Monday, June 7, 2010
Battery B, 4th US Artillery at South Mountain
Just days before the Battle of Antietam where this famous battery suffered heavily during the conflict that raged through the Bloody Cornfield, Battery B, 4th United States Artillery took part in the assault on Turner's Gap by the Iron Brigade up the National Pike against the Confederate brigade of Alfred Colquitt.
In the late afternoon as the brigade of General John Gibbon was moving forward to dislodge the Colquitt's brigade, a section of the battery under the command of Lieutenant James Stewart was unlimbered and went into action just behind the line of the 19th Indiana and 7th Wisconsin. The guns began firing upon the Confederate skirmish line that was making the advance of the Westerner's rather difficult. There was a house located just to the left of the National Pike that was within the line of advance of Gibbon's men. Some Confederate sharpshooters had taken up residence in the upper story of the home and was pouring a rather deadly fire into the 19th Indiana. The colonel of this regiment, Solomon Meredith, called for support from Stewart's two guns to fire on the house. The detachment sent three rounds in the direction of the home, sending one through the second level, forcing the Confederates out. The section of guns moved up the pike as Gibbon's men pushed back Colquitt's regiments. The section engaged the Confederate batteries stationed on the heights around Turner's Gap. The fighting died down a few hours after nightfall. Stewart, in the words of General Gibbon, used his guns with "good judgement, solid effect" upon the Confederates in the fight.
Lieutenant Stewart's section was relieved that night by the remaining guns of Battery B, but Stewart put up a strong defense to keep his guns in position but he and his section were relieved and sent to the rear. The fight at Turner's Gap by Stewart was rather brief and but his sections fight would be the first time Battery B took the field in the Maryland Campaign.
Lieutenant Stewart and Battery B would go on to glory at Antietam where the battery would lose heavily and Stewart would come out in command of the entire battery. The battery would continue serving alongside what became the "Iron Brigade" and was there on the fateful day in July 1863 when the brigade was practically destroyed in it's stand against determined Confederates along Seminary Ridge outside of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.