Turner County Georgia Part of the AHGP/ Georgia GenWeb  Projects
 
 

Military History of Monroe Hardin

The following was composed by Frank M. Bacon on his Great-great
Grandfather Robert Monroe Harden’s military record during the Civil War.

Continued from the Turner County Area Veteran page.

Records of Company B, 11th Battalion, Georgia Artillery can be found in
several records.  Below is a summary found on the web at
http://www.sumterartillery.com/History.htm.  Only the record during
1864-65 is recorded here.  Company B was commanded by Capt. George M.
Patterson, and is referred to below as “Patterson’s Battery”.  I have
underlined and bolded those points most relevant to Monroe Harden’s
record.  I have also added some notes in brackets from other sources.

BRIEF HISTORY OF THE SUMTER ARTILLERY BATTALION

This information is drawn from a variety of sources, most notably "The
Sumter Artillery: The story of the 11th Battalion, Georgia Light
Artillery During the War Between the States", by James L. Speicher that
appeared in Civil War Regiments, Volume Three, Number Two, 1993.
 

The original "Sumter Flying Artillery" was one battery, consisting of
approximately 200 men serving six cannons, organized by Captain Allen
Cutts in Americus. The unit was mustered into service at Richmond,
Virginia on July 15, 1861. …

During 1864, the battalion was engaged in many of the Army of Northern
Virginia's major battles. It was deployed in support of McGowan's and
Lane's Brigades of Anderson's Division at the Battle of the Wilderness
on May 5, but fired few rounds. On May 8, it was moved to Spotsylvania
Court House and anchored the Confederate right flank. The battalion
exchanged fire with Union forces on May 10, and again on May 12 during
the fighting at the Mule Shoe. On May 18, it supported Wilcox's
Division in driving off a Union attack on their lines.

As Union General Grant forced Lee back upon Richmond, the battalion
served as part of the rear-guard covering the retreat from Spotsylvania
to the North Anna River. On May 22, during this assignment, Ross'
Battery was cut-off and trapped behind Union lines. After a two day
circuitous ride west and then south, skirmishing with the enemy along
the way, the battery managed to rejoin the Confederate army. Wingfield
and Patterson were involved in the battle at North Anna River on May 23
and Ross joined in the fighting on May 24. On May 27, the battalion
pulled out of its lines on the North Anna and on May 30 joined the
Confederate's defensive positions near Hanovertown between the Pamunkey
River and Totopotomoy Creek. There they helped drive off attacks on May
30 and 31.

The Sumter Battalion remained in this position until the morning of
June 2, and then moved south to a position near Gaines' Farm in support
of Breckinridge's Division and Anderson's Corps. On June 3, the
battalion was hotly engaged in repulsing the Union attack at Cold
Harbor. The next day, Wingfield's Battery was moved to a position on
Turkey Hill in support of Mahone's Division. Rounds were exchanged with
the enemy sporadically until June 12, when Grant crossed his main force
south of the James River to srtike at Petersburg.

The Sumter Battalion arrived in the Petersburg defenses on June 18 and
originally occupied the southeastern corner of the Confederate lines,
where the Jerusalem Plank Road passed through the trenches. This
section of the line included Rives Salient and Fort Mahone (also known
as "Fort Damnation"). The next day, however, about half of Lane's guns
(three from Ross, three from Patterson, and four from Wingfield) were
ordered to the heights on the north side of the Appomattox River. These
guns were placed on a commanding bluff near the Archer House, and were
joined by additional artillery from the battalions of Richardson,
McIntosh and Poague. This mile long deployment east of the Archer House
was commanded by Colonel Cutts, who had returned to the army. During
the next two months, the Sumter Battalion guns in this section of the
line dueled almost every day with Union guns.

In mid-August, most of the Sumter Battalion guns returned to the lines
south of Petersburg. On August 25, some of Hill's Third Corps pulled
out of the line to attack Union forces at Ream's Station and won a
significant victory that included the capture of nine Union cannon.
Ross's Battery was among this Confederate force, and five of the
captured cannon were given to the Sumter Battalion.

On September 29, Wingfield's Battery was repositioned to man Batteries
38 and 39 near the Tannehill House, which was farther west along the
defense line south of Petersburg. Ross's Battery continued to occupy
Fort Mahone and Patterson's Battery manned Battery 27 astride the
Jerusalem Plank Road. The battalion maintained these positions from
October 1864 until the Petersburg line was evacuated on the night of
April 2, 1865, exchanging fire with Union forces on more or less a
daily basis. The only other significant deployment was on October 30,
1864, when about 40 of the battalion artillery drivers were given
muskets and assigned to help defend Fort Gregg. [Apparently this is
when Monroe Harden was sent to Ft. Gregg.]

On the morning of April 2, 1865, Union troops assaulted the Confederate
lines near the Jeruslaem Plank Road, capturing Battery 27 and
infiltrating Fort Mahone. Confederate counterattacks at Fort Mahone
plugged the line there temporarily and most of Ross's Battery was able
to escape (losing about 30 men captured), but only 35 men of
Patterson's Battery escaped capture at Battery 27 and the unit
effectively ceased to exist.
Farther to the west, Union attacks along the Confederate line forced
Lee to evacuate Petersburg on the night of April 2nd. Wingfield's
Battery, along with Major Lane, was able to fall back and join the main
Confederate force at Amelia Court House. Meanwhile, the stubborn
defense of Fort Gregg by Confederate forces allowed enough time for Lee
to withdraw from his Petersburg and Richmond defense lines. After
beating back three attacks, the defenders at Fort Gregg were finally
overpowered and the fort was captured. Of its 250 defenders, only 30
were left to surrender. The rest were dead or wounded.  [ Apparently,
Monroe Harden was one of these 30 since I have no record that indicates
he was wounded.]

[There are several accounts of the battle on April 2 at Fort Gregg.
The brochure from the Petersburg National Battlefield describes it as “
A Homeric defense at Confederate Fort Gregg saved Lee from possible
street fighting in Petersburg.  On the night of April 2, Lee evacuated
Petersburg.  Appomattox Court House, the site of the final surrender
was but a week away.”

In the book “The Last Citadel” by Noah A. Trudeau, there are several
quotes.

“ The fighting on both sides at this point was the most desperate I
ever witnessed,” U. S. General Foster later declared, “being a hand-to-
hand struggle for twenty-five minutes after my troops had reached the
parapet”

“Fort Gregg raged like the crater of a volcano emitting its flashes of
dead fire, enveloping our flag and honor in flame and in the smoke of
death,” a Louisiana artilleryman recalled.  “ It was a terrific
struggle and slaughter”.

A New Yorker who was present later wrote, “The interior of the fort was
a pool of blood, a sight which can never be shut from memory.  The
rebels had recklessly fought to the last.”

Homer Atkinson survived the bloody finale inside Fort Gregg.  “More of
our men were killed after the Yankees got into the fort than during the
fighting,” he maintained.  “’Tis true,’ added an officer in the 33rd
North Carolina, “that when they rushed into the fort upon us, they were
yelling, cursing and shooting with all the frenzy and rage of a horde
of merciless barbarians.”  Young Atkinson owed his life to an enemy
officer who protected him.  “Is it possible the South has gotten to
that point of using such children as you are for soldiers?” the Yankee
wondered aloud.

“ I forbare to describe the scene inside that work after the
surrender,” Union colonel George Dandy later wrote, “but I think at
least one-forth of the entire garrison was killed in the assault”.  His
estimate was tragically close to the mark: of Gregg’s 300 or so
defenders, 56 died and approximately 200 were wounded.]

The remainder of Ross's Battery joined Wingfield's Battery at Amelia
Court House. There, Lee assigned his excess artillery, including both
Ross and Wingfield, to a separate column commanded by Brigadier General
Reubin Walker. The remnants of Patterson's command attached itself to
Company K of the 4th Georgia Infantry, the "Sumter Light Guards"
infantry unit that had also been raised in Americus at the outbreak of
the war.

Patterson's men moved west with the main column of Lee's army, and
fought with the 4th Georgia Infantry at Sayler's Creek on April 6. Most
of what was left of Patterson's unit was captured here, along with
their battle flag. A few managed to escape and surrendered with Lee at
Appomattox on April 9, 1865.

Meanwhile, Walker's column was attacked on April 8 near Appomattox
Station and some of Ross's and Wingfield's men were captured here,
along with Ross's battle flag -- the original flag of the "Sumter
Flying Artillery." Those that escaped capture at Appomattox Station
retreated to Red Oak Baptist Church near Oakville, about six miles
north. There, on the morning of April 9, General Walker received orders
from General Lee to try and rejoin him at Appomattox Court House to
help him fight his way out. Otherwise, he instructed Walker to "adopt
the means which in your judgement, shall seem proper under the
circumstances." Lee suggested that those men who wanted to continue to
fight could report to Lincolnton, in Lincoln County, North Carolina to
await further orders.

April 6, 2003
Frank M. Bacon
1013 El Alhambra Cir. NW
Albuquerque, NM 87107
505-344-8315
fmbacon@comcast.net