It was mustered into the service of the state of Virginia on April 21, 1861, originally for one year of service. On May 25 it was deployed to Camp Pickens, Manassas Junction, VA. On June 29 it was transferred to Fairfax Courthouse and assigned to Milledge Bonham's brigade. Under Bonham it held its ground against a feint attack at the First Battle of Bull Run (Manassas), though the company saw no further action as the battle raged well to its left.
In August the company was transferred to NG Evans's Brigade. In the spring of 1862 they took part in the Peninsula Campaign, repelling a Federal assault on Fort Magruder. The company was then transferred to Griffith's Brigade, Magruder's Division, and took part in the Seven Days' Battles. The company spent the summer of 1862 divided between two different commands but was reunited for the Maryland Campaign, now under Barksdale's Brigade, McLaws' Division. It spent the entire day of September 17, 1862 in line of fire during the Battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg). In December 1862, the company's two ten-pound Parrott guns shelled the Federal assault on Marye's Heights at Fredericksburg. The two six-pounders were in position but did not participate in the battle.
In May 1863, under Kershaw's Brigade, the company took part in fighting near Salem Church during the Battle of Chancellorsville. On July 2, 1863, at the Battle of Gettysburg, the company supported McLaws' division's unsuccessful attempt to flank the Army of the Potomac on the left. On this day the Richmond Howitzers endured their fiercest counter battery fire to date, seeing seven men and thirteen horses killed as a result. On July 3 they moved to the center of the line, opposite Cemetery Ridge, and took part in the massive bombardment which preceded Pickett's Charge.
In 1864, during the Overland Campaign, the company was heavily engaged at Spotsylvania Courthouse, Cold Harbor, and Gaine's Mill, where their longtime commander, Captain Edward McCarthy, was killed on June 4. The company remained on lines east of Richmond until June 15, when they were transferred to Petersburg, which had come under siege by General Ulysses S. Grant.
During the long siege of Petersburg, the company was encamped at Dunn House, where it saw only occasional action. On April 2, 1865, the lines of Petersburg were evacuated and the company fell back to Amelia Courthouse. Along the way it had been forced to abandon its caissons due to casualties among its horses, so its ammunition supply was severely restricted.
On April 8 the company saw action for the final time, repelling a surprise Federal cavalry raid with canister and musket fire. (Many of the artillerists had been carrying infantry weapons, since there were not enough guns and ammunition to require everyone's services.) On April 10 the company learned that the Army of Northern Virginia had capitulated. The men spiked their guns, destroyed their carriages and harnesses, and disbanded the company.
1st Richmond Howitzers in Southern VictoryEdit
The First Richmond Howitzers were a prestigious artillery unit in the Army of Northern Virginia since its activation in 1861. It was deployed at the forward base of the army in Arlington, Virginia, which meant that it would be the first unit in the ANV to see action in a war against the United States. Its ranks included several notable persons from Confederate history, including Jeb Stuart III (the grandson of James Ewell Brown Stuart, a famous cavalryman from the War of Secession and the Second Mexican War), and Jake Featherston, who became President of the C.S. and led his country into the Second Great War disaster.
The primary artillery piece used by the First Richmond Howitzers during the Great War was the French 75mm (Three inch) field gun. During the Second Great War, the main artillery piece was the 105mm (Four inch) howitzer.
List of First Richmond Howitzers CommandersEdit
The following people are known to have served as commander of the First Richmond Howitzers:
- Edward S McCarthy, Captain, Confederate States Army; began 1861
- James Ewell Brown Stuart III, Captain, Confederate States Army; ended 1915
- Jake Featherston, Sergeant, Confederate States Army; 1915-1917
- Joe Mouton, Captain, Confederate States Army; ended 1941
- Malcolm Clay, Lieutenant, Confederate States Army; began 1941