Courage and Devotion
Courage and Devotion
A History of Bankhead's/Scott's Tennessee Battery in the American Civil War
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This is a regimental history of a Confederate Battery in the American Civil War. Originally recruited by Smith P. Bankhead in Memphis in 1861 the book gives a breakdown of all of the members of the unit. This case study examines the reasons the men were joined the unit and their background. Although slavery is often a reason for the war, most of the men fought for other reasons as few of them owned any slaves. The book touches on the trials of training and the difficulties of army life. Why men deserted while others fought to the very end is discussed. After the battle of Shiloh, Bankhead was promoted and William L. Scott assumed command. The history of the battery explains the part the men played in the battles and campaigns in the Western theater. When the battery was overrun at Missionary Ridge many of the men continued to fight in other units while others went home. Every man that served in Bankhead/Scott's Battery is described with information about recruitment, occupation, wounded or killed in battle or died of illness or deserted. Four men were still serving when the Army of Tennessee of Tennessee surrendered in April 1865.
Chapter 1, Go to the section entitled "Organization". Use the next 5 paragraphs. "On May 13, 1861 Smith P. Bankhead proceeded to go to his law office on Madison St. near Main as he usually did. This was not a typical Monday morning. Leaving his home on Washington Street he walked the six blocks to his office along Second Street past Court Square. He had arranged a meeting that morning with William Y. C. Humes and James C. McDavitt. Bankhead, age thirty-seven, Humes, age thirty, and McDavitt, age twenty-seven were all lawyers in Memphis. By the authority of the state Army Bill of May 6, Bankhead had been appointed a captain of artillery by Governor Isham Harris; although this information would not be made public until the May 21 issue of the Appeal, and the meeting was set up to organize Company B of the First Tennessee Artillery Regiment. Bankhead held the commission from the governor and would be the captain of the artillery company that would bear his name. Of the three, he was the only man with any military experience having served in the Mexican War. Humes would hold the rank of First Lieutenant and McDavitt would be Second Lieutenant. The meeting started with the men signing the state commission papers, which would then have to be approved by the state legislature. As officers they were required to obtain their own uniform and horses. Bankhead listed his horse with a value of $250, Humes at $200. McDavitt would try to procure uniforms and any other equipment while Bankhead and Humes would recruit as many men as possible. Artillery equipment, such as guns, limbers and caissons the governor would procure. They had a short timeline, as they were to bring their company to Fort Pillow by the end of the month for artillery training. The original Tennessee infantry uniform was gray and had red trim and several companies had already been mustered in with these uniforms. General Pillow had recently changed the uniform to be without the red trim. There were still quantities of these uniforms with red trim to be had and McDavitt wasted no time to secure them. These uniforms would satisfy the initial recruitment but over time additional recruits often wore a uniform without the red trim. Many of the recruits would join the battery with their own clothing. Bankhead and Humes realized that the infantry and cavalry recruiters had already taken the most eager men into the army. They decided to go about recruiting by individually finding men throughout Memphis by canvassing the town. They did not put any notices in the newspapers nor did they put up any signs at a recruiting station. They went to the hotels, boarding houses, and cafes, drinking establishments and in particular to the docks along the river and the pinch area of northern Memphis where many Irish immigrants lived. Bankhead also knew that he needed more second lieutenants and set about filling his staff. He succeeded in enlisting William B. Greenlaw Jr., age twenty, who came on board on Wednesday May 15. Greenlaw was also a lawyer and the son of William B. Greenlaw Sr. who was a successful contractor and one of the benefactors of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad. He would assist McDavitt in procuring uniforms and other supplies. Another Second Lieutenant was William L. Scott. Scott was a lawyer in Knoxville and a friend of Humes. Humes had contacted him and he agreed to join with Bankhead. He was closing up his law practice and would soon be in route to Memphis. Scott was twenty-seven years old. Wednesday May 15 also brought the first two privates to join the unit. They were Michael Nason age seventeen and J. W. Harrison age twenty-three. Nason was born in County Cork, Ireland and lived in the pinch area. Harrison was a native Tennessean, married and the father of one child. They were told to pass the word to friends and neighbors about Bankhead’s Battery, get their affairs in order and a sergeant would come to them before the month was out to inform them of when to report for muster. On that day the Appeal ran a story about Irish recruitment thanking them for their “commendable zeal.” The next day four more men joined the unit. One of them was twenty-six year old Samuel Brown who Bankhead made the First Sergeant. Lewis Merchant was also made a sergeant and he and Brown would help canvass the town for Bankhead."
Bruce R. Kindig is a graduate of the University of Northern Iowa and holds a B.A. and M.A. degree in History. He taught history in the Davenport Community School District and served as an adjunct professor teaching U. S. History at Scott Community College until he retired after 39 years of teaching. His life long passion of studying the American Civil War can be seen in "Courage and Devotion," which is his first book.

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