Thunderbolt Battery Responsibilities


Capt. David Nicholas Martin, the Company G Commander, was likely responsible for overall command of Thunderbolt Battery, including operations, training, and supply. For a battery of six guns, this typically meant about 150 men and 100 horses.

First Lt. George D. Johnson and 2nd Lt. John W. Patrick were responsible for their respective sections of two platoons each and saw to the construction and maintenance of the earthworks. Each directed fire in combat while on horseback. Patrick, as the junior officer and adjudant, was probably responsible for all ordnance and directing the caisson chiefs.

The First Sergeant reported directly to Capt. Martin and was responsible for discipline and training of the men in addition to personnel and administrative duties.

The Quartermaster Sergeant was responsible for clothing issue, supply, provisions, and sometimes small arms ammunition.

The other sergeants, like Sgt. Elijah J. Jones, were responsible for a single cannon along with the gunner, the cannoneers, the chief of the caisson, and the drivers. In battle he stood at the rear of the cannon, insuring identification of the correct target, range, azimuth, projectile, and fuzing.

The Corporals were typically the gunners, responsible for up to ten cannoneers and their equipment. In battle, they aimed the cannon and fired at the direction of the Sergeant, the Chief of the Piece. The junior Corporals, like William Harmon Harden, were responsible for the limbers and caissons.

The Privates were the cannoneers who actually loaded and fired the cannon at the direction of the gunners.

Other Privates cared for the horses, and rode or drove them when positioning the artillery. They were responsible for keeping the horses calm during battle.

Still other Privates specialized as blacksmiths.

One Private was the battery bugler. He made as many as ten bugle calls a day for the battery commander, such as In Battery, Commence Firing, Cease Firing, Boots and Saddles, and Reveille.

The color bearer was also a Private.  On horseback in the din of battle, he signaled the direction of march and the position of the battle line. His selection reflected the high trust and confidence of the officers.

Artillery men also performed picket duty, two constantly on guard to protect the perimeter, the horses, and the guns and equipment from theft.