Captain Robert Sterling’s Battery

Formerly Captain Frederick L. Warner’s Company.

A member of the Artillery Corps of Tennessee; served as Company “E”, Heavy Artillery Corps of Tennessee; merged into Second Company “C”, First Tennessee Heavy Artillery Regiment.

This company was organized at Memphis, with some of its men from Wilson County, April 30, 1861, and was at Randolph, Tennessee May, 1861, and mustered into Confederate Service August 21, 1861, at Camp Polk, Columbus, Kentucky. While at Columbus, Captain Warner tendered his resignation on October 5, 1861, and Captain Robert Sterling took command.

The company remained at Columbus, until about March 1, 1862. Brigadier General J. Trudeau reported that he left Columbus March 1 for Madrid Bend, Missouri, and the companies of heavy artillery in his command had already arrived the same day. He listed these as Captains A. Jackson’s, R. Sterling’s, Humes’, Hoadley’s, Caruthers’, Jones’, Dismukes’, Rucker’s, Fisher’s, and Hamilton’s (now Johnston’s) siege battery, the Southern Guards. He placed Captain Sterling in charge of Battery Number One, composed of three smooth bore 32-pounders. By March 4, the water in Battery Number One had risen up to the platform, and Captain Sterling desired to be transferred to Battery Number Two and build it. By March 12, Captain Sterling had four guns (one riled) mounted in Battery Number Two, on the bend. On March 15, 16 and 17 the batteries were bombarded by Federal gunboats, with the heaviest bombardment on the 17th. On this day 15 men from Sterling’s company went to the relief of Rucker’s Battery Number One, which was sustaining the brunt of the engagement.

Captain Andrew Jackson, Jr., reported Madrid Bend was evacuated April 7, 1862 at about 6:30 P.M., that his command reached the opposite shore of Reelfoot Lake about sunset on April 8, after a terrible struggle through woods and swamps, and reached Memphis on April 14. As part of the force under his command he listed Captain Sterling’s Company “E” with 66 men.

This was the last direct reference to the company found in the Official Records. Captain Sterling was promoted to lieutenant colonel of the First Tennessee Heavy Artillery Regiment, when this organization was formed on May 10, 1862. In June, 1862, this regiment was consolidated into four companies, and a comparison of the muster rolls show that 21 men from Sterling’s company were enrolled in Captain Norman’s Consolidated Company “C” at that time. Either the original company was disbanded, and the men re-enlisted, or after the escape from Madrid Bend the company was merged into one of the companies of the First Tennessee Heavy Artillery.

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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