|Description and Photograph||
James W. Hughes enlisted in Captain William Horne’s Company on July 23, 1861. When Horne’s Company entered Confederate service on August 24, 1861, they became Company B, 29th Virginia Infantry and were issued .69 caliber smoothbore muskets. Hughes received this 1853 dated, Springfield Model 1842 Musket. Presumably proud of his new weapon, Hughes carved the date, August 24, 1861, deeply into the stock, along with his name, “JW Hughes Co B 29 VA”. Little did he know at the time, this would keep his service to our country (Virginia) alive in memory.
The 29th Virginia Volunteer Infantry Regiment was made up of seven companies under Colonel A. C. Moore. Two companies were added in the reorganization in the spring of ’62, making up a nine company regiment. They were assigned to Marshall’s Brigade, Army of Eastern Kentucky. Private Hughes was with his regiment through the hard winter in the mountains, during which Private Hughes saw the “elephant” when he fought in a losing fight at The Battle of Middle Creek, Kentucky, January 10, 1862. The loss at Middle Creek and the severe shortages and suffering of the winter apparently did not overly discourage the young private. He reenlisted for three years on April 16, 1862.
The US Civil War Project lists the 29th as having been engaged in the following battles and skirmishes after this musket was issued to Private Hughes:
10 Jan 1862 at Middle Creek, KY.
5 May 1862 at Williamsburg, VA.
15 Jul 1862 at Kentucky.
13 Oct 1862 at Kentucky.
15 Oct 1862 at Lexington, KY Hospl.
15 Oct 1862 at Kentucky.
16 Oct 1862 at Richmond, KY.
17 Oct 1862 at Lexington, KY.
30 Oct 1862 at Madison County, KY.
1 Feb 1863 at Petersburg, VA.
4 Mar 1863.
15 Apr 1863 at Suffolk, VA.
24 Apr 1863 at Suffolk, VA.
5 May 1863 at Suffolk, VA.
14 May 1863 at Drewry's Bluff, VA.
15 May 1863 at Suffolk, VA.
In Hughes’ official record, he is noted on May 26, 1863 as “Missing, supposed deserted to the enemy”. Hughes’ musket has seen a lot of use, and it was surely used in a number, if not all, of the above battles. He may have deserted, or he may have been killed, as he was listed as missing, and his rifle was damaged in battle, and then laid exposed on the battlefield for some time. This is evident from the slight bend in the barrel; the gun could not have been used after the damage was done, and it appears to have lain out in the weather for perhaps as much as a year or more.
All in all it’s a fascinating Confederate musket that most assuredly fired many a round at the invaders.