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  Reynolds' Battery 1861 to 1865


After the disaster at Bull Run, President Lincoln put out a call for 300,000 more men for service. The Rochester Union Grays, a New York Militia regiment at the time, answered the call. Recruiting was done by John A. Reynolds, Edwin Loder and Charles Anderson, and men from Monroe, Ontario and Wayne counties flocked to the recruiting offices to join the artillery regiment.

      On October 8, 1861, 81 men and officers swore an oath to the Union and were mustered into federal service while stationed in Elmira, NY. Under the direction of the State of New York, twelve artillery companies were formed with Reynolds’ Battery given the designation of Company L. They transferred to Albany on November 14, the training ground for all NY State Artillery, having reached full strength of 115 men. On November 23, 1861 Company L reported for duty at Camp Barry, Washington, D.C. under the command of Captain John A. Reynolds. John Reynolds used his own personal funds as a guarantee to secured the first six Model 1861 3” Ordnance Rifles from the Phoenix Iron Works. These guns would not arrive until May 1862, but would bring a great deal of fame for Reynolds’ Battery as being the only battery in US Service to have the first six consecutive guns in any series of any cannon in their battery. On February 23, 1862, Reynolds’ Battery was assigned to Baltimore, Maryland to guard the Capital. After six months of waiting, they were called into action at Harper’s Ferry. 

Other action that the Battery would see during the War included:

Cedar Mountain (Aug. 9, 1862)

Gainesville (Aug. 17, 1862) August 14-16, 1862 Rappahannock River (McDowell’s Corps III)


August 26 White Sulphur Springs, Virginia


Second Bull Run (Aug. 28-30, 1862)(Manassas)


Chantilly (Sept. 1, 1862)


September 14 Battle of South Mountain (Hooker’s Corps I) present but did not engage


September 17 Battle at Antietam where the unit was positioned near the Cornfield. After the battle Reynolds’ Battery was reduced to a four-gun battery until the winter of 1863.

December 13–15 Battle at Fredericksburg, following the battle the Battery went into winter quarters at Waugh Point, Virginia


May 1- 4, 1863 Battle at Chancellorsville


July 1-3 Battle at Gettysburg, the battery held their position on McPhersen’s Ridge on the first day and on the East side of Cemetery Ridge on the second and third day. The battery would return to Rappahannock Station, Virginia by August where they would stay through mid-September.


Mine Run (Nov 27-Dec 2, 1863)November 28 After a brief encounter with the enemy just outside of Culpepper, Virginia, Reynolds Battery along with the 1st Corp bedded down for the winter.


The Wilderness (May 5-6, 1864)


Spotsylvania (May 8-21, 1864)


North Anna (May 23-26, 1864)


Tolopotomoy (May 28-29, 1864)


Bethesda Church (May 30, 1864)


Weldon Railroad (August 18-21, 1864)


Pebbles Farm (Sept. 30-Oct. 2, 1864)


Petersburg (Oct. 5, 1864-April 1865)     


John A. Reynolds, the original Captain of the Battery, was promoted in 1863 to Major and eventually he became Colonel, Chief of Artillery of the XX Corps under Major-General William Sherman. He was followed by Gilbert Reynolds and George Breck. The Battery mustered out of service June 17, 1865. Of the 115 men who had originally joined the battery, twenty-five remained at the time they were mustered out of service.


A total of 320 men entered the service as members of Reynolds’ Battery L. Of these 320, 9 were killed or died from wounds received in actions, while 14 died from sickness contracted during their service. The last member of the battery to die was Joseph Smith, a Canadian, in 1933.

1st Artillery Regiment (Light)

Officers of the Banner Battery 1

1st New York Light Artillery

Not long after this picture was taken, the names of most of these men were mentioned in despatches [sic]. Against Major D. H. Van Valkenburgh, the gallant soldier leaning on his saber, his arm thrust into his coat, was written, "killed in action at Fair Oaks." He helped to make the name of the First New York Light Artillery a proud one; and next to him stands Major Luther Kieffer. Perhaps the youngest, who is standing next, is Adjutant Rumsey, who by firing his guns so continuously helped save the wing of the Second Army Corps. He was wounded but recovered. Next to him, looking straight at the camera, is Lieut.-Colonel Henry E. Turner; and standing nearest to the tent is Major C. S. Wainright, who won his spurs at Williamsburg, and again proved the metal he was made of at Fair Oaks. Seated in the camp chair is Colonel Guilford T. Bailey, who later died beside his guns. It rained during the days that preceded Fair Oaks. It was the treacherous River Chickahominy that helped to baffle the well-laid plans of the Federal commander. Well did the Confederate leaders know that with the downpour then falling the stream would rise. Not immediately, but within the next few hours it would gain strength until at last it became a sweeping torrent. All this proved true; only a part of McClellan's army had crossed the river when the Confederates moved to attack, May 31st. Let the Prince de Joinville, who was a spectator, describe the guns that helped to save the day. "They are not those rifled cannon, the objects of extravagant admiration of late, good for cool firing and long range; these are the true guns for a fight—12-pound howitzers (Napoleons), the old pattern, throwing round projectiles or heavy charges of grape and canister. The simple and rapid discharging of these pieces makes terrible havoc in the opposing ranks. In vain Johnston sends against this battery his best troops—those of South Carolina, the Hampton legion among others, in vain he rushes on it himself; nothing can shake the line!"

 Reynolds’ Battery L, 
1st New York Light Artillery
Men Killed in Action

Private Edward Costello was killed 
July 1, 1863 at Gettysburg, Pa.


Private Alfred Wood was killed
 August 21, 1864 at Weldon Railroad, Va.


Men Receiving Mortal Wounds

Private Myron Annis, 
wounded in action, September 17, 1862 at Sharpsburg, Md, died September 24, 1862 at Sharpsburg.

Private Charles E. Carpenter, wounded in action, date and location unlisted, died May 2, 1863 in an unlisited field hospital.

Corporal John P. Conn, 
wounded in action, July 1, 1863 at Gettysburg, Pa., died July 7, 1863 at Gettysburg, Pa.

Private Myron H. Matthews, 
wounded in action May 3, 1864 at Spotsylvania, Va, died May 15, 1864 at Fredericksburg, Va.

Private James D. Morrison,
wounded in action December 13, 1862 at Fredericksburg, died January 3, 1863 at Washington, D.C.

Private John A. Smith, 
wounded in action, August 28, 1862 at Second Bull Run, Va., died August 28, 1862, at Bull Run, Va.

Private John VanZandt, 
wounded in action, August 28, 1862 at Second Bull Run, Va., died August 28, 1862, at Bull Run, Va.

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