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2nd Virginia Living History Group

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Who Were the Original Letcher Riflemen?

The unit known as Company H, the 2nd Virginia Volunteer Infantry, The Letcher Riflemen was formed in April 1861 in the community of Duffields in what is now the State of West Virginia. Back then, the area was still part of Virginia and was staunchly Pro-Rebellion in its sentiments. The Duffields community lies in the Lower or Northern end of the Shenandoah Valley.The members of the company came from the towns and farms all over the lower valley in the area around
Shepherdstown, Harpers Ferry and up into Sharpsburg Maryland

Why the name Letcher Riflemen?

The company was formed on the nucleus of the Pre-War militia company also known as the Letcher Riflemen. The name derives from the surname of the popular fire-eating ante-bellum Governor of Virginia, John Letcher (1813-1884).

Citizen Soldiers

The Letcher Riflemen were mostly Farmers but all walks of life were represented within the Company. In the Company, the two Miller boys were both shoemakers, as was Captain Jenkins, the last commander of the company when it surrendered at Appomattox Court House in 1865.

Men from the Cousinwealth

The Lower Valley area was jokingly known as a Cousinwealthand the demographic of the Letcher Riflemen reflected the strong family links within the valley. Over 20 families had more than one representative serve in the company during the course of the war. 5 of these families contributed 3 males to the company. The Link family had four of its male members serve.

The Men of Manassas

When the Company was mustered into Confederate service in 1861, it was allocated to the 2nd Regiment of the 1st Virginia Brigade, The Brigade soon won immortality at Manassas (Bull Run) under its first commander Thomas J Jackson, and both the Man and the Brigade were forever linked by being named Stonewall

A Small Company

The Letcher Riflemen were always the smallest company in the Second Regiment of the Stonewall Brigade. The Company mustered no more than16 members in the year between April 1863 and April1864. Numbers declined dramatically after the bulk of the Stonewall Brigade (along with the 2nd Regiments Battle Flag) was captured in the Mule Shoe salient at the battle of Spotsylvania in 1864. The Letcher Riflemen surrendered at Appomattox with a pitiful total of only 10 men. Indeed the whole Second Regiment only numbered 69 members when it surrendered. Interestingly, 2 members of the Company who surrendered at Appomattox made it through the whole course of the war from day one without a single incident of injury or illness. Captain Joseph Jenkins was one of those men. At the surrender, he was in command of the 2nd Regiment.

AWOL

Absence without leave was a huge problem in the Company as it was throughout the entire Stonewall Brigade.Although Company H had the lowest rate of unauthorised absence in the 2nd VA; at least 8% of the company were guilty of this offence at some time throughout their service.This was in part due to the fact that the Brigade was often engaged or camped in the Shenandoah Valley many times during the war. The temptation to tend to family and crops waiting in close proximity must
have been strong. Not less than 36 of the company members have the offence of AWOL recorded in their record.

The First Colonel of the 2nd Va. Infantry Regt.
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James Walkinson Allen

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