Pegram’s Battalion Group

The Trees

As one strolls down this section of West Confederate Avenue, one is struck by the number of immense white oak trees lining the road, especially on its east side. Incredibly, we have four old photographs thanks to which we can grant witness tree status to 16 of these trees (15 white oaks and one pignut hickory). The trees to be recognized in the old photographs, however, overlap somewhat from one picture to the next, which makes identifying these trees in the field tricky.

Thus, to facilitate identification, we break up this stretch of trees into 2 sections:

(1) a section labeled Pegram’s Battalion Walking Tour, by which you can examine the evidence for each tree, one or two at a time; this section should also be employed as you take in the trees while you meander down West Confederate Avenue on foot; and
(2) a section labeled The Four Photographs, in which you can study the four old photographs we have of the witness trees that stand interspersed amongst the cannon of Pegram’s Battalion.

What was the Pegram Battalion?

The Army of Northern Virginia’s 3rd Corps, commanded by Maj. Gen. A.P. Hill, possessed two reserve battalions of artillery (reserve meaning they were not assigned to a specific division) – Pegram’s Battalion and McIntosh’s Battalion.

Pegram’s Battalion was a brigade of artillery units, or groups, of 4 cannon, which could be referred to either as an “Artillery” or a “Battery”. There were five such artillery units which comprised Pegram’s Battalion which were deployed on Seminary Ridge from the afternoon of July 2 to July 4. These units all participated in the famous cannonade on July 3 which preceded Pickett’s Charge.

Specifically, the units were arrayed so as to form a line of cannon (north-to-south) on the east side of today’s West Confederate Avenue, between the McMillan House and the North Carolina State Monument. The five units were as follows (listed as they were lined up north-to-south):

1. The Letcher Artillery, also called Brander’s Battery; formed in Richmond, VA; commanded by Capt. Thomas A. Brander;
2. The Purcell Artillery, also called McGraw’s Battery; formed in Richmond, VA; commanded by Capt. Joseph McGraw;
3. The Pee Dee Artilley, also called Zimmerman’s Battery; a South Carolina unit; commanded by Lt. William Zimmerman;
4. Crenshaw’s Battery; formed in Richmond, VA; commanded by Capt. William Crenshaw;
5. The Fredericksburg Artillery, also called Marye’s Battery; formed in Fredericksburg, VA; commanded by Capt. Edward A. Marye.

On July 3, the brigade commanded by Col. John Brockenbrough was deployed behind, or to the west, of Pegram’s Battalion. This brigade of 4 Virginia regiments comprised the left, or northern, flank of the 12 brigades which would take part in Pickett’s Charge that afternoon.