While the wartime experiences of the other four companies of the Washington Artillery, those that served in the Army of Northern Virginia, have been thoroughly documented, the exploits of the Fifth Company have been curiously neglected. In The Pride of the Confederate Artillery, Nathaniel Cheairs Hughes, Jr., illustrates the significance of the unit and, for the first time, positions this pivotal group in its rightful place in history.
The Fifth Company, Washington Artillery of New Orleans, fought with the Confederate Army of Tennessee from Shiloh to Chickamauga, from Perryville to Mobile, and from Atlanta to Jackson, Mississippi. Slocomb’s Battery, as it was also known, won repeated praise from every commander of that army. Although it sustained high losses, the company was recognized as a cohesive, well-disciplined organization that fought boldly and tenaciously and was considered the Army of Tennessee’s finest close-combat battery.
The Fifth Company was composed of educated, propertied men (they were sometimes referred to as a silk-stocking unit) who had known each other prior to the war and who would band together as a benevolent association at its conclusion. The Confederacy possessed no finer soldiers than those of the Fifth Company. Their popular and capable leader, Cuthbert H. Slocomb, repeatedly refused promotion so that he might remain with the battery. P. G. T. Beauregard specifically asked the Fifth Company to remain in the West with the Army of Tennessee to fight beside the Louisiana Brigade until Missionary Ridge. The unit was also associated with William B. Bate’s division, which contained the Orphan Brigade.
The Pride of the Confederate Artillery is the compelling story of four hundred men—infinitely human and understandable—their organization and service, their victories and defeats in over forty battles. “Try us!” the unit’s enthusiastic artillerymen would shout. And they would be tried, again and again.
Found an Error? Tell us about it.