Wythe Rifles



Reprint of article written by John Taft for The Skirmish Line

At the time of John Brown's raid in 1859, the Wythe Rifles were organized at Hampton, Virginia. With Virginia's secession from the Union, the company was mustered into service as Company A, 32nd Regiment Virginia Volunteers. The regiment was composed of infantry and artillery companies. On 10 June, 1861 the Rifles ‘saw the elephant’ at Big Bethel. In July 1861, the 32nd was mustered into Confederate service. For a period, the Rifles served as artillery and in May 1862 were reorganized as infantry. Following service in Magruder's Army of the Peninsula and participation in the Peninsula Campaign, the company went on the Maryland Campaign and fought at Sharpsburg (Anietam). The regiment was assigned to Corse's Virginia Brigade, Pickett's Division, when the Confederate Army reorganized in late 1862. After the Battle of Fredericksburg, the regiment was detailed to southern Virginia to obtain supplies. Subsequently, it was detached to serve as Provost Guard at Petersburg but returned to Pickett's Division, Hunter's Brigade, following Gettysburg. Remaining in Richmond, the unit fought Sheridan's troops in May 1864. The regiment was then returned to Corse's Brigade before the North Anna River, fought at Cold Harbor and the Bermuda Hundred Line. After some service in the Petersburg trenches it was withdrawn to become part of a "fire brigade". The regiment fought at Dinwiddie Court House, was mauled at the Battle of Five Forks and decimated at Saylot's Creek. On April 12, forty six members of the regiment lead by a captain surrendered at Appomattox!.

The current Wythe Rifles were organized in 1958 and are one of the twenty-one Charter Members of the N-SSA, with Seniority Number 19. In 1963, the members decided to change their name and use the Regimental designation. This carried until February of 1976 when they reverted to the Wythe Rifles. The unit currently has ten men; for the most part they are die-hard rebels from the Peninsula – except for one yankee, VMI graduate. Of the ten, over half have been with the unit since its formation.

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