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R. Preston Chew's Battery, ANV
An Historical Overview
"I was all through the Mexican war and in this one from its commencement up to the present time, and I never saw a battery fire so accurately and effectively as that one did on that hill today." - Union General Pleasonton's Chief of Artillery regarding Chew's Battery at the battle of Brandy Station, as related by George Neese in a letter to Chew after the war.  Source, "They Followed The Plume", Robert J. Trout, page 81



Roger Preston Chew was only 19 years old, Milton Rouse 17 years old, and James Thomson 18 years old the day the three appeared before their former VMI artillery instructor, Col. Thomas J. Jackson, to offer their services as volunteers in the new army of the Confederate States of America. At the suggestion of Turner Ashby, flamboyant commander of Jackson’s cavalry in the Shenandoah Valley, the three were commissioned, respectively, Captain, First Lieutenant, and Second Lieutenant of an artillery battery that would revolutionize the tactics of the American Civil War.

Chew’s Battery, armed with an imported British Blakely rifled cannon, a 12-pounder smoothbore and a 3-inch iron rifle, became the first of several horse artillery batteries organized and employed by Confederate cavalry commanders. By the time the war ended, Chew’s Battery enjoyed a reputation for valor second to no other battery in Confederate service.

As Jennings Cropper Wise said of them in his landmark book, The Long Arm of Lee, "The clatter of its horses’ feet, the rumble of its guns upon the turnpike, the shriek of its shells, were sounds familiar to every resident of the Valley from the Potomac to Staunton, and it probably took part in more engagements than any other battery in the war, North or South."

Formed by special order of the Confederate Government on November 11, 1861 at Flowing Spring, VA., the battery was commanded from the start by Captain Chew, a native of Loudoun County who grew up in Charlestown, Va. It was armed at the beginning with a 3-inch Ordnance Rifle, a 12-pounder bronze smoothbore howitzer and an imported 3.1 inch Blakely Rifle. It was the Blakely Rifle that gave Chew’s Battery its fame in the Valley. Friend and foe alike, when hearing its unique crack when fired, would know that both Ashby and Chew were nearby. As Ashby’s cavalry gained its fame, it was given the sobriquet; "Laurel Brigade." Chew’s Battery was included as being a member of that illustrious brigade from the battery’s formation, until the end of the war.

For additional information regarding the history of this famous battery, you may want to read Three Years in the Confederate Horse Artillery, by George M. Neese.  Neese was a gunner in Chew's Battery for the bulk of its service to the Confederacy.  Please visit our Photo Gallery for pictures of original members of this unit.

Hurrah For The Light Artillery
On the unstained sward of the gentle slope, 
Full of valor and nerved by hope, 
The infantry sways like a coming sea; 
Why lingers the light artillery? 
"Action front!" 
Whirling the Parrotts like children's toys, 
The horses strain to the rushing noise; 
To right and to left, so fast and free, 
They carry the light artillery. 
"Drive on!" 
The gunner cries with a tug and a jerk, 
The limbers fly, and we bend to our work; 
The handspike in, and the implements out
We wait for the word, and it comes with a shout
The foes pour on their billowy line; 
Can nothing check their bold design? 
With yells and oaths of fiendish glee, 
They rush for the light artillery. 
"Commence firing!"
Hurrah! Hurrah! our bulldogs bark, 
And the enemy's line is a glorious mark; 
Hundreds fall like grain on the lea, 
Mowed down by the light artillery. 
"Fire!" and "Load!" are the only cries, 
Thundered and rolled to the vaulted skies; 
Aha! they falter, they halt, they flee
From the hail of the light artillery. 
"Cease firing!" 
The battle is over, the victory won, 
Ere the dew is dried by the rising sun; 
While the shout bursts out, like a full-voiced sea, 
"Hurrah for the light artillery!


R. Preston Chew's Battery
Service Record
11 Nov 1861 - 3 Jan 1862: Gen. Ashby's Cavalry, Operations between Martinsburg, VA., and Dam No. 5 on the Potomac River.
4 Jan 1862 - 15 Jan 1862:  Gen. T.J. Jackson's Command, BathRomney expedition.
15 Jan 1862 - 23 Feb 1862:  Winter Quarter near Martinsburg, VA.

Shenandoah Valley Campaign

24 Feb 1862 - 22 Mar 1862:  Operations around Winchester, VA.
23 Mar 1862:  Battle of Kernstown, VA.
25 May 1862:  Battle of Winchester, VA.
6 Jun 1862:  Skirmish near Harrisonburg, VA.  Ashby killed, Gen. B.H. Robertson assumes command of Ashby's Cavalry.
9 Jun 1862:  Battle of Port Republic, VA.
18 Jun 1862 - 10 Jul 1862:  Operations with Robertson's Brigade in the Shenandoah Valley.
11 Jul 1862 - 9 Aug 1862:  Operations with Gen. T.J. Jackson along Rapidan River.
9 Aug 1862:  Gen. Jackson's Cavalry, along with Chew's Battery assigned to Gen. J.E.B. Stuart's Cavalry Command.
9 Aug 1862 - 31 Aug 1862:  Second Manassas Campaign; minor engagements throughout.

Maryland Campaign

4 Sep 1862:  Col. T.T. Munford assumes command of brigade.
8 Sep 1862:  Skirmishing between Poolesville, MD. and Sugar Loaf Mountain.
14 Sep 1862:  Battle of South Mountain (Crampton's Gap).
17 Sep 1862:  Battle of Antietam (present, not seriously engaged).
19 Sep 1862 - 9 Nov 1862:  Operations around Charlestown, VA.

Winter 1862 - Summer 1863

8 Nov 1862:  Gen W.E. Jones assumes command of brigade.
11 Nov 1862 - 14 Nov 1862:  Operations near Front Royal, VA.
15 Nov 1862 - 23 Nov 1862:  Operations near Charlestown, VA.
24 Nov 1862 - 3 Dec 1862:  Operations near Winchester, VA.
4 Dec 1862 - 1 Jan 1863:  Operations between Strasburg, VA. and Winchester, VA.
2 Jan 1863 - 6 Jan 1863:  Expedition against Federals at Moorefield, VA.
8 Jan 1863 - 28 Feb 1863:  Winter Quarters near New Market, VA.
1 Mar 1863 - 21 Apr 1863:  Operations in the Shenandoah Valley.
21 Apr 1863 - 24 Apr 1863:  Started on Gen. Jones' raid into W. VA. but inclement weather and swollen streams forced artillery back.
25 Apr 1863 - 30 Apr 1863:  March from Franklin W. VA. to Harrisonburg, VA.
1 May 1863 - 30 May 1863:  Operations around Harrisonburg, VA.
1 Jun 1863 - 4 Jun 1863:  March to Culpepper C.H. VA.

Gettysburg Campaign

9 Jun 1863:  Battle of Brandy Station, VA.
17 Jun 1863:  Battle of Upperville, VA (Trappe Road Fight).
3 Jul 1863:  Minor engagement near Fairfield, PA.
10 Jul 1863 - 13 Jul 1863:  Defense of Lee's Retreat at Williamsport, MD.  Skirmishes at Williamsport, Beaver Dam Creek, and Boonsboro, MD.

Back in Virginia

14 Jul 1863 - 1 Aug 1863:  Retreat behind the Rapidan River.
2 Aug 1863 - 8 Oct 1863:  Operations along the Rapidan River.
16 Sep 1863:  Brigade, along with Chew's Battery, transferred to Gen. F. Lee's Division.
9 Oct 1863 - 22 Oct 1863:  Bristoe Campaign.
Mid-October 1863:  Gen. T.L. Rosser assumes command of brigade.
19 Oct 1863:  Battle of Buckland Mills, VA. ("Buckland Races").
23 Oct 1863 - 25 Nov 1863:  Operations along the Rappahannock River.
26 Nov 1863 - 1 Dec 1863:  Mine Run Campaign.
2 Dec 1863 - 27 Feb 1864:  Winter Quarters.
28 Feb 1864 - 2 Mar 1864:  Repulse of Kilpatrick's Raid.
3 Mar 1864 - 2 May 1864:  Operations along the Rappahannock River.

Beginning of the End

3 May 1864 - 7 May 1864:  Wilderness Campaign.
5 May 1864 - 6 May 1864:  Battle of the Wilderness.
8 May 1864 - 21 May 1864:  Spottsylvania Campaign.
11 May 1864:  Battle of Yellow Tavern, VA.  Stuart mortally wounded; - Gen. W. Hampton commands Cavalry.
12 May 1864 - 20 May 1864:  Participated in skirmishes near and in Battle of Spottsylvania C.H. VA.
21 May 1864 - 16 Jun 1864:  Operations in concert with the movement of the Army of Northern Virginia towards Richmond, VA.
23 May 1864:  Battle of North Anna (lightly engaged).
3 Jun 1864:  Engagement at Haw's Shop, VA.
11 Jun 1864:  Battle of Trevillian's Station, VA.
16 Jun 1864 - 26 Jun 1864:  Operations around Richmond, VA.
27 Jun 1864 - 12 Aug 1864:  Operations around Petersburg, VA.

 Return to the Valley

13 Aug 1864 - 16 Aug 1864:  March to Gordonsville, VA.
18 Aug 1864 - 26 Sep 1864:  Encamped near Gordonsville, VA.
27 Sep 1864 - Feb 1865:  Operations with Gen. J. Early in Shenandoah Valley.
9 Oct 1864:  Battle at Toms Brook, VA.  (Neese's Section Captured).
19 Oct 1864:  Battle of Cedar Creek, VA.

Final Days of the Confederacy

5 Mar 1865 - 28 Mar 1865:  Operations during Siege of Petersburg.
29 Mar 1865 - 8 Apr 1865:  Appomattox Campaign.
9 April 1865:  Surrender of Gen. R.E. Lee and Army of Northern Virginia as Appomattox C.H. VA.
**Note:  Rosser's Cavalry Division, along with Colonel Chew and his Horse Artillery escaped the Surrender and joined up with Gen. J.E. Johnston in N. Carolina but were refused permission to fight with him, Johnston stating that they were still part of Lee's Army.  The remnants of Chew's Battery were paroled with Johnston's forces and made their way home to the Shenandoah Valley, burying their cannon to avoid capture.

Bibilography for History and for Service Record

"The Civil War Day By Day" by E.B. Long, Doubleday 1971
"A History of the Laurel Brigade" by W.N. McDonald, Olde Soldier Books 1987
"The Confederate Order of Battle, Army of Northern Virginia, Volume I" by F.R. Sibley Jr., White Mane 1996
"The Long Arm of Lee" by J.C. Wise, Oxford Univ. Press 1959