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A Brief History of the Stonewall Brigade

When the Virginia secession convention voted 81 to 51 to secede from the Union on April 17, 1861, Governor John Letcher called for militia companies in the Shenandoah Valley to form and make all haste to Harper’s Ferry to secure the town and armaments in the town. The 2,611 men that gathered at Harper’s Ferry in April were organized into five regiments of infantry and a battery of artillery and designated as the First Brigade, Virginia Volunteers.  The regiments were made up of forty-nine companies, each with a letter designation and nickname. The men ranged in age from school age to grandfathers.  Nationalities included Germans, Scotch-Irish, and Irish.  Occupations included just about every 19th century occupations that existed with farmer making up about a third of the original number of recruits.

The first battle flag of the 2nd Virginia

The Valley men were placed under the command of then Colonel Thomas J. Jackson. Jackson had been picked to lead the First Virginia Brigade by Robert E. Lee, then an advisor to Jefferson Davis. Jackson had left his teaching position at the Virginia Military Institute to join the Virginia forces when war broke out.

The first action that the brigade saw was at the battle of First Manassas where the brigade’s steadfast action at the Henry House where they earned them the name “Stonewall Brigade”.  Jackson always contended that his brigade had earned the name and not himself.  The brigade followed Jackson through the Romney campaign in the first winter of the war, which solidified the relationship between men and commander.  1862 saw the Valley men on their home turf, defeating three separate Union armies and keeping reinforcements from marching on Richmond during Gen. George McClellan’s failed Peninsula campaign.  The brigade followed Robert E. Lee into Maryland and then to Chancellorsville. The brigade’s love for their first commander was deep and life-long. Jackson’s loss at Chancellorsville in May of 1863 devastated the men in his brigade and throughout the Confederacy. To honor his memory, Jackson’s former unit was officially designated the Stonewall Brigade, the only brigade in Confederate service to have an officially recognized nickname.

At Gettysburg, the brigade arrived after the first day’s fighting concluded and was detached to screen the far left of the Confederate line on July 2. There, skirmishing with Union cavalry on Brinkerhoff’s Ridge prevented them from joining the Confederate evening assault on Culp’s Hill. The following morning on July 3 the Stonewall Brigade participated in a series of assaults which failed to dislodge the Federal troops from their Culp’s Hill breastworks. The Mine Run campaign in November 1863 and the Battle of the Wilderness in early May 1864 reduced the brigade’s numbers, but the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House brought the unit to the brink of destruction. A significant portion of the command was captured May 12, 1863 and the few hundred men remaining were consolidated with the shattered remnants of two other brigades to form a single brigade under General William Terry, former commander of the Fourth Virginia. The Stonewall Brigade was officially dissolved on May 14, 1864, but the men fought on as Terry’s Brigade, following Jubal Early to Monocacy and the outskirts of Washington, DC.

When the end came in April of 1865, only 210 men from the original Stonewall Brigade remained to surrender at Appomattox.  Because of the reputation of the brigade on both sides of the war, the Stonewall Brigade was the first to march through the Federal lines at the surrender.


Commanders of the Stonewall Brigade

Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson

Thomas J. Jackson – wounded Chancellorsville, 1863, died Guinea Station, 1863

Richard Garnett – KIA Gettysburg, 1863

Charles Winder – KIA Cedar Run, 1862

William Baylor – KIA Second Manassas, 1862

Franklin E. Paxton – KIA Chancellorsville, 1863

James A. Walker – died 1901

William Terry – died 1888


The Regiments of the Stonewall Brigade
(company letter, nickname, where members were from, and first captain)

Second Regiment
Company A – Jefferson Guards, Jefferson Co. WVA, John W. Rowan
Company B – Hamtramck Guards, Shepardstown, WVA, Vincent M. Butler
Company C – Nelson Rifles, Millwood, VA , William Nelson
Company D – Berkeley Border Guards, Berkeley, WVA, J.Q.A. Nadenbousch
Company E – Hedgesville Blues, Martinsburg, WVA, Raleigh T. Colson
Company F – Winchester Riflemen, Winchester, VA, William L. Clark, Jr.
Company G – Botts Greys, Charlestown, WVA, Lawson Botts
Company H – Letcher Riflemen, Duffields community, VA, James H.L. Hunter
Company I – Clarke Rifles, Berryville, VA, Strother H. Bowen
Company K – Floyd Guards, Harper’s Ferry, WVA, George W. Chambers

The battle flag of the 4th Virginia

Fourth Regiment
Company A – Wythe Grays, Wythewille, VA, William Terry
Company B – Fort Lewis Volunteers, Big Spring area, VA, David Edmondson
Company C – Pulaski Guards, Pulaski Co., VA, James Walker
Company D – Smythe Blues, Marion, VA, Albert G. Pendleton
Company E – Montgomery Highlanders, Blacksburg, VA, Charles A. Ronald
Company F – Grayson Daredevils, Elk Creek community, VA, Peyton H. Hale
Company G – Montgomery Fencibles, Montgomery Co., VA, Robert G. Terry
Company H – Rockbridge Grays, Buffalo Forge & Lexington, VA, James G. Updike
Company I – Liberty Hall Volunteers, Lexington, VA, James J. White
Company K – Montgomery Mountain Boys, Montgomery Co., Robert G. Newlee

Battle flag of the 5th Virginia

Fifth Regiment
Company A – Marion Rifles, Winchester, VA, John H.S. Funk
Company B – Rockbridge Rifles, Rockbridge Co. VA, Samuel H. Letcher
Company C – Mountain Guard, Staunton, VA, Richard G. Doyle
Company D – Southern Guard, Staunton, VA, Hazael J. Williams
Company E – Augusta Greys, Greenville community, VA, James W. Newton
Company F – West View Infantry, Augusta Co. VA, St. Francis C. Roberts
Company G – Staunton Rifles, Staunton, VA, Adam W. Harman
Company H – Augusta Rifles, Augusta Co., VA, Absalom Koiner
Company I – Ready Rifles, Sangerville community, VA, Oswald F. Grimman
Company K – Continental Morgan Guards, Frederick Co., John Avis
Company L – West Augusta Guards, Staunton, VA, William S.H. Baylor

Twenty-Seventh Regiment
Company A – Allegheny Light Infantry, Covington, VA,  Thompson McAllister
(later transferred to artillery and known as Carpenter’s Battery)
Company B – Virginia Hiberians, Alleghany Co. VA, Henry H. Robertson
Company C – Allegheny Rifles, Clifton Forge, VA, Lewis P. Holloway
Company D – Monroe Guards, Monroe Co., WVA, Hugh S. Tiffany
Company E – Greenbrier Rifles, Lewisburg, WVA, Robert Dennis
Company F – Greenbrier Sharpshooters, Greenbrier Co., Samuel Brown
Company G – Shriver Grays, Wheeling, WVA, Daniel M. Shriver
Company H – Rockbridge Rifles, originally Co. B, 5th regiment, Samuel Houston Letcher.

Thirty-Third Regiment
Company A – Potomac Guards, Springfield, Hampshire Co. WVA, Phillip T. Grace
Company B – Tom’s Brook Guard, Tom’s Brook, Shenandoah Co. VA, Emanuel Crabill
Company C – Tenth Legion Minute Men, Woodstock, Shenandoah Co., VA, John Gatewood
Company D – Mountain Rangers, Winchester, Frederick Co., VA, Frederick W.M. Holliday
Company E – Emerald Guard, New Market, Shenandoah County VA, Marion M. Sibert
Company F – Independent (Hardy) Greys, Moorefield, Hardy Co. WVA, Abraham Spengler
Company G – Mount Jackson Rifles, Mount Jackson area, Shenandoah Co., VA, George W. Allen
Company H – Page Grays, Luray, Page Co. VA, William D. Rippetoe
Company I – Rockingham Confederates, Harrisonburg, Rockingham Co. VA, John R. Jones
Company K – Shenandoah Sharpshooters, Shenandoah Co. VA, David H. Walton

3 comments

  1. Bill Thomas, Gettysburg Licensed Battfield Guide says:

    It is very helpful to see that several of the companies originated in what later became West Virginia. One wonders what those men were thinking and feeling when West Virginia became the 35th state only days before the battle of Gettysburg.
    Please note that the 2d Va. Inf. did not fight on Culp’s Hill on July 2. They fought Union cavalry that day along Brinkerhof Ridge, east of the town (a job that ought to have been done by Confederate Cavalry). On July 2 the 2d suffered 6 wounded, but no KIA’s. They did fight in the Culp’s Hill area on July 3, and held the left of the brigade line. The brigade aided in the repulse of a Union attack according to the report of Col. Nadenbousch (commanding the 2d at Gettysburg). Later the 2d was shifted and fought lively skirmishes with elements of the Union 6th and 12th Corps on the extreme left of the Confederate line of infantry, Wesley Culp was the only KIA reported by the 2d Va. He were not literally within sight of his home, but it is possible he was on or near land owned by a member of his extended family. (primarily taken from Harry Pfanz’s book “Gettysburg, Culp’s Hill $ Cemetery Hill”

    • SWB1861 says:

      Thanks for the feedback Bill. This article could probably use a refresh and we’ll be sure to update that portion to ensure it’s accurate!

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