Confederate Heavy Artillery

By: Alwyn Barr

Type: General Entry

Published: March 8, 2011

During the Civil War eighteen companies of heavy artillery formed in Texas for the Confederate Army with the primary duty of protecting important ports along the Gulf Coast. Their cannon ranged from eighteen-pounders to ten-inch smoothbores and from twelve-pounders to one hundred-pounder rifles.

In mid-1861 the Third Battalion of Texas Artillery with seven companies organized under Maj. Joseph J. Cook to defend Galveston, the major seaport for the state. The Dixie Grays from Fayette County became Company A. Galveston and Houston produced most of the other companies, including the Houston Artillery, created as a social group in 1859 which became Company G. The Davis Guards formed in Houston in 1860, then received the designation Company F. After the Confederate Army transferred many Texas regiments to Arkansas in early 1862, it authorized expansion of the battalion into a regiment, the First Texas Heavy Artillery, with four new companies and Cook as colonel. The regiment formed the core of the Galveston garrison throughout the war, although individual companies received orders sending them to defend other positions along the Texas coast when a Union advance seemed probable. The Davis Guards became best known for driving back a Federal naval expedition seeking to land troops at Sabine Pass in the fall of 1863.

Other heavy artillery batteries formed to help defend specific ports on the Texas Gulf Coast. Three batteries organized during 1861 in the region from Matagorda Bay to Corpus Christi, including the Van Dorn Guards under Capt. Daniel D. Shea, the Indianola Artillery led by Capt. Joseph M. Reuss, and a battery under Capt. Benjamin F. Neal from Corpus Christi. Shea became a major commanding a two-company artillery battalion in 1862; then all three batteries joined the Eighth Texas Infantry in 1863 while retaining their role as artillery. At Sabine Pass in 1861 Capt. J. R. Burch raised a heavy artillery battery that served with Liken’s Infantry Battalion and later with Spaight's Infantry Battalion. The Thirteenth Texas Infantry at Velasco in 1863 converted two companies into heavy artillery, the Austin Grays under Capt. James S. Perry and William R. Jones's Battery. Another unit raised along the coast became known as Capt. M. G. Howe's Battery, but served as a company of sappers and miners building fortifications.

Alwyn Barr, Confederate Artillery in the Trans-Mississippi (M.A. thesis, University of Texas at Austin, 1961).

Time Periods:

  • Civil War

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Alwyn Barr, “Confederate Heavy Artillery,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 24, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

March 8, 2011

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