In the American Civil War, Ohio provided the federal government with 260 regiments of men, including infantry, artillery, and cavalry units. Ohioans also served in several other regiments from other states, most notably from Kentucky, West Virginia, and Massachusetts, as well as in federal units.
In the American Civil War, Ohio provided the federal government with 260 regiments of men, including infantry, artillery, and cavalry units. Ohioans also served in several other regiments from other states, most notably from Kentucky, West Virginia, and Massachusetts, as well as in federal units. Almost 330,000 Ohio men, including 5,092 African Americans, served in the Union military during the conflict.
Artillery batteries formed in Ohio became known as batteries of Ohio Volunteer Artillery. They served for varying lengths of time, averaging one hundred days to three years. On October 29, 1862, the 20th Ohio Independent Battery of Ohio Volunteer Artillery mustered into service at Camp Taylor, at Cleveland, Ohio. This organization was also known as Smithnight's Battery, named after Louis Smithnight, one of the battery's captains. The men in the battery were to serve three years.
On December 31, 1862, officials dispatched the 20th to Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where the battery joined the Army of the Cumberland on February 8, 1863. At Murfreesboro, authorities assigned the battery to the 2nd Division, 20th Army Corps. In June 1863, the Army of the Cumberland, including the 20th Battery, departed Murfreesboro and embarked upon the Tullahoma Campaign. During the campaign. the battery fought in the Battle of Liberty Gap, having one man killed and two wounded. Upon the Tullahoma Campaign's conclusion, the 20th participated in the Chattanooga Campaign. On September 19 and 20, 1863, the Battle of Chickamauga, Georgia occurred. At this Union defeat, the organization had three men wounded and two captured. After the Battle of Chickamauga, the 20th's commanding officer issued the following report:
CAMP OF 20TH BATTERY OHIO VOLUNTEER ARTILLERY, Near Chattanooga, Tenn., October 11, 1863
CAPT.: I have the honor to report the part which the Twentieth Battery Ohio Volunteer Artillery took in the late fight at or near Crawfish Spring., September 19 and 20.
The Twentieth Battery Ohio Volunteer Artillery was ordered, September 19, in the afternoon, to take up position on a hill in the rear of Second Brigade, Second division, Twentieth Army Corps, near Crawfish Spring. I did remain there until 5 p. m., when I was ordered forward to a clearing. This position I was ordered to change soon after, and took up another one more to the left, near the Seventy-seventh Regt. Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry., and opened fire on the enemy. After this, as night had set in, I fell back to the aforementioned clearing, but was ordered to again change my position still farther to the rear. In the act of carrying out this order I received a cross-fire from the enemy, whereby one of my men and several of the horses were wounded. Soon after I joined the Fifth Battery Indiana Volunteer Artillery, commanded by Capt. Simonson, and took up camp after the firing had ceased in an open field, near the headquarters of the Second Division, Twentieth Army Corps.
On the 20th of September, in the morning at 5 o'clock, Received orders from Col. Dodge, commanding Second Brigade, Second Division, Twentieth Army Corps, to remain with my battery where I was until further orders. I waited for orders until ( a. m., when a division of the Fourteenth Army Corps was ordered to take up a position where I stood, and there fore I had to move the battery and station myself on the right of Battery A, First Ohio Volunteer Artillery, and in the rear of Second Division, Twentieth Army Corp; s. Here I remained and held out an attack on our left flank until about 11 or 11.30 a. m., when I was ordered by a staff officer to take a position more to the right; but I had hardly moved toward that place and not yet imposition when the troops stationed there gave way, a and, being without any support, I fell back about 500 yards and took up a position near an open field. There I reported to Lieut. Sidney Smith, acting assistant adjutant-general Second Division, Twentieth Army Corps, and received orders from him to remain there. I did so until the army in general fell back; then I took up a position on a hill near the gap, to protect, in case of need, the retreat. This position I held until about 4 p. m., when I was ordered by Col. Barnett, chief of artillery of the Army of the Cumberland, to report at the cross-road which Gen. Sheridan held with his infantry and where my battery could be supported by them. Here I remained until the whole army commenced moving; then I fell in, as ordered by the adjutant of Gen. McCook's staff, and marched to a field where the different corps had assembled, and reported to Second division, Twentieth Army Corps, when Capt. Bartlett, inspector-general of Second Division, ordered me to move the battery to Rossville.
I lost 2 men wounded, 2 men missing, 11 horses (9 dead and 2 wounded). I shot away 85 rounds of ammunition and lost 1 caisson. In general my men behaved very well, excepting 2, who behaved very cowardly-John Hutchins, detailed from the Twenty-ninth Regt. Indiana Volunteers Infantry, and Charles White, detailed from the Seventy-seventh Regt. Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, who left their posts.
I remain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,]
Capt., Comdg. 20th Battery Ohio Volunteer Artillery.
Capt. PETER SIMONSON,
Chief of Artillery.
Following the Battle of Chickamauga, the Union's Army of the Cumberland, including the 20th, retreated to Chattanooga, Tennessee, where Confederate forces besieged the Northerners. The 20th Battery participated in the Battles of Lookout Mountain (November 24, 1863) and Missionary Ridge (November 25, 1863). The second engagement lifted the Confederate siege of Chattanooga, and the 20th remained encamped in the city until early May 1864.
In May 1864, the 20th embarked upon General William T. Sherman's Atlanta Campaign. On this advance to Atlanta, Georgia, the battery primarily protected the Union army's flanks from Confederate cavalry forces under the command of Joseph Wheeler and Nathan Bedford Forrest. On August 15, 1864, Union soldiers, including the members of the battery, engaged Wheeler's cavalry at the Battle of Dalton, Georgia, forcing the Southerners to retreat. A portion of the 20th battery stayed at Dalton, while the remainder of the organization returned to Chattanooga, where it joined periodic scouting missions in east Tennessee and northern Georgia.
Following the Union's capture of Atlanta in early September 1864, General John Bell Hood's Confederate army launched an invasion of northern Georgia, northern Alabama, and central Tennessee. In September, Hood's force captured Dalton, including the detachment of the 20th. On September 4, 1864, the remainder of the 20th departed Chattanooga to join Sherman's command at Alpine, Georgia, arriving on September 20, 1864. Upon reaching Alpine, the battery joined General George Thomas's Army of the Cumberland, which pursued Hood's Confederates. The 20th became a part of 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, 4th Army Corps. The battery fought in the Battle of Franklin, Tennessee (November 30, 1864), losing fourteen men killed or wounded. After the Battle of Franklin, the 20th's commanding officer issued the following report:
HDQRS. TWENTIETH BATTERY OHIO VOLUNTEER ARTY., Nashville, Tenn., December 6, 1864.
CAPT.: I have the honor to report the part which the Twentieth Battery Ohio Volunteer Artillery took in the late battle at Franklin, Tenn.
This battery, composed of four pieces [12-pounder Napoleons], and commanded by Junior First Lieut. John S. Burdick, coming from Columbia, arrived at Franklin on the 30th of November, 1864. The battery was ordered into line of battle at 3 p.m. the same day, and was attacked at 4 p.m. The men stood firmly to their arms until 9 p.m. of the same day, when we received orders to fall back and cross the river. There we received orders to march, and arrived at Nashville at 11 a.m. December 1.
We lost heavily in horses, which were wounded during the action in such a manner as to render them almost unserviceable. The men, as stated above, acted with great bravery, and showed what kind of material they were made of. The guns are in good condition, except some accouterments, which are either broken or lost. We fired 169 rounds of ammunition of different kinds, and did good execution.
The losses in killed, wounded, and missing are as follows. I am, captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
First Sergeant Twentieth Independent Battery, Ohio Vol. Arty.
Chief of Artillery, Fourth Corps.
Following this Northern defeat, the 20th joined the Union retreat to Nashville, Tennessee. On December 15 and 16, 1864, the Battle of Nashville occurred, with the Army of the Cumberland emerging victorious. The 20th had no men killed or wounded in this engagement.
Following the Battle of Nashville, officials sent the 20th to Chattanooga, arriving on February 6, 1865. The battery remained at Chattanooga until July 2, 1865, when officials ordered the 20th to Camp Taylor, where the organization mustered out of service on July 19, 1865.
During the 20th Battery's term of service, the organization had six men, including one officer, killed on the battlefield and eighteen soldiers, including one officer, die from disease or accidents.
Cite this Entry
"Smithnight's Battery of Ohio Volunteer Artillery," Ohio Civil War Central, 2022, Ohio Civil War Central. 10 Aug 2022 <http://www.ohiocivilwarcentral.com/entry.php?rec=838>
"Smithnight's Battery of Ohio Volunteer Artillery." (2022) In Ohio Civil War Central, Retrieved August 10, 2022, from Ohio Civil War Central: http://www.ohiocivilwarcentral.com/entry.php?rec=838