The Rockbridge Artillery
A Brief History of the Battery
This famous battery fired the first cannon shots in the Shenandoah Valley at Hainesville on July 2, 1861. The Rockbridge cannoneers shed their first blood in the Confederate victory at Bull Run. Under Stonewall Jackson they endured the Bath-Romney campaign during January 1862. In the Valley campaign they fought with distinction at Kernstown, Winchester and Port Republic. The Stonewall Battery earned new honours at Malvern Hill, Cedar Mountain, Second Manassas, Harper's Ferry, Sharpsburg and Fredericksburg.
The Rockbridge gunners defended the heights of Fredericksburg during the Chancellorsville campaign, aided in the capture of Winchester, bombarded the Union lines on Culp's Hill at Gettysburg, defended the river crossing at Rappahannock Station, and helped drive back Meade's forces at Mine Run in 1863.
In 1864 the Rockbridge Battery aided Lee in stopping Grant's advance at Spotsylvania Court House and Cold Harbor. During the defence of Richmond the First Rockbridge Artillery frustrated Federal attacks on that city and in so doing lost its guns at Deep Bottom. Quickly re-armed, the battery continued to man the defences of Richmond until April, 1865.
On the retreat to Appomattox Court House the Rockbridge Artillery made a heroic stand at Cumberland Church. Captain Archibald Graham surrendered 101 officers and men on April 9, 1865.
The Second Rockbridge Artillery was first blooded in the successful defence of Alleghany Mountain in 1861.
The Fairfield Battery joined Stonewall Jackson and served with distinction at Strasburg and Cross Keys in the Shenandoah Valley and at Fredericksburg in 1862.
They marched with Jackson on his famous flank attack at Chancellorsville in May, 1863, and helped drive Hooker's army back across the Rappahannock. The Second Rockbridge Battery fired the opening guns at Gettysburg on July 1, 1863, and was engaged throughout the battle. However, just three months later, those same guns that remained hot were lost in a heroic stand at Bristoe Station in October, 1863. Re-armed, they participated in repelling Meade's army at Mine Run in November.
In 1864 the Fairfield gunners served with valour in the Wilderness, at Spotsylvania Court House and Cold Harbor. They also later helped in foiling the attack on the Crater at Petersburg in July, 1864.
The gunners of the 2nd Rockbridge Artillery helped Lee's army defend Petersburg until overrun in the gallant struggle for the defences at Fort Virginia on April 2, 1865. Lieutenant William T Wilson surrendered 28 men at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865.
The above article first appeared in the ACWS Newsletter, September 2001