Captain William L. Scott’s Battery

Formerly Captain Smith P. Bankhead’s Battery; Company “B” Tennessee Artillery Corps; Company “B”, Tennessee Light Artillery Regiment.

This battery was enlisted by Captain S. P. Bankhead in May, 1861 at Memphis. It was first stationed at Fort Pillow, where it manned a battery of heavy artillery. It returned to Memphis, where it was equipped as light artillery with four field pieces. It then moved to New Madrid, Missouri, where it was mustered into Confederate service by Colonel John P. McCown on August 9, 1861, with Bankhead as captain. It was mustered on November 1, 1861 as Company “B”, Tennessee Light Artillery Regiment, Colonel Milton A. Haynes commanding. By this time it had moved to Columbus, Kentucky, where it remained until February, 1862. While there a number of men from Arkansas were added to the company, some enlisted in December, 1861 by a Captain McCowan, some in March, 1862 by a Captain Harris.

On September 7, 1861, at Columbus, it was reported as attached to McCowan’s Brigade, along with Stewart’s Battery. On October 24, McCown had been promoted to brigadier general commanding a division, and the battery was in Colonel S. F. Marks’ Brigade. During the Battle of Belmont, November 7, 1861, the battery was on the Kentucky side of the river, and not engaged.

By February 27, 1862, it was back at New Madrid, Missouri, where the 5th Tennessee, 40th Tennessee, and First Alabama-Mississippi-Tennessee Infantry Regiments and Bankhead’s Battery, under the command of Colonel Travis, of the 5th Tennessee, were engaged in fortifying the mouth of Bayou St. John. On March 7, a strong attack by the enemy was driven back by the fire of Confederate gunboats, Bankhead’s Battery, and R. A. Stewart’s Parrott guns. On March 13, General McCown found it necessary to evacuate the position, and brought off all the guns and ammunition except the ammunition in the caissons and limbers of Bankhead’s Battery which were thrown into the river. The battery remained a few days at Madrid Bend, across the river from its previous post, but when McCown turned over the command at that point to Brigadier General L. M. Walker, Bankhead’s Battery was a part of the forces he took with him to Fort Pillow. Captain Bankhead was commended by General McCown for his efficient handling of his battery during this period. The battery at this time had been increased to six pieces.

The battery then moved to Corinth, Mississippi, where Captain Bankhead was appointed Chief of Artillery, First Corps, Army of the Mississippi, but served with his own battery in the Battle of Shiloh. In this battle, the battery was attached to Colonel R. M. Russell’s Brigade, of Brigadier General Charles Clark’s Division. Colonel Russell reported: “Captain Bankhead deserves great praise for the promptness, bravery, and energy with which he maneuvered his battery.” Bankhead’s Battery was one of those collected by Brigadier General Ruggles which poured an enfilading fire on Federal General Prentiss’s Division, resulting in its rout. The battery reported 93 engaged, two killed, 18 wounded; 82 horses in service, lost 37; six guns used, lost two caissons and one gun; guns captured, seven.

The battery was reorganized in May, 1862, with Bankhead as captain; and William L. Scott as first lieutenant. Captain Bankhead was soon after promoted to major, and Lieutenant Scott succeeded him as captain about July 1, 1862. On July 8, the battery was attached to Colonel (later Brigadier General) Preston Smith’s Brigade of Major General B. F. Cheatham’s Division. Captain Scott, in Lindsley’s Annals, stated that during General Bragg’s Kentucky Campaign in the fall of 1862, the battery was temporarily detached from Smith’s Brigade, and placed on duty with Stewart’s Brigade of Cheatham’s Division, and remained with it until after the Battle of Perryville on October 8, 1862. However, no record was found of this in the Official Records, and on August 18, Scott’s Battery was reported in the Right Wing, Army of the Mississippi, in Preston Smith’s Brigade. Smith’s Brigade was detached about this time to Brigadier General P. R. Cleburne’s Division of Major General E. Kirby Smith’s Command, fought at the Battle of Richmond, August 30, and rejoined Cheatham’s Division before the Battle of Perryville, but was not engaged.

At the Battle of Murfreesboro, December 31, 1862-January 2, 1863, Bankhead’s Battery was attached to Preston Smith’s Brigade, commanded on the first two days by Colonel A. J. Vaughan, Jr. The battery was not actively engaged until Friday, January 2, when, along with Carnes’, Stanford’s, and Smith’s batteries it was posted on Stone’s River, on the right of the Nashville Pike, and twice drove back Federal infantry columns. On the morning of January 3, Carnes’ and Scott’s batteries were ordered to shell the cedar woods “toward the hospital.” The battery reported four officers, 77 men engaged, with one killed and two wounded, and the expenditure of between 200 and 250 rounds of ammunition.

On May 19, Lieutenant Colonel Marshall T. Polk, reporting on the artillery in Polk’s Corps, reported Scott’s Battery, with 101 present, 113 present and absent, armed with two six-pounders and two 12-pounder howitzers, with 53 horses, and in need of 20 horses.

At Chickamauga, September 19-20, 1863, the artillery attached to Cheatham’s Division was commanded by Major Melancthon Smith, and consisted of Carnes’ and Scott’s Tennessee Batteries, Scroggin’s Georgia, and Smith’s and Stanford’s Mississippi Batteries. Scott’s Battery was attached to Preston Smith’s Brigade, again commanded by Colonel A. J. Vaughan, Jr. The battery was first commanded by Lieutenant John H. Marsh, who was wounded about 2:00 P.M. on the 19th; then by Lieutenant A. T. Watson, and finally by Captain Scott, who had been sick, but took command about 11:00 A.M. on the 2Oth. Colonel Vaughan reported that the battery in the action on the 19th was so disabled by loss of men and horses as to be unfit for further action that evening, losing 15 men and 14 horses. One of its 12-pounder howitzers was disabled by the bursting of a cap square. On the 2Oth, it was not heavily engaged, and reported total casualties of two killed, 14 wounded, 16 horses killed.

On November 20, 1863, the battery, commanded by Lieutenant John Doseher, was reported in Major Alfred R. Courtney’s Artillery Battalion, attached to Major General T. C. Hindman’s Division of Hardee’s Corps. In the Battle of Missionary Ridge on November 25, 1863, the battery was overrun and captured by General John B. Turchin’s Federal Brigade. The men stood to their guns to the last, and many of them were either killed or mortally wounded while attempting to discharge their guns. Many were taken prisoner, and the few who escaped were not sufficient to form the nucleus of an attempt to recruit a new company. On December 31, 1863, Scott’s Battery, Hindman’s Corps, was ordered to Atlanta, and somewhere about this time the battery was disbanded. Lieutenant Watson and most of the survivors were transferred to L. G. Marshall’s Tennessee Battery, a few to Swett’s Mississippi Battery, and Captain Scott to the Ordnance Department, Wheeler’s Cavalry Corps. Lieutenant Marsh, who was wounded at Chickamauga, with his arm so badly shattered the surgeon advised amputation, refused a proffered discharge for disability, served later as Chief of Artillery on Brigadier General 0. F. Strahl’s staff, and was killed in the Battle of Franklin, November 30, 1864.

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.

Comments are closed.