THE UNITED ARTILLERY, COMPANY A, NINETEENTH VIRGINIA BATTALION, HEAVY ARTILLERY
Stationed at Fort Norfolk 1861 to 1862
The company was organized in Norfolk several days before the burning of the Navy Yard by the Federal forces in April, 1861, but at the beginning of hostilities was not uniformed or armed. It was called into service on the 19th of April, to take part in the capture of the powder in Fort Norfolk. A detail was made to capture the gunner, Mr. Oliver, to prevent him from signaling to the Navy Yard, what was being done. The detail sent to capture Mr. Oliver was under command of Lieutenant W. Carter Williams, and the rest of the company landed at the wharf at the fort, in barges. The officers of the company at the time were:
Captain, Thomas Kevill; First Lieutenant, James E. Berry; 2nd Lieutenant, Wm. Carter Williams; 3rd Lieutenant, Thaddeus E. Eisenbiess.
The company took its name from the old United Fire Company, of, which most of its men were members. A long habit of contending with the flames had inured them to dangers. Upon being mustered into service the company was stationed at Fort Norfolk and was furnished with muskets, and also was placed in charge of four light guns and drilled both as infantry and artillery. They also had charge of a battery of heavy guns, so that, during the year the company was at Fort Norfolk, the men became experts in all branches of the service except the cavalry.
In July, 1861, Lieutenant Williams was elected Captain of a company from Princess Anne county, which was attached to the 6th Regiment as Company B. Lieutenant Eisenbiess was promoted to 2d Lieutenant and Edward Lakin was elected 3d Lieutenant. Upon the organization of the 41st Virginia Regiment of infantry the United Artillery company was attached to it as Company E.
When the iron-clad Virginia (Merrimac) was ready for service it as found that she lacked thirty-one men of having a full crew, and Captain Kevill was applied to for volunteers to make up the deficiency, but the men were not willing to serve under the command of the naval officers and declined to volunteer unless one of their own officers was on board the ship to take charge of them. This was reported to the Secretary of war and by him communicated to the Secretary of the Navy, and the result was that the services of the company were accepted, with Captain Kevill as their commander. The Captain then called for thirty-one volunteers, And the whole company stepped to the front. Selecting Thirty-one men whom he thought best qualified, by physical strength, to do the heavy work which was required of them, he reported to the Commandant of the Navy Yard on the 7th of March, 1862, and was assigned, with sixteen men, to one of the 9-inch broadside guns. During the engagement the fifteen other men were distributed among guns which were short in their crews. During the second day’s engagement, the 9th of March, a piece of metal was knocked off the muzzle of the gun, but the men continued to load and fire it until the close of the battle. The next time the ship went down to Hampton Roads Captain Kevill was again with his men, but on the third trip, May 8th, Lieutenant Lakin had command of the detachment. Two men belonging to the company, A. J. Dalton and John Capps, were wounded by musket balls coming through the port holes in the first day's battle, March 8th.
On the 10th of May 1862, before sunrise, the company was marched from Fort Norfolk to the entrenched camp and placed in charge of a battery of heavy guns, and remained there until early in the afternoon, when it was marched to the Norfolk and Petersburg railroad depot in Norfolk and took the cars for Petersburg.
Information source: RECORD OF
EVENTS IN NORFOLK COUNTY, VIRGINIA, FROM APRIL 19th, 1861 T0 MAY l0th,1862, WITH A HISTORY OF THE SOLDIERS AND SAILORS OF NORFOLK COUNTY, NORFOLK CITY AND PORTSMOUTH WHO SERVED IN THE CONFEDERATE ARMY OR NAVY.
JOHN W. H. PORTER