Captain Richards' Battery
Participated in the Breakthrough Battle at Petersburg on April 2, 1865
Fought on or near the present day grounds of Pamplin Historical Park
The Madison Light Artillery was organized at Canton, Mississippi with men from Madison County, and mustered into State service on April 28, 1861. Ordered to Virginia, the unit first served at Suffolk, then was assigned to W. T. Poague's Battalion of Artillery, Army of Northern Virginia. It was active from Gettysburg to Cold Harbor, and fought in the long Petersburg Campaign. The battery had 4 officers and 87 men at Gettysburg. There were 36 present in September of 1864. Its captains were Thomas J. Richards, George Ward, and John W. Yeargain.
Captain Ward was in command of two batteries at the battle of Gettysburg, and subsequently he was promoted to Major, commanding a battalion of artillery. Capt. Thomas J. Richards then commanded the Madison battery, which was reported in March, I864, as having 127 men, 59 horses and 4 twelve pounder Napoleon guns.
The battery served under Col. R. L. Walker, attached to the Third corps in the campaign of 1864. Walker's twenty batteries were put in motion, attending the divisions of Heth and Wilcox, down the Plank road toward the Wilderness, Poague's battalion in front, early in the morning of May 5. When Heth's division, in advance, encountered the Federal cavalry, Richards' battery was pushed forward and assisted in driving it back upon the main body. Poague's battalion was posted by the artillery chief of the army at the only place near the front where artillery could be used, and one gun of the battalion, being further advanced, was effectively used in the bloody repulse of the attack on Heth and Wilcox that afternoon. When fresh Federal troops pushed back the weary divisions of Heth and Wilcox the next day, the guns under Poague and Ward checked the onslaught and enabled Longstreet's troops, just arriving on the field, to take a favorable position and drive the enemy back.
In the battle of Spotsylvania the Madison Artillery aided in repulsing the Federal attack on a salient of the Confederate line (not Bloody Angle). When the scene of battle was changed to the South Anna and the enemy made a demonstration higher up the river at Jericho ford, Poague's battalion was sent with Heth's division to meet that danger. The repulse of the Federal infantry was followed by a sharp battle of artillery. "Major Ward, second in command of Poague's battalion, a devout Christian, gallant soldier and efficient officer, was here killed by a cannon shot," General Pendleton reported.
At Cold Harbor on June 3, 1864, the Madison Artillery was ordered into a position over the protest of Poague, in which they were exposed to the fire of a heavy line of skirmishers. The battery was almost entirely crippled, and many lives lost to very little purpose, Pendleton reported. "Richards' pieces were with much difficulty gotten back to the works occupied by the infantry. They were there, however, used with some effect, as the enemy attempted to advance, the cannoneers being to some extent protected."
In the final campaign in Virginia the battery was commanded by Lieutenant John W. Yeargain.
Madison Light Artillery
Descendants Roll Call
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Not For Fame Or Reward
Not For Place Or For Rank
Not Lured By Ambition
Or Goaded By Necessity
But In Simple
Obedience To Duty
As They Understood It
These Men Suffered All - Sacrificed All
Dared all - And Died
Inscription written by Dr. Randolph Harrison McKim and carved
on the north side of the Confederate Memorial (sculpted by Moses Ezekiel)
at Arlington National Cemetery
Pamplin Historical Park & National
Museum of the Civil War Soldier
Ordering Service & Pension Records
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