Independent Battery D
Durell's Battery
Pennsylvania Volunteers

Recruited in Berks and Bucks Counties

This battery was recruited in the counties of Berks and Bucks, and was organized at Doylestown, on the 24th of September, 1861, with these officers:
  • George W. Durell, Captain
  • Lemuel Greis, First Lieutenant
  • Howard M'Ilvain, First Lieutenant,
  • George W. Silvis, Second Lieutenants
  • Christopher Loeser, Second Lieutenant
On the 6th of November, it was ordered to Washington, where, upon its arrival, it received four ten-pound Parrott guns, and horses and equipments for a six-gun battery, and encamped east of the Capitol. On the 11th of December, it crossed the Potomac, and encamped on Munson's Hill, where it was assigned to M'Dowell's Division, and where two additional pieces were provided.

In the fruitless advance upon Manassas, on the 10th of March, 1862, the battery was with the leading column, and upon its return, encamped midway between Alexandria and Bailey's Cross Roads. With King's Division of MI'Dowell's Corps, it moved by Bristoe Station, and Catlett's to Falmouth, opposite Fredericksburg, arriving on the 18th of April.

When Jackson made his successful campaign down the Shenandoah Valley, the battery made a forced march with the corps to Thoroughfare Gap, to intercept him on his retreat; but arrived too late to effect that purpose, and returned again to Falmouth, where, for a period of two months, it was instructed and drilled.

On the 12th of August, it was assigned to the Second Division of the Ninth Corps, and immediately marched with it to the assistance of Pope, who was now being vigorously pushed by the overpowering forces of Lee. At Kelly's Ford, on the 21st, it was for the first time brought into action. The left section became first engaged, and for half an hour exchanged rapid shots with the rebel guns. The whole battery, flanked by a regiment of Buford's Cavalry, then went into action, and after delivering about forty rounds, drove the enemy from his position.

At night, it retired across the river, and on the following morning, moved on towards Warrenton, the centre section supporting Buford's Cavalry for a day and a night. On the morning of the 27th, just upon the eve of the second battle of Bull Run, it was assigned for duty to the division of General Hooker, who was moving to meet the enemy under Jackson, then upon the rear of the Union army. At Bristoe Station, brisk skirmishing with the infantry opened, and was maintained for a few hours, when the battery was ordered up, and aided by a Rhode Island battery, succeeded in driving the enemy from three successive positions, and finally out of sight towards Manassas Junction. One horse was killed in this engagement.

On the morning of the 28th, it moved to the Junction, and at night, to Centreville. On the 29th, it advanced across Bull Run, and when the battle began to rage with great violence, went into position a half mile to the right and front of the Stone Hospital. Until near night of the 30th, it remained in this position, and until the left of the line had been forced back, and the enemy's shots began to tell upon its left flank. One gun was dismounted, two horses killed, and one man wounded, when, finding that the ground was untenable, it was ordered to retire. A new position, a few hundred yards in its rear, was taken up, and fire opened at long range, but at the end of twenty minutes, it was again ordered back and retired to Centreville. During the 31st, it remained in the fortifications, and on the evening of the following day participated in the short, but bloody battle of Chantilly, where it was the only battery, save one, engaged.

On the 2d of September, the battery proceeded to the Washington Arsenal, where it was re-fitted and fully equipped, and shortly afterwards moved on the Maryland campaign.

"At three P. M., on the 13th," says Lieutenant Rhoads, " we went into position, near the top of South Mountain. We were very successful in this engagement, had good ammunition, twice silenced and drove off a rebel battery, and harassed the rebel infantry as they advanced on our troops on the right of our position, firing from our six guns about two hundred and fifty rounds. The next day, we moved after the enemy, toward Antietam. On the morning of the 17th, we were shelled out of camp at daylight, and immediately went into position, and opened fire in reply. At nine A. M., we were ordered to the rear of Stone Bridge, No. 3, nearly opposite Sharpsburg, and just before General Hartranft took the bridge, our centre section moved near to the bridge, and followed closely the General's infantry across. This section was soon after joined by the rest of the battery, and the whole went into position at a point about nine hundred yards from the rebel guns opposed to us, which we engaged whenever they opened, at short intervals, for upwards of two hours, and only retired when we got out of projectiles, and were ordered back, the general commanding us, not deeming it advisable to allow our caissons to cross the bridge to bring up a supply of ammunition. This was the most desperate engagement, I think, and at shortest range, which our battery was in. Our loss was two men dangerously wounded; several of our horses dropped down in their harness from exhaustion, and had to be left on the field."
After the return of the army into Virginia, the battery moved with the corps, and on the 10th of November, was present in the affair at Amissville, but did not become engaged. On the 15th, at Sulphur Springs, it was brought into action, and for upwards of an hour answered a hot fire of the enemy, expending over three hundred rounds. Lieutenant M'Ilvaine was mortally, and one man severely wounded in this engagement. In the battle of Fredericksburg, in December, the battery was brought early into action, but at long range, and sustained no loss.

When the Ninth Corps was sent west, near the close of March, 1863, the battery accompanied it, and was for some time stationed at Paris, Mount Sterling, and Crab Orchard, Kentucky. Early in June, the corps was ordered to Vicksburg, to the support of Grant's army, and embarked at Lexington on the 6th of June. On the 15th, it passed up the Yazoo River, and landing at a point about twelve miles in rear of Vicksburg, took up a position facing Jackson, in readiness to meet the enemy, should he attempt to raise the siege.

On the 4th of July, immediately after the fall of Vicksburg, it moved out towards Jackson, arriving before the town on the 10th. The battery was brought into position, and for several days kept up a steady fire on the place, sending a shell every ten minutes. Johnston finally retired before the forces of Sherman, and the battery with the corps, returned to its camp upon the Yazoo.

About the middle of August, the corps returned to Covington, Kentucky, where the battery, much reduced, was left in camp, the corps proceeding on its campaign, in East Tennessee. When the battery left Kentucky for Yicksburg, it was in excellent condition, numbering one hundred and twenty strong, having arms, accoutrements, and horses well supplied, and all in the highest state of efficiency.

Upon its return, after an absence of a little more than two months, ten of its number had died, about forty were sick in hospital, and of those who were in camp, only some twenty or thirty were fit for duty. The loss among the horses was even greater than among the men. About half of the entire number had died, and of those that remained, but a small number were serviceable.

The battery remained at Covington, until the spring of 1864. At one time, during the winter, a rumor prevailed that an attempt was to be made by the enemy, and by those sympathizing with him, to rescue rebel prisoners confined on Johnson's Island, Lake Erie, near Sandusky, whereupon all the available men of the battery were sent thither, to meet the threatened danger, remaining at Sandusky until ample forces had been collected for the safe keeping of the prisoners.

In April, it was sent to Washington, where it was re-fitted. Recruits were here received in sufficient numbers to give it its original strength, and an entire new battery of ten-pound Parrott guns. Upon the opening of operations in the spring of 1864, it again marched with the corps, being attached to the Fourth Division, and during the Wilderness campaign covered the wagon-train.

About the middle of June, it arrived before Petersburg, and was at once put upon the front. Upon the occasion of springing the mine, on the 30th of July, it was posted in Fort Morton, and kept up a ceaseless fire.

A month later, it was engaged at Pegram's Farm, and during the subsequent operations before the beleaguered city, occupied at various times Forts Michael, Sedgwick, Stephenson, Blaisdell, Patrick Kelly, and other minor works.

In September, Captain Durell was honorably discharged, and Lieutenant Rhoads was promoted to succeed him. When the final attack on the defenses of Petersburg was made, on the morning of the 2d of April, 1865, by Hartranft's command, the entire battery of six guns was brought to bear upon the rebel works, and when' these had been carried, detachments from the battery were sent forward to turn the captured guns upon the flying enemy.

After the evacuation of the city, which immediately followed, it moved with the corps along the South Side Railroad, as far as Wilson's Station, but upon the surrender of Lee, returned to City Point, and thence to Alexandria. It was mustered out of service at Philadelphia, on the 13th of June, 1865.

Source:  Bates, Samuel P. History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-65, Harrisburg, 1868-1871.



Organization

Organized at Doylestown and mustered in September 24, 1861.
Left State for Washington, D.C., November 5, 1861.
Attached to McDowell's Division, Army of the Potomac, to March, 1862.
King's 1st Division, 1st Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, to April, 1862.
King's Division, Dept. of the Rappahannock, to June, 1862.
Artillery, 1st Division, 3rd Army Corps, Army of Virginia, to August, 1862.
Artillery, 2nd Division, 9th Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, to April, 1863.
Army of the Ohio to June, 1863, and Army of the Tennessee to August, 1863.
Covington, Ky., Dept. of the Ohio, to March, 1864.
Artillery, 4th Division, 9th Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, to June, 1865.

Service

Duty at Kalorama Heights, Defences of Washington, D.C., till November 14, 1861.
At East Capital Hill till December 18, and at Munson's Hill till March 10, 1862.
Advance on Manassas, Va., March 10-15.
McDowell's advance to Falmouth April 9-19.
Capture of Fredericksburg April 18.
Expedition to Thoroughfare Gap and operations against Jackson May 29-June 21.
At Falmouth till August.
Pope's Campaign in Northern Virginia August 16-September 2.
Kelly's Ford August 21.
Near Warrenton August 22-23 supporting Buford's Cavalry.
Kettle Run or Bristoe Station August 27.
Battle of Bull Run August 29-30.
Chantilly September 1.
Maryland Campaign September 6-24.
Battles of South Mountain September 14, and Antietam September 16-17.
At Pleasant Valley till October 25.
Movement to Falmouth, Va., October 25-November 19.
Warrenton or Sulphur Springs November 15.
Berryville December 2.
Battle of Fredericksburg, Va., December 12-15.
"Mud March" January 20-24, 1863.
Moved to Newport News February 7, thence to Cynthiana, Ky., March 23-April 1.
At Paris, Mt. Sterling, Richmond, Lancaster, Crab Orchard and Stanford, Ky., till June.
Movement to Vicksburg, Miss., June 3-14.
Siege of Vicksburg June 15-July 4.
Advance on Jackson, Miss., July 5-10.
Siege of Jackson July 10-17.
At Milldale till August 6.
Moved to Covington, Ky., August 6-22, and duty there till March 21, 1864.
Moved to Johnson's Island, Lake Erie, Ohio, November 12-16 to repel threatened raid to release prisoners.
Moved to Annapolis, Md., March 21-26.
Rapidan Campaign May-June.
Guarding supply trains through the Wilderness and to James River May 4-June 16.
Siege of Petersburg June 16-18 to April 2, 1865.
Mine Explosion, Petersburg, July 30, 1864.
Ream's Station, Weldon Railroad, August 25.
Peeble's Farm, Poplar Grove Church, September 30-October 1.
Old members mustered out September 23, 1864.
Fort Stedman March 25, 1865.
Assault on and fall of Petersburg April 2.
Moved to City Point April 20; thence to Alexandria April 25-27.
Grand Review May 23.
Mustered out June 13, 1865.

Losses

Battery lost during service
1 Officer and 2 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 21 Enlisted men by disease.
Total 24.

Source:  Dyer, Frederick H. A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion Compiled and Arranged from Official Records of the Federal and Confederate Armies, Reports of he Adjutant Generals of the Several States, the Army Registers, and Other Reliable Documents and Sources.Des Moines, Iowa: The Dyer Publishing Company, 1908

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