The Donaldsonville Louisiana Artillery

The Donaldsonville Louisiana Artillery and 3rd New York Light Artillery

“Artillery lends dignity to what would otherwise be a vulgar brawl” Anonymous

During the Civil War, artillery was an effective and devastating weapon, especially against the close-packed infantry formations in use at the time. At ranges of up to 350 yards, canister containing steel balls much like a shotgun shell, would be fired upon oncoming troops. Using double canister of two loads per gun, a battery of two pieces could, with one volley fired at close range, inflict 80% casualties on a company of 100 men. The artillery truly were the loud-mouthed dogs of war.

The largest artillery was garrison or fortress artillery, such as Columbiads, 24 and 32 pounders, and mortars. Field artillery were smaller, lighter, and being horse drawn, very manoeuvrable. The artillery workhorse of the Civil War was the 12 pounder smooth bore Napoleon, a weapon that would have been familiar to its name-sake. With the introduction of modern rifle cannons such as the Parrott and 3 inch ordnance rifle, accuracy improved tremendously at ranges of up to 2000 yards, firing a bewildering variety of ordnance.

Donaldsonville Artillery and their alter ego, the 3rd New York Light Artillery, man a 6-pound mountain rifle and limber using the drill and discipline of the period.  All members are qualified annually at the Artillery School held at Fort Niagara N.Y.. Their ability to maneuver their field piece, while keeping up with the infantry on attack, has earned them the respect and admiration of their American counterparts. Their ability to "galvanize" (switch from Confederate to Union artillerists) as required, permits them more flexibility in meeting the needs of the event or demonstration.

The original battery was formed in Donaldsonville, Louisiana in 1837 as the Cannoneers de Donaldsonville. They mustered into Confederate service in August of 1861 and shipped out to Virginia on the 18th of September 1861, under Captain Victor Maurin. The unit served on the peninsula with General Rains and then with various brigades under the command of General Lonqstreet. The 1863 re-organization of the Army of Northern Virginia saw the unit attached to the 3rd Corps. The battery was mentioned in dispatches at Sharpsburg, Antietam and Fredericksburg, and they surrendered at Appomattox. Captain Maurin was recognized for his ability by B.G. William Pendleton who was the Chief of Artillery under Robert E. Lee.

The 3rd New York Light Artillery served under General Couch of the 4th Corps in 1862 after which they were assigned to the 5th Corps Artillery in 1863 under Col. Tompkins. Both the Donaldsonville and the 3rd New York batteries fought at Gettysburg and may have actually fired upon each other on that field.