Did you know that in the seminal battle of the Civil War, Southwest Virginians were instrumental in bringing victory to the Confederacy?
As Southern troops were retreating from the battlefield of Manassas (1st Bull Run) on the afternoon of July 21, 1861, a colonel who would after the battle and for all time be remembered by the nickname he gained there – “Stonewall” – stood with his 1st Virginia Brigade and refused to yield. Among the troops he commanded that day and who made up the center of his line of infantry at the climactic moment of the conflict were boys from Grayson, Montgomery, Wythe, Carroll, Pulaski, Smyth, Floyd, Alleghany, and Giles Counties. At the order to charge, the volunteers from Southwest Virginia, as part of the 4th Virginia Infantry, and with the other troops of Stonewall Jackson’s brigade, moved forward and sent the Union soldiers into headlong retreat toward Washington. The first major battle of the Civil War was won, in large part, by soldiers from Southwest Virginia.
Did you know that Wytheville, Virginia can boast of having a Civil War legacy that no other town in America has?
The last two commanders of the famed Stonewall Brigade, Generals James A. Walker and William Terry, died there. The two settled in Wytheville after the war and are buried near one another in the town’s East End Cemetery.
Interestingly, General Terry sustained three wounds in the war but managed to survive, only to fall from his horse as he tried to cross a swollen Reed Creek and drown, 23 years after the war ended.
Did you know that the most famous cavalry commander in the Civil War was born in Patrick County?
James Ewell Brown Stuart, known more famously as Jeb, was born there in 1833. He spent several of his summers with two of his aunts who lived in Wytheville (their home, on Withers Street, is still there), and attended Emory and Henry College in Washington County before moving on to West Point – and the history books.
Did you know that, despite the average estimated age of a Civil War regimental drummer boy to be sixteen, Pulaski County’s Company C, 4th Virginia Infantry enlisted the services of a “mature adult.” Private David Scantlon, regimental drummer “boy,” was 57.
Did you know that on the field of battle known as Carnifex Ferry near Summersville, Virginia (now West Virginia), there is maintained but one grave of a Civil War soldier?
Granville Blevins of Grayson County, enlisted at the age of 20 in Company C, 45th Virginia Infantry in May of 1861. Just before the battle began, on September 9th of that year, he died of “fever” and was buried on the field. The battlefield is a state park today and Blevins’ grave – the only one in the park - is maintained by the park service.
Did you know that there is a tragic story of lost love and lives cut short to be found on two grave markers in the cemetery of the Old Glade Spring Presbyterian Church in Washington County?
William E. Jones was a young cavalry officer in 1852, when, having recently married and having received a new military assignment out west, he and his new bride were en route aboard a ship that sailed into a horrific storm. The ship sank and, although he survived, she was swept from his grasp to her death. The tragedy is said to have destroyed him. And to have brought about a change in attitude that subsequently earned Jones his Civil War nickname – “Grumble.”
In 1864, now-General Jones, CSA, led his army into the Battle of Piedmont, near present-day Waynesboro. There, on June 5, as he was rallying his troops, he was shot and killed. His body was returned to Washington County and he was buried in the Presbyterian cemetery. If you stop by the graveyard in Glade Spring today, you’ll find two markers, side-by-side, in the southern shadows of the church. One marker identifies the mortal remains of General William E. “Grumble” Jones and the other his wife of just a few months.
Did you know that Roanoke, Southwest Virginia’s largest city, played no part in the Civil War?
It didn’t exist. Originally known as Big Lick, the town of Roanoke wasn’t founded until 1882 and didn’t become a city until two years later, fully nineteen years after the Civil War came to an end.
Now you know.