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2nd Rockbridge Artillery of Virginia CSA

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History Of The 2nd Rockbridge Artillery

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The 2nd Company

Rockbridge Artillery

Army of Northern Virginia

CSA

1861-1865

“We Few….We Happy Few….We Band Of Brothers…”

Henry V

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The 2nd Rockbridge Artillery was organized at Fairfield, Virginia on July 10, 1861 with the Rev. John Miller, Captain, commanding. Samuel Wallace, J.A.M. Lusk, and J.C. Dickinson were Lieutenants. The company was known as the “McDowell Guard”, in honor of Miss Lillie McDowell who contributed equipment and clothing to the battery.

Due to lack of equipment the company served as infantry, Co. B, in the 52nd Virginia Regiment. On September 28, 1861 the battery was equipped with guns and officially organized as the 2nd Co., Rockbridge Artillery. The battery’s members were farmers and laborers.

Upon its organization the company was assigned as part of Brig. Gen. Edward Johnson’s Brigade, Army of the Northwest( Gen. William W. Loring, commanding ), serving in the mountains of western Virginia. The battery saw its first action at Camp Alleghany, West Virginia on December 12, 1861.

As part of the Army of the Northwest, attached to the Command of Gen. Thomas J. Jackson, the battery participated in the Romney Campaign in January, 1862.

Due to ongoing differences between Jackson and Gen. William Loring, commander of the Army of the Northwest, Loring’s command was broken up. The majority was transferred from the region with Loring. The remnants remaining were under the command of Brig. Gen. Edward Johnson. The 2nd Rockbridge Artillery remained with Johnson’s command.

( In the Spring of 1862 all operational Confederate forces within the boundaries of Virginia were merged in what would now be called the Army of Northern Virginia.

Originally The Army of the Potomac---organized on June 20, 1861

The Army of the Shenandoah and District of Harper’s Ferry--merged July 20-21, 1861

Army of the Northwest---merged March 14, 1862

Army of the Peninsula----merged April 12, 1862 )

On March 14, 1862 the Army of the Northwest was merged into the Army of Northern Virginia. As a result of this the 2nd Rockbridge Artillery fell under the command of Lt. Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, taking part in Jackson’s now famous Valley Campaign as part of Gen. Richard Ewell’s division.

In the Spring of 1862 all units in the Army of Northern Virginia were reorganized. To increase efficiency some artillery batteries which did not meet the standards set by the War Department were disbanded. The 2nd Rockbridge was reorganized on May 1 and upon reorganization J.A.M. Lusk was made Captain. W.K. Donald, Samuel Wallace, and A.J. Hayslett were made Lieutenants. Prior to this reorganization, Hayslett was the company surgeon. The armament of the company was (2) 6-lb. smoothbores,(1) 3-inch Rifle, and (1) 10-lb. Parrot. The battery saw action with the Army of Northern Virginia from the Spring of 1862 through the last days at Appomattox Courthouse.

After the Shenandoah Valley Campaign, Jackson's command was ordered to join Gen. Robert E. Lee on the peninsula to counter McClellan's offensive on Richmond. Lee had assumed command of the Army of Northern Virginia when Gen. Joseph E. Johnston was wounded at Seven Pines on May 31, 1862. Jackson's forces departed for the peninsula on June 17, 1862, entraining at Gordonsville, Virginia. Apparently the 2nd Rockbridge Artillery was left in the Valley as a guard against Yankee incursion, and does not appear again until after the Maryland Campaign. From this point forward the 2nd Rockbridge Artillery would take part in engagements which have become legendary in the annals of American military history.

The company served with Jackson’s 2nd Corps until Jackson’s death at Chancellorsville in May, 1863. After Jackson’s death the Army of Northern Virginia was reorganized and the 2nd Rockbridge Artillery was assigned to McIntosh’s Battalion in the newly created 3rd Corps under Lt. Gen. A.P. Hill. It served in this capacity for the remainder of the war.

Hardaway’s-McIntosh’s Battalion

Major David McIntosh

Danville (Virginia) Artillery- Capt. Sidney Rice

Hardaway (Alabama) Artillery- Capt. William Hurt

2nd Rockbridge (Virginia) Artillery- Lt. Samuel Wallace

Johnson's Virginia Battery- Capt. Marmaduke Johnson


At Chancellorsville the battery took part in Jackson’s flanking march to surprise and defeat the Army of the Potomac’s 11th Corps. Though not generally noted as such May 3, 1863, the 3rd day of the Chancellorsville fighting, was one of the bloodiest single days of the war. With Gen. J.E.B. Stuart in temporary command of the 2nd Corps the troops of Jackson's command crushed Union Gen. Oliver O. Howard's 11th Corps. (Two months later at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, the 2nd Rockbridge Artillery, as part of the new 3rd Corps, Army of Northern Virginia, would again be instrumental in devastating the Union 11th Corps.) (Capt. Lusk resigned due to poor health in June, 1863 and Lt. Donald, now promoted to Captain, was placed in command). Also in June the company began the march into Pennsylvania with the army for Lee's second invasion of the North.

Captain Donald was wounded in the fighting at Chancellorsville and command fell to Lt. Samuel Wallace for the Gettysburg Campaign. The unit was armed with (4) 3-inch Rifles. (Lt. Wallace's name appears on the marker at Gettysburg National Military Park as commander at the battle). Lt. Wallace was later killed in action at Petersburg, Virginia on April 2, 1865.

The battery had the distinction of firing the opening cannon shots on July 1, 1863 at Gettysburg and was engaged on all three days of the battle. When the Army of Northern Virginia withdrew from Pennsylvania, the 2nd Rockbridge Artillery covered the retreat at Monterey Gap.

During the Fall and winter of 1863 the company participated in the Bristoe Campaign as well as the Mine Run Campaign.

1864 was a period of hard service for the 2nd Rockbridge Artillery. During this time the company fought in the Overland Campaign and was part of Lee’s defenses of Petersburg and Richmond. The battery took part in the bloody fights at The Wilderness, Spotsylvania, North Anna, Totopotomoy Creek, Cold Harbor, The Crater, and numerous other engagements during the 9 month siege of Petersburg.

On December 28, 1864 the battery was armed with (3) 24-lb. Howitzers.

After a long hard winter in the trenches of Petersburg the battery suffered heavy casualties in the final assault on April 2, 1865. When the now legendary Army of Northern Virginia was surrendered at Appomattox on April 9th only 1 officer and 27 enlisted men were all that remained of the 2nd Rockbridge Artillery. Lt. William T. Wilson, now in command, formally surrendered the battery.

During 4 years of hard and faithful service the 2nd Company, Rockbridge Artillery performed with courage and dedication.

“Here lie men who have not hesitated to seal and stamp their convictions with their blood…”

Anonymous writer for the New York Times, upon seeing the dead of Antietam

Casualties In The 2nd Rockbridge Artillery

Aggregate: Total Serving from 1861-1865--210

Killed In Action--22

Wounded In Action--66

Captured--60

Total Casualties Due To Enemy Action--148( 70.4 % )

Died Of Disease--31

Total Dead--53--for a 25.2 percentile

Total War Time Casualties--179

Loss Percentage in dead,wounded, and captured--85.2 %

Surrendered at Appomattox Courthouse--28

****Note: During the period from July, 1861 throught April, 1865 210 men of all ages passed through the ranks of the 2nd Rockbridge Artillery. Fifty-three of those men died while on duty, 22 by enemy action and 31 from illness, giving the battery the highest percentage in fatalities of all Virginia Artillery units during the war with 25.2 % of its members dead.****

“On the 12th of April the Army of Northern Virginia marched to the field in front of Appomattox Court-House, and by divisions and parts of divisions deployed into line, stacked their arms, folded their colors, and walked empty-handed to find their distant, blighted homes.”

Lt. Gen. James Longstreet

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