A Brief History of Bradford's Battery

Full Title: A Brief History of Bradford's Battery Confederate Guards Artillery of Pontotoc County, Miss.

Of the 6,000 units formed in the Civil War on both sides, only a handful have first hand accounts. Probably less than 5% were found when the amazing resource Military Bibliography of the Civil War by C. E. Dornbusch was compiled for the Centennial in the 1960’s. Relatively little has surfaced since then.

One of the surviving first hand accounts details the service of the Mississippi Bradford's Battery

Bradford’s Battery was raised early in the war (spring/summer 1861). It went to Virginia in late 1861, but remained in North Carolina and southeast Virginia. It was involved in some of the lesser known campaigns, such as Suffork (Va.), and Plymouth (N.C.). It became a part of Lee's Army of Northern Virginia during the Petersburg Campaign (Summer 1864), and was surrendered at Appomattox.

A former officer of the battery, Patrick Hoy wrote these memoirs about 1903. We have added to his roster from details we have found in later research.

An excerpt:

I have been requested to write a history of the service of this company in the war of 1861—5. When the war came on I was at school in South Carolina, volunteered there and first saw service on Sullivan's Island, near Charleston, as a member of the Spartan Rifles, 5th. S. C. Regiment, until the 1st, of June, 1861, when the South Carolina troops re-enlisted for the Confederate service.

My father, Col. John H. Hoy, of Pontotoc county, Miss., had in the meantime written me that Capt. J. O. Grisham and other friends were organizing an artillery company, and that if I could get off honorably I must come home and assist in raising the company, and thus represent my own county and state, should the war then begun continue.

…May 1863.

In the next day's engagement a plunging shrapnel shot struck the muzzle of the fourth gun somewhat defacing it. The shell exploded and disabled one of the gun wheels, but fortunately did not hurt a man. During the day the captain again had orders to retire to the rear as soon after dark as possible and with the same precaution. This was very essential, because of our exposed position, for more than five hundred yards would we have been subjected to the enemy's fire, had they known our movement. When getting well out of range of shell, the captain riding at the head of the column on his horse Robin, was heard to exclaim; "You, Robin, d—n you, you will have the Yankees firing on us presently by your d—n heels cracking". Bob Owen, the bugler, who was riding with the captain held in for awhile, but finally got so full, burst with laughter that was heard half way back the column. The battery just then turned from the road into camp when Bob explained to the men the cause of his hilarity. They too enjoyed the incident much to the chagrin of the captain. The circumstances when considered made it so ludicrous that the captain too enjoyed the mirth, though at his expense.

Details for accounts such as these allow us to recreate the actions of the other units which served but left little account. The following narrative is from the Siege of Petersburg in July, 1864. It describes the situation in the lines just before the Battleof the Crater which occurred on July 30th.

… June 24ff, 1864.

On the morning of the 24th of June at day light we were ordered to fire as rapidly as we could for thirty minutes, and this we did. The purpose of this was, as we afterwards learned, to make an assault upon and try to recapture the line lost on the 18th, but the assault was not made. On June 30th, as appears from the "Records of the Rebellion", Col. Jones, chief of artillery, reports "Bradford, 2 officers and 47 men present, 2 officers and 68 men absent". These absent were the other section left at Weldon, which the report does not explain, and to that extent does Capt. Bradford an injustice. It also appears from the same book that Secretary of War Seddon, in a letter to Gen. Lee, urged "the necessity of holding intact the Petersburg and Weldon Railroad that the regular line of army supplies might not be interfered with". I mention this in order that the reason may be seen for keeping the other section at Weldon. It was, however, soon after we left it, sent to Hicksford, Va., a very important and exposed point.

On July 4th Dan Sanderson died in Petersburg Hospital and was buried near the Richmond and Petersburg Railroad, two miles from the city.

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