The Civil War – Local history and legacy of the war

By C.J. Johnson

First Regiment Mississippi Light Artillery was organized in early
1862 and included Company C, “Turner’s Battery,” led by Dr. Henry P.
Turner of Kilmichael, Choctaw County, Mississippi.

According to Dunbar Rowland’s Military History of Mississippi 1803 –
1898, “The regiment [1st Mississippi Light Artillery] assembled in
camp of instruction near Jackson in May, 1862, and elected field
officers. Colonel Withers, in General Orders No. 1, dated May 16,
appointed James J. Calloway Acting Adjutant, William D. Elder Acting
Sergeant-Major, Charles F. Trumbull and Andrew Trumbull Aides, Dr. M.
W. Boyd Surgeon, Dr. C. A. Rive [Rice] Assistant Surgeon, Capt.
Thomas C. Fearn Commissary, Capt. William T. Hickle Quartermaster and
Rev. Dr. W. W. Dovel [Lord] Chaplain.

Soon afterward the regiment was called to Vicksburg on account of the
attack upon that place by fleets from New Orleans and Memphis. In
his report of the defense of Vicksburg during the bombardment, May 26
to July 27, 1862, General Van Dorn said: ‘Withers’ Light Artillery
was placed in such position as to sweep all near approaches.’…

In his report, Lieutenant-General Pemberton particularly
complimented, among others, ‘Colonel Withers, who first commanded the
force at Chickasaw Bayou and afterward at Blake’s Levee,’ and named
the First Mississippi Artillery as one of the commands ‘entitled to
the highest distinction.’

In January, 1863, the regiment was listed as a part of Gen. S. D.
Lee’s command at Vicksburg. February, effective present, 789.
Companies A and G were detached with Hebert’s Brigade at Snyder’s
Bluff; B, F and K were at Port Hudson; C was in the Grenada district,
D was at Chickasaw Bayou…

Turner’s company (C) was attached to General Loring’s command at
Grenada in 1862, and participated in the defense of Fort Pemberton
[near Greenwood] at the head of the Yazoo River during the early
months of 1863, that position being assailed by a naval force and
infantry brought down Yazoo Pass from the Mississippi.

Afterward the battery was sent to Snyder’s Bluff, where Lieutenant
Ratliff, Company A, was detailed as its commander. It then had about
ninety effective men, besides the non-commissioned officers, under
Lieutenants Collier, Flowers and Eubanks, Dr. Turner, the Captain,
having resigned.

The companies surrendered at Vicksburg, July 4, 1863, also assembled
in the parole camp at Enterprise, where 291 of the regiment were
reported present in November, 1863… Those present and exchanged,
arrived at Demopolis, Ala., February 20, General Polk’s forces having
retreated there before General Sherman’s advance to Meridian, and
were ordered to report to General Maury, commanding at Mobile…

May 14, 1864, there were about eighty men in the parole camp at
Demopolis of the various companies of this regiment, ‘and the
regiment is divided, one company acting as horse artillery in the
cavalry command of Gen. S. D. Lee, and the others doing provost duty
in Mobile.’…

The command at Mobile was composed of Companies B, C, D, I, K, which
were listed June 1, Capt. George F. Abbay commanding, in Fuller’s
Artillery Brigade; and June 30, Capt. J. L. Bradford commanding,
brigade of Gen. Edward Higgins, Mobile…

Regimental headquarters at Tensas Landing, August 10, Colonel Withers
commanding; at Sibley’s Mills, east shore Mobile Bay, August 23,
Major Wofford commanding; at Mobile thereafter, November, 1864, First
Mississippi Artillery, Capt. Marquis L. Cooke, in Maury’s command…

The Mobile Battalion was ordered to Blakeley, where they served
during the siege by General Canby, a period of fierce fighting,
ending in the capture of the garrison, April 9, 1865. They were taken
to Ship Island, and, after the capitulation by General Taylor, May 4,
to Vicksburg, and finally paroled.”

Enlisted in Turner’s Battery as privates were three brothers from
Choctaw County – Amariah G. Tullos, who enlisted and was mustered in
on May 5, 1862 in Choctaw County; Jasper Newton Tullos and James
Tullos, who both enlisted on August 6, 1862. They were some of the
older sons of Archibald and Mary Tullos, of the Bywy community. The
oldest of the three, Amariah, was sent to hospital in the fall of
1862, and his records indicate he died on November 30, 1862, in
Pensacola, Mississippi. The other two sons made it back home.

In 1988, Turner’s Battery was re-activated by Jeffrey “Duffy”
Neubauer. Company C is now a non-profit entity, which not only
performs Civil War re-enactments, but is also instrumental in the
education of others regarding artillery and the War Between the
States. They also work to restore artillery related items from the
period, such as the “Lady Polk” Blakely cannon used at Fort Pemberton.

Shortly after Turner’s Battery was re-activated, Dexter Cochran, born
and reared in Choctaw County and living in Steens, MS, found Duffy
Neubauer and enlisted. Turner’s Battery is his legacy, as his great-
grandfather on his mother’s side was Jasper Newton Tullos, a member
of the original Turner’s Battery. Before long, Dexter brought along
his young grandson, Alan Steestra, who was also enlisted in Turner’s
Battery.

Dexter Cochran died earlier this month at the age of 83. Several
members of Turner’s Battery stood guard in uniform during visitation
at the funeral home. Duffy Neubauer gave the eulogy at the funeral.
Pall-bearers included two of the men of Turner’s Battery. The flag
of Turner’s Battery flew at the grave.

Neubauer announced the name of Dexter Snowden Cochran would be
entered permanently on the rolls of Turner’s Battery. Now a third
generation of Tullos men, Dexter’s grandson Alan Steestra, will
continue the Tullos family legacy in the First Regiment Mississippi
Light Artillery, Company C, Turner’s Battery.