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Washington Artillery: History

The Washington Artillery was first formed in 1838 in New Orleans and is the only unit that fought in the War between the States that is still in existence. It is also the oldest military organization in Louisiana.

At the start of the War Between The States, which is the official title for the conflict as passed by Congress in the early 1900's, the Battalion consisted of four companies. The men that filled the ranks were of the highest social standing and were 'members' of the Battalion: indeed it was considered a gentlemen's club with subscriptions being paid on a monthly basis even throughout the war.

It was noted that the Battalion was "complete in all respects and at no cost to State or General Government" and on the 13th May 1861 made representation direct to the Confederate Government to enter the Confederate Army "for the War". They were immediately accepted and ordered to Virginia, leaving behind a recruiting party which within a few months had raised a 5th Company. This Company would find itself fighting with the Army of Tennessee and would gain fame in its own right.

J. B. Walton CDV Mobile 1864 With Major J. B. Walton (later Colonel) commanding the Battalion they found themselves placed along the banks of Bull Run where on the 18th July 1861 elements of the Battalion successfully repulsed a Union advance at Blackburn's Ford (battle of Bull Run) and within a few days would engage the enemy in the battle of First Manassas. This was the beginning of one of the finest military records ever recorded in the annals of the Confederacy.
The many battles fought by Louisiana Battalion Washington Artillery Companies 1-4 include:
  • Bull Run
  • Manassas
  • Munson's Hill
  • Hall's Hill
  • Yorktown
  • Williamsburg
  • Farmington
  • Seven Pines
  • Mechanicsville
  • Gaines Mill
  • Savage Station
  • Frayser's Farm
  • Malvern Hill
  • Rappahannock Station
  • Second Manassas
  • Chantilly
  • Boonsboro' Gap
  • Sharpsburg
  • Fredericksburg
  • Chancellorsville
  • Gettysburg
  • Williamsport
  • New Bern
  • Petersburg

Many notable events involving the Battalion are recorded, either as fighting as a whole unit or in their individual Companies fighting in different areas of the battlefield, with each Company gaining their own honours. Some of these are:

Even until the very end of the Army of Northern Virginia the Washington Artillery fought, and having learnt of the impending surrender the Second Company buried their guns on the early morning and made their way to North Carolina, finally surrendering at Greensboro with Gen. Jos. E. Johnston. Some members of the Battalion also attempted to aid President Davis in his attempt to escape and were captured with him.

Although the unit's activities were prohibited during the period of 1865-1875 due to the military occupation of New Orleans by Federal troops, it continued as the Washington Artillery Benevolent Society secretly training as a military unit. In 1875 the U.S. Government allowed the Battalion to reform. It has since fought in every major conflict involving the U.S. and is today the 141st Field Artillery Battalion Louisiana National Guard based at Jackson Barracks in New Orleans.

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