About Charles E. Winegar
Profile photo: The south side of the monument to Lieutenant Charles E. Winegar’s Battery M, First New York Artillery. This unit was organized at Lockport, New York, and mustered in at Rochester in November, 1861. This monument is seldom seen by visitors, but in its detail, is one of the finest artillery monuments on the Gettysburg battlefield.
Charles E. Winegar commanded an artillery battery in the Union service during the American Civil War.
Early in the War
Battery M, First New York Artillery was organized at Lockport, New York in September of 1861, and mustered in at Rochester, New York on October 14, 1861. George W. Cothran of Lockport in Niagara County and Charles E. Winegar of Shelby in Orleans County were the principal organizers. Cothran became the captain, and Winegar was commissioned senior first lieutenant. (At the time, Winegar was 29 years old.) The battery enlisted for three years of service. The battery moved to Albany, New York and then to Washington, D. C. While at Camp Barry outside Washington, the battery was incorporated into the First New York Artillery, apparently against the wishes of the members of the unit. In January of 1862, Cothran’s battery was given 6 ten pound Parrott rifles together with teams of horses. The unit was assigned to the command of MG Nathaniel Banks. It was positioned at Frederick, Maryland and nearby Point of Rocks. The battery finally saw active service in March, when Banks took his forces into Virginia. The battery saw action at the First Battle of Winchester on May 25, 1862. Winegar, who was ill at the time, still took command of a section of the battery. He was mentioned in dispatches for creditable behavior during Banks’ retreat after the battle. Cothran had been arrested on a charge of defrauding the government and faced a court martial. He was convicted but was reinstated on June 4.) Battery M also served at the Battle of Cedar Mountain, serving on the far right of Banks' line.
When XII Corps was formed, Cothran’s battery was assigned to the division of BG Alpheus S. Williams. Winegar took charge of the battery for much of this period. MG Henry W. Slocum, new commander of XII Corps, advanced the brigade of BG Thomas L. Kane and Battery M under Winegar to Loudon Heights, Virginia near Harper’s Ferry from Pleasant Valley in Washington County, Maryland. Cothran returned in time for the Battle of Antietam, reporting for the battery's conduct in support of XII corps at the north end of the battlefield near the East Woods. Cothran reported helping repulse more than one Confederate charge.
At the time of the Battle of Fredericksburg, Slocum advanced the corps, including Battery M, to Fairfax Station. At the time of the Mud March, the corps advanced to Stafford Court House, where it remained based until the spring of 1863. By that time Cothran was absent ill, never returning.
At the Battle of Chancellorsville, Winegar was in command of the battery once more, and it crossed the Rappahannock River on April 30, accompanying the advance of Williams’ division. On May 1 Winegar's battery advanced with Williams' command up the Plank Road toward Fredericksburg. Battery M had yet to open fire on the Confederates when the corps was recalled to a defensive position in the Fairview clearing near the Chancellor house facing east. From there it fired on Confederate gunners until ammunition ran low on May 2. The battery was still in position there on May 3 when it was ordered to fall back with XII Corps. Some caissons had to be left behind during the retreat. Lt Winegar and an enlisted man went looking for abandoned caissons belonging to the battery. They were captured by the enemy. When Lt John D. Woodbury reported for the battery, Winegar was still missing without word of him. At the end of the battle, the battery was in reserve between Chancellorsville and United States Ford. After withdrawal on May 5, the battery camped a Stafford Court House with the rest of XII Corps.
Winegar was exchanged in time to join the artillery brigade of XII Corps in the Gettysburg Campaign. His battery crossed the Potomac River on June 26, 1863 with Williams' division. When XII Corps camped overnight June 30-July 1 near Gettysburg, Winegar's battery was deployed with infantry support to guard the camp. During the Battle of Gettysburg, the battery had only 4 guns, 10 pound Parrott rifles. On the evening of July 1, Slocum used Winegar's guns and other batteries to cover the gap between his corps and I Corps. Battery M's likely position at that time was east of Powers Hill (called Slocum's Hill in reports), near Slocum's headquarters.
Capt Clermont L. Best, XII Corps chief of artillery, moved some of Winegar's guns on the night on July 2-3. Thus on July 3, 1863 one section of the battery was located on Powers Hill, but the other section was on McAllister’s Hill near Rock Creek. (The monument to Winegar’s battery stands on Powers Hill forward of its actual position.) The battery took part in the cannonade that preceded a largely successful effort to recapture ground lost on July 2 when most of XII Corps was sent to the left flank of the army as reinforcements.
The Western Theater of the War
XII Corps was sent West in late 1863 to help relieve the siege of Chattanooga in the Chattanooga Campaign. There, after the conclusion of the Battle of Chattanooga, most of its units were merged with those of XI Corps into the new XX Corps, Army of the Cumberland. On February 6, 1864, many of the original members of Battery M reenlisted and were mustered in for a new period of service. The veterans received their reenlistment furloughs and went home, returning to camp near Chattanooga around the middle of April.
Charles Winegar was promoted to the rank of captain on May 3, 1864, and he took command of Battery I, First New York Artillery. (Capt Michael Wiedrich had been assigned to a heavy artillery regiment; and Nicholas Sahm, his successor, had died.) This unit also was part of XX Corps, which eventually became a part of the Army of Georgia under MG Slocum. In that format, Winegar’s battery served in the Atlanta Campaign, Sherman’s March to the Sea and the Carolinas Campaign. It was assigned to Williams' division until all XX Corps batteries were combined into an artillery brigade.
On December 12, 1864, when Sherman's army was investing Savannah, Georgia, Winegar’s battery was positioned in ambush on the banks of the Savannah River. There it fired two Confederate gunboats and their tenders which had came down river from Augusta, Georgia. One gunboat and the tender collided while reacting to artillery fire, and the damaged tender was captured by the Federals when it drifted to shore Battery I took part in the Battle of Averasborough and the Battle of Bentonville. In the latter fight, Battery I played a key role in repelling the attack of MG William B. Bate from its position near the Goldsboro Pike. Late in the war, as Sherman moved north, Capt Winegar took command of the artillery brigade of XX Corps after Maj John Reynolds left the army on leave. After the war ended, Winegar was mustered out with his battery at Buffalo, New York on June 23, 1865.