Captain William C. Winston’s Light Artillery Battery

Formerly Captain William Keiter’s Battery -Captain W. Y. C. Humes’ Belmont Battery

This company was enlisted at Nashville in the summer of 1861, and mustered into Confederate service on August 21, 1861, at Camp Polk, Columbus, Kentucky. Captain Keiter was killed by the explosion of a gun at Columbus on August 31, 1861, and Major General Polk appointed Lieutenant W. Y. C. Humes, from Bankhead’s Battery, as captain to succeed him. Humes was detached from the company on October 16, 1862 and sent to Mobile, Alabama, on special service, being commissioned major of artillery on May 15, 1863, and eventually brigadier general of cavalry. Lieutenant Winston was in command of the company until Humes’ promotion, and at that time was appointed captain and remained in command for the rest of the war.

The battery remained at Columbus, Kentucky, until about March 1, 1862, when it moved to Island Number Ten, where Humes was placed in charge of the heavy batteries on the island. One of the guns was a 128-pounder rifled gun, known as the Belmont Gun, and from this gun the company got the name of the Belmont Battery.

On Island Number Ten, the battery underwent the bombardment from the Federal gunboats from March 15 to April 7, 1863. Captain Humes reported that the forces on shore in Madrid Bend evacuated without notifying him, and that on the night of April 7 he was forced to surrender. The company remained in Federal prisons until being sent to Vicksburg, Mississippi for exchange on September 20, 1862. The company was reorganized October, 1862, and declared exchanged on November 10, 1862. On September 30, 1862, Brigadier General Gideon J. Pillow, in charge of the Conscript Bureau, attempting to secure a division for himself, requested that Humes’ Battery be assigned to his command, so that he could recruit it and equip it as light artillery.

Instead, after being reorganized at Jackson, Mississippi, the company moved to Mobile, Alabama on November 1, 1862, where it remained until April, 1863. Winston was sent to Tennessee on recruiting service, and rejoined the battery January 19, 1863. On April 25 it was assigned to guard duty on the Mobile and Ohio Railroad and stationed near Shuba, Clark County, Mississippi, some of the men being left at Mobile to take care of the camp. It moved to Pascagoula, Mississippi, on June 23, and back to Mobile in July.

The section at Mobile was in Brigadier General James E. Slaughter’s Brigade, and on June 8 was reported at Bay Shore, near Mobile, attached to the 17th Alabama Infantry under Colonel Murphy. The section on the Mobile and Ohio Railroad was in Brigadier General W. L. Powel’s Brigade. On August 1, 1863 the battery was reported in Brigadier General James Cantey’s Brigade, at Mobile, where it remained until about the first of April, 1864. On January 11, 1864, it was reported armed with two 12-pounder Napoleons, two 12-pounder fixed howitzers.

About April 1, 1864, it was transferred from the Department of the Gulf, and placed in Brigadier General C. W. Sears’ Brigade, Major General S. G. French’s Division, of Lieutenant General Leonidas Polk’s forces, and encamped near Selma, Alabama, until May 1, when it moved with the brigade to Greensboro, Alabama; to Montevallo, Alabama; to Rome, Georgia, and joined the Army of Tennessee at Adairsville, Georgia, on May 17, 1864. While enroute, some men from McLendon’s Mississippi Battery were assigned to the company. It was engaged at Powder Springs, Georgia, on May 24, and then moved back to Selma, Alabama, where one section was assigned temporarily to Major General N. B. Forrest’s command on June 29, 1864. By July 10, 1864, the whole battery was back at Mobile, Alabama. Here it was placed in Brigadier General Bryan M. Thomas’ Brigade. On October 28, 1864, Winston’s and Tobin’s were the Tennessee batteries reported in the artillery of the Department of the Gulf, under Major Henry C. Semple, commanding. At this time the battery reported four officers, 49 men present for duty; 76 present; 87 present and absent; and armed with four pieces of field artillery.

On December 1, 1864, one section was reported with Colonel R. McCulloch, at Dog River Factory, Alabama. In 1865, on January 23, a Federal report placed Winston’s Battery at Mobile, with five 12-pounders and 60 men. On February 21, Confederate reports showed only one section of Winston’s Battery at Mobile, armed with one l0-pounder Parrott and one 12-pounder howitzer. The recommendation was made that should Mobile be invested, Culpepper’s and Tobin’s batteries, and Winston’s section should operate with the cavalry outside the city. On March 10, 1865, the battery was reported as in Captain John W. Grayson’s Battalion of Artillery, in the Right Wing, Defenses of Mobile, under the command of Major Melancthon J. Smith. Mobile was evacuated by the Confederates on April 11, and occupied by the Federal troops on April 12. The last mention of the battery which was found was in a report from a Mr. Hugh McKeene, a steamboat mate, who said he left Montgomery, Alabama on April 8, and that there were in Montgomery at that time one gun and one caisson of Winston’s Battery, along with the Third Alabama Reserves. This was probably the section which had been detached to Colonel McCulloch in December 1864.

The battery was surrendered as part of the forces under Lieutenant General Richard Taylor, which were surrendered at Citronelle, Alabama on May 4, 1865, and paroled at Meridian, Mississippi a few days later. The records show that Captain Winston was paroled at Meridian on May 9, 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.

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