2nd Maryland Artillery, CSA

Alternate Designations

Baltimore Light Artillery

History

The battery was organized in Richmond in the Fall of 1861 under the command of Captain J.B. Brockenborough (and is often refered to in Confederate histories as Brockenborough's Artillery), a young Virginia recently graduated from the Virginia Military Institute. The battery was attached to General Arnold Elzey's Brigade (which included the 1st Maryland Infantry) of Ewell's Division, at Centerville. The battery remained here until March of 1862, when General Johnson pulled back from Manassas. Shortly afterwards General Ewell was directed to march west to the Shenandoah and join General Jackson at Swift Run Gap.

The night Ewell's command marched into Jackson's camp, Old Mad Jack departed, without leaving word of where he was going. He returned several days later after his victory at McDowell, then advanced with both commands to Front Royal, where the 1st Maryland Infantry C.S.A. and U.S.A. faced off with one another. The Baltimore Light "took a prominent part "in the fight.

During Jackson's retreat up the Valley, the Baltimore Light was detailed to support Turner Ashby and Maryland Steuart's cavalry as they protected the rear of Jackson's column. The battery was hotly engaged on a daily basis. At Fishers Hill a section of the battery was surrounded and cut off from the cavalry, but managed to drive right through the enemy line to safety.

The battery supported Ashby and the 1st Maryland Infantry in their heroic engagement with the Pennsylvania Bucktails at Harrisonburg. Ashby was killed in the action. At the Battle of Cross Keys on June 8th the battery supported the 1st Maryland on the far left of Ewell's line. This was an exposed portion of the line and fell under constant fire. The battery so aquited itself that the following day, after his brigade captured two Napoleons at Port Republic, General Dick Taylor presented them to the Baltimore Light.

With Richmond threatened, Jackson marched from the Shenandoah to Gaines Mills in seven days. On June 26th the 1st Maryland, at the head of Jackson's column engaged Federal troops some ten miles from Gaines Mill. The Baltimore Light was brought to the front of the column and promptly drove the Federal off. The following afternoon the battery became hotly engaged in an open field against superior Federal artillery. Operating directly under the attention of General Jackson, the battery pressed forward to fight at close range with the enemy artillery. Federal artillery generally had the advantage over the antiquated Blakely's and Napoleons the Confederates used. The battery engaged Federal artillery again on the 29th at Dispatch Station, and July 1st at Malvern Hill.

After the defense of Richmond, the Baltimore Light and 1st Maryland Infantry, almost always together, moved to Charlottesville, where they rested for a month. Sadly the 1st Maryland was then moved to Gordonsville and disbanded, their terms of enlistment up; and the Baltimore Light joined Jackson on the Rappahanock, assigned to General Starke's Louisiana Brigade.

On August 21st the battery was heavily engaged with company M., United States Regulars. The following day the battery crossed the river, but the expedition soon encountered a large Federal force and was compelled to recross the river. The battery found itself in an intense struggle for survival, four of it's members did not survive.

Between the 24th and 26th, the battery covered 50 miles in 48 hours with nothing to eat except green corn harvested on the march. On the 26th they arrived at Manassas Junction, where Jackson allowed his men to engage in an orgy of eating the captured stores there. He then moved to Centerville, and then to Manassas. The battery supported General Jackson during the fighting on the 29th, and on the 30th was a part of Genral Lee's battalion artillery, and was involved in heavy fighting, and was instrumental in repelling the afternoon assaults on Jackson's defenses.

The battery moved with Jackson across the Potomac and spent three days in Frederick where according to their biographer their wants and needs were met by the local citizens. The battery then recrossed the Potomac with Jackson and entered Martinsburg on September 12th. On the 15th Jackson placed the battery among the guns on Loudoun Heights, from where it participated in the reduction of Harper's Ferry. Immediately after the surrender of the garriosn, the battery force marched back across the Potomac and north to Sharpsburg. They arrived along the Antietam on the evening of the 16th and were aligned along several hills on Lee's left flank to protect both his flank and the fords to the army's rear.

On the morning of the 17th the artillery on Lee's left engaged Federal batteries for nearly two hours. Federal infantry threatened the position near mid-morning but was met by Jackson's infantry. The infantry battle soon shifted further south toward the Dunkard Church and again the artillery found itself with little suppport. Federal infantry massed infront of the artillery and soon advance. Brockenborough, temporarily in command of his battery and five others, 24 guns in all, orders his men "Do not pull a lanyard until you get the command." He waited until the Federal line was nearly on top of his guns, then all 24 opened with double canister. Three times the Federals charged, and three times they were repulsed. W.W. Goldsborough writes "The ground was literally covered - nay; piled - with the slain and amimed of the enemy."

After Antietam the Baltimore Light was attached to the "Maryland Line" and went into winter quarters near Newmarket, Virginia.

On June 13th the Maryland Line was directed to move toward Winchester where they were to join Early's Division, which was moving north toward Maryland. At Kernstown the Line encountered part of General Milroy's command. The Maryland Line formed line of battle and the Baltimore Light began dueling with the Federal artillery, holding the enemy until Early arrived. The following day the battery was palced on a commanding hill near Winchester and commenced to bombard one of the Federal positions, Star Fort. General Gordon praised the battery's performace, and the following day convinced Early to allow the battery to have first choice from the captured Federal artillery to replace it's own guns.

At Winchester the battery was assigned to General Jenkins cavalry and was in the van as Early marched into Pennsylvania. With Jenkins the battery participated in several minor skirmishes, the capture of Carlisle, and the bombardment of Harrisburg. At Gettysburg the battery was palced on Lee's far left (ironicly all Maryland units Confederate and Federal, who fought at Gettysburg, eventually ended up on or near Culp's Hill. Both cavalry contingents fought to the east of Culp's Hill) on Brenner Hill under Major Latimer's command. As noted in the 1st Maryland Artillery's history, Brenner's Hill was dominated by Federal artillery on Cemetery Ridge and suffered greatly in the duel that ensued on the second day.

During Lee's retreat the infantry column to which the Baltimore Light was attached was unable to cross Mount Zion due to the presence of a Federal battery quite familiar to the Baltimore Light, Battery M., U.S. Regulars. The battery ran it's guns up the slope to within point blank range and after a long duel drove the Federals off. Shortly after, the battery was engaged in the cavalry bttle in Hagerstown.

Back in Virginia the battery moved about several times before it was ordered to Culpepper Court House on September 10th. During the battle the battery became engaged with a full contingent of Federal artillery. The fire was so hot that infantry support for the battery soon withdrew, leaving the battery exposed. It continued to fight valiantly until one of it's guns and crew were captured. The following day the battery took it's revenge on a Union cavalry squadron performing drills and totally oblivious to the battery's presence.

In October the battery was assigned to General Young's cavalry brigade and accompanied him on a raid beyond the Rapidan. The battery was hotly engaged at close range with enemy cavalry and artillery on the 10th at James City and 12th at Brandy Station. After the raid it was sent to Hanover Junction where it joined once again the newly formed "Maryland Line."

The battery was in position on Lee's left when on May 10, 1864, General JEB Stuart, moving to intercept Sheridan's cavalry column marching on Richmond, requested that the Maryland Line detach the batttery temporarily to his command. The battery moved to Yellow Tavern on the 11th was hotly engaged. It retired about a half a mile, but was soon order forward to a position to the left of the Brook turnpike. Sheridan brought up three batteries to battle the Baltimore Light, and for several hours they dueled one another at a range of 800 yards. Federal cavalry charged the postion several times and was greeted each time by grape and canister. Finally the Marylanders could withstand no more. According to Goldsborough, Stuart took his standard in his hands and ordered "Charge Virginians, and save those brave Marylanders!" It was his last command as dismounted Michigan trooper stepped from the fog and smoke of battle and shot him.

Yellow Tavern decimated the battery, two guns were barely saved, many of the men and horses were dead, wounded or captured. The battery limped back to Hanover Junction. It was then moved to Cold Harbor, but moved with Second Corps into the Valley. Attached to General Bradley Johnson's 1st Maryland Cavalry, the battery particpated in Johnson's advance on Fredricksburg and the battle on Catoctin Mountain that preceded it. It then accompanied Johnson on his raid through Maryland and participated in the reduction and burning of Chambersburg on July 30th.

After Chambersburg, the Confedrate column retired to Moorefield, West Virginia, where they were surprised by Federal cavalry. The battery lost thirteen men, killed and wounded before they could even load their guns. The Baltimore all but ceased to exist. The survivors moved to Newmarket, where the battery was refitted with guns and horses, and Marylanders who had served three years at Fort Sumter, joined the battery.

Rejuvinated, the battery took part in Early's ill fated Valley Campaign, fighting at Waynesboro, Fisher's Hill and Woodstock; where four guns and 23 men were captured. The remnants of the command moved to Fishersville where they hoped to refit during the winter, but were ordered to Lynchburg and then to Petersburg, where they fought as infantry.

The Baltimore Light continued as infantry west with Lee's army as it moved to link up with Johnston in North Carolina. What was left of the command surrendered at Appomattox Court House.

Unit history provided by Gary Baker of the Association of Carroll's Sacred Trust.

Published Sources

  • See the General Confederate Sources page for sources of short histories, rosters, etc on all Maryland Confederate Units.

    Reenacting Links

  • 2nd Maryland Artillery - Baltimore Light, C.S.A. (Reenacting Unit)

    Something missing?

    Suggestions of additional resources welcomed! Please send info to John Lamb .