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Vermont Artillery

2nd Battery Light Artillery

by John W. Chase, Captain

The Second Vermont Battery was organized in Brandon, December 13, 1861, by choice of officers as follows: Captain, L. R. Sayles, Second Lieuts., John A. Quilty and John W. Chase. These officers and 89 men were mustered December 16 into the United States service for three years. On the 24th, 20 additional men were mustered and on the 25th the battery started for Camp Chase, Lowell, Massachusetts, where it arrived on the 26th. Here Captain Sayles resigned and Capt. P. E. Holcomb of the Seventeenth United States Infantry was appointed in his place. At Lowell, 14 more men were added by enlistment, raising the aggregate of the battery to 128 officers and men.

The battery was armed with four 6-pounder Sawyer rifled guns and two 20-pounder Parrotts. February 6, the battery embarked on board the ship "Idaho" at Boston, Massachusetts, with the First Maine and Fourth Massachusetts Batteries. After a long and stormy passage it landed on Ship Island, March 12, 1862, and was attached to Gen. John W. Phelps' brigade; here one man was discharged for disability. April 11, the second section embarked on the steamer "Matanzas," Lieutenant Smith in command. April 17, the first and second sections embarked on board an old hulk of a Mississippi steamer, the "Lewis." About forty miles from the mouth of the Mississippi one of the steam pipes burst, which left us nearly helpless. We were near a small island, where we anchored and sent a small sail boat for assistance. On the 20th a steamer came and towed us across the bar at the mouth of the river, where we repaired the machinery as best we could.

After the capture of Forts Jackson and St. Philip, we started up the river with the fleet to New Orleans, where we landed May 2, 1862, the first Union battery in the city. The "Lewis, " eight hours after landing, sank at the Levee. We remained on the Levee until the 4th with our guns ready for business. The first and second sections were quartered in the United States Mint, the third at the St. Charles Hotel, General Butler's headquarters. While at the Mint, thirty prisoners captured at Fort Jackson, enlisted.

May 31 the battery was ordered to join Gen. J. W. Phelps' brigade at Camp Parapet about seven miles up the river. The morning of June 1 we landed there with five officers and 151 men, 149 for duty. July 28 the first section went on an expedition under Major Peck, of the Twelfth Connecticut, to Lake Pontchartrain, embarked on the steamer "Gray Cloud" to Pass Manchac, where we destroyed a railroad bridge; from thence to and up the Madison River about seven miles, where we were fired into by guerrillas, which were scattered by a few rounds of canister. After visiting St. Louis Bay and other points we returned to Camp Parapet. During the five months here we lost 16 men by disease, discharged for disability 22, Lieutenants Dyer and Smith were dismissed the service by sentence of a Court Martial and Lieut. John A. Quilty resigned.

October 31, moved to New Orleans, were quartered at Annunciation Square and Factor's Cotton Press. Here the battery was fully mounted for the first time. December 29 the battery embarked on the steamer "Cumbria" with a part of the Forty-Second Massachusetts regiment for Galveston, Texas, where it arrived outside the bar the 31st. On the morning of January 1, 1863, finding that three companies of the Forty-second Massachusetts had been captured and the Rebels in possession of the city, steamed back to New Orleans to our old quarters.

January 25 the battery was ordered to Donaldsonville, 75 miles up the river, wit the Second Louisiana regiment, and a company of Massachusetts cavalry under command of Colonel Holcomb. About February 24 the battery was ordered to Baton Rouge and was attached to General Augur's division. March 18 went on an expedition under General Banks near Port Hudson; after three days returned to Baton Rouge. May 18th was ordered to join Dudley's brigade on an expedition near Port Hudson; camped within seven miles. The 19th, the first section, with a squadron of Illinois cavalry, made a reconnoissance to within 2 1/2 miles, sent two 15-pounder Sawyer shells inside the rebel works and returned to last night's camp. The evening of the 20th of May General Augur joined us with Chapin's brigade, and on the 21st we moved to within about 700 years of Plain's Store, where a Rebel six gun battery was placed across the road. The Eighteenth New York battery was ordered up to drive them out, but after losing several horses was obliged to fall back and Battery G, Fifth United States Artillery, was ordered up and after some rapid firing was also forced to fall back. The Second Vermont was then ordered up (only four pieces) which was not a pleasant place to be in, but we soon got the range and after killing the officer in command, and as we learned, several men, we in turn drove the enemy out. The Second Vermont boys had come to stay. The enemy then retired behind their fortifications at Port Hudson, and the Union troops camped on the field. The 22d moved to the front of the enemy's works and on the 27th a general assault was made and was repulsed. June 13 the battery was moved to the front, 290 yards from the enemy's works, behind a small earthwork, and on June 14 another assault was made and again repulsed with heavy loss.

July 4, 1863, the battery celebrated, by the reading of the Declaration of Independence, music by the One Hundred Sixteenth New York Regiment band, and after playing Yankee Doodle and other national airs, the exercise closed by firing a national salute, each shot sending a 15 pound shell into the enemy's works. From this time to the surrender, the battery was under fire most of the time.

July 8, Port Hudson surrendered. The Second Vermont battery being the most exposed of any light battery during the siege, had the honor of being the first battery inside.

August 2, the second section, Lieutenant Dyer, was ordered on an expedition to Jackson, Louisiana, under command of Major Hanham of the Twelfth regiment, Corps D'Afrique, and on the 3d it was attacked and Lieutenant Dyer with 15 men were captured, through the inefficiency of the Major in command, by Forest's Rebel cavalry. Lieutenant Dyer was wounded by a ball which passed through his leg killing his horse; he was paroled and the men taken to Andersonville, where five died.

July 28, 1864, the battery went on an expedition under General Herron to Clinton, Louisiana, a long and fatiguing march for nothing. The battery remained at Port Hudson, doing garrison duty until July 7, 1865, when it marched to Baton Rouge and was turned over to the Quartermaster and Ordnance Department, and on the 9th took steamer up the river via Cairo, Illinois, for Burlington, Vermont, where it arrived July 20, and was mustered out July 31, 1865.

(Source: Revised Roster, pp 633-634)