On 5/1/1851, John
B. Floyd, Governor of Virginia authorized the formation
of the 1st Regiment of Virginia Volunteer Infantry, after
the General Assembly passed an act for a volunteer regiment
from Richmond and neighboring counties, Henrico and Chesterfield.
In the decade before the Civil War, the Volunteers underwent
the usual military training, as well as public appearances.
The regular volunteer troops were required of males between
18 - 45 years of age, in good health. But the 1st Virginia
Regiment wore gray uniforms.
Almost 10 years later, on 4/17/1861, the present
Governor Letcher sent the Regiment to duty when the state voted
for secession. The first company to be sent were the Howitzer's,
on April 19th, with 225 men and 6 Howitzers (a large calibur
gun designed on a small scale). Men, excited to be part of the
regiment, applied for enlistment and the 1st Virginia formed
into 3 different companies.
Upon hearing that the Union would be invading
Aquia Creek, The Richmond Light Infantry Blues and Company F
were sent to Fredericksburg, and soon after separated, temporarily,
from the 1st Virginia. The Union and Aquia Creek turned out
to be a rumor.
The separation meant to be temporary, ended
up becoming permanent as the Company voted to detach from the
1st Virginia and to join a new unit with a better commander
with disciplinary and military tactical skills.
The 1st Virginia Regiment was left with six
companies and needed to recruit more soldiers. By April 27th,
they had 700.
Company H, consisting of the Richmond Gray's
Company 2, replaced the Howitzers.
The Richmond Howitzers were formed by George
Wyeth Randolph, grandson of Thomas Jefferson and had 3 Companies
by 1861. The soldiers were young business men and college educated
males from the highest social classes and families, both from
the city and rural.
From the Richmond Dispatch, 5/16/1861
Removed. - The battalion of Richmond Howitzers have been removed
from their late camp ground, “Howard’s Grove,”
to Chimborazo Heights, overlooking Griffin’s Spring, in
the vicinity of Rocketts.
From the Richmond Daily Whig, 5/22/1861
The Howitzer Companies, forming a battalion under the command
of Major Geo. W. Randolph, are encamped on the extreme eastern
slope, of the eminence overlooking the river, at and below Rocketts.
The guns are stationed on the summit of the hill, fronting an
extended plateau, well adapted for field practice. A military
road has been constructed, leading from the plateau, along the
declivity, to the encampment. We visited the camp, yesterday,
and found all "the boys" in good spirits, good health,
and contented as shepherds. The majority of them were actively
employed in camp duties, while those not so engaged wee lolling
in the shade of the fragrant pines, reading newspapers, chatting,
smoking, etc. The situation is rather a romantic one affording
as it does, a picturesque view of the suburban town of Fulton,
and the adjacent river scenery.
The culinary operations, for dinner, were progressing during
our stay. Two or three sable cooks were preparing the beef,
corn bread, and coffee, in regular camp style, and, we doubt
not that the food was eaten and relished, with a zest which
more luxurious dishes could not have so well imparted, with
the exercise and mode of life to which the Howitzer Boys are
The force in camp, numbers about one hundred and seventy men
- the residue of the battalion being on duty, at Gloucester
Point. Rev. F. W. White, the chaplain, has evidently entered
fully into the spirit of the campaign and while rejecting Puritanism
as a characteristic of Yankee Pharisees, will diligently attend
to his ministerial and perceptive duties on all proper occasions.
We will publish the roll of
the Howitzers, in a day or two.