The Four Apostles
- Type: 6 pdr. Smoothbore "Cadet Guns"
- Tube Composition: Bronze
- Bore Diameter: 3.67 inches
- Standard Powder Charge: 1.25 lbs.
- Projectiles: 6 lb. Round Balls
- Tube Weight: 562 to 576 lbs (300 lbs less then the typical 6 pdr.)
- Casting Foundry: Cyrus Alger & Co., Boston MA, Cast in 1848
- Current Disposition: Virginia Military Institute Parade Grounds
- Special Notes: These four "cadet" 6-pounders were designed specially for the use of the students at the Virginia Military Institute. They were slightly lighter than the regulation M1841 6-pounder and were mounted on smaller carriages.
More about the Four Apostles at VMI
Donated to VMI by President Zachary Taylor in 1850, these four guns were christened as "The Four Apostles: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John" by Episcopal rector Col. William Nelson Pendleton and the seminary students "because they spoke a powerful language". The Adjutant General of Virginia requested that the carriages be painted red with black metal parts so that whenever the cadets were on parade, the public would instantly identify the cannon as the VMI Cadet Battery. For years, students at VMI were trained, and took pride in caring for these unique field artillery pieces.
Maj. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson instructed artillery tactics with the red guns for 10 years prior to the Civil War. Many of Jackson’s most colorful moments at VMI relate to his command of the Cadet Battery.
At the start of the Civil War the guns were turned over the the 1st Rockbridge Artillery (then under the command of Pendleton). Pendleton loved working with these cannons and felt it was a "good sign from God".
The guns of Rockbridge Artillery saw their first action on July 2, 1861, in a small skirmish at Falling Waters. After first imploring, "May the Lord mercy on their souls!" battery commander Pendleton shouted, "Fire!" and a large body of charging Union cavalry was sent scurrying for safety.
Nineteen days later the Four Apostles were used in the fighting on Henry House Hill at the Battle of First Bull Run, and played a part in the repulse of repeated attacks on that position. The guns also accompanied the Stonewall Brigade on the winter campaign to Romney, WV, and were heavily engaged in Jackson's famous spring 1862 Shenandoah Valley campaign. On May 14, 1863, the guns fired every half hour as a memorial tribute to their old commander, Thomas Jackson. Later the Four Apostles were replaced with heavier artillery pieces.
After the war the Four Apostles were returned to VMI, and the cadets continued to train on them until they were retired in 1913. The Four Apostles were placed at the foot of the Jackson monument on the parade ground at VMI where they can still be seen today.
It is interesting to note that these guns, among the prized mementos of VMI, never participated in the Battle of Newmarket.