Wells Harrison

Wells enlisted in Battery D, 1st Michigan Light Artillery for three years, age 26. He was a Private. For his pedigree, see Wells Harrison.

Battery D was organized at Coldwater and mustered into service September 17, 1861 with officers:
Captain Alonzo F. Bidwell of Coldwater
First Lieutenant Josiah W. Church of Coldwater
First Lieutenant James M. Beedle of Union City
Second Lieutenant Henry B. Corbin of Union City
Second Lieutenant William Green of Wayne, IN

The battery left Coldwater December 9, 1861 for Kentucky. It is to be regretted that the records of the movements of the battery from the time it took the field, until June 1863, were never made, or if they were failed to reach the Adjutant General's office. It was during this time that Wells joined the battery - November, 1862.

Captain Bidwell resigned August 2, 1862 and the records report that the battery was in command of Captain Church in June 1863, and the 26th of that month was engaged with the enemy at Hoover's Gap, TN.

In September 1863, the battery was attached to the 1st Brigade, Third Division, 14th Corps and left its camp at Winchester, TN August 16, 1863, for the Chattanooga campaign. The company advanced on the Pelham Road via Dechard, ascending the mountain on the 18th of August. The company crossed the Tennessee river the 30th and marched across Lookout Mountain over almost impassible roads to McLemore's Cove, and then marched to Gower's Ford on the Chickamauga river, where it arrived September 18th.

On the very day the battery left camp, Wells had left the battery and went to the hospital at Dechard, TN. He was at Dechard for several months until at least February 29, 1864, returning to the battery rolls by April 30, 1864. The cause for which he was in the hospital is not known. Regimental hospital records are not on file with the War Department. There was apparently a disability alleged because the record states that there was "no evidence of disability alleged." According to a descendant, Wells had been hit by a shell, or ball, or bullet in the knee. This injury later led to a premature death.

During the time that Wells was hospitalized in Dechard, the battery was involved with its major battles. On the morning of September 19, 1863, it took part in the battle of Chickamauga, changing position a number of times and driving back the enemy by double shotting the guns with canister with orders to fire low and rapidly. The following day the battery was attacked by overwhelming numbers of the enemy, and after a most stubborn resistance with the infantry supports driven back, and a large number of horses killed, the guns had to be abandoned, only one being saved, the others falling into the hands of the enemy.

During the day the pieces had been double shotted with canister, and often the field in front was swept clear by the destructive fire of the Battery, but the gaps were closed up and the enemy advancing to the muzzles of the guns, there was no alternative but to retire and save the men from capture.

No battery in that memorable battle was handled more skillfully or did greater execution, but the fortunes of war compelled it to share the fate of other Michigan Batteries on that bloody field.

In November the battery was furnished with 20-pound Parrott guns and stationed in Fort Negley at Chattanooga. It assisted in shelling the enemy on Lookout Mountain, when General Hooker was advancing around its base, and also assisted in the assault on Mission Ridge by bursting its shells in the enemy's entrenchments.

In December, 1863, the Battery was ordered to Nashville, TN where it remained during the winter. When the army was reorganized by General Grant, Captain Church was promoted to Major and was assigned to the command of five batteries in the reserve artillery. Lieutenant H. B. Corbin was promoted Captain of Battery D.

In March 1864, the battery was at Murfreesboro, TN and remained there until the following December when it was engaged with General Hood's forces in his advance upon Nashville. Presumably, Wells had returned to duty in March or April, while the battery was at Murphreesboro, and took part in the Nashville advance.

Company morning reports show Wells January 19, 1865, present - sick; January 21, 1865, returned to duty. The nature of his sickness is not stated.

Captain Corbin having been mustered out February 8, 1865, Lieutenant Jesse B. Fuller was promoted Captain the same day and returned with the battery to Jackson, MI, July 22, where it was paid and disbanded August 3, 1865.

It had been in engagements at Hoover's Gap, TN June 26, 1863; Chickamauga, GA September 19 & 20, 1863; Chattanooga, TN November 23 & 24, 1863; Mission Ridge, TN November 25, 1863; Murphreesboro, TN December 12-16, 1864.

Total enrolled: - 314
Killed in action: - 1
Died of wounds: - 1
Died of disease: - 35
Discharged for Disability 
(wounds & disease) - 53

According to a grandson (Verl Meredith), Wells received an injury. He was hit by a cannonball in the knee while riding a horse, carrying the company flag. He died 12 years later of "bone consumption" related to that injury.

A dependents' pension application was made on behalf of a minor (illegible) on August 13, 1884. Application #318582. A widow's pension application was filed (perhaps on the same date - illegible) for Jane Playford. The application was #341855? (illegible) and certificate #924011.

Death record: Wells Harrison, male, married, age 42, 3 months. Died at Olive Township, Ottawa County 17 Feb 1877 of Bone consumption. Birthplace: Michigan; occupation: farmer; parents: unknown; date of record: June 1, 1878. According to family tradition, Wells finally succumbed to the wound he received in the Civil War.

There is no record of where Wells is buried. Interestingly, there is a story of an "Unknown Soldier in an Unmarked Grave" in rural West Olive Cemetery. The cemetery records contain no mention, but local legend has it that the mysterious soldier fought for the Union in the Civil War. For years only a slender, 3-foot high wooden post marked what was believed to be the unknown soldiers grave.

Today, there are no headstones in Section "D" of the cemetery, which used to be called Potter's Field. And of the notations made in the record book, only one lot does not have a name recorded. It has a date 1 Sep 1881.

1st Michigan Light Artillery, Battery D

The 3rd Michigan Light Artillery

National Civil War Artillery Association


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