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The Stonewall Brigade in the Civil War

 by Patrick Hook and Steve Smith, Zenith Press

Organized from assorted militia companies in and near the Shenandoah Valley on April 27, 1861, the 1st Brigade, Virginia Volunteers, had its character and destiny swiftly defined by its first commander, Colonel Thomas J. Jackson. In the Confederates’ pivotal defense of Henry Hill during the First Battle of Manassas three months later, Brig. Gen. Bernard E. Bee is widely quoted as crying to his men: “Look yonder— there stands Jackson like a stone wall! Rally behind the Virginians!”

Those words—whether Bee really said them or not—lent Jackson and his entire brigade a reputation that they strove mightily to live up to for the remainder of the war. They paid a high price. Stonewall Jackson died on May 10, 1863, shortly after the Rebels’ triumph at Chancellorsville. The brigade, once 2,500 men strong, continued to distinguish itself, but when the Army of Northern Virginia finally stood down at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865, only 210 of its members remained, none of them above the rank of captain.

In The Stonewall Brigade, authors Hook and Smith sort out the evolution of the companies that formed the 2nd, 4th, 5th, 27th and 33rd Virginia Infantry regiments and their supporting artillery units, and diligently explore the details of the brigade’s lofty record. A wealth of illustrations as well as vivid descriptions of the soldiers’ training and living conditions are included, along with tales of notable members who contributed to the brigade’s unique character. This is a concise guide to one of the war’s most storied fighting units.


Originally published in the August 2009 issue of Civil War Times. To subscribe, click here