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3rd Arkansas Light Artillery (Confederate)
Active June 15, 1861– May 11, 1865
Country Confederate States of America
Allegiance Dixie CSA
Branch Artillery
Size Battery
Nickname(s) Jackson Light Artillery
Engagements

American Civil War

Website Jackson Light Artillery (Thrall’s Battery)
Commanders
1861 Captain George W. McCown
Ceremonial chief Captain George T. Hubbard
1862–1865 Captain James C. Thrall
Arkansas Confederate Artillery Batteries
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2nd Arkansas Light Artillery 1st Arkansas Field Battery

The 3rd Arkansas Light Artillery, also known as the Jackson Light Artillery (1861–1865), was a Confederate Army artillery battery during the American Civil War. The battery spent the majority of the war serving in Confederate forces east of the Mississippi River. The battery is also known as McCown's Battery, Hubbard's Battery, and Thrall's Battery in official reports.

Organization[edit | edit source]

The Jackson Light Artillery was organized at Jacksonport, Jackson County, Arkansas, on June 15, 1861.[1] Most of the original members of the battery were from Jackson County, but there were men from neighboring Craighead, Independence, Lawrence, White and present-day Woodruff counties who also joined the battery at Jacksonport. Although officially named the Jackson Light Artillery, it was the practice in the Confederate Army to refer to a battery by the name of its current commander; thus, it is variously identified in most contemporary records as McCown's Battery, Hubbard's Battery, and Thrall's Battery. In the "Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations From the State of Arkansas," the service records of these men are carried under the heading "Thrall's Battery" on Roll 42.[2]

At the battery's organization, George W. McCown was elected captain, James C. Thrall was elected first lieutenant, George T. Hubbard was elected second lieutenant, and Robert S. Anderson was elected third lieutenant.[3] The battery marched to Pitman's Ferry, near Pocahontas in Randolph County, where it enlisted in the Confederate service on July 25, 1861. A week earlier, on July 17, Captain McCown had resigned and returned to Jacksonport. Lieutenant Hubbard was elected captain in his place.[4]

A total of 165 men served in this unit from June 15, 1861, to May 11, 1865. A remarkable number of original members served with the battery through the entire conflict. The battery had one of the lowest desertion rates in the Confederate Army. Even among the large number of conscripts who joined the battery in 1863 there were relatively few deserters. From all contemporary accounts, it seems that the Jackson Light Artillery enjoyed competent leadership and high morale throughout the war.[5]

On July 14, 1861, Confederate Brigadier General William J. Hardee arrived in Little Rock to assume unified Confederate command in the state. The following day the state Military Board signed an "Article of Transfer", which provided that all state forces would be transferred on a voluntary basis to the command of the Confederate States of America. The Articles of Transfer included Major Francis A. Shoup's battalion of artillery;[6]

Company A, Captain A. W. Clarkson's Helena Light Artillery,[7]
Company B, Captain John T. Trigg's Arkansas Battery; and
Company C, Captain George T. Hubbard's Jackson Light Artillery.

Many Confederate artillery units seem to have begun the war named for the city or county that sponsored their organization. In the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, artillery units are most often referred to by the name of their battery commander. During the war, efforts were made to organize artillery units into battalions and regiments, but the battalions seldom functioned as a consolidated organization, in fact batteries were often broken out and fought as one or two gun sections. Shoup's battalion would be an exception to this rule.[8]

Battles[edit | edit source]

A 3 Inch Rifled Gun

The battery, as part of Shoup's Battalion moved to central Kentucky with Hardee's forces.[9][10] Major Shoup's battalion was associated with Brigadier General Patrick Cleburne's brigade when it moved into Kentucky and remained so until after the battle of Shiloh. The Battalion was in the retreat from Bowling Green to Cornith, Mississippi, following the fall of Forts Donelson and Henry.;[11]

During the Battle of Shiloh, a.k.a, Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee, Sunday, April 6, 1862 – Monday, April 7, 1862, the battery, armed with two 6-pounder smoothbores and two rifled 3-inch guns became involved in what was at that time, the largest massed artillery attack in North America.[12] The unit was attached to General Patrick Cleburne's 2nd Brigade of Major General William J. Hardee Third Army Corps. By the afternoon of Sunday, April 6, 1862, men of Prentiss's and W. H. L. Wallace's divisions had established and held a position nicknamed the Hornet's Nest.[13] The Confederates assaulted the position for several hours rather than simply bypassing it, and they suffered heavy casualties during these assaults.[14] It was not until the Confederates, led by Brig. Gen. Daniel Ruggles, assembled over 50 cannons, including on section of Hubbard's Battery, commanded by Lieutenant Thrall, into a position known as "Ruggles's Battery"[15] to blast the line at close range that they were able to surround the position, and the Hornet's Nest fell after holding out for seven hours.[16]

In response to a request from Brig. Gen. Ruggles, Captain Thrall filed a report on April 1, 1863, of his and other Arkansas artillery unit's roll in the Battle of Shiloh and the formation of Ruggles' Battery:[17]

At that time I was first lieutenant, commanding the right section of an Arkansas battery, commanded by Capt. George T. Hubbard, in Brigadier-General Cleburne's brigade, Maj. Gen. W. J. Hardee's corps. About I p.m. I was moving on the right of General Hardee's lines with ray section, when I came to a ravine, and was about to have some trouble crossing, when I was met by one of Major-General Polk's staff officers, who directed me to move to my right to a road, in order that I might move forward without any difficulty, which I did as rapidly as possible, and came into action on the left of Captain Bankhead's battery. My position being a bad one, in a dense thicket, I was compelled to fall back, followed by Captain Bankhead. I soon moved forward with my section, by order of Major General Polk, when I was met and placed into position by yourself, with directions to throw some shot through a log house and some spherical case at some bales of cotton that were in the edge of a field, where there was quite a number of the enemy concealed.
At this time there was no other battery engaged at this point. Brigadier-General Ruggles then directed me to move to my right and throw some shells into a thicket across a field. I had fired but three or four rounds when a rifle battery replied to me most handsomely, and it being a little more than I felt disposed to contend with, General Ruggles ordered me to move my section up to my right, where I was joined by Captain Byrne's (Mississippi) battery. Here I heard General Ruggles say that it was his intention to concentrate as much artillery as possible at this point, to prevent General Prentiss from being re-enforced from the river.
As soon as I had replenished the limber chests of my guns from my caissons General Ruggles ordered me back to my former position. Captain Byrne's (Mississippi) battery formed on my right, Captain Swett's (Mississippi) battery, and Captains Trigg's and Roberts' (Arkansas) batteries formed on my left. There were other batteries farther to my left, but I am unable to state by whom they were commanded.
The concentration of artillery at this point proved very effective The re-enforcements that were going to the relief of General Prentiss, not being able to withstand the shower of shot, shell, and shrapnel that was poured upon them, fell back in confusion toward the river, which resulted in the surrender of General Prentiss, with his division....
I have the honor to remain, captain, your obedient servant,
JAMES C. THRALL,
Captain of Artillery[18]

James C. Thrall succeeded Captain Hubbard as battery commander on May 12, 1862, and remained in command until the end.[19] After fighting at Shiloh the unit was assigned to the Department of Mississippi and East Louisiana and was active in the Siege of Jackson. Later it was attached to Forrest's Cavalry Corps, participated in the conflicts at Brice's Cross Roads and Harrisburg.[20] Thrall's Battery accompanied Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest on a 23-day raid through western Tennessee which culminated in an attack on the Union supply base at Johnsonville. On the evening of November 3, 1864, Forrest positioned his guns across the river from the Federal supply base at Johnsonville. On the morning of November 4, the Confederate batteries were attacked by three Union gunboats from Johnsonville and by six Paducah gunboats The Confederate artillery was completely effective in neutralizing the threat of the Federal fleets. One of the vessels was hit 19 times, and returned to Johnsonville. Thrall's battery assisted in bombarding the Union supply depot and the 28 steamboats and barges positioned at the wharf. All three of the Union gunboats—Key West, Tawah, and Elfin—were disabled or destroyed. The Union garrison commander ordered that the supply vessels be burned to prevent their capture by the Confederates. Forrest observed, "By night the wharf for nearly one mile up and down the river presented one solid sheet of flame. ... Having completed the work designed for the expedition, I moved my command six miles during the night by the light of the enemy's burning property"[21]

The Jackson Light Artillery was involved in the following battles:[22]

Battle of Shiloh, Tennessee, April 6–7, 1862.
Siege of Corinth, April to June 1862.
Meridian Campaign, February–March 1864.
Battle of Yazoo City, March 5, 1864.
Battle of Tupelo, July 14, 1864.
A. J. Smith's 2nd Mississippi Invasion, August 1864.
Forrest's West Tennessee Raid, October 16 – November 10, 1864.
Battle of Johnsonville, November 4, 1864.
Battle of Mobile, March 17 – April 12, 1865.

Surrender[edit | edit source]

The Jackson Light Artillery was among the last of the Confederate troops east of the Mississippi to surrender. The Jackson Light Artillery aided in the defense of Mobile and surrendered with the Department of Alabama, Mississippi, and East Louisiana. The battery spiked their guns and surrendered at Meridian, Mississippi, May 11, 1865.[23]

See also[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. Watson, Lady Elizabeth, Fight and Survive!: a history of Jackson County, Arkansas, in the Civil War, Jackson County Historical Society, 1996, Page 9
  2. National Park Service, Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System, Confederate Arkansas Troops, Thrall's Battery, Arkansas Light Artillery, Accessed Jan 14, 2011, http://www.civilwar.nps.gov/cwss/regiments.cfm
  3. Watson, Lady Elizabeth, Fight and Survive!: a history of Jackson County, Arkansas, in the Civil War, Jackson County Historical Society, 1996, Page 9
  4. Howerton, Bryan R., "Jackson Light Artillery (Thrall's Battery)", Edward G. Gerdes Civil War Page, Accessed 30 January 2011, http://www.couchgenweb.com/civilwar/jackson.html
  5. Howerton, Bryan R., "Jackson Light Artillery (Thrall's Battery)", Edward G. Gerdes Civil War Page, Accessed 30 January 2011, http://www.couchgenweb.com/civilwar/jackson.html
  6. Confederate military history: a library of Confederate States history, Volume 10, Page 327, Accessed 21 February 2013, http://books.google.com/books?id=VZ9YAAAAMAAJ&pg=RA1-PA327&lpg=RA1-PA327&dq=Shoup's+Arkansas+Artillery+Battalion&source=bl&ots=5cqzLPSpO0&sig=w_JxMQTxP2Wp2WOErXC1Wb390Dc&hl=en&sa=X&ei=ZKEmUbGyIMWs2wXGnoCwBA&sqi=2&ved=0CE4Q6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=Shoup's%20Arkansas%20Artillery%20Battalion&f=false
  7. The National Archives Publication Number: M317, Publication Title: Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Arkansas, Content Source: NARA, National Archives Catalog ID: 586957, National Archives Catalog Title: Carded Records Showing Military Service of Soldiers Who Fought in Confederate Organizations , compiled 1903 – 1927, documenting the period 1861 – 1865, Record Group: 109, Roll: 0039, Military Unit: Hart's Battery, Light Artillery AND Key's Battery, Light Artillery, Accessed 21 February 2013, http://www.fold3.com/image/#20%7C219834366
  8. Confederate military history: a library of Confederate States history, Volume 10, Page 334, Accessed 21 February 2013, http://books.google.com/books?id=VZ9YAAAAMAAJ&pg=RA1-PA327&lpg=RA1-PA334&dq=Shoup's+Arkansas+Artillery+Battalion&source=bl&ots=5cqzLPSpO0&sig=w_JxMQTxP2Wp2WOErXC1Wb390Dc&hl=en&sa=X&ei=ZKEmUbGyIMWs2wXGnoCwBA&sqi=2&ved=0CE4Q6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=Shoup's%20Arkansas%20Artillery%20Battalion&f=false
  9. United States. War Dept.. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union And Confederate Armies. Series 1, Volume 7., Book, 1882; digital images, (http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth154610/m1/858/?q=Arkansas Battery : accessed February 13, 2013), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, http://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries, Denton, Texas
  10. United States. War Dept.. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union And Confederate Armies. Series 1, Volume 7., Book, 1882; digital images, (http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth154610/m1/910/?q=shoup : accessed February 13, 2013), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, http://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries, Denton, Texas.
  11. Confederate military history: a library of Confederate States history, Volume 10, Page 328, Accessed 21 February 2013, http://books.google.com/books?id=VZ9YAAAAMAAJ&pg=RA1-PA327&lpg=RA1-PA327&dq=Shoup's+Arkansas+Artillery+Battalion&source=bl&ots=5cqzLPSpO0&sig=w_JxMQTxP2Wp2WOErXC1Wb390Dc&hl=en&sa=X&ei=ZKEmUbGyIMWs2wXGnoCwBA&sqi=2&ved=0CE4Q6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=Shoup's%20Arkansas%20Artillery%20Battalion&f=false
  12. Daniel, Larry J., Cannoneers In Gray: The Field Artillery Of The Army Of Tennessee, (University of Alabama Press, 2005)
  13. Cunningham, O. Edward. Shiloh and the Western Campaign of 1862. Edited by Gary Joiner and Timothy Smith. New York: Savas Beatie, 2007. ISBN 978-1-932714-27-2, pp. 241–42.
  14. Eicher, David J. The Longest Night: A Military History of the Civil War. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001. ISBN 0-684-84944-5. p. 227, cites 12. See Also, Daniel, Larry J. Shiloh: The Battle That Changed the Civil War. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997. ISBN 0-684-80375-5 p. 214,
  15. Historians disagree on the number of artillery pieces the Confederates massed against the Hornets Nest. Cunningham, p. 290, can account for 51. Daniel, p. 229, argues for 53. Eicher, p. 228 and Sword, Wiley. Shiloh: Bloody April. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1992. ISBN 0-7006-0650-5. First published 1974 by Morrow. p. 326, report the traditional count of 62, which was originally established by battlefield historian D.W. Reed.
  16. Nevin, David, and the Editors of Time-Life Books. The Road to Shiloh: Early Battles in the West. Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1983. ISBN 0-8094-4716-9. pp. 121–29, 136–39; See also Esposito, Vincent J. West Point Atlas of American Wars. New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1959. OCLC 5890637, map 36; Daniel, pp. 207–14; See Also Woodworth, Steven E. Nothing but Victory: The Army of the Tennessee, 1861–1865. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005. ISBN 0-375-41218-2. pp. 179–85; See Also Eicher, p. 227. Sword, p. 306, lists 2,320 captured; Eicher, p. 228, 2,200; Daniel, p. 214, 2,400.
  17. United States. War Dept.. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union And Confederate Armies. Series 1, Volume 10, In Two Parts. Part 1, Reports., Book, 1884; digital images, (http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth154613/m1/487/?q=thrall : accessed February 10, 2013), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, http://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries, Denton, Texas.
  18. United States. War Dept.. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union And Confederate Armies. Series 1, Volume 10, In Two Parts. Part 1, Reports., Book, 1884; digital images, (http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth154613/m1/487/?q=thrall : accessed February 10, 2013), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, http://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries, Denton, Texas.
  19. Howerton, Bryan R., "Jackson Light Artillery (Thrall's Battery)", Edward G. Gerdes Civil War Page, Accessed 30 January 2011, http://www.couchgenweb.com/civilwar/jackson.html
  20. National Park Service, Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System, Confederate Arkansas Troops, Thrall's Battery, Arkansas Light Artillery, Accessed Jan 14, 2011, http://www.civilwar.nps.gov/cwss/regiments.cfm
  21. Wills, Brian Steel. The Confederacy's Greatest Cavalryman: Nathan Bedford Forrest. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1992. ISBN 0-7006-0885-0, p.270-73.
  22. Sikakis, Stewart, Compendium of the Confederate Armies, Florida and Arkansas, Facts on File, Inc., 1992, ISBN 0-8160-2288-7, page 118.
  23. Howerton, Bryan R., "Jackson Light Artillery (Thrall's Battery)", Edward G. Gerdes Civil War Page, Accessed 30 January 2011, http://www.couchgenweb.com/civilwar/jackson.html

 This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Government document "Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System, National Park Service".

References[edit | edit source]

  • Cunningham, E., Joiner, G. D., Smith, T. B., & ebrary, Inc. (2009). Shiloh and the Western Campaign of 1862. New York: Savas Beatie.
  • Eicher, D. J., & Winik, J. (September 16, 2001). Nonfiction – THE LONGEST NIGHT: A Military History of the Civil War. The New York Times Book Review, 23.
  • Evans, C. A. (1962). Confederate military history: A library of Confederate States history, in twelve volumes. New York: Thomas Yoseloff.
  • Daniels, Larry. Cannoneers in Gray: The Field Artillery of the Army of Tennessee, 1861–1865. (Tuscaloosa, AL: Fire Ant Books, 2005).
  • Nevin, D., & Time-Life Books. (1983). The road to Shiloh: Early battles in the West. Alexandria, Va: Time-Life Books.
  • Sifakis, Stewart (1992). Compendium of the Confederate Armies, Florida and Arkansas,. New York: Facts on File. ISBN 0-8160-2288-7. 
  • United States. (1961). Compiled service records of Confederate soldiers who served in organizations from the State of Arkansas. Washington [D.C.: National Archives, National Archives and Records Service, General Services Administration.
  • U.S. War Department, The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1880–1901.
  • Watson, L. E. (1996). Fight and survive!: A history of Jackson County, Arkansas, in the Civil War. Newport, Ark: Jackson County Historical Society.
  • Wills, B. S. (1998). The Confederacy's greatest cavalryman: Nathan Bedford Forrest. Lawrence, Kans: University Press of Kansas.
  • Woodruff, W.E. With the Light Guns in '61–'65: Reminiscences of Eleven Arkansas, Missouri and Texas Batteries in the Civil War. (Little Rock, AR: Central Printing Co., 1903).

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