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The Stonewall Brigade of the Confederate Army during the American Civil War, was one of the most famous combat units in United States history. It was trained and first led by General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, a professor from Virginia Military Institute (VMI). His severe training program and ascetic standards of military discipline turned raw but enthusiastic recruits into an effective military organization, which distinguished itself from the First Battle of Bull Run (First Manassas) in 1861 to Spotsylvania Court House in 1864.


The brigade was formed by Jackson at Harpers Ferry, April 27, 1861, from the 2nd, 4th, 5th, 27th, and 33rd Virginia Infantry regiments and the Rockbridge Artillery Battery, all units recruited in or near the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. It was officially assigned to the Virginia Provisional Army, then to the Army of the Shenandoah on May 15, and the Valley District on July 20.
Jackson's brigade was referred to informally as "Virginia's First Brigade" until July 21, 1861, when, at First Manassas, both the brigade and its general received the nickname "Stonewall". General Barnard E. Bee of South Carolina is said to have made his immortal remark as he rallied his brigade for the final phase of the battle. Although the exact words were not recorded at the time, he probably said, "Yonder stands Jackson like a stone wall; let's go to his assistance. Rally behind the Virginians!" This is considered the turning point of the first major battle of the Civil War, when the Union troops were repulsed and retreated back to Washington, D.C. Jackson was promoted to higher command, but the brigade remained in his chain of command until his death. His first replacement as brigade commander was Brig. Gen. Richard B. Garnett that fall.


On March 13, 1862, the Valley District was incorporated into the Army of Northern Virginia, under General Joseph E. Johnston. Jackson and the Stonewall Brigade operated in the Valley as part of the left wing of Johnston's army. During Jackson's Valley Campaign, Jackson's first and only defeat of the Civil War occurred at the Kernstown on March 25, 1862. After receiving faulty intelligence, the brigade was ordered to attack a much larger Union force. Out of ammunition and almost surrounded by the superior force, Garnett ordered a withdrawal. Jackson was infuriated by this action, taken without his explicit permission, and Garnett was relieved of command and subject to court martial. (His exoneration at court-martial would never occur and Garnett was later killed during Pickett's Charge in the Battle of Gettysburg, attempting to restore his military honour.) For the remainder of the Valley Campaign, Brig. Gen. Charles S. Winder commanded the brigade and there were no more defeats in store. The brigade marched over 400 miles in four weeks, was victorious in six significant battles, and helped Jackson achieve a strategic victory in the Eastern Theatre. The brigade's mobility in the campaign (particularly a 57-mile march in 51 hours) earned it the title "Jackson's foot cavalry".

At the end of the Valley Campaign, the brigade moved to reinforce General Robert E. Lee in the Seven Days Battles on the Virginia Peninsula. In the Battle of Gaines' Mill, the brigade assaulted the Federal right and helped Lee achieve a victory. In the Northern Virginia Campaign, the brigade suffered high casualties at the Battle of Cedar Mountain and General Winder was killed on August 9, 1862. Jackson personally rallied his old brigade and won the battle. The brigade would suffer more casualties in the Second Battle of Bull Run. On August 30, 1862, the Stonewall Brigade repulsed the attack of the Union's Iron Brigade and rallied for a counterattack. Its acting commander, Colonel William Baylor, was killed. Lieutenant Colonel Andrew J. Grigsby assumed command and led the brigade through the Maryland Campaign and the Battle of Antietam. The brigade defended the West Woods, where the fighting was so severe and attrition so high that Grigsby was commanding the division ("Jackson's Division") by the end of the day.

Grigsby did not receive permanent command of the brigade, for reasons Jackson did not record. Instead, Brig. Gen. Elisha F. Paxton, former commander of the 27th Virginia, moved from Jackson's staff to brigade command, which he performed in the Battle of Fredericksburg. There, under the division command of William B. Taliaferro, the brigade was on the right flank of the Confederate defence and counterattacked the encroaching Union division of George G. Meade, but was overall lightly engaged. In 1862, casualties in the brigade surpassed 1,200.


At Chancellorsville, the brigade was part of Isaac R. Trimble's division and participated in Stonewall Jackson's audacious flanking movement of May 2, 1863. The brigade attacked on the Confederate right flank along the Orange Plank Road, falling in behind J.E.B. Stuart's cavalry. More than 600 men out of 2,000 were killed or wounded, and among the killed was General Paxton. This was the same night that Stonewall Jackson was mortally wounded. The men of the brigade were devastated to learn that their hero had been struck down by friendly fire and they renewed their attacks on May 3 with extra determination.

The commander of the 4th Virginia, Colonel James A. Walker, was promoted to brigadier general to replace Paxton. In the Gettysburg Campaign, the brigade was part of Edward Allegheny Johnson's division. At the Second Battle of Winchester, the brigade launched a spirited counterattack at Stephenson's Depot that captured six Union regiments. The brigade arrived late in the afternoon of the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg, July 1, 1863. They participated in two hard days of futile assaults against Union entrenchments on Culp's Hill.


In the Overland Campaign, at the Battle of the Wilderness, the brigade fought along the Orange Courthouse Turnpike. At Spotsylvania Court House, the brigade was on the left flank of the "Mule Shoe" salient, in the part of the line known as the "Bloody Angle", where Winfield S. Hancock's II Corps launched a massive assault. All but 200 men of the brigade were killed, wounded, or were among the 6,000 captured Confederates following the bloody hand-to-hand fighting. The prisoners included Johnson, the division commander, and Walker, who was seriously wounded. Spotsylvania Court House was the official end of the road for the Stonewall Brigade. The brigade was disbanded and its surviving members were consolidated into one (small) regiment.
The remaining regiment fought as part of Brig. Gen. William Terry's brigade (which itself was the remnant of the Stonewall Division) in the Valley Campaigns of 1864 under Jubal A. Early. It figured prominently in the Battle of Monocacy on July 9, 1864, routing the Union defenders and opening the road to Washington. Early's army was eventually defeated in the Valley by Philip Sheridan and they rejoined Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia for the Siege of Petersburg and the Appomattox Campaign. Of the 6,000 men who served in the Stonewall brigade during the war, by the time of the surrender at Appomattox Court House, only 210 soldiers were left, none above the rank of captain.
Nine men who witnessed the action at Harpers Ferry on April 18, 1861, surrendered with the Second Virginia Infantry Regiment at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865. Only two of these John F. Foley and Captain Joseph Jenkins both of Co H, made it through the War with no apparent injury or illnesses. Jenkins commanded the regiment at Appomattox, Wars end. Officially, a 2nd Virginia Inmfntry Regiment veteran who was the last to die was John Allen Link of Company H who died June 19 1935 at the age of 93 at his farm at Uvilla in Jefferson County. Co H can boast that it had the least desertions in the 2nd Virginia numbering 13.It also had the least number of Killed, Missing, Wounded in action, Wounded, and Captured being 45.