At the recent reunion at Richmond, Va.
, of the United Confederate Vetrans
, the writer had vividly recalled to his memory and met many of the young Confederate soldiers, whose heads were just beginning to grow gray, belonging to a company of artillery from Richmond
, composed nearly entirely of beardless boys from fourteen to eighteen years of age. The company was known as the ‘Parker Battery,’ commanded by Captain W. W. Parker
, a very religious member of one of the leading Methodist Churches
of Richmond, Va.
It was also known as the ‘boy company’ because only the officers were of age, and possibly a few other members.
It was organized in the late spring
of 1862, when General McClellan
with the Union Army
was hammering at the very gates of the city.
At the time the conscript law was being agitated, and parents could scarcely hold the boys in hand.
To meet the situation several churches asked Dr. Parker
to form a company of boys, and when he consented nearly every boy who could, or felt he could, be a soldier tried to enlist, and this, too, generally with the consent of their parents, for otherwise the boys would have been likely to have run off and enlisted anyway.
The company was a pretty green one, including the captain, lieutenants
, drivers and all the members of the battery; they had had little or no experience in drilling, in caring for the horses attached to the guns, and in every respect was a very crude organization.
After General Lee
had driven General McClellan
from the gates of Richmond
and began to move towards Maryland
in the first campaign of invasion across the Potomac
, the ‘boy company’ reported to Colonel S. D. Lee
, who had a battalion of three batteries of artillery, all of whom had seen service in battle.
When on the march towards the battlefield of Second Manassas
the ‘boy company’ reported to make the fourth battery of the
When the battery reported Colonel Lee
was shocked that such a company of immature boys should be sent to him while on the march against the enemy.
He, however, took the situation in at once, took hold of the company and drilled and disciplined it in season and out of season, nearly exhausting officers, men, drivers and horses in whipping them into shape for service.
The strictest discipline was continuously enforced, and the colonel soon saw he was not very popular with the new company—in fact, he saw he was greatly condemned by officers and the entire company; but there was no let — up in his effort to prepare the company for the battle to take place in the near future.
In ten or twelve days after the ‘boy company’ joined the battalion it was facing the army of General Pope
on the battlefield of Second Manassas
, but the strenuous attention given the company had fitted them by drill in the handling of their guns.
The colonel nursed them all the time; his post of duty was with them as much as he could spare the time.
On August 30, 1862, the battalion of artillery was in the centre of the Confederate
line of battle, General Longstreet
's corps being on its right and General Jackson
's on the left.
The eighteen guns were all together during the battle, and the ‘boy company’ was carried by the colonel close up to the enemy, firing on the flank of the troops attacking General Jackson
in the famous railroad cut. The company of boys acted splendidly and did as well as any veteran battery in General Lee
's army, but only a few of them were wounded in the battle.