The son of a respected storekeeper, Francis G. Obenchain was born in Botecourt County, Va., in 1843. In 1861, Obenchain enlisted in the Confederate Army as part of the "Mountain Rifles." This unit was also briefly part of Co. H, 28th Va. Vol. Inf., before it was converted into a light artillery battery in 1861. Renamed the Botetourt Artillery, the War Department assigned the unit to the war's eastern theater in 1862, where it was the only Virginia unit to participate in the Vicksburg campaign. Obenchain served as the unit's temporary commander during the Battle of Port Gibson (May 1, 1863) and during the siege of Vicksburg (May-July 1863). Captured and paroled, Obenchain and his battery returned to Virginia, where it took part in the artillery duel at New River Bridge (May 10, 1864) and in the defense of Lynchburg (June 1864). In 1873, Obenchain left Virginia and eventually settled in Chicago, where he worked as a miller's agent and was member of the Chicago Flour Exchange. He also maintained a residence in Miami, Fla.
Bronze Tablet at Vicksburg
Stevenson's Division Army Of Vicksburg
Capt. John W. Johnston
Lieut. Francis G. Obenchain
The battery was closely engaged in the Battle of Port Gibson, May 1. Its casualties were severe but not fully reported. Lieuts. Philip Peters, William P. Douthat and William H. Norgrove killed. But only Lieut. Philip Peters so reported. It was also closely engaged in the Battle of Champion's Hill, May 16, at the angle on the Confederate line. Its casualties were severe but not reported. The First Captain of the battery, Major Joseph W. Anderson, Division Chief of Artillery, killed. The battery, without guns, fell back with the army to Vicksburg, where it received two 6-pounder guns. Most of its enlisted men under Captain John W. Johnston to June 2, and after that date under Lieut. Francis G. Obenchain, were armed with Enfield rifles and served in the trenches on the river front line from South Fort on the left to the first work on the right of that fort, from May 18 to the end of the defense, July 4. Captain John W. Johnston served as Inspector General of Light Artillery, Stevenson's Division, from June 2 to the end of the defense, July 4, 1863.