Morning, July 4, 1863
Major Edward P. Byrne
Commander of the Confederate Artillery
A native Kentuckian, Byrne was living in Greenville, Washington County, Mississippi, when the war broke out. His first battery of six brass field pieces, their carriages, and caissons were manufactured in Memphis. His company consisted of a fine group of the "better class of young men—Kentuckians and Mississippians;" their horses were excellent and the battery fully equipped.
Early in the war, Byrne was given some twenty-five horses which were not strong enough for artillery duty. He placed these at the disposal of a young Captain John H. Morgan at Munfordville. This increased Morgan's scouting capability and helped insure that his command would be cavalry instead of infantry.
After heroic service at the Battle of Shiloh where Byrne "served his guns with skill and gallantry," Byrne resigned his command. He and his officers were displeased at their reorganization and the battery was broken up.
Later, he accepted command of a battalion of horse artillery under his old friend, General Morgan. After the battle, Byrne's Battery moved with Morgan's troops to the Ohio River. There its shells shattered Union positions on the Indiana shore. The Parrots were taken across the Ohio River on the Alice Dean, a captured Union
ferryboat. In the Battle of Buffington island, Ohio, many members of Morgan's cavalry were captured, but Major Byrne and his horse escaped by fording the Ohio River. He rode south until he rejoined CSA troops.
The battery, commanded by Confederate Major Edward P. Byrne, having two 10-pounder rifled Parrots attached to the First Brigade, served with General Morgan on the Great Raid from Tennessee into Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio in July 1863, until the artillery pieces were captured at Buffington island, Ohio.
Major Byrne placed the Parrots, and probably the howitzers here, approximately 530 yards from the Union forward rifle-pit. A log house was located approximately 140 yards front and to the left of the battery's position. Southern skirmishers had moved in to the area between the guns and the log house.
The Confederates opened fire on the enemy's forward rifle-pit about 6:45 a.m.
Confederate Basil Duke described the scene: "He Byrne) fired a round shot into the parapet (a bank used to screen troops from frontal enemy fire) thrown up in front of the trench, knocking the fence rails, with which it was riveted, into splinters, and probing the work. One man in the trench was killed, by this shot....Another was wounded.
A Southern party bearing a flag of truce came forward and quickly returned to this side. Union Col. O.H. Moore's rejection of Morgan's demand for surrender was made clear, and Byrne was ordered to resume firing.
Colonel Moore shouted to his sharpshooters, "Rise up and pick off the rebel gunners."
A few more cannon shots were fired, but "when the Northern bullets spattered their opponents' cannons at such a fearful rate" that eighteen of the Confederate cannoneers were killed or wounded, the firing stopped.
Colonel Adam R. Johnson, commanding two regiments of the Confederate Second Brigade, recognized that, if the artillery were to be effective, it had to be moved closer to the main Union fortified position. He was in the process of moving the artillery when he was ordered by General Morgan to cease using the artillery. Against Colonel Johnson's advice, Morgan decided that a frontal assault was the only was of taking the federal position.
Confederate Artillerymen Firing at Union Breastworks
Adj. Charles Woodruff, 25th Michigan, reporting on the battle in a letter home to his father, July 15, 1863 wrote: "It was one of the greatest little fights of the war. After the first fire Morgan was unable to work his artillery as our men would shoot down every gunner that came out from behind the trees. In fact the wheels of the gun carriage were so riddled by ball as to be entirely useless."
Charles Woodruff Papers, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan
Role of Artillery at Tebbs Bend
Artillery played a significant role in most Civil War battles. During this battle, the Northern forces had no artillery, while the Southern forces had four pieces. If General Morgan had been able to use the guns effectively, they might have been the decisive factor in the battle.
Colonel O.H. Moore had carefully prepared his defenses anticipating where the Southern forces would place their guns. His strategically placed sharpshooters had Enfield rifles, equipped with elevated sights, which enabled them to bring accurate fire on the cannoneers working their weapons. The guns were quickly silenced.
Artillerymen in both armies wore scarlet kepis and scarlet stripes down the legs of their trousers.
Enfield Rifle — Used by Michigan Troops
this English-made weapon had a 39-inch barrel, three-groove rifling; was .577-inch caliber and fired a hollow-based expanding bullet. Its effective range was 900-1000 yards.