Confederate Artillery in the Battle for Reed's Bridge
As Reed's Bridge burned and Confederate artillery broke up
the charge of the First Iowa Cavalry Regiment, Union artillery
opened fire on Brigadier General John S. Marmaduke at his
position near Lt. Charlie Bell's "little teaser" prairie gun.
An exploding shell killed Bell and wounded Major C.C.
Rainwater, Marmaduke's aide, among others.
As Bell's crippled gun was pulled to the rear, Marmaduke
called up Captain Joseph Bledsoe's Battery of two ten-pounder
Parrott rifles and a pair of six-pounder smoothbore cannon.
Using information Lieutenant Richard Collins had gathered by
crossing Bayou Meto to scout out the Union artillery position,
Bledsoe's Battery opened a blistering barrage on the Yankee
cannon. As the big guns of the opposing forces blasted away
at each other, both Union and Confederate riflemen paused to
watch the spectacle of an artillery duel.
"The enemy at first put their shots
in well but as Dick Collins worked
his guns down closer and closer
upon them, and made their position
warmer and warmer, their firing
became less regular and accurate,
until, as shot after shot took effect
upon them, they entirely lost their
coolness and precision, and sent
their shells recklessly through the
tops of the trees, destroying much
foliage and frightening the wild
Maj. John Newman Edwards, C.S.A.
Bottom left: Though not depicting the battle at Reed's Bridge, this illustration shows a gun crew at work. Bledsoe's Battery would have looked much like this during the fighting on Bayou Meto. Courtesy washingtonartillery.com .
Top right: Capt. Joseph Bledsoe's Battery included two six-pounder smoothbore cannon similar to the one shown in the drawing here. The six-pounder was one of the most common cannon used by both sides during the Civil War. 1864 Instructions for Field Artillery, U.S. War Department.
Bottom right: This image shows a Confederate mountain howitzer in Richmond, Virginia, after its capture by Federal troops. Lt. Charlie Bell's battery had a similar cannon atop a larger carriage, called a "Prairie carriage." Courtesy Library of Congress.