This command had a wide and varied experience. It was originally organized as infantry on May 15, 1861, at Memphis, Tennessee, known as the “Sumter Grays,” and became Company “A”, 38th Tennessee Infantry (q.v.). After the Battle of Shiloh it was reorganized as a battery of heavy artillery, later served as light artillery in Forrest’s Corps, and finally again as heavy artillery at Mobile.
At the reorganization in April, 1862, T. W. Rice was elected captain, B. F. Haller first lieutenant, H. H. Briggs, second lieutenant, D. C. Jones, third lieutenant. According to Lieutenant Haller, in Lindsley’s Annals it was equipped at this time with two rifled 32-pounders and one smooth-bore 24-pounder, and stationed in the breastworks on the Farmington Road at Corinth, Mississippi, which position it manned until the evacuation of Corinth. From Corinth it moved to Columbus, Mississippi, where it remained until February, 1864.
On January 1, 1863, Colonel John Adams, Commanding Post at Columbus, reported Captain Rice’s Tennessee Heavy Artillery Company, no battery, 30 percussion muskets, 10 Enfield rifles, two horses, two mules, one wagon. He stated that this company was stationed 11/2 miles north of Columbus on the Aberdeen road, and was to serve the guns on the fortifications. While here it was reported in the First District, Department of Mississippi and Eastern Louisiana, with the district commanded by Brigadier General Daniel Ruggles.
On February 22, 1864, General Ruggles reported: “Colonel Morton has today been ordered to Aberdeen with his command, embracing a section of Captain Rice’s light battery under Lieutenant Haller, to proceed immediately to Cotton Gin Port.” Morton’s instructions were to resist any attempt of the enemy to cross the Tombigbee River to the eastern side. This move was in connection with Major General William Sooy Smith’s expedition into Mississippi, which was driven back by General N. B. Forrest at Okolona.
On May 1, 1864, a report of the artillery in Lieutenant General Leonidas Polk’s command listed Rice’s Battery, equipped with four six-pounder smooth hore guns, attached to Forrest’s Cavalry. On May 13, General Forrest ordered that Morton’s and Rice’s Tennessee Batteries, Hudson’s Mississippi, and Thrall’s Arkansas, should constitute a battalion under Captain John W. Morton Jr., acting Chief of Artillery. On May 15, General Forrest advised General S. D. Lee; “Buford’s Division and Morton’s and Rice’s Batteries will move to Corinth tomorrow.” Rice’s battery at this time was armed with four brass six-pounder smooth bore guns.
In General Forrest’s report of the Battle of Tishomingo Creek, or Brice’s Crossroads, on June 10, 1864, he stated that he left Tupelo on June 1 with Buford’s Division and Morton’s and Rice’s batteries en route to Middle Tennessee, but was ordered back on June 3, to intercept the Federal force under Major General S. D. Sturgis. Rice’s battery played a prominent part in the battle which followed, and reported one killed, five wounded.
The next engagement of any consequence was the Battle of Harrisburg on July 15, 1864. In Forrest’s report of this engagement, he stated that at Old Town Creek, he ordered Chalmers to move up with McCulloch’s Brigade, and Rice’s Battery to be placed in position, which for a time held the enemy in check.
On August 26, Forrest ordered General Chalmers: “Send Buford’s Division with Rice’s Battery to Oxford, Mississippi.” On September 26, General Chalmers, at Grenada, Mississippi, ordered Major E. G. Wheeler, at Okolona: “Send men of Rice’s battery to this place.” On October 30, Brigadier General Chalmers arrived at Paris Landing, Tennessee, with his division and four pieces of rifled artillery, (one section of Rice’s Battery, one section of Hudson’s Battery). Chalmers stated Rice’s Battery was the upper battery. Hudson’s the middle, and Morton’s Battery of BelFs Brigade, the lower. In the action which resulted in the capture of the steamer J. W. Cheeseman, six guns were played on her from the batteries mentioned. Also Rice’s Battery drove off Gunboat Number 29. At the bombardment and burning of Johnsonville on November 4, Rice’s Battery, with Lieutenant Colonel Kelley’s 26th Cavalry Battalion was stationed opposite Reynoldsburg. Lieutenant Hailer said that this section was under the command of Second Lieutenant H. H. Briggs and continued with General Forrest during General Hood’s campaign in November and December, 1864.
The other section of the battery had been ordered to the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, and remained stationed at Corinth for some time. On December 1, 1864, it was reported in Brigadier General George B. Hodge’s District of Southwestern Mississippi and Eastern Louisiana, the artillery in the district being listed as Bradford’s and Ratliff’s Mississippi, Rice’s Tennessee, and Thrall’s Arkansas Batteries. On March 10, 1865, Rice’s Battery, commanded by Captain T. W. Rice, was reported in the Left Wing, Defenses of Mobile, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel L. Hoxton, in Major General Dabney H. Maury’s District of the Gulf. Mobile was taken by the Federals on April 12, but the Confederate forces had evacuated it the day before, and moved to join Lieutenant General Richard Taylor.
In the meantime, at Verona, Mississippi, after the retreat from Tennessee, one section of the battery under Lieutenant Hailer was transferred to Morton’s Battery and remained with it until the surrender at Gainesville, Alabama, May 9, 1865.
Lieutenant General Richard Taylor surrendered his forces at Citronelle, Alabama, May 4, 1865, and Rice’s Battery was included in the surrender. Parole records show that one part of it, under the name of Rice’s Light Artillery Company commanded by Second Lieutenant H. H. Briggs, Quattlebaum’s Battalion, Smith’s Brigade, was paroled at Meridian, Mississippi, May 10, 1865. Another portion, Rice’s Light Artillery Battery, commanded by Captain T. W. Rice, also surrendered at Citronelle, Alabama, was paroled at Columbus, Mississippi, May 17, 1865. Why the company should have been paroled in two sections is not known, unless some of the men had been captured when the forts defending Mobile were captured on April 9, 1865, but in this case the place of surrender should not have been shown at Citronelle, Alabama. Parole records show that nine men from Rice’s Battery were paroled as part of Morton’s Battery at Gainesville, Alabama, May 9, 1865. These were evidently what was left of the section transferred to Morton’s Battery at Verona, Mississippi.
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.