Jackson's Battery, 62d Va.


From the Bushong House parking lot, walk about 60 yards southeast to a point between the blacksmith shop and Interstate 81. About 30 yards south of you, note the single gun. It denotes the approximate final location of Jackson's Battery, which followed in direct support of the advancing Confederate infantry. General Breckinridge observed events around the Bushong House from a point several hundred yards to the southwest, closer to US 11.

Map, Jackson's Battery, 62d  Va

Looking directly north you will see a shallow gully beginning near the Bushong House parking lot. It is intercepted by the interstate but continues eastward about 250 yards toward US 11. Colonel George S. Smith's 62d Virginia, with Captain Charles H. Woodson's Co. A, 1st Missouri Cavalry attached, moved through the gully to the ridge about 200 yards to the north. There, the regiment hit a wall of Federal artillery and infantry fire and fell back to the relative shelter offered by the gully. Colonel George H. Smith, 62d Virginia Mounted Infantry, recalled,

When we reached the line of the fence beyond Bushong's house, the right of the 51st Regiment became exposed to a heavy fire from the enemy's line, and the regiment halted and commenced firing. The 62d continued to advance, and on passing the slight elevation in front of it and reaching the depression beyond came under the close concentrated artillery and infantry fire of the Federal line, losing in a very few minutes over two hundred of the men. The whole loss of the regiment in the fight was two hundred and forty-one out of an aggregate of about five hundred, including seven of the captains. These, it should be mentioned, were eleven in all, including Captain [Woodson], commanding a company of Missourians, which had been temporarily assigned to us, which did good service and suffered severely. Seeing it impossible to effect anything with the remaining two hundred and fifty or two hundred and sixty men, I ordered the regiment to fall back, which it did, halting after passing the elevation referred to and immediately re-forming and upon the 22d Regiment coming on its left, and advancing with it.

Cpt. Conrad Currence, G. Co., 62d Va., was killed trying to grab his colors. Of the 11 companies making up the regiment, seven lost their commanders. 100 out of 442 men were lost in this ravine. The fire was the hottest I was ever under.

Farther west, the 30th and 51st Virginia were having an equally bad time. The men had forged their way forward against the Federal fire through the Bushong property to a fence on its north side. The intense fire proved too much for many of them and they began to drift back to the greater shelter offered on the south side of the Bushong buildings. General Breckinridge noticed this and ordered his aide, Maj. Charles Semple, to go over and restore order. Semple pointed to the cadets standing in reserve in what is now the open field between the museum building and the Bushong House and asked, "General, why don't you put the cadets in line? They will fight as well as our men?" Breckinridge replied, "No, Charley, this will not do, they are only children and I cannot expose them to such a fire as our center will receive." Semple ran over and found the situation irretrievable. He came back to Breckinridge and said, "General, it is too late. The Federals are right on us. If the cadets are ordered up we can close the gap in our center." Breckinridge then ordered: "Major, order them up and God forgive me for the order." Cadet John H. Upshur described the VMI Corps' movement forward. On the northern border of this field and to our front, stood Bushong's house, beyond which was an apple orchard. The enemy had slowly fallen back and taken up a third position several hundred yards beyond this house. On reaching the house, the ranks divided, A and B Companies passing to the right of the house, and C and D Companies to the left; A and B marking time until the other half came up and the line was reformed. Cadet Willis O. Harris recalled in a 1909 letter to Cadet Capt. Henry A. Wise, In passing over the ground occupied by the farm-house . . . and its outhouses and orchard, we were thrown into disorder, especially in getting over a picket fence.
Return to Table of Contents

page created 20 December 1999

Return to CMH Online