Memoirs of the Stuart Horse Artillery Battalion, Vol. 2
Breathed's and McGregor's Batteries
Until recently, it has been difficult for anyone with an interest in the Army of Northern Virginia’s horse artillery, which served under legendary cavalry commander J. E. B. Stuart, to envision what the men of the battalion endured. With the publication in 2002 of Robert Trout’s seminal book, Galloping Thunder: The Stuart Horse Artillery Battalion, the endeavors of the unit were rescued from obscurity.
In Memoirs of the Stuart Horse Artillery Battalion, Trout provides readers with complete versions of three important primary documents, written by soldiers of the battalion.
Lt. Lewis T. Nunnelee’s history of Moorman’s Battery is based on a seven-volume diary that Nunnelee kept during the war and features near daily entries of the battery’s actions. His extraordinary attention to detail offers readers an opportunity to follow the movements of the battery virtually hoofstep by hoofstep through the campaigns in which he participated.
The “History of Hart’s Battery,” as told by Maj. James F. Hart, Dr. Levi C. Stephens, Louis Sherfesee, and Charles H. Schwing, is, as Trout puts it, “a cannon of a different caliber.” It recounts in broader terms the battery’s history from its inception before the war to its surrender as the last horse artillery in the field. The authors offer rare glimpses into the development of tactics learned from the “school of the battlefield.”
Finally, Louis Sherfesee’s “Reminiscences of A Color-Bearer” fleshes out many of the stories in the history that he co-wrote with Hart and his fellow soldiers. Filled with short vignettes, it offers a behind-the-scenes look at the battery in action.
Together, these rich documents provide welcome insights into the day-to-day experiences of the often overlooked Confederate horse artillery, which played an important role in cementing Stuart’s reputation as one of the most outstanding cavalry commanders in the Civil War.
Robert J. Trout is a retired schoolteacher. He lives in Myerstown, Pennsylvania, where he taught fourth and fifth grade for thirty-three years. He is the author of They Followed the Plume: The Story of J.E.B. Stuart and His Staff and the editor of With Pen and Saber: The Letters and Diaries of J. E. B. Stuart’s Staff Officers.