This is to introduce you to Fluvanna Light Artillery, a.k.a. Thompson’s Battery “C”, a local Civil War re-enactment group. Battery C is a non-profit, non-political, memorial organization of volunteer Civil War re-enactment hobbyists. While actively participating in the hobby, the battery’s purpose is also to provide historical education and to stimulate interest in our American Civil War heritage. The battery encourages participation by the entire family and has something to offer every age group. It is also open to requests to assist with community events.
As re-enactors, members portray the either Civil War-era Thompson’s Battery or Fluvanna Battery along with the era families and civilians associated with it. The Battery originally was organized into two light artillery batteries in the spring of 1861. After being trained at Richmond, the two units were sent to Manassas and were assigned to the reserve artillery. They did not see action until the beginning of the Seven Days Battles, and even then were engaged only sporadically. The “Sons of Fluvanna” (1st Battery), commanded by Capt. Charles Huckstep, and the “Fluvanna Light Artillery” (2nd Battery), commanded by Captain John J. Ancell, missed the battles of Second Manassas and Antietam, though Huckstep’s command lost a gun and a caisson at Shepherdstown on September 19, 1862.
The 1st and 2nd Fluvanna Batteries were consolidated in early October 1862 as part of Lee’s program to revitalize his artillery. The Fluvanna Consolidated Artillery was present but not heavily engaged at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg as part of Nelson’s reserve battalion. Its heaviest losses during this span occurred at the lesser known engagement at Waterloo, Pennsylvania, during the retreat from Gettysburg, and at Kelly’s Ford that fall.
The last twelve months of the war brought the Fluvanna Artillery into the center of the action. Commanded by Captain John L. Massie, the battery was heavily engaged from the Wilderness to Cold Harbor and became one of Early’s most reliable units from Monocacy to Cedar Creek. This heavy campaigning cost the battery almost fifty combat casualties, including Captain Massie who was mortally wounded at Tenth Legion Church on September 24, 1864. Captain Charles G. Snead led the remnants of the brave battery, who were barely enough men to man two guns, until the unit was captured at Waynesboro on March 2, 1865.
The Fluvanna Battery re-enactment group was formed in January of 2003 as a alter ego to Battery “C”. It is governed by an elected board of directors and is incorporated as a non-profit organization. It is affiliated with several national and regional living history associations. The Battery owns or has access to various pieces of muzzle-loading Civil War-era field artillery (they fire blanks) including cannons, howitzers and mortars. Safety is always emphasized and all new battery members receive training and are carefully supervised by experienced members.
The Battery supports its common operating expenses, liability insurance, supplies and equipment through its annual dues (very reasonable), various fund raisers, and voluntary contributions from the public and local organizations. Each member pays for or makes his or her own authentic clothing and personal equipment. One can begin participation with a fairly minimal outfit and acquire enhancements over time. Furthermore, transportation and other logistics can often be coordinated with other members who are happy to advise and assist.
The Battery membership is non-discriminatory in regard to gender or any other criteria. Members presently come from central and north central Pennsylvania, but there are no geographic limits set on membership. Thompson’s encourages membership by families and, especially, youth–for whom living history provides a particularly effective and lasting educational experience.
Thompson’s has activities year-round, but is most active during the warmer months (April through October). Examples of activities include re-enactments, encampments, living histories, research trips, Civil War discussion groups and seminars, period dances, balls and other events. These events are attended mostly in Pennsylvania, but also in Virginia and Maryland. Occasionally the battery participates in activities in other states as well.
The members of Thompson’s have presented or participated in educational programs for organizations such as the U.S. Park Service, public schools, nursing homes, the Cub Scouts, fraternal groups, veteran’s organizations, volunteer fire companies, and the American Association of Retired Persons. The Battery has the honor of having fired memorial salutes by invitation at Arlington National Cemetery. Battery C regularly assists local municipalities with parades, memorial programs, monument dedications and other community events.
While the Battery members have a lot of fun, they also learn history by living it. By doing so they gain an understanding and appreciation of American history that could never come from a book. They also have the satisfaction of seeing their activities and efforts inform and inspire the public.
Thank you for taking the time to acquaint yourself with Thompson’s Battery C. If you would like to know more, contact Captain Gary Hoover. Please also feel free to provide this information to anyone who is interested and to include Battery C on any local directory of organizations or historical resources.