Captain P. W. Bibb’s Tennessee Artillery Battery

Also called “Washington Artillery”: Company “H”, Tennessee Artillery Corps

This battery was formerly Captain S. F. Hailman’s Company Tennessee Volunteers, known as the “Memphis Guerillas.” It was mustered into Confederate service at Memphis on August 5, 1861. An appeal from Camp Douglas, Chicago, Illinois, dated April 17, 1862, signed by William C. Parke and 28 others, gave the following account of the organization: “We, the undersigned members of the Washington Artillery now prisoners of war at Camp Douglas, would respectfully submit to you the facts connected with the company from the organization to the present time, hoping by an honest and true statement we may prove ourselves free in a great measure from rebellion against the United States. The members of this company for the past two years have made their homes in the State of Tennessee; a portion in the city of Memphis. Their occupations vary, all however depending on his own exertions for a livelihood -our interests where we could make the best living. During the excitement in that portion of the South we found it necessary for us to form ourselves in some way as soldiers or quit our homes, which with our families as many of us have depending on us for our support and our limited means we were not able to do. We therefore formed ourselves as a homeguard, recognized by the Governor of Tennessee, to do duty in and about the city of Memphis for the space of one year unless sooner discharged, dating (from) June 1, 1861. Articles were drawn to this effect signed by Governor Harris and General Pillow, then in command at Memphis. We performed those duties as best we could for some five or six months, when an order came contrary to those drawn in good faith for the company to be transferred to the Confederacy, which the men refused to do. There is not a man at present in the company that has taken an oath to support the Confederate States nor do they intend to do so. We have always been an independent company, and with the exception of a few, have never received a dollar in money from the Confederacy. The company for some time was almost entirely disbanded, feeling that they were no longer obligated to perform duties either in the State of Tennessee or the Confederacy as our articles entered into were violated. We therefore retired to our former occupations, which we were permitted to do unmolested for some three or four months when without questioning we were arrested; some placed in confinement and sent to Columbus, Kentucky, until the evacuation of that place, when they were again transferred from infantry to heavy artillery at Island No. 10. Those who were fortunate enough to escape going to Columbus were then arrested, taken from the work bench and sent to the island, some not being there but a few days when they were surrendered.

“These are facts, briefly stated. We wish to be liberated from captivity by honorable means. Our families, those who have them, are depending on them for their living. We are willing with honest hearts and pure motives to take the oath of allegiance to the United States, giving all we can give, our words of honor as men, to truly and faithfully maintain our oaths. We respectfully submit ourselves to your kind consideration.”

The records show that P. W. Bibb was appointed captain of the organization on March 25, 1862 by Major General J. P. McCown; that the battery was captured at Island Number 10 April 8, 1862 and exchanged at Vicksburg, Mississippi September, 1862.

A report from the Camp of Returned Prisoners, Jackson, Mississippi, dated October 3, 1862, gave the following account: “All books and papers belonging to the company were destroyed at time of capture. All present at all the attacks by the Federal fleet at Columbus, Kentucky, and the siege of Island No. 10, where about 1200 shot and shell were thrown on the island without the loss of a man on our side, and the entire Federal fleet, composed of eight gunboats, 19 mortar boats, with an army of from 30,000 to 35,000 were held at bay for 24 days. At the time of surrender, 2,300 covered our entire force in and around this island.” Signed P. W. Bibb.

By order of Brigadier General Lloyd Tilghman, the company was disbanded in October, 1862, and the men distributed to other commands. Captain Bibb served as a private in Company “B”, 20th Virginia Artillery Battalion; was appointed Orderly Sergeant in December 1863; and commissioned as captain of Artillery, Provisional Army Confederate States on August 31, 1864. He was highly spoken of as a capable and efficient officer.

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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