Captain W. C. Kain’s Light Artillery Company

“Mabry Artillery” — “Mabry Light Artillery”

This company was organized in the spring of 1862. Captain Kain’s individual service record shows enlistment January 4, 1862, at Knoxville. The company was first mentioned in the Official Records April 9, 1862, when Brigadier General S. B. Maxey, at Chattanooga, listed “Kain’s little company” as one of the organizations at that place. It was with Brigadier General D. Leadbetter at Bridgeport, Alabama on April 29, where Leadbetter turned the east bridge over the Tennessee River, much to the indignation of the citizens in that territory. He reported that two old iron six-pounders of Kain’s Battery had to be abandoned on the east bank of the river under the enemy’s fire.

It was mustered into Confederate service May 4, 1862 at Knoxville, and stationed at Chattanooga under Leadbetter’s orders. On May 29, under orders from Leadbetter, it left Chattanooga for Winchester to join Colonel Starnes (4th Tennessee Cavalry), and made connection with Starnes at Altamont. An intended rendezvous with other forces failed to materialize, and Starnes hung for two days on the flanks of a Federal force too large for him to handle, having some skirmishes with outlying bands. Kain’s Battery then returned to Kingston, and moved to Loudon on June 29, 1862. It remained at Loudon during July and August, being stationed at the bridge at that point. It moved from Loudon to Knoxville, where it remained for some time. On November 15, 1862, a detachment under Lieutenant Hugh White left Knoxville to report to Colonel Ashby at Kingston to proceed with the cavalry to Middle Tennessee as part of Brigadier General John Pegram’s Brigade. In December, 1862, Lieutenant O’Connor, with the balance of the company was ordered by General Henry Heth to report to Brigadier General A. Gracie, Jr. at Cumberland Gap, where it arrived December 6, 1862.

Captain Kain had been detailed to serve on a general court martial on December 1, 1862, and was only briefly with the company after this date. He served for a time as provost marshal at Bristol, Tennessee, and on September 13, 1864, was appointed commandant of the post at Wytheville, Virginia.

A company report dated February 28, 1863, at Cumberland Gap, stated that on January 17, 1862, by order of General Leadbetter, 33 men had been detached and placed in Captain Monsarrat’s Battery, and were supposed to be at Vicksburg, Mississippi with Captain Sangster’s Battery. These men must have been placed in Captain H. Baker’s Company at the time Monsarrat’s Battery was divided, for this Company, later Captain W. R. Browne’s Company, was disbanded in October, 1862, and the men assigned to Sengstak’s Battery, Company “D”, 2nd Alabama Artillery Battalion. The report went on to say that on November 15 Lieutenant White and 33 men had been ordered by General E. Kirby Smith to report to General Pegram, at Kingston, and had not reported to the company since. The report concluded with the statement that since the term of enlistment had expired, these names would be dropped from the company rolls. Some names from Kain’s Battery appeared on prisoner of war rolls as captured at Chickamauga, and these must have been from the detachment sent to General Pegram.

The section under Lieutenant O’Connor remained in Gracie’s Brigade at Cumberland Gap through March 19; was reported with Gracie at Bean’s Station on April 25; and was back at Cumberland Gap under Gracie, on July 31, with Captain Kain shown as in command. Meantime, a report of a Federal spy placed Kain’s Battery, six pieces of artillery, cast iron, with Pegram on Brave Creek, 10 miles northwest of Knoxville. This must have been the section under Lieutenant White.

Brigadier General John W. Frazer assumed command at Cumberland Gap August 8, 1863 and Kain’s Battery was left in his command. He reported it as armed with two 12-pounders and two six-pounders, smooth bores, commanded by Lieutenant O’Conner. P. D. Hunter, ordnance officer, reported Kain’s Battery as three six-pounders, rifled, bronze, one 12-pounder smooth bore. General Frazer surrendered his forces at Cumberland Gap to General Burnside on September 9, 1863, including a number of men from Kain’s Battery.

When Captain Kain was assigned to post duty at Wytheville, September 13, 1864, he was instructed to require the men from his company not captured at Cumberland Gap to report to him for duty as guards at Wytheville, Virginia.

The last report of the company was in General J. C. Breckinridge’s report, dated January 3, 1865. He stated that he reached Saltville, Virginia, December 15, 1864, and “leaving the reserves, some dismounted men, Barr’s Artillery and a few men from Kain’s Artillery, all under the command of Colonel Robert Preston, and numbering together some 400 men, I followed (the Federal forces) with the mounted men and Burrough’s Artillery, passing to the main road through Lyon’s Gap.”

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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