The Essex Sharpshooters


While picketing Meadow Bridge, Co. F participated in Mrs. Lee passing through the lines. The 55th participated in the Mechanicsville, Gaine’s Mill, and Frayser’s Farm battles.  At Frayser’s Farm, the 55th assaulted and captured a Federal artillery battery, and turned the guns on the supporting Federal infantry.  Hill’s Light Division was then assigned to Gen. “Stonewall” Jackson’s command.

The 55th had a minor role at Cedar Mountain, after which its Co. F sharpshooters (the only company armed with rifles) prevented the Federal burning of Waterloo Bridge across the Rappahannock River as they retreated.

The 55th participated in the Manassas Railroad Junction capture, enjoyed its spoils, and fought hard at Second Manassas in August of 1862. At Second Manassas the 55th led the brigade when it reinforced Starke’s Louisianans in the railroad cut when the Louisianans ran out of ammunition and began throwing rocks.Gen. Field was wounded and John Brockenbrough of the 40th took command of the brigade.

Ox Hill followed, where a skirmisher of the 55th brought down Union Gen. Phil Kearny.

The 55th was involved in the capture of Harper’s Ferry and maintained a supporting rearguard role at Sharpsburg.

In December 1862 at Fredericksburg, the 55th was positioned at the far right of the Confederate line and participated in the counterattack of the Federal breakthrough there. Brig. Gen. Henry Heth replaced Brockenbrough as the 55th’s brigade commander as the brigade rested at Fort Gregg over the winter.