David Washington Pipes

Washington Battery, Field Artillery, Louisiana

David Washington Pipes was born in East Feliciana Parish, Louisiana on February 20, 1845. He was the son of David Pipes of Beech Grove Plantation and the grandson of Windsor Pipes who first settled in Louisiana in 1781. David attended Oakland College in Mississippi, was primarily a cotton planter and was also active in banking and business in his parish. He was active in politics and served in both the State House of Representatives and the State Senate from his district. He enlisted in the 4th Company, Washington Battery  from Clinton, Louisiana on February 23, 1863 at the age of 18. His unit was at Gettysburg and I have recently obtained a copy of a letter that David W.  wrote in November of 1928. This letter was written to a Mr. Reily and the first three paragraphs speak of business items, but the rest of the letter describes some of his involvement at Gettysburg. I have included that portion of the letter here, just as it was written.  David passed away in 1939 and was said to be the last surviving soldier of the Army of Northern Virginia. He was twice married and fathered eight children, one of whom, Henry Alexander, was a graduate of West Point. David Washington Pipes is the brother of William Henry Pipes who served as an officer in the 15th Tennessee infantry.  David Washington Pipes

Excerpt from a letter written by David Washington Pipes in 1928:

"A few things did happen in the Civil War, which I cannot forget, one especially was Pickett's charge at the Battle of Gettysburg, this charge was made through our Battalion, the Battalion of Washington Artillery of five companies, one in the army of Tennessee and four in Lee's army. We had sixteen pieces, each piece had twelve horses and one caison or ammunition wagon. We were all on the battle field on the 3rd of July 1863 and the third company fired the cannon that opened the fight at three PM in the evening. There were 500 pieces of artillery making music at the same time and carrying death and destruction with it, and the noise made could be heard for 80 miles. My caison was blown up and my piece was disabled, a piece of shell striking it in the muzzle, and nine of our twelve horses were killed or wounded. We were ordered to form a new line of defense when Pickett's troups were replused and we did so carrying our piece with three horses with us. This new line was formed about five-thirty. We recruited another piece of artillery and impressed 1/2 dozen Pennsylvania Connestogas, horses, untrained and as bigas half grown elephants. We were then ordered to Williamsport to protect Lee's ammunition train. All night long through the mud and rain for it rained all night, all of next day and night, and reached Williamsport at day light, the men all dead on their feet. At sun up, before we had any time to cook a bite, we were ordered into action and fought until 8:30 P.M. when we drove Kilpatrick with 5,000 calvary from the field; we had only 3,000 and a good many were wounded, but fighting. The Potomac River had to be crossed. We waded across it going to Pennsylvania, but now it was swollen and a pontoon bridge, made of small boats and weather boarding from the houses for flooring, was what we had to cross the river on. Eleven of us boys had removed our shoes (so called) and climbed on the Pier. Captain Buck Miller was director. The horses had to go some forty feet into the water before we reached the abutment of the bridge. By bad handling the horses had gone to the side of the bridge instead of to the end. I knew they could not pull us and the pier on the bridge on the side, and I said to Captain Miller: "Captain, I think if you will have the horses turned and approach the bridge from the end of the bridge, we will have no difficulty in going over." The Captain looked at me very savagely and said, "You think - dam you what right have you to think - get off of that pier every one of you and by hand to front", which being interpreted, means get hold of the pier and put it on the bridge, and this we finally did. The water was waist deep, and we were all wet again. That night I was put on guard at nine o'clock, two hours on, four off, cannon was loaded and I was ordered to fire if any noise was heard in my front, death penalty for sleeping on post. I heard no noise, slept in rain for two hours. Officer woke me up and said, "You were asleep on your post sir," and I said, "Yes Sir, asleep on my post." That was the end of it."

A newspaper article written to commemorate his 94th birthday quotes him as saying about the battle of Gettysburg: " All through the war he remained under Captain Albert Norcomb of the Fourth company. He was in the Battle of Gettysburg, served at the Peach Orchard of that field. He tells how he worked at his gun 'swabbing and loading' over and over again in the bloody hell of that conflict"        [This refers to the third day when the Washington Artillery was involved in the hours long cannonade that preceded Picket's charge. Some accounts indicate that his company opened the shelling with the first shot.]

[ There are other written memoirs by David about his Civil War experiences and they are on the front page where they can be requested. Many thanks go to Bertha Dooling for sending me a copy of this insightful letter and to Glenny Warzewski for the copies of the newspaper articles]

Some interesting photos:

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