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]ac Weller is a Graduate and Licensed Engineer, and a well known firearms consultant. He lives in Princeton, New Jersey, where he engages in ordnance and historical research. He is an honorary curator of the West Point Museum and has published in the "Journal of the Company of Military Collectors and Historians." The Confederate Use Of British Cannon JAC WELLER Numbers in parentheses refer to illustrations following page 152. Figures 9, 10, 11 are included for general interest without special reference from the text. The Union column was strung out along the narrow Shenandoah Valley road, every man in the column glancing about anxiously. Jackson was loose in the Shenandoah again. All plans for cohesive action lost, the Northerners were in retreat. Suddenly, a gray-clad formation of horsemen appeared at one side, coming fast, headed for the center of the Northern Une. The Southerners were close; individuals could be clearly seen, lean and tanned. They were magnificent horsemen. In the silence, the clash of scabbards against buckles and stirrups rang out in clear menace. But these Confederates were not cavalry. They were Preston Chew's horse artillery, and the Virginian, scarcely more than a boy himself, had them in perfect control. With his three guns abreast and every man mounted, he charged at full gallop to within pistol shot. A drawled command, incisive in spite of the slurred consonants, and they wheeled as one man, unlimbered the guns, and went into action. The guns roared; canister and shell cut into the Northern lines. The odds were a hundred to one against Chew, but Jackson with his infantry was behind him, to shatter what the gunners had brought to bay. This was the high point of Stonewall's Shenandoah Valley campaign.1 1 This was the first, but not the last, instance of charging by Confederate horse artillery with or without cavalry support; such actions are well documented in Jennings C. Wise, The Long Arm of Lee; or, the History of the Artillery of the Army of Northern Virginia . . . (2 vols.; Lynchburg, Va.: J. P. Bell Co., Inc., 1915), I, 166-67. 135 136jAC weller Six months later when Burnside was ponderously launching his tens of thousands against Lee above Fredericksburg, John Pelham, a goldenhaired stripling from Alabama, had two guns placed out on the wide, flat plain on the Confederate right flank. Masses of Union infantry and many Union batteries were advancing over this cleared ground. With both armies watching, Pelham's gunners handled their pieces as if they wereonparade. Shells exploded among Union infantryformations. Solid shot raked Yankee lines from their flank. Union batteries went into action, many guns against only two, but the idol of Stuart's cavalry was not dismayed. His gunners moved as their opponents got the range. They were like martins after a hawk. Their pieces could be Umbered up and started toward a new position in seconds. Again their fire would cause disorder and delay. To the right, to the left, forward and back, they fired again and again, the fire lasting an hour until every round of ammunition in the Confederate limber chests and caissons had been expended. Two guns and some forty men had held up the attack of over 70,000.a These two instances of daring and efficiency have seldom been equalled in the history of artillery. The names of Preston Chew and John Pelham will survive as long as men study the handling of guns in the face of an enemy. Each was of the horse artillery of the Army of Northern Virginia, and in the episodes described, each was using a 1-pounder Blakely rifle of British manufacture. British cannon were numerous in the Confederacy , but their significance in action was not the result of their numbers alone. Safely chronicled in history are the exploits of the men themselves— Chew and Pelham, Wüliam T. Poague in the Wilderness, and Stephen Lee at the angle in the Second Manassas. But the details of their materiel, thought unimportant at the time, must be reconstructed from a rusty trophy in a victor's museum or a fragment of shell turned up by a farmer's plow where once a...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 135-152h
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-02
Open Access
No
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