battle of Missionary Ridge, November 25, 1863, where “the guns could not be sufficiently depressed to command the slope of the hill.” Here the casualties were two wounded, one missing.
The battery then fell back to Dalton, Georgia, where on December 14, it reported 51 effectives, 84 present and absent, 66 horses, and four 12-pounder howitzers. In January, 1864, part of Waters’ Company “B”, 2nd Alabama Artillery Battalion, was transferred to the battery to bring it up to strength. Cobb’s Battalion was attached to Hood’s Corps until April 10, when it was transferred to Hardee’s Corps. On April 1, it reported 66 effectives, 98 present and absent, 39 serviceable horses, and 22 horses needed.
As part of Hardee’s Corps, the battery took part in the almost daily fighting from Dalton to Atlanta in the spring of 1864, with Lieutenant Phillips in command on June 30, and from that time on. After the evacuation of Atlanta, when General Hood took command of the Army, Cobb’s Battalion was placed in Major General B. F. Cheatham’s Corps, where it remained until after the Battle of Nashville in December, 1864. General William B. Bate reported that when he resumed command of his division at Cedartown, Georgia on October 10, 1864, Cobb’s Artillery Battalion was composed of Slocomb’s Louisiana, Beauregard’s South Carolina, and Phillips’ Tennessee Batteries. It moved up to Dalton, Georgia, where the Federal block house was captured, across through Alabama, and crossed the Tennessee River on November 13, 1864. Bate’s Division took part in the Battles of Franklin, and of Nashville, but no specific mention of the battery’s activity was found.
After the retreat from Tennessee, the battery was sent to Mobile, March 10, 1865, Cobb’s Battalion composed of Phillips’, Ritter’s and Slocomb’s Batteries was reported as part of the right wing Defenses of Mobile, with the Artillery under the command of Major Melanchthon Smith, with Major General D. H Maury in command of the Department. Mobile was taken by the Federals on April 12, but the Confederate forces had evacuated the day before. A letter from Lieutenant L. E. Wright, dated April 22, 1865, said there were only 15 effectives left in the battery. The battery was surrendered as part of the forces of Lieutenant General Richard Taylor, and was paroled at Meridian, Mississippi May 10, 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.