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Buckner's Battery, Mississippi Artillery

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Date: [unknown] [unknown]
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Surnames/tags: US_Civil_War Mississippi
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Buckner's Battery Unit History

Commander: Lieutenant-- Henry Clay Holt of Manchester, Tennessee.

The Buckner Battery of four steel breech-loading 2-pounders. Lieutenant Holt commanding, was part of the command of Col. R. V. Richardson, which joined General Chalmers in his unsuccessful attack on LaGrange and Collierville, Tenn., October 9-11, 1863, and participated in the battles of Byhalia, October 12, and Wyatt, October 13, during the retreat of Chalmers. Colonel McGuirk, commanding the brigade at Wyatt, said: "Lieutenant Holt, with his little battery, did well. If his guns were as large as his courage, he could do much more in defense of his country." During the battle the battery was withdrawn, "after doing good service and withstanding a terrific fire from the enemy." Lieutenant Holt had but two guns in this battle, the other section being under command of Lieutenant Armstrong, who also commanded one section at Collierville. Holt complimented the service of Armstrong, and also mentioned Private McDougal and Corporals Williams, White and Hofmeister. October, 1863, assigned to McCulloch's Brigade, Chalmers' Cavalry, one rifle gun added to the battery. November 28, twenty-eight men, four Willlams 10-ounce, only guns of the kind in the army, and one 2.9-inch rifle. Lieutenant Armstrong and enlisted men of Ferguson's Brigade were on duty with the battery during December campaign on the Mobile and Ohio Railroad.(This is all that is found in Rowland's unit history.)[1]

Details on Buckner Battery

Sources: Official Records & Soldier's service records in NARA.

Buckner Battery was formed in fall of 1863 after General Chalmers complained of lack of artillery for his cavalry division. Lt. H. C. Holt was picked as commander due to his prior service in the Confederate Navy (see below). He was commissioned a Lieutenant in the CS Army as a drill master in Louisiana in 1862. He was an Post Adjutant at and served on staff with General Ruggles. By the summer of 1863, Lt. Holt was assigned to lead Buckner Battery which was attached to General James R. Chalmers' cavalry division.

Buckner Battery did not have a roster. Records in Lt. Holt's service records include invoice for purchase of feed for 28 horses & mules, which indicates this battery was smaller than most batteries containing 80 to 100 horses. The OR's indicate the members of this battery were loaned from other units. The four men mentioned in Rowland's history and in the OR's were all members of the 56th Alabama Partisan Rangers, a cavalry regiment. These men were Private McDougal and Corporals Williams, White and Hofmeister. The service records for three of these men had a note stating "attached to Buckner Battery". In early 1864, General Stephen D. Lee ordered these men be returned to Slemon's cavalry brigade and replaced with men from General Chalmers' cavalry division. { I find it interesting that Rowland included Buckner Battery as one of the Mississippi units even though the commander wasn't from Mississippi, and it had no roster but only men loaned from an Alabama unit. The battery is considered a Mississippi unit since it was part of General Chalmers cavalry division which was headquartered in Oxford.}

The battery consisted of one(1) 3-inch ordnance rifle and four(4) William's Guns which fired a 1.562-inch caliber steel round shot. This breech-loader, rapid-fire gun was a small gun that was manned by 3 men and could easily be towed by one horse rig. That is why his battery was small and had fewer horses than the average field battery. This gun was ideal for cavalry operations. At the Battle of Collierville, October 11, 1863, Lt. Holt deployed his battery along the ridge that paralleled the M&C RR so that he could fire into town and at the Union earthworks. When the battle started, a train arrived carrying General Sherman and his staff, which included General Lightburn and 240 men of the 13 US Regulars. The Confederate cavalry of General Chalmers totaled approximately 3,000 and the Union now had a total of 500-550 men. After some close-quarter fighting, where Lt. Holt's guns were rolled up to the RR tracks to fire directly at the Union troops in the earthen fort and RR depot. The Confederates retreated when more Union troops began arriving. Sherman's train was destroyed. Local relic hunters have dug up at least 5 of these No. 10 steel shot from this battle. Note: this steel shot fired by this Williams Gun is slightly smaller than a golf ball.

The prior history of this Lt. H. C. Holt was a mystery but it has been solved. Henry Clay Holt attended the US Naval Academy in 1859 as part of Class of 1863. He was released for service in April 1861. He returned to Tennessee and was commissioned a Midshipman in the CS Navy and assigned to the CSS Jackson. He was in the Battle of Lucas Bend, the first naval battle on the Mississippi River. Later he was assigned to the CSS Little Rebel as part of the privateer organization, the Confederate River Defense Fleet. After most of the river fleet was destroyed at Battle of Memphis, Midshipman Holt resigned from the CS Navy and was commissioned a Lieutenant in the CS Army under General Ruggles. He was assigned Post Adjutant and later Drill Master. In June 1863, he was in command of Buckner Battery. It seems the battery was dissolved early in 1864. After spring of 1864, he disappears from the OR's and there is no further information in his service records.


  1. Dunbar Rowland’s “Military History of Mississippi, 1803-1898”
  • Official Records of the War of the Rebellion. Records for General Chalmers Tennessee Raid in October 1863, including after battle reports by General Chalmers, Col. R. V. Richardson and Lt. H. C. Holt.
  • "Military History of Mississippi; 1803-1898” by Dunbar Rowland. New edition with supplement by H. Grady Howell, Jr. Chickasaw Bayou Press, 2003.
  • NARA Military Service Records for Lt. H. C. Holt filed under Staff and three members of the 56th Alabama Partisan Rangers.
  • US Naval Academy Student Records for Midshipman Henry C. Holt for Years 1859, 1860, 1861.
  • Drawing sketches of a Williams Gun cannon provided by Watervliet Army Arsenal, NY.
  • Example of a Williams Gun cannon at the Kentucky History Museum, Franklin, KY.
  • "Coming Like Hell!: The Story Of The 12th Tennessee Cavalry", by Waldon Loving, Writers Press Club, 2002.

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