Artillery Units

1st Florida Artillery, US

Also known as Sheldon's Mule Battery, U.S.

Thomas Van Dyke

(1st Florida Artillery Battery - Cannon Owner and Chief of the Piece)

Location:  Tampa Bay/Sarasota Area (Central Florida) and reenacts throughout the State

Information:  Portray's Florida's Historical 1st Batter Light Artillery "Sheldon's Mule Battery" U.S. and generic cavalry (horse) artillery and a naval landing field piece. 

Presently fielding:

We recently celebrated our 20th Year and are presently recruiting new memebers.

Unit Website:

Unit Facebook Site:

Unit History:  Raised and organized by Lt. W. Sheldon at the Warrington Outpost of Fort Barrancas, in Escambia Co., Florida during 1863 around the same time as Florida 1st Cavalry, U.S. under the command of Brigadier General Alexander Asboth.  Florida 1st Battery Light Artillery, U.S. has a documented history and was also known as Sheldon's Mule Battery, because there were a shortage of horses in Pensacola for this battery and two companies of Cavalry.

This independent battery formed by recruiting local Unionist Volunteers harassed by Secessionist neighbors and Confederate States Conscription deserters from the surrounding areas of Alabama, Georgia and Florida.  The reputation of the 1st Cavalry was blemished by a particular  2nd Lt Joseph G. Sanders who commanded Company F manned with notorious "Scalawags" and "Bushwackers," leading to the branding of most Yankees at Pensacola as such or worse by the locals.

It is not known what guns the 1st Florida Artillery actually used.  For smooth bores, the Light Artillery mostly used a combination of two Model 1841 12 Pdr. Field Howitzers and either four 6 Pdr. Smooth Bore Guns or four 24 Pdr. Howitzers.  Ours, being the light model of the Howitzers, is used to depict the 12 Pdr. Howitzer in action at reenactments regardless of tube length.  when on expedition, either the Full Battery or a two gun Section would have been detached with a Cavalry or Infantry Force.  In the 1st Florida Artillery's U.S. case, we presume the Field Howitzers were available .  The 2nd and 3rd Brigade Columns, based out of Pensacola, were formed from combining the  Florida 1st Regiment Cavalry and other Garrison units stationed at Fort Barrancas as a Battalion for offensive operations.

From Dyer's Compendium: 

July 21-25, 1864 Expedition from Barrancas toward Pollard, Ala

July 22, 1864 Action, Camp Gonzales

August 13-14, 1864 Expedition from Fort Barrancas

August 29, 1864 Expedition from Barrancas to Marianna

Oct 18, 1864 Skirmish, Pierce's Point near Milton

October 18-31, 1864 Operations in West Florida

Provenance of The Gun:

Approximately 400 - 500 Model 1841 12 Pdr. Mountain Howitzers served in the War Between the States. The Union Fielded the majority of them.  the Confederacy Fielded at least 25 made at the Tredegar Iron Works in Richmond and a number of captured pieces.

The 1860's cost was around $150 U.S. and was In production from 1841 through 1870.  It was General John Gibbon's (author of the Artillerist's Manual) favorite gun and Generals John Hunt MOrgan, John S. Mosby and Nathan Bedford Forrest used them, the former called them his Bull (Dog) Pups.  They were highly mobile as Horse Artillery (all cannoneers rode horses to keep pace with the Cavalry) and were employed as "Flying" Artillery as First promoted by Major Samuel Ringgold with Light 6 Pounders during the Mexican War.

It is believed this particular gun could have been First ordered cast by one of the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) Posts in Lynn Haven, Fla. (Panama City) circa 1920's as Signal Gun (Ceremonial Salute Firings.

It became forgotten while left in storage for many years.

Upon rediscovery, it eventually came under a Panama City Reenactor's ownership.  There is an early photo of a very good resemblance of this gun from a Reenactment of the Battle of Olustee, during what could be the late 1970's or early 1980's.  It shows a Confederate Battery a Line of Artillery.  Olustee's  First Annual Reenactment dates back to 1981.  If it was in their possession for up to 23 years, that may have started around 1978.

Longtime Reenactor and Sutler Seventh Owner, R. Scott Anderson, purchased the piece in 2001.  During his ownership, It served alongside Florida 7th Infantry Reenacting Company K and was known as 6th Battalion Co. B (Light Artillery). He added his 12 Flag Streamers to the National Flag coming from is Reenacting Infantry Service from 1989 through 1994.

He  Fielded it as Florida Independent (Light) Artillery, Co. B, C.S. and latter transferred to over to the 4th Brigade U.S. as 1st Florida Artillery, (Sheldon's Mule Battery).  Christened as "Charlotte, The Harlot."

It was recently purchased by Tom & Dawn Spakowski-Van Dyke in February 2019.  She has been re-christened as "Esther Mae" for his Dear Mom, an avid Antebellum History Enthusiast.

Tom started reenacting in 1991 as Infantry and has two ancestors who fought in the War in the Infantry from the 10th and 48th Indiana Regiments.  Dawn started reenacting in 2008 and has one ancestor that fought as Infantry from the 20th Indiana Regiment and later transferred to 1st U.S. Artillery, Co. K at Fredricksburg and fought at East Cavalry Park, Gettysburg, on Final action of the Third Day.

Gun Facts:

Howitzers were in Battery in the West, or in pairs as a Section of Horse Artillery for Cavalry.  Their usefulness was mobility as in "Flying" (Horse) Artillery for rapid Field movement response.

Their original design was for Mountain Service such as General John Fremont had on his expedition to California.  Light enough to pack on Mules and Horses and even to carry up to a roof tops and a Church Building Steeple, which was the idea of one 2nd Lt. Ulysses S. Grant at San Cosmé during the Mexican War. it was also employed in the 1862 Union Victory at Glorieta Pass, New Mexico (called "The Gettysburg of the West").

1st US Artillery, Bat. A

Maj. Joey Campbell


1st Sgt. Jesse Barker

(2nd in Command)

Location:  Tampa Bay area

Unit Website:  1st US Artillery, Batt. A

Unit History:   


3rd Rhode Island Artillery, Bat. A

Capt. Todd Smith


Location:  Ft. Pierce, FL


Unit Website:  

Unit History: