|Rockbridge Artillery, Virginia, 1862
Rockbridge County, Virginia, was completed by April 12, 1861, with the election of its officers. The company in May 1861 consisted of three officers, nine noncommissioned officers, and sixty~three privates. The bulk of rhe company was comprised of students, lawyers, mer. chants, farmers, mechanics, and laborers. Forty-five members of the company eventually received commissions and were assigned to duty with other units. Many of these officers achieved distinction. The Rockbridge Artillery was a popular unit throughout its existence and rarely experienced difficulty in recruiting.
On May 3 a flag was presented to the Rockbridge Artillery by the local ladies, and by 6 May6 the company was reported as being armed, equipped, and ready to march at short notice. On May 10 the Rockbridge Artillery left Lexingron with two cadet bronze 6-pounders borrowed from the Virginia Military Institute. The company was mustered into State service at Staunton, Virginia, on May 11 and was ordered to Harpers Ferry where it was attached to Colonel ThomasJ. Jackson's 1st Brigade. While at Harpers Ferry the company received a bronze 6-pounder and a 12-pounder bronze howitzer, both of which were issued from the State Armory in Richmond. It was these four pieces that the company dubbed: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. For caissons, the running gear of farm wagons were utilized with rough boxes constructed as ammunition chests.
|click to enlarge|
|The Rockbridge Artillery first saw action on July 2, 1861, at Falling Waters, with one of its pieces firing the first Confederate artillery shot in the Shenandoah Valley. First Manassas on July 21 they formed a part of Jackson's line on Henry House Hill. The Rockbridge Artillery remained with the Stonewall Brigade until October 1862, assigned to Cotonel John Thompson Brown's Battalion, Reserve Artillery, Second Corps. Reorganized April 22, 1862, under Capt. William T. Poague; 21 men transferred from the company in April 1862, most of them to Ashby's cavalry. This was an independent company, attached, but not assigned, to the 1st Regt. Va. Arty., which afterwards became the 1st Bn. Va. Light Arty. from about October 1862, until the organization was broken up in January 1865. Captains: John McCausland (appointed col. April 1861), William N. Pendleton (to col. July 15, 1861), William McLaughlin, William T. Poague (to maj. April 1863)|
|In the plate is shown one of the two 20-pounder Parrorrs received by the company about 26 September 1862. The other two pieces comprising the battery were IO-pounder Parrotts. The cannoneer sitting on the ammunition chest has been reaming out, or resi%ing. the holes in the wooden fuze plugs, which tended to swell when exposed to dampness. In 1862, and until after the Battle of Fredericksburg, Confederate manufacrured Parrott type shells normally took the wooden fuze plug as opposed to the threaded zinc fuze plugs used by the Federal artillery. In May 1861, when the company left Lexingron, members wore plain gray cloth uniforms made by the ladies of the community. The uniforms, blankets, and knapsacks. as well as the company's cooking utensils, were largely provided for by the county. Our best source for the uniform and dress of the Rockbridge Artillery, 1862, is Edward A. Moore's The Story of a Cannoneer Under Stonewall Jackson. Moore, who served in the company from 1862 until the surrender, is shown in the plate, wearing a gray overcoat, and carrying a ptolonge draped over his shoulders. Beneath the overcoat, Moore is wearing the lead colored knit jacket. or "Josey" as his mess mates called it, acquired from a civilian friend soon after his enlistment. Moore described the jacket as having a blue stripe near the edges, buttoning close at the throat, and coming down well over the hips, fitting after the manner of a shirt. He is wearing trousers made in North Carolina and issued by the Quartermaster Department. Fabricated of part wool and cotton, the trousers were reddish brown or brick dust color. Most of the uniform jackets worn by members of the Rockbtidge Artillery, at least during the first two years of the war, appear to have had scarlet trim. However, a number of contemporary photographs reveal an absence of trim. Both types are depicted in the plate. The wearing of captured clothing was quite common. On 27 May 1862, Randolph Fairfax wrote: "Our troops are loaded with Yankee plunder, and rigged out in Yankee clothes, to such an extent that an order had to be issued, forbidding them to be worn, for fear that it might give rise to mistakes and lead to firing on our own men." It is well known, however, that the practice of wearing captured trousers, and to some extent over~ coats, continued throughout the war. Details of Captain Poague's dress are taken from the photograph made while he was captain, and which is reproduced in Wise, The Long Arm of Lee, and in Poague's published memoirs, Gunner With Stonewall. Confederate Museum, Richmond, Virginia MILITARY UNIFORMS IN AMERICA- 1852- 1867, Company of Military Collectors.|