Battery A

Battery A, commanded by Captain Hezekiah Easton, was the first to be engaged, participating in the battle of Dranesville on the 20th of December,1861. It was brought into action at a range of less than five hundred yards. The enemy’s guns were concealed by the woods, but by observing the smoke of his pieces the range was soon obtained, and in a short time his fire slackened. One of his caissons was exploded, and so many of his horses killed that he was obliged to withdraw, dragging one of his pieces away by hand. “Having met General Ord,” says General M’Call in his official report, “we moved forward, and the position where the enemy’s battery had been placed was soon gained, and here we had evidence of the fine artillery practice of Easton’s Battery. The road was strewn with men and horses; two caissons, one of them blown up a limber, a gun-carriage wheel, a quantity of artillery ammunition, small arms, and an immense quantity of heavy clothing, blankets, &c.” The battery suffered no loss or injury.

During the ensuing winter it was encamped with the Reserves near Langley, and upon the opening of the spring campaign moved with the army towards Manassas. It subsequently accompanied the Reserves to Fredericksburg, where it remained on duty until the battle of Fair Oaks, when, with the division, it rejoined the army of the Potomac. Upon its arrival in the neighborhood of Mechanicsville it was immediately put in position to cover the bridge. It was subsequently withdrawn to the battleground at Beaver Dam Creek, where it was posted behind a morass flanked. by tall pines. Here it was served with excellent effect, hurling back a brigade of the enemy that attempted to cross the swamp in front, and shattering his ranks wherever they appeared. On the following day, June 27th, at Gaines’ Mill, it was posted by Captain Easton in an important position, covering, with Battery G, Captain Kern, the left of the Union line resting upon the Chickahominy. The ground chosen was upon spurs of the table land bordering the river, and deeply scored by ravines parallel with the battery front, and varying in depth from thirty to forty feet. From this position Captain Easton opened fire upon the woods in front at a range of, four hundred yards. In a sudden emergency the regiment supporting the battery was withdrawn and hurried to another part of the field. The enemy quickly discerned the exposed position of the guns and charged on them, keeping close, under the sides of the ravine. The cannoneers found it impossible to depress their pieces sufficiently to repel the attack, and made an attempt to withdraw them under cover of a charge of regular cavalry. The ravines rendered the ground unfavorable for the movement of-cavalry, and the charge failed, the party being exposed to a terrible infantry fire. Checked and broken in their advance the mounted fugitives came pouring through the battery, carrying with them to the rear all the available teams and limbers. The enemy, yelling like so many fiends, advanced boldly to the guns, now left without ammunition, crying out to Captain Easton and those officers and; men who bravely with-‘stood the storm, to surrender His reply never to be forgotten by his comrades: who clustered about him, was, “No! we never surrender! Alas! the next moment that voice was hushed in death.” He fell beside his guns; none were left to surrender them. In the varying fortunes of the fight, two of his faithful men attempted to bring off the body, but lost it in the melee. A solitary peach tree marks the spot where he fell.

The battery was re-organized, and received new guns on the arrival of the army at Harrison’s Landing. It continued attached to the Reserves, and participated in the battle of Bull Run, South Mountain, and Antietam, maintaining its reputation for skill and bravery, and leaving many of its men dead and wounded upon the fields of their valor. At Fredericksburg it was at first posted, on the river bank to cover the crossing and laying of the pontoons. On the 13th of December, the day in which the Reserves were engaged, it maintained its position under a concentrated fire of the enemy’s artillery, marks of his shot and shell being visible, after the engagement, on every piece and caisson.

After the withdrawal of the Reserves from the First Army Corps, Major Bray remained in the field with this battery, and three others belonging to the regiment, which were assigned to the Third Division of the First Corps, commanded by General Doubleday. Shortly afterwards, under orders from headquarters of the army, Battery A was detached and ordered to proceed with Burnside’s Corps on an expedition, which was to rendezvous at Fortress Monroe. Here the destination of the corps was changed, and the battery was left, at Norfolk to be attached to a new army corps, at various times known as the Army of Virginia, Army of the James, Seventh, and Tenth Corps. With this command it operated on the Black Water, at Deep Bottom, Fort Darling, Seven Pines, ad Petersburg.

Upon the fall of Richmond, under command of Captain Stitt, it marched with Weitzel’s Corps and entered the fallen city on the day of its surrender. Captain Stitt was immediately after ordered to report with his battery to Lieutenant Colonel Brady, in charge of captured works and ordnance, and was engaged, with battery E, in demolishing the rebel defences and arsenals at the rebel capital, and removing there from their guns and ordnance. This proved a herculean task. The guns were, in general, of the heaviest calibre, many of them in the most inaccessible localities, and in many cases had to be transported over difficult roads But they were all safely shipped on board of schooners bound for northern arsenals, without the slightest accident from explosions, or damage to property. Most of the ordnance and ammunition was found in good condition, but the small arms were of little value. After the completion of this duty in July, 1865 the battery received orders to turn in its guns and horses at Richmond and report at Harrisburg. Here, after a term of service of four years and four months, it was mustered out of service on the 25th.1

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The Formation of the Venango Grays is Recalled by Local Civil War Vet

Freeland H. Brown, who was one of the first to enlist from Franklin in the historic Venango Grays, and served in the Civil War, Saturday quietly observed his 88th birthday anniversary. Mr. Brown, who had been a resident of the Third Ward for more than 80 years, recalls many incidents of the war as though it were but yesterday.
  1. Bates, Samuel P., “History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers.”