CLARK NC: Ellis NC Artillery at the Siege of Petersburg
Editor’s Note: The following excerpt comes from Walter Clark’s five volume Histories of the Several Regiments and Battalions from North Carolina in the Great War 1861-’65, published in 1901. The reference work provides mini regimental histories written mostly by men representing each unit, with gaps filled in by editor Clark. These histories often provide a surprising amount of detail on the Siege of Petersburg.
On June 17th  our forces crossed the James River [bound for Petersburg]. The battery [Ellis NC Artillery aka Manly’s NC Battery aka 1st NC Artillery Battery A] fired a few shots at Butler’s [signal] Tower [on Bermuda Hundred] as we passed, but to no effect. Soon afterwards we took position in front of the town [of Petersburg] near Swift Creek, which position we held with almost unbroken quiet, notwithstanding the close proximity of the enemy in large force. On July 30th the mine was sprung, and we expected orders to move to our right but none came. Our guns were moved near Petersburg and spent the winter on the lines. In a skirmish near Petersburg Corporal Cummings was killed. He lived in Petersburg, fought nearly through the war and got back home to be killed.
In November, 1864, Captain [Basil C.] Manly was promoted to the rank of Major, and was appointed chief of artillery in General Hoke’s Division and went to General Johnston’s army. Lieutenant B[ernard]. B. Guion was then appointed Captain and took charge of the battery. There were many regrets when Captain Manly left the company. He never missed a fight that the battery was engaged in, and neither did Lieutenant Guion. In 1863, James McKimmon, of Raleigh, and H[enry]. J. Robertson, of Tennessee, were elected Second Lieutenants. Lieutenant Robertson was at Chapel Hill at college when the war began and volunteered in the company. Captain Guion and Lieutenants McKimmon and Robertson were the only commissioned officers with the company when the surrender took place. The company left Petersburg with the army on its final move, and on Saturday morning, the 8th [of April 1865], the battery fired its last shots near Appomattox Court House, repelling a cavalry charge.
On the 9th of April  an order was received directing that the guns be buried, gun-carriages and harness cut to pieces, and the men mounted on the horses, and that all make their way by the most practical route to Lincolnton, N. C. The men cut the carriages down and burned the wood, buried the guns and left for home about 12 M[eridian, aka Noon]., as it was then known that General Lee had surrendered, but they never surrendered. The battery had only four guns here, because it had given two to a battery that was not so fortunate as Manly’s, which never lost a gun by capture. Some of the men rode the same horses home that they carried away in 1861. There was many a tear shed that Sunday morning when the orders came to cut down the battery. One poor fellow while he was at work cried like a baby, for he said he felt like he was burying some of his people. Manly’s Battery composed a very small part of Lee’s army, but its record in that army is a creditable one.1
- Clark, Walter. Histories of the Several Regiments and Battalions from North Carolina in the Great War 1861-’65, Volume 1 (Nash Brothers: 1901), pp. 559-560 ↩
What are your Top 10 Gettysburg Books? See what a panel of bloggers said recently.