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A monument to Major James W. Thomson, Confederate States Artillery.

With an account of his death and of the organization of Chew's Battery.

[We are not advised that the amount needed for the erection of the monument to Major Thomson has yet been secured, but we feel it will be. For additional particulars as to the career of the famous Chew Battery, see an account of a reunion of its survivors held in October, 1890. Southern Historical Society Papers, Vol. XVIII, pp. 281-286.]

On the 20th of March, 1864, Captain Robert Preston Chew's battery, was camped near Gordonsville, with the battalion of Stuart's Light Horse Artillery. On the 25th an election of company officers having been ordered (as Captain Chew had just received his commission as major) First Lieutenant James W. Thomson, a son of John A. Thomson, of Summit Point, was elected captain of Chew's famous old battery, and from that date was known as Thomson's battery, and under his control, although he was less than twenty-three years old. The battery lost none of prestige; a braver or more gallant young officer was not in the service. Five young men from Winchester came to us and volunteered in the company: A Beale [366] Burgess, William Marstellar, Luther Kohlhousen, Henry Deahl, and Edward Reed; the other members from Winchester were John and Clayton Williams, Charles and Frank Conrad, Charles W. McVicar, Pent Powell, Raleigh Powell, William McGuire, Philip Boyd, and Deaveraux Bowly.

This battery was always on the front and engaged almost daily in action. January 16th, 1865, the battery was disbanded, owing to the scarcity of rations and forage. It was called to assemble in Lynchburg April 1st, 1865. The names of the sixteen who were on duty at time of the surrender, were Captain Tuck. Carter (Captain James Thomson had been promoted to major), W. R. Lyman, Charles and Frank Conrad, Clayton Williams, Charles W. McVicar, Frank Asberry, Pub Zirkle, Atkinson, Thornton, Dailey, John Hare, Crawford, Louis Morrell, William Thomson, and Pem. Thomson.

Major Thomson left Captain Carter in command and went to the front near Petersburg. April 7th, while leading a charge of a squad of Rosser's cavalry at High Bridge, was badly wounded. Rallying the men he charged the second time and was repulsed. Gathering a few he charged the third time and was killed. Captain Jacob Engle, living near Harper's Ferry, saw him shot off his horse. A comrade ran to the body and unbuckled his belt and sabre stained with blood, gave it to Captain Engle with instructions to keep it until he called for it. Captain Engel has it yet to fulfil that trust. John Dean Adams, was near when Major Thomson was killed, of our county.

Major James W. Thomson's remains are buried in the third grave north of Ashby brothers in the Virginia lot in Stonewall cemetery.

Three of his comrades, in June last, members of the Turner Asby Camp, formed themselves into a committee, to raise funds for a monument, suggested by William Lyman, of New Orleans, who was here at General Thomas L. Rosser's reunion, stated at the time to Colonel McVicar that he would give $50, and the following circular was issued to the survivors of Chew's (afterwards Thomson's Battery) Stuart's Horse Artillery, Army of Northern Virginia, and the Laurel brigade. It is proposed to erect a monument over the grave of our late captain, Major James W. Thomson. A design has been chosen, and approved by Dr. Pem. Thomson and Colonel R. P. Chew. The monument will be appropriate for an artillery officer, and will cost between $300 and $400. Subscriptions are asked from company and [367] brigade associates. Treasurer of Ashby camp, James W. Barr, of Winchester, is selected as custodian of this fund. All subscriptions should be sent to him.

Colonel McVicar has written over one hundred letters for the object, and among them this one, written on monument circulars, in July.

I only write to let you know that the Camp is doing some good things, and besides helping the needy, gave an order for three or four dollars worth of groceries yesterday. The Camp is appreciated by our people.

I am not writing for anything, as you have shown yourself a whole man towards our people. Hope the sunshine of life is your fate, and that the clouds may all go by.

I am yours,

The result was a return of the letter, a hundred dollar check and the following characteristic letter:

In reply to your favor, I enclose U my chek. Por dear Jim Thomson, I knu him wel. He was kilt the last day of the war. A braver boy never stood in Shoe Lether.

With my best wishes.


Charles Rouss is an active member of Ashby camp, of Baylor's Company, Twelfth Virginia cavalry, Rosser's Laurel brigade. Colonel McVicar states openly that people may comment on Charles Rouss, his ways and his ideas are his own. His whole-souled array of good deeds surrounded him as a wall, and who among us but dwarf and dwindle into insignificance alongside of his many acts of kindness showered on this community. Some envious people may wag their little tongues out, they do not hurt him with their paltry small talk. The monument fund stands as follows: [368]

Colonel William R. Lyman, New Orleans, $50; Pem. Thomson, Summit Point, $50; Reuben Wonder, Shenandoah county, $5; Lieutenant Milton Rouss, Kabletown, $25; John Chew, Charleston, $5; Colonel Dulaney, Fauquier county, $10; Battery Boy, Winchester, $5; John Ambler, Lynchburg, $25; C. B. Rouss, New York City, $100; Thomas Timberlake, $1; John Adams, $2.

The monument will be made here, and it is to be hoped that at the unveiling the old brigade and battery will be brought together in a reunion that will be one of the greatest tributes we have had since the gallant Ashbys were brought here, and that our people and veterans from other branches of the service will advise with and help us in these services and make it a grand success.

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