10th New York Independent Battery

"Jenney's Battery"

The material which comprises this page has been copied from pages 88 - 91 of Clayton, W. W. The History of Onondaga County, New York. Syracuse, NY: D. Mason & Company, 1878. 430 p.


"Jenney's Battery," Its Organization with the Third New York Artillery Sketch of its History.

The Tenth New York Independent Battery, popularly known as "Jenney's Battery," was raised and organized in Syracuse by Capt. Edwin S. Jenney [photograph] in the fall of 1861. Captain Jenney had entered the service at the very outbreak of the war; he and Captain John G. Butler being the first to organize companies in Central New York immediately after the fall of Fort Sumpter. [sic] As Captain of Company I, 3d Regiment, New York Volunteers, he had seen enough of war to induce a decided preference for the light artillery branch of the service; and becoming weary of the inactivity of garrison duty at Fort McHenry, to which his regiment had been assigned after the battle of Big Bethel, he obtained leave of absence, returned to New York and received authority from the Governor to raise a battery of light artillery. He soon succeeded in raising the minimum number, and his command was mustered into the United States service as "The 10th New York Independent Battery."
In Hall's Cayuga in the Field this organization is spoken of as follows:


Of this number a full battery of 142 men was raised through the patriotic and vigorous efforts of Captain Edwin S. Jenney, a young lawyer in Syracuse, whose private purse furnished hundreds of dollars for the work. The Captain rented the upper stories of a large building on Salina street. He made Syracuse blaze with his banners and placards, and quickly gathered a band of the very best intelligence and blood. It was his intention to go into the army of the West, into which he had been led by friends to suppose he could be sent. He found, however, that he was required for the army of the Potomac, where, at that time, a rule existed that light artillery should be united into battalions, consisting of one regular and three volunteer batteries, commanded by the Captain of the regular battery. This entailed a sacrifice of independence and gave no chance of promotion. He consented, therefore, to an order of the State authorities to attach him to the 3d New York Artillery, as Battery 'F.' As such he was mustered in, December 18th, 1861, by Lieutenant J. R. Brinkle, 5th United States Artillery, at Syracuse. Shortly after, he repaired to New York and lay at Palace Garden Barracks some weeks, previous to going to the front. The Lieutenants of the company were Alex. H. Davis, Gustavus F. Merriam, Paul Birchmeyer and James D. Outwater.

While at Palace Garden Barracks the battery was uniformed and furnished with rifles and the men were thoroughly drilled in infantry tactics, in order that, if necessary, they could perform such service until the battery should be equipped.
On the 21st of February, 1862, the Battery proceeded to Washington, D.C., and the next day, with the rest of the regiment, which it had now joined, marched across the Potomac to Fort Corcoran on Arlington Heights.
Here the battery remained with the regiment encamped, doing garrison duty and constantly drilling in infantry and heavy artillery tactics, until March 25th, 1862, when orders came to march to join Burnside's expeditionary army. They arrived at Annapolis the next day, and, on the 28th, embarked on the steamer Fulton for Hatteras Inlet, where they arrived, joining Burnside's fleet on the 30th, and landing at Newbern, North Carolina, on the 2d of April, 1862. For some time Captain Jenney and Captain Morrison, of Battery B, were engaged in equipping and drilling their respective Batteries.

By the 1st of July, these Batteries had received their full armament. Both had a mixed lot of guns; B had two twenty-four pound howitzers, (brass), two twelve pound howitzers, (brass), and two twelve pound Wiards, (cannon and rifled); F had two iron six pounders, two iron twelve pounders, and two howitzers. Horses were obtained principally from the baggage wagons of Massachusetts regiments. The old Bay State sent her regiments into the field with everything complete. A large number of her troops were in Burnside's army and their splendid teams were appropriated, as the emergency requiring them arose, to the use of the 3d artillery. By the first of November, however, Battery F was fully equipped with a complete armament of six Wiard rifled twelve pounder guns.
The summer and fall of 1862 were spent in drilling the several companies in their respective roles as light and heavy artillery, in the perfection of the line of fortifications and in the ordinary routine routine of camp duties...
With only an occasional skirmish with the enemy until November of that year."
[from Cayuga in the Field]

From that time during most of its service the battery was kept actively at work. From the 3d to the 10th of that month it was with the army in its march upon Tarboro. While no battle occurred during this march, the discipline and fortitude of the command were constantly tried by the severity of the march, frequent skirmishes and the constant alertness necessary in the near presence of the enemy. If nothing else was accomplished by this expedition, it was of great educational advantage to the troops, for they were veterans ever after.
After this, until December 11th, the command had a resting spell. On that day, leaving only a small garrison at Newbern, the army began the march on Goldsboro. This expedition was planned in aid of the Army of the Potomac. General Halleck ordered that simultaneously with Burnside's crossing the Rappahannock, all the available forces at Newbern, should advance to Goldsboro, N.C., destroy the railroads and bridges, and so far as possible, create a diversion in favor of General Burnside. If it was supposed that this expedition would fight in three successive days three battles and two of them among the severest of the war, considering the number of men engaged, no mistake was made, for the battles of Kinston, Whitehall and Goldsboro are its history. It is not within the scope of our history to give the details of this march nor of these battles. The first two were the severe ones, and in both of them Jenney's Battery distinguished itself. At Kinston the point of our attack was the bridge crossing the river, and owing to the long range of its guns, this battery was at first placed upon a hill in the rear of our advancing troops, to fire over them and thus aid their advance. The enemy held their ground, however, with terrible stubbornness; an almost hand to hand fight raged for hours; when it was discovered that the enemy was being rŽenforced by troops coming to their left flank, Jenney's Battery with two infantry regiments was ordered to hastily proceed to our right and cut off such rŽenforcements if possible. Passing through thick woods they came into the open country too late to effect their object, but with the bridge and enemy full in view. The intermediate country had been drained by large trenches which seemed impassable to a battery, but after a moments conference between Gen. Hickman, who commanded the flanking brigade, and Capt. Jenney, the order to advance was given, and the Brigade in two parallel columns (the infantry in one and the battery in the other) moved at double quick and gallop through the trenches and across the field. No halt was made until the battery was within cannister range of the enemy. The report of the Wiard guns was well known to our army. The position of the field was such that this movement upon the flank was not known to our troops until the Wiard guns rang out in quick succession, and a new musketry fire in the same locality told them the story. There was a momentary lull; then a cheer rang along the line, an advancing shout, and the enemy's lines wavered and in a moment gave way and every man sought his own safety in flight; while the battery turned its fire upon the bridge, now crowded by the retreating enemy, with fearful effect. Several hundred of the enemy sheltered themselves below the river bank and were captured. The enemy in retreating, for the purpose of delaying our pursuit, fired the bridge with turpentine thus torturing to death many of their unfortunate wounded. The work of removing their charred remains occasioned more delay than extinguishing the flames, which was quickly done with the artillery buckets.
One section of the Battery under command of Lieutenant Frederick Dennis, with the 3d New York Cavalry, followed and harassed the retreating enemy until night, but the Battery had been too badly crippled by the loss of men and horses to hastily make up more than a section for pursuit At 5 o'clock the next morning, however, having brought in reserve horses and disposed the men with reference to the vacant places, Battery F marched out in the place of honor with the advanced brigade.
Conrad Ring, the bugler, bore the colors, in place of poor Dunlap whose horse had been shot under him and who had lost a leg the day before, while others filled the places of the poor fellows left behind as well as their own; yet the Battery marched out elated with the honors of yesterday's battle, well prepared for the arduous duty still before it.
That night the army encamped within three miles of Whitehall, which it was necessary to pass by the route taken, to reach Goldsboro. Early the following morning our cavalry engaged the enemy opposite this village. The main body of our army speedily came up. The artillery was sent to the front, the cavalry and infantry being used mainly as a support and the battle of "Whitehall" was fought.

Gloomy woods clothed both banks of the river, except on the south side, where a large clearing had been made among the trees, forming a sort of amphitheatre. The ground sloped steeply to the river. The enemy was on the north bank in the woods, 6,000 strong, under General Robertson, with artillery in intrenchments.[sic] Reaching the open ground, General Foster halted the infantry regiments to allow the passage of the artillery, which, receiving orders to come to the front with all speed, spared neither lash nor spur, and came thundering into the open ground on a run, battery after battery. As fast as they reported, those having light guns, viz: "F," "H" and "K," and Belger's, were ranged along the line of battle, near the base of the slope, the heavy guns, those of "E" and "I" near the top. Battery B was not in the fight. As fast as they came into position, our guns opened fire on the woods, gunboat and the rebel battery, and for two hours and over poured shot, shell and cannister into them steadily. The cannonading was furious beyond experience. It seemed to be one continuous peal of deafening thunder. The ground trembled under the sound. [from Cayuga in the Field]

The enemy had ten or more heavy guns in their intrenchments.[sic] Upon our side were full thirty cannon but they were all field pieces. The exposed hillside and close range rendered the battle at once an artillery duel which continued until the enemy's guns were almost wholly disabled, when our infantry advanced to the river bank and quickly dislodged the enemy. During this engagement one of the guns of "Jenney's Battery," too severely tried by the rapid firing, burst into four pieces.
Previous to this march Lieutenant Davis had been promoted to Adjutant of the regiment. His duty in that position at no time of the day called him to the front; yet he advanced into the fight with his old battery and served with it with distinguished gallantry during the whole action.
Lieutenant Dennis, who had succeeded Lieutenant Davis, during the hottest of the fight was sent with his section to the most exposed position in the field to silence one of the enemy's guns which seemed particularly damaging to us, and received special mention for the courage and skill with which he accomplished that result.
After this battle the army again marched on and the next day, reaching the goal of the expedition, fought the battle of Goldsboro. Here, for the first time, Battery F was held in the reserve, short of men, with many draught horses supplying the places of drilled ones left on the field, and with ammunition exhausted, excepting a few rounds of cannister. The battery could no longer be of service and, the fighting over, the men gladly left the field and turned again toward the base of supplies.

When the artillery came off the field to take its place in the column, the troops greeted it with cheers regiment after regiment waved their caps and flags enthusiastically and made the welkin ring with stormy hurrahs. ' Here come Jenney's Wiards three rousers for him,' they would shout as that battery came by and so on to the last. No general orders from headquarters could have better testified to the worth of the services of our artillery in the field than this spontaneous and cordial outburst on the field of the battle. [from Cayuga in the Field]

The army reached Newbern on the 20th of the month. In recognition of the gallant conduct of the battery, Captain Jenney was recommended for promotion and on the 1st of January was made a Major in the regiment.
Immediately after the return of the army an expedition was planned by General Foster to take Wilmington. To that end during the month of January following he moved the 18th Corps to Beaufort, N.C., ready for embarkation. Before this event, however, his authority was revoked by the War Department, and he was ordered to proceed with his corps to South Carolina, to aid in the capture of Charleston.
In obedience to this order the army was, by January 30th, snugly aboard a fleet of about fifty vessels, and on the 31st set sail reaching Hilton Head during the first week of February.
Maj. Jenney, reluctant to surrender the command of his battery, was permitted to accompany it and retained command until July following. By this expedition Battery F was divided. The guns and gunners with only horses enough to draw them were taken, the rest of the battery remaining at Newbern until the next winter, when it joined the main portion of the battery in South Carolina.
This detachment, however, was furnished with two guns and, as a section under Lieutenant Clark, rendered efficient service in several actions during the period of its detention in North Carolina.
Upon the arrival of the battery in South Carolina it was encamped upon St. Helena Island where it remained inactive until April 1st.
General Foster, upon his arrival, found nothing in readiness for operations against Charleston and returned at once to North Carolina, whither most of his army soon followed him. Battery F, however, was detained by General Hunter and served during the rest of the war in South Carolina and Florida.
The 1st of April, 1863, the battery received marching orders and was transported to Folly Island. Here it was incorporated into Vogdes' brigade, Major Jenney becoming chief of artillery and chief of staff, and also retaining command of his battery. Work was commenced at once fortifying the northern end of the island with the view of storming and capturing Morris Island which lay near and next north of Folly at the mouth of Charleston Harbor, its capture being necessary to the storming of Sumpter [sic] and capture of Charleston from the sea. This work having been accomplished with great difficulty and under the almost constant fire of the enemy's artillery and infantry from Morris Island, only 400 yards away, on the 9th of July, 1863. At daybreak the artillery opened fire upon Morris Island while Strong's brigade in small boats crossed the inlet under a terrible fire and stormed and captured the works upon the southern end of Morris Island.
To Battery F was assigned the duty of defending the crossing troops from the fire of the enemy from their rifle pits. This work was so well done that twenty-four of their rifle men were found dead in the pits.
General Strong advanced his brigade at once and attempted to capture Fort Wagner at the northern end of the Island by storm, but was twice successively repulsed, July 18th.
A siege was necessary and was at once commenced. During this siege Battery F, now commanded by Lieutenant Birchmeyer, was always in the extreme advance, pushing ahead as the intrenchments [sic] were dug until September 6th, when the Fort was taken.
Lieutenants Birchmeyer and Van Housen were especially commended by the commanding General for their bravery and untiring exertions, and John Conway, Riley Fancher and Matthias Thyson were presented with medals by the government for bravery in the trenches.
The battery remained upon Folly Island until April, 1864, and during this time it was by no means inactive.
In April, 1864, the battery went to Beaufort, N.C., where its camp remained until September 5, 1864, when it was ordered to Florida.
While at Beaufort the spirit of the battery was well tested in the battles of John's Island and Bloody Bridge, in both of which it maintained its early reputation.
On the 14th of September the battery arrived at Jacksonville, where it remained in camp until November 29th, when it again returned to South Carolina, to cŲoperate [sic] under General Foster with General Sherman, then marching to the sea.
During the campaign which followed, it fought in the battles of Honey Hill, Dereauxheck, Camden, Ashapo and others of less importance. It moved with Sherman to Raleigh and then returned to Charleston, S.C., where it turned over its guns and equipments to the Government, and in the month of May, 1865, returned home to Syracuse and was mustered out.
In July, 1863, Major Jenney was compelled to leave the battery and assume his duties as Major. He proceeded to regimental headquarters at Newbern, N.C., where he was soon made Judge Advocate and shortly after Provost Judge of the Department. He occupied these positions until September, 1864, when, upon the recommendation of the Citizens' Committee, he was commissioned Colonel of the 185th Regiment, then being organized at Syracuse, and immediately went to Fortress Monroe to obtain leave from the Commanding General to accept such promotion. This leave was granted and he was ordered to return to Newbern and turn over his office to his successor. He returned by the way of the Dismal Canal and was on the little steamer Fawn, which was fired upon and captured by a company of rebel marines. At the time the boat was fired upon she was stopped by a draw-bridge suddenly shot across the canal by rebels who had taken possession of it, and the rebel company, about 70 in number, arising from the cover of a hillock fired upon the boat. There were four officers and ten men on the deck, sitting or lounging without apprehension of danger and not more than twenty feet from the muzzles of the rebel guns. Of this party, ten out of the fourteen were killed or wounded Major Jenney being one of the fortunate ones. There was no opportunity for resistance, as there was not even a pistol on the boat, which was then passing through friendly territory. The prisoners were marched to Elizabeth City, about forty miles distant. In the morning Major Jenney succeeded in persuading the rebel Captain to parole him. The parole being duly signed Jenney pretended to return by the same route he had come, but instead of doing so, went to the river, and capturing a small boat made the best of his way down the river and across the Sound to Roanoke Island. He immediately reported the circumstances of his capture and parole to the Government and hastened home to attend to the organization of his regiment.


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