Monday, October 8, 2012

The Manchester Light Artillery: Sergeant James A. Vaden, my 2nd Great Grand Uncle

Battle Flag of the 6th Virginia Infantry

The Manchester Light Artillery Regiment went by several different names during the Civil War.  The Unit formerly served in the 6th and 16th Regiments of Virginia Infantry.  For a time it was also referred to as Captain Weisiger's Company, Virginia Light Artillery. 

The Virginia 16th Infantry completed its organization in May of 1861 with ten companies. Due to various reorganizations and transfers, the unit contained only seven after November 1, 1862.  The men were recruited from Suffolk and Portsmouth and the counties of Nansemond, Isle of Wight, Sussex, and Chesterfield.  Raleigh E. Colston was commissioned as Colonel of the Virginia 16th in early 1861.  Colston would experience a meteoric rise through the ranks of the Confederacy.   On December 24, 1861, Colston was appointed as a Brigadier General to serve under General James Longstreet. 

Raleigh Edward Colston

Brigadier General Raleigh E. Colston is buried in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond Virginia.   Below is a picture of his grave taken on September 29, 2012. 

General Raleigh E. Colston's Grave


The Manchester Light Artillery served as a constant supporting element of the Henrico Courtney Artillery during the early stages of the war.  Unfortunately the Unit was never really able to lay claim to its own history.  Though not initially caught up in the reorganization of the artillery in the late summer and early fall of 1862, the battery was always under-strength.  Prior to the operations of 1863, the Manchester Artillery was finally consolidated with the Henrico Courtney Artillery.  My 3rd Great Grandfather, Samuel Conway also served in the Henrico Courtney Artillery.

Several of the Confederate cannons used in the Civil War were manufactured at The Tredegar Iron Works in Richmond. 

Confederate Cannon at Historic Tredegar

Artillery Exhibit at Historic Tredegar
Modern View of Historic Tredegar


James A. Vaden was born in Manchester, Virginia in about 1836.  While each of the Vaden brothers answered the call to serve their native home of Virginia, James enlisted first.   James originally enlisted as a Private in Company I, Virginia 16th Infantry on January 5, 1861.   He was transferred to Captain Weisiger's Company of Virginia Light Artillery on May 15, 1861. 

James Vaden's service record shows the affiliation between the Virginia 6th & 16th Infantry and the Manchester Light Artillery. 


Muster Roll for James Vaden showing Virginia 16th Infantry

Muster Roll for James Vaden showing Virginia 6th Infantry

In April of 1862 James was elected to 1st Sergeant. 


Muster Roll for James showing promotion to Sergeant

Unfortunately for James, he wasn't able to enjoy his new rank for very long.  Just two months after being elected 1st Sergeant, James was wounded at the Battle of Cross Keys on June 8, 1862. 


The Battle of Cross Keys by Edwin Forbes

The Battle of Cross Keys was a decisive victory for the Confederate forces under General Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson during his "Valley Campaign".   This victory allowed Jackson's army to reinforce Lee prior to the Seven Days' Battles.


General Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson

Stonewall Jackson's kepi hat, sword and cartridge case on display at the Museum of the Confederacy

In March of 1862, Jackson marched his 17,000 man "foot cavalry" in and out of the Shenandoah Valley.   The unit covered large distances of land with magnificent speed in order to elude a Union force that nearly doubled its size.  Cross Keys was the 5th Battle in Jackson's Valley Campaign.  Following Jackson's defeat on March 23rd at Kernstown, there had only been victories for the unit.  Two separate Union forces now threatened Jackson.  These forces were commanded by Irish born General James Sheilds and California Republican John Charles Frémont.  Sheilds army was threatening from the northeast, while Frémont's forces posed a threat from the northwest. 

Jackson rendezvoused with his senior commander, General Richard S. Ewell in the town of Harrisonburg, Virginia. The anticipation of a converged attack from both Union armies led the Confederate command to plan to strike each army individually.  Jackson sent Ewell to handle Frémont's threat at Cross Keys, while he and the rest of his command to Port Republic to deal with Sheilds. 

Map of the Battle of Cross Keys


On Sunday June 8, 1862, in the early hours of daylight, General Frémont marched his men down the Port Republic Road towards Cross Keys, Virginia.  There they made contact with General Ewell's men.  Ewell's force consisted of three brigades, headed by Generals Isaac R. Trimble, George Steuart, and Arnold Elzey.  These brigades were supported by four artillery batteries. The total strength of Ewell's force was about 6,000 men. 

The Confederate forces dug in for what they believed would be hard fought battle.  What they actually received was a very cautious approach from Frémont's Union Force.  Frémont commanded a force of about 11,000 men, nearly double the force commanded by Ewell.  Frémont mistook Ewell's small force for Jackson's entire army.  Rather than attack in force, he allowed his long range artillery to duel with the Confederates.  It was in this small artillery duel, where Sergeant James A. Vaden received the mortal wound that cost him his life. 


Muster Roll showing James was killed at the Battle of Cross Keys

Frémont eventually concluded that his enemy's right flank was vulnerable and ordered forward a brigade of German immigrants from Louis Blenker's division.  They were abruptly halted by men from General Isaac Trimble's brigade, who were hiding along a fence.  Trimble's men were waiting for the Germans to get close enough so they could unleash a deadly volley of musket fire into their ranks.  This caught the Union troops off guard and led to Blenker's men scurrying northwest towards the Keezletown Road.  Day turned into night and Trimble pressed Ewell to continue the attack.   Ewell knew he was outnumbered and offensive attack at night on a larger force proved to be too risky.  Ewell also didn't want to spread his line too thin in case his men were needed to support Jackson.  Trimble was given permission from Ewell to ride to Port Republic and make his case to Jackson in person.  Jackson deferred back to Ewell stating "Consult General Ewell and be guided by him."  Ewell repeated his initial refusal and the Battle of Cross Keys had come to an end.

The Confederate casualties numbered 288 men, 41 of whom were killed.  Sergeant James A. Vaden was of the 247 wounded men.   He was removed from the field of battle and taken to University Hospital in Charlottesville, Virgina where he died on June 30, 1862. 

Muster Roll showing James was killed from wounds received at the Battle of Cross Keys


C.S.A. Register showing James was died in Charlottesville

Sergeant James A. Vaden's final pay voucher was made payable to his mother, Sarah A. Vaden on October 28, 1862. 

Final pay voucher for James


Letter from Captain Weisiger stating when James had last been paid

James A. Vaden's burial location is unknown at the time of this blog entry.   As stated in earlier blogs, there are several Vaden's buried in Maury Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia.  It's quite within the realm of possibility that the Vaden brothers (William, James & George) are all buried in Maury Cemetery.   It will take another visit to Maury Cemetery to find out for sure.

Here's my relation to James:

James A. Vaden (1836 - 1862)
is your 2nd great grand uncle
Austin L. Vaden (1807 - 1860)
Father of James A.
George Patterson Vaden (1840 - 1892)
Son of Austin L.
William A. Vaden (1885 - 1916)
Son of George Patterson
Robert William Lewis (1913 - 1990)
Son of William A.
Joyce Elaine Lewis (1948 - )
Daughter of Robert William
Chip Stokes
You are the son of Joyce

1 comment:

  1. The Daily Dispatch
    Richmond, Virginia
    3 July 1862 (page 2, column 4a)
    DIED ...
    In Charlottesville, on Monday, the 30th June, of his wounds received at the battle of Port Republic, June 9th, 1862, Sergt. JAMES AUSTIN VADEN, of the Manchester Artillery, in the 26th year of his age.
    His funeral will take place from the residence of his mother, in Manchester, this (Thursday) afternoon, at 5 o'clock. The friends and acquaintances of the family are respectfully invited to attend without further notice.
    Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.
    keyesperry [at ]msn.com

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