Famous Battles of the 43rd
The 43rd Pennsylvania, being an artillery regiment, was part of many brutal and crucial campaigns throughout the Civil War. Here are some of the battles the individual batteries took part.
Battle of Gaines' Mill: Battery A
On June 27, 1862, Battery A under the leadership of Captain Easton positioned his battery at a key position guarding the left flank of the Union army that was stationed along the Chickahominy River. The Army of the Potomac, currently under the command of Major General George McClellan, had taken defensive positions in and around the Chickahominy in hopes of recieving reinforcements before the start of McClellan's audacious campaign to Take Richmond. That same day, Rebel forces attacked the union defences at Gaines' Mill, where the battery was stationed. The battery had a calvary and infantry unit to support it during the attack, but strangely in the middle of the fray, the infantry shifted to the Union center leaving Battery A exposed. Rebel forces quickly capitalized on the moment and were about to overrun the battery's position. Captain Easton ordered the battery to close shop and pull out while the remaining calvary counterattacked to cover their retreat. The rough terrain had made the calvary's attack futile and too were in full retreat adding to the chaos and denying the battery the needed time. When asked about the prospect of surrender, Captain Easton replied "No! We never surrender! Alas!" and then was immediately cut down by enemy fire. Although the battery's position had waned from the Rebel Attack, the rest of the union line had repulsed the attack rather effectively. General McClellan, however, did not pursue the enemy making what could have been an easy victory an apparent defeat. Battery A would have to outfitted with more guns having lost a few during their helter-skelter collapse and would not be able to rejoin the campaign until days later.
Battle of Gettysburg: Battery B
On July 1, 1863, General John Reynolds brought in his division to support John Buford's calvary unit, which had already engaged a larger Confederate force just north of the little farming community of Gettysburg. Among the units brought to the Union was Battery B of the 43rd Pennsylvania, which was stationed by the Lutheran Seminary. It wasn't long before the Union line was pushed south and east back through the town and finally residing on Culp's Hill, which made up the northern curve of the union defensive line known as the "fish hook". The second day of battle was non stop for the battery. General Ewell's Confederate corps was attacking the defenses wave after wave trying to break through and take the high ground. The position was solid and strong and the rebels were thwarted despite their exasperating and formidable attempts. Battery B was fortunate to have only suffered light casualties due to a direct hit from a southern twenty-pounder (two were killed and four wounded). At the start of the July 3rd, Captain James Cooper (Battery B's commanding officer) swapped positions with another battery that had been hit hard the previous day so they could put into reserves for some rest. The battery's new position was now closer to the Union center. Battery B also took part in the massive artillery barrage that took place later in the afternoon. When the south made their infamous last charge at Gettysburg, the battery proved to be indispensable. The rebels didn't even get close to their positions before going into full retreat. Battery B had proven its worth at a very crucial point in the Conflict.
Battle of Antietam: Battery C
Throughout the Peninsula campaign, Battery C had gained a reputation as having exceptional aim even when Union and Confederate forces were dangerously close to each other to the point most other batteries wouldn't had taken the risk. General Ambrose Burnside of the ninth corps was impressed by their record and requested to have the battery give him support during the ensuing battle at Antietam. Burnside had the crucial job of crossing Antietam creek to stop any southern reinforces from reaching the main southern army being engaged by General McClellan's main forces. Burnside launched his assault but foolishly sent his large force over a narrow bridge, which made the poorly equipped southern defense feasible since the Union forced themselves into a bottleneck. Battery C, under the command of Captain McCarthy, was positioned on a hill overlooking "Burnside's bridge" and immediately commenced firing to give support. The battery soon took heavy fire from Confederate guns, which did lighten the fire the troops crossing bridge experienced. This sacrifice did eventually allow the Union infantry to push back the Southern skirmishers. Although Burnside's forces were soon halted once again and pushed back beyond the bridge they so ardently fought to get across. The sacrifice of Burnside's men and of the battery was in vain, but Battery C had once again proved its valor in battle.
Battle of Fredericksburg: Battery D
Battery D had been paired with Battery C most of the war to this point and were both at Antietam to take part in Burnside's foolish assault across the bridge that now bears his namesake. Burnside was now appointed as commander of the Army of the Potomac and now planned to attack the city of Fredericksburg which is situated along the Rappahannock river. He felt this victory would be key to then proceeding to take Richmond. on December 10, 1862, Battery D was positioned at Stafford Heights, opposite the city, and began to shell the city to soften the defenses the army could cross. The army did cross but, however, were thwarted in a humiliating and foolish attack on the Confederate center, which was positioned on a hill overlooking the city and fortified behind a stonewall. Burnside gave up the campaign by the 16th of December after taking heavy casualties and due to worsening weather. Once again sacrifice was made in vain due to foolishness of a commanding officer. After the campaign during the time of the "Mud March", Battery C was consolidated under the command of Battery D and remain so for the rest of the war.
Siege of Petersburg: Battery E
Battery E, under the command of Captain Miller, had been stationed at Yorktown since the end of 1862. Hungry for action, Miller eagerly accepted the assignment of joining the siege of Petersburg and Richmond in July of 1864. The calm and tranquil qualms held by the men during the time they spent in camp was a far cry for the horrors they would soon experience. Under the direct authority of General Weitzel, Battery E was stationed along the Williamsburg road, which lead to both Petersburg and Richmond and was heavily reinforced by Confederate trenches and earthworks. The battery could be expected to fire nonstop all day and sometimes throughout the night. The quagmire had worn down the men and morale was the lowest since the Union's string of defeats in the summer of 1862. The Rebel forces were just as determined to hold out as was the Union pressing on with the siege. It wasn't until the end of March in 1865 that Rebel forces began to pull back in the realization that both Richmond and Petersburg were lost. Richmond was officially evacuated on April 3, and the retreating southerners torched the city so there would be very little for the advancing Union troops to loot. Battery E for spending the longest time on the front and showing the most determination and perseverance was given the honor being the first Union battery to enter the city. In almost like a race, the battery moved at break neck speed to the Confederate capitol building before the enemy flag was even lowered. Battery E had effectively brought honor to the its name and to the 43rd as whole in its pivotal part in the defeat of the south.