Monday, November 17, 2014

Colonel Roger Preston Chew: Commander of Stuart's Horse Artillery

Roger Preston Chew was born in Loudoun County,Virginia to Roger Chew and Sarah West Aldridge Chew April 9, 1843.  The family moved to Jefferson County, Virginia (now West Virginia) in 1848.  Chew attended the Charleston Academy before becoming a cadet at Virginia Military Institute (VMI) in 1859.  He graduated from VMI in 1861.  After graduation Chew was ordered to Harpers Ferry,Virginia with a group of VMI cadets, where he acted as a drill master. 



                                            Lt. Colonel Roger Preston Chew

In September 1861, a youthful 18 year old Chew and a VMI classmate raised an artillery battery of which Chew was elected captain.  In November 1861 Captain Chew proposed his battery be attached to Lt. Colonel Turner Ashby's 7th Virginia Cavalry as a horse artillery unit.  The plan was approved by Secretary of War Judah P. Benjamin.  Chew's Battery was the first horse artillery battery in either the Union or Confederate Army.  Horse artillery road with the cavalry and participated in cavalry charges.




Chews horse artillery was attached to "Ashby's" Cavalry.  By December 1861 the battery had 2 guns an iron 3.5 inch caliber 12 Pound Blakely rifle and a 3 inch ordinance rifle made by Tredegar Iron Works.  Chews Battery rode with the 7th Virginia cavalry, where they participated in Jackson's Valley Campaign, until Ashby's untimely death on June 6, 1862.  The battery then became part of J. E. B. Stuart's Horse Artillery.  

Chews Battery remained with Stuart's Cavalry throughout the remainder of the war participating in such battles as 2nd Manassas, the Maryland Campaign, the Gettysburg Campaign, Bristoe Station, the Overland Campaign, the Petersburg Campaign, Sheridan's Shenandoah Valley Campaign and the retreat to Appomattox.  The battery suffered 100 casualties (7 killed, 43 wounded,3 missing and 47 captured) out of 271 men engaged between 1861-1865.  

In 1864 Chew was promoted to Major and later Lt. Colonel and assumed command of all of Stuart's Horse artillery.  General Wade Hampton once described Chew as "the ablest commander of the horse artillery, though that gallant body of men at different times had very gallant and efficient officers." 



After the civil war Chew became a farmer and a businessman in Charlestown, West Virginia.  He was president of the Eagle Manufacturing Company and the Charlestown Mining, Manufacturing and Improvement Company.  He married Louise Fontaine Washington, a daughter of  Colonel John Augustine Washington in 1871.  He was elected to the state legislature in 1882, 1884, 1886 and 1888.  Roger Preston Chew died March 16, 1921.  He is buried in the Zion Episcopal Cemetery in Charlestown, West Virginia.
  

                                Chew's Monument, Zion Episcopal Cemetery


                                   Chew's Headstone Zion Episcopal Cemetery




For further reading see "Chew's Battery of Stuart's Horse Artillery" by Edward K. Cassedy

   

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