Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Center

As the battle of Iuka swirled about them, the gunners of the 11th Ohio Battery madly inflicted a devastating toll on the Confederate troops.

Before the battle as the lines were being formed, Sanborn rushed up his brigade's artillery battery, the 11th Ohio. Sanborn ordered the battery's commander, Lieutenant Cyrus Sears, to set up his guns on the hill, which he faithfully did. The battery rolled its guns up nearly wheel to wheel and opened fire on the approaching rebels.

Sears's first target was the dismounted skirmishers of the 3rd Texas Cavalry. They opened fire when the rebels were only 100 yards away with double canister shot. Hundreds of Texans fell forcing to gather its skirmishers and reform the regiment, buying the Sanborn the vital time he needed move up the 5th Iowa and the 48th Indiana on the battery's flanks.

Lieutenant (later Colonel) Cyrus Sears
following the war.
The 11th never stopped firing, despite intense incoming musket and cannon fire. When the Iowa and Indiana regiments' infantry were in place, the fire on the battery slackened as the rebels diverted their attention. The battery's guns tore into the Texas and Louisiana infantry.

As both the right and left flanks gave way, Sears's men stood to the last man. A few squads from the 26th Missouri found themselves alone after the rest of the regiment retreated off the hill. They too stood to the last man.


Vengeful Confederate troops charged the battery and failed on their first two tries. Finally on the third try the Texans overwhelmed Sear's left section. The ferocity of the Ohioans' defense shocked the Texans. Muskets and bayonets crossed with gun swabs and ram rods. In one instance, David Montgomery, a lone ammunition carrier, had reached up and pulled the lanyard of his cannon and fired a double load of cannister into the approaching Texans that were within an arm's reach of the gun. A Texan raised his rifle to club Montgomery, but the cannoneer dodged. He picked up a cannister round and smashed the Texan's skull and then beat a hasty retreat into the nearby brush.


The battery opened fire at 5:15pm and fought non stop until 6:30pm, 20 minutes after sunset. After an hour and a quarter, of the battery's 97 personnel, 18 were killed and 39 wounded. Of the 54 cannoneers, 46 were hit during the engagement, and only three of the battery's 80 horses survived the fight. So impressed witht he Ohioans, the Texans took pity on them and released all of their prisoners.

The fight for the center was finished. Sanborn's brigade was shattered, but the Confederates were badly mauled and their attack faltered. Each of the assaulting regiments had lost about 100 men. The assault was halted and a strange lull took form on the battlefield.    

 

1 comment:

  1. Mike:

    I have a question for you about that 11th Ohio Battery image you used to illustrate this post. Would you please drop me a line (tajjr@earthlink.net)? Can't find an email for you here to contact you directly.

    Thanks.

    Terry

    ReplyDelete