“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Burkittsville in Frederick County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

Chew’s Ashby Artillery

Chew's Ashby Artillery Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, July 21, 2007
1. Chew's Ashby Artillery Marker
Inscription.  Captain R. Preston Chew organized Chew’s Ashby Artillery, the first “horse artillery” in the Confederate army, in November 1861. He named it for Colonel Turner Ashby. Chew’s battery boasted a 3 in ordinance rifle, a 12-pounder smoothbore howitzer, and an English Blakeley rifle. Blakeley guns were not commonly used during the Civil War. The battery, attached to Colonel Thomas T. Munford’s cavalry brigade, crossed the Potomac River on September 7. They followed Munford to Burkittsville on the 13th and took this position early on the morning of the 14th. A short time later the Portsmouth Light Artillery, a battery consisting of two 12 pound naval howitzers mounted on gun carriages, joined them.

One of Chew’s crew wrote: “At about ten o’clock we saw the first of the Yankee host, about three miles away, approaching our gap cautiously and slowly. As they drew nearer the whole country seemed to be full of bluecoats. They were so numerous that it looked as if they were creeping up out of the ground—and what would or could our little force of some three to four hundred available men standing halfway up a bushy, stony
Close Up View of the Map image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, July 21, 2007
2. Close Up View of the Map
As noted on the map, the battery's position was slightly up-hill from the marker location.
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mountain side do with such a mighty host that was advancing on us with flying banners? As they came nearer to the mountain they threw out a heavy skirmish line of infantry on both sides of the road, and were still advancing slowly when their skirmish line came to within about a mile of our position, so we opened on it with our rifled guns. Our line of fire was right over the village of Burkittsville, and completely checked their skirmishers about a half-mile from Burkittsville. The Yanks now brought up a battery and opened fire on us, but they were about two miles off and all their shells fell short. I fired at the min return, but in doing so I disabled my gun (the Blakeley). The mountain where we were in battery was a little steep and my gun is a vicious recoiler, and the recoil space of our position was too sloping, rough and limited for a free kick, consequently with the second shot that I fired ... my piece snapped a couple of bolts to its mounting, entirely disabling it for the day.”

Chew withdrew the Blakeley, but the rest of the battery held its position until late in the day. Shortly before the arrival of Cobb’s Legion, the battery retired to the opposite side of the mountain.

Order of Battle
Confederate States of America
Brig. Gen. Howell Cobb
16th Ga., 24th Ga., Cobb’s Legion, 15th N.C.

Brig. Gen. Paul
Three Blue and Gray Education Society Markers image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, July 21, 2007
3. Three Blue and Gray Education Society Markers
J. Semmes
10th Ga.

Col. Thomas T. Munford
2nd Va. Cav., 12th Va. Cav., Chew’s Battery

Col. William A. Parham
6th Va., 12th Va., 16th Va., Portsmouth Light Arty.

United States of America

Maj. Gen. William B. Franklin, VI Corps

Maj. Gen. Henry W. Slocum
Col. Torbert
1st N.J., 2nd N.J., 3rd N.J., 4th N.J.

Col. Bartlett
27th N.Y. 16th N.Y., 5th Me., 96th Pa.

Brig. Gen. Newton
18th N.Y., 31st N.Y., 32nd N.Y., 95th Pa.

Maj. Gen. William F. (Baldy) Smith
Brig. Gen. Brooks
2nd Vt., 3rd Vt. (nc), 4th Vt., 5th Vt. (nc), 6th Vt. (nc)
(nc) noncombatants

Interpretation of this battlefield has been presented by the members of the Blue and Gray Education Society, Len Riedel, Executive Director.
Erected by Blue and Gray Education Society.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: War, US Civil. A significant historical month for this entry is September 1750.
Location. 39° 24.087′ N, 77° 38.27′ W. Marker is near Burkittsville, Maryland, in Frederick County. Marker is on Gapland Road, on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Burkittsville MD 21718, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Burkittsville: Henry Burkitt’s Town (here, next to this marker); “Sealed With Their Lives” (here, next to this
Naval Howitzer image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, February 9, 2007
4. Naval Howitzer
Contrasting with Chew's rifled Blakely and Ordnance guns, the Portsmouth Artillery used smoothbore howitzers similar to this one now on display at the Fairfax, Va., Court House. Designed for use by naval landing parties, the entire weapon was easily broken down for transport by boat or cart. So light was the entire piece, the howitzer was often pulled by the gun crew as opposed to being drawn by horses. The navy howitzer also differed from standard field pieces by having an elevating screw that passed through the knob at the breech (rear) of the piece.
marker); Gath's Empty Tomb (approx. ¼ mile away); Mausoleum (approx. ¼ mile away); The Confusion of Battle (approx. ¼ mile away); The 15th North Carolina (approx. ¼ mile away); Brownsville Pass: Semmes’ Gamble (approx. ¼ mile away); GATH: The Man and His Mountain (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Burkittsville.
More about this marker. The marker displays a portrait of Captain R. Preston Chew, a photograph of a cannon firing, and a map of the unit dispositions at the battle.
Regarding Chew’s Ashby Artillery. "ordinance" should be "ordnance" (no "i").
Also see . . .
1. Chew’s Ashby Artillery Unit Profile. (Submitted on August 12, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.)
2. Blakely Cannon. So confusing are the details about the British made Blakely’s, enthusiasts have classified them by using an arbitrary “type” number. Most likely Chew’s battery used on of the 3.5in type, which are sometimes (underscoring the confusion) called 3.4 in. or 12-pounder rifles. Even the inventor’s name is spelled with variation among sources—Blakeley vs. Blakely! (Submitted on August 12, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.) 

3. History of Chew’s Battery. (Submitted on August 12, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.)
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Credits. This page was last revised on March 14, 2021. It was originally submitted on August 12, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 2,032 times since then and 20 times this year. Last updated on March 14, 2021, by Carl Gordon Moore Jr. of North East, Maryland. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on August 12, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.

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Apr. 12, 2021