2nd Virginia Infantry Regiment, Company d april 18, 1861



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July 3, 1863 - 3 a.m. - The brigade and the regiment crossed to the north bank of Rock Creek and positioned themselves eventually at the base of Culp’s Hill, 30 yards in front of some captured enemy breastworks. Two of the three bloody days at Gettysburg had passed and the Second Virginia thus far had burned virtually no powder; within hours, however, the regiment’s rifle barrels became red hot.
John Geary’s division of the Federal Twelfth Corps charged toward the Confederate left at dawn. Recapture of the breastworks at the base of Culp’s Hill was the Union objective, but the Rebel defenders refused to budge from the works they had taken on the previous night. When it became apparent that one Federal thrust was intended to turn the Confederate flank to the left of the Stonewall Brigade, Colonel Nadenbousch received orders to support the First North Carolina Infantry and to protect the threatened left flank. Nadenbousch acted quickly. First he detached Company D and sent it south across Rock Creek “for the purpose of attracting the fire of the enemy” and to force the Federals to the right. Company D maneuvered into position, and as expected, when its volley of lead crashed into the Union column, the Federals diverted their advance to the right. Nadenbousch’s strategy had worked perfectly - the new Union route placed the Yankees on a collision course with the Second Infantry. The regiment waited patiently behind the breastworks the Federals were attempting to recapture. Onward the bluecoats rushed, harder and faster, when suddenly - 25 yards to the left of the contested works - the Federal drive halted abruptly. The Second Virginia had “opened a heated oblique fire” that had stunned and stalled the Union advance.
The Unionists stood stubbornly where they had stopped, compelling Nadenbousch to further divide his regiment. Two companies were detached and sent 60 yards to the rear to annoy the attacker’s right flank. The remainder of the regiment joined Company D on the south side of Rock Creek and poured more lead into the Federal front. “With this concentrated fire” combined with the efforts of the First North Carolina, Nadenbousch reported “the enemy was soon forced to retire in confusion.” The Second Virginia did not rejoin the brigade at this juncture, but remained instead on the south side of Rock Creek where it engaged in skirmishing for the rest of the day. The regiment did not participate in the July 3 assaults against Culp’s Hill; consequently, since it encountered minimal action, the Second Virginia suffered limited casualties during the bloody three days at Gettysburg. Losses included one killed, 14 wounded (three mortally), nine captured and four missing.
July 4, 1863 - 12-1 a.m - Confederates withdrew to Seminary Ridge where they remained drawn up in line of battle until 11 p.m.
July 13, 1863 - Lee’s weary veterans finally waded the Potomac near Williamsport, the Gettysburg Campaign was history.

Late July 1863 - The regiment’s Compiled Service Records discloses 61 deserters from the Second’s ranks during the two weeks following the army’s reentry into Virginia. Most of the desertions occurred at Darkesville, a Berkeley County village; consequently, it is not surprising to discover that Company D and E - the two Berkeley County units in the regiment - accounted for more than half the desertions noted above (22 skedaddled from Company D; ten from Company E). This massive departure represented nearly one-fifth of the regiment’s total number of deserters for the entire war.
July - September 14, 1863 - The regiment remained encamped with the brigade at Orange Court House.
September 14 - October 8, 1863 - The regiment with the brigade pitched tents at Morton’s Ford on the Rapidan.
Mid-October, 1863 - The brigade arrived too late to participate in the fighting at Bristoe Station. On the return south to Brandy Station, the regiment helped to destroy the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, eventually returning to Morton’s Ford in early November 1863.
October 26, 1863 - Execution of Layton B. Morris of Company D for desertion. He was the only man to receive the death sentence for desertion within the Second Virginia.
November 26, 1863 - “To arms!” Scouts had reported Union forces crossing the Rapidan and General Lee desired to have his Confederates ready to meet the expected Federal attack. General Johnson marched his division from its “tolerably comfortable” camp at Morton’s Ford and positioned his men behind breastworks near Mine Run on the evening of the 26th.
November 27, 1863 - Federal movements indicated an assault against the Confederate right, Johnson’s division left the breastworks and hustled southeast to strengthen Lee’s right, then anchored near Locust Grove. Just as the head of the column approached its destination, a “sharp but desultory firing” erupted toward the rear of the division. Enemy skirmishers had attacked an ambulance train just to the rear of the Stonewall Brigade. Johnson immediately ordered an about face and instructed his brigadiers to throw out skirmishers. Since the Second Virginia was bringing up the rear of the brigade and consequently was nearest the action, Lieutenant Colonel Colston - filling in for the ailing John Nadenbousch - received orders to deploy the Second Virginia in front of the brigade and to “feel out” the enemy’s skirmishers. Colston quickly organized his line and rapidly advanced toward covery: the woods it approached contained more than a handful of Yankee sharpshooters. The entire Twelfth Corps of the Army of the Potomac was preparing for battle!
The Federal Twelfth Corps had unexpectedly collided with Edward Johnson’s division, and Raleigh Colston’s skirmish line provided the Unionists with an easy target. A tornado of lead smashed into the Second Virginia Infantry. Colonel Colston toppled form his horse, his left leg shattered by a minie. Captain Charles Stewart received command, and Stewart withdrew hastily until the regiment connected its line with the Confederate skirmishers on its right and left. The advance of the enemy opened a heavy skirmish fire against the defending Southerners, but the Twelfth Corps massed no major assaults.
4 p.m - General Johnson ordered an attack “to drive the enemy out of the tangled wilderness in which he had sheltered himself.” The Federals moved forward at the same time. The two lines of advancing opponents presented Captain Stewart with a major problem: the Second Virginia - still deployed as skirmishers and in position on the crest of a hill - was “directly in line of fire” from both sides of the field. Stewart rectified this hazard when he ordered the regiment to fall back to the brigade and to reform in its rear.
Johnson’s determined Confederates surged forward toward the woods and the open fields of Payne’s Farm just beyond. The snarled thicket through which the men scrambled, however, was so dense that it was “found impossible to maintain an unbroken line.” Consequently each brigade commander, finding himself unsupported on both flanks, ordered his brigades back to the edge of an open field; here the Confederates remained unmolested for the rest of the evening.
10 p.m. - Johnson withdrew his forces.
November 28, 1863 - Johnson settled his forces on the hills along the western bank of Mine Run.
Casualties at Payne’s Farm:


Company

A

B

C

D

E

F

G

H

I

K

Total

KIA

-

-

-

2

-

1

-

-

2

-

5

MWIA

-

1

-

-

-

-

1

-

1

-

3

WDED

2

-

3

-

6

6

9

1

7

3

37

POW

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

0

TOTAL

2

1

3

2

6

7

10

1

10

3

45

At first, Colonel Raleigh Colston’s left leg had been amputated just below the knee and would prevent the colonel’s return to the regiment.


December 23, 1863 - Raleigh Colston died of pneumonia. The regiment had lost its fourth colonel in two and one-half years.
January 1, 1864 - The Stonewall Brigade and the regiment settled into new winter quarters at Pisgah Church.
April 1864 (?) - William W. Randolph from Company C was appointed lieutenant colonel of the Second Virginia Infantry.
May 4, 1864 - Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Potomac had crossed the Rappahannock and the spring campaign had commenced with a race through the Wilderness. General Lee resolved to strike the Federals while they were still entangled in the densely overgrown jungle of the Wilderness.
Evening - The Stonewall Brigade packed its bags at Pisgah Church and started east with Johnson’s division along the Orange Turnpike.
May 5, 1864 (Noon) - While near the intersection of the turnpike and the Germanna Plank Road, the advancing Confederates collided with the head of the Federal column and the Battle of the Wilderness began.
The Second’s position was on the extreme left of the brigade and also on the extreme left of Johnson’s division. While in this precarious situation, the line of the Second “had to be continually stretched out towards the left” in order to counter repeated Federal flanking attacks. Colonel Randolph conducted the defense of his position actively and decisively, even ordering the color-bearer at one point to plant the Second’s standard beside himself in order to steady the regiment’s line.
2 p.m. - Randolph barely had begun his mission when a bullet smashed into his skull, wounding him mortally. Two hours later, the last and the youngest colonel of the Second Virginia Infantry was dead at age 27.
5 p.m. - The regiment held its own up to this time when relief finally arrived. Harry Hay’s Louisianians marched onto the field and the Stonewall Brigade dropped to the rear to reorganize and to rearm. Casualties had been relatively light; one man killed; two wounded mortally; and four more injured in the fight of the Wilderness.
May 8, 1864 - Grant abandoned his position, however, he started driving toward Lee’s right flank, the Confederates moved rapidly to the right also. A “hot and toilsome” 16-hour march eventually brought the Southerners into a position north of Spotsylvania Court House on the evening of the 8th. A rail fence nearby gave Johnson’s division a foundation for new breastworks and the army’s first line of defense at Spotsylvania. The five sided salient which Johnson’s men had constructed protruded northward from the center of a Confederate line distinctly resembling a “mule shoe.”
May 10, 1864 - This unusual fortification received its first test when Emory Upton’s brigade of the Federal Sixth Corps pierced the left wall of the salient and went dashing toward the Stonewall Brigade, then posted on the left center of Johnson’s line. The Second Virginia - on the far left of the brigade and closest to the Union attackers - initially fell back, but the rest of the brigade and additional reinforcements soon rushed to the rescue and the Federals were repulsed.
May 12, 1864 - A light rain was falling and a dense fog blanket reduced visibility to near zero. Suddenly, thousands of bluecoats from Hancock’s Second Corps poured over the top of the salient breastworks and hundreds of Southerners were prisoners of war. Most in the Stonewall Brigade threw up their arms and surrendered. Ninety-five men of the Second Virginia alone had been captured near what soon became known as the “Bloody Angle.”
Casualties at the “Bloody Angle”


Company

A

B

C

D

E

F

G

H

I

K

Total

KIA

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

0

MWIA

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

1

-

-

1

WDED

-

-

3

-

-

-

1

-

-

-

4

POW

18

11

8

16

3

16

2

4

5

12

95

TOTAL

18

11

11

16

3

16

3

5

5

12

100

Losses on May 12, 1864, at Spotsylvania - the greatest suffered by the Second Virginia in the war - crippled but did not destroy the lower valley regiment. Even after the May 12 disaster, the Second Virginia Infantry turned out 200 soldiers available for duty. The Stonewall Brigade officially ceased to exist after the Spotsylvania catastrophe. The Second Infantry was consolidated with 13 other regiments and formed into a brigade composed mostly of the remnants of Edward Johnson’s division.


It is difficult to chronicle the history of the Second Virginia Infantry during the last eleven months of the war.

U.S. Grant continued maneuvering against the right flank of Lee’s army throughout May and June of 1864. Lee shadowed his stubborn opponent on each move, but the Second Virginia experienced no action when the two armies locked horns at North Anna (May 17) and Cold Harbor (June 3).


When Lee dispatched Jubal Early and the Second Corps to the Shenandoah Valley in mid-June, the regiment marched along (now as a part of John B. Gordon’s division) and helped frighten David Hunter’s Yankees out of the Valley. In early July, “Old Jube” grasped the initiative and invaded Maryland, climaxing his drive with a demonstration toward Washington. This Confederate offensive stalled, however, when Early’s skirmishers collided with veterans from the Army of the Potomac at Fort Stevens. Early then withdrew across the Potomac and moved back to the Valley in late July.
The Second Virginia returned from its excursion into Maryland relatively unscathed by the July 9 fight at Monocacy (nine casualties) and the movement against Fort Stevens (no reported injuries). In mid-August, the regiment settled at Winchester and began a relaxing few weeks of provost duty.
Major General Philip H. Sheridan introduced himself to the Shenandoah Valley in late August 1864. Within one month, the good fortunes Early’s Confederates were enjoying rapidly would disappear.
September 19, 1864 - Sheridan’s 40,000 struck “Old Jube’s” greatly outnumbered divisions at Third Winchester, eventually forcing the Southerners to withdraw up the Valley Pike past Strasburg. Sheridan hotly pursued, and three days later at Fisher’s Hill, “Little Phil” stampeded Early’s left flank and produced a major Confederate defeat.
October 19, 1864 - Early fired back when he surprised the Federals at Cedar Creek and initially routed them in confusion. The fiesty Sheridan rallied his troops, however, and unleashed a counterattack that virtually annihilated Early’s Second Corps. The lower valley belonged to Sheridan. The Second Virginia suffered only 18 casualties in the three battles against Sheridan. Most of the victims (13) were captured, but two men were killed and three other veterans wounded. The most painful loss, however, occurred at Third Winchester. While defending the town during the late afternoon of September 19, the Second Virginia lost its battle flag on the heights north of Winchester. A spirited charge by the Thirty-seventh Massachusetts Infantry (Third brigade, First division, Sixth Corps) cracked the regiment’s line and the tattered colors fell. Thirteen battles inscribed across the Stars and Bars proved complete testimony to the regiment’s arduous service during three years of war.
October 31, 1864 - 113 member mustered within the Second Virginia. Evidence of the regiment’s deterioration - in addition to its reduction in strength - was disclosed when an inspection report in late November labeled the command “in a most deplorable condition,” and warned that clothing and especially overcoats were an “absolute necessity” to prevent much suffering during the coming cold weather. The same inspector also found a “large deficiency” in the regiment’s armaments due to the fact that “most of the guns issued to [the Stonewall Brigade] since October 19 [had] been collected from citizens.” The report recommended that .58 caliber rifles replace the old .69 smoothbores as soon as possible.
December 6, 1864 - The survivors of Jubal Early’s Second Corps left the Shenandoah Valley for the last time as soldiers. The columns marched eastward to join Lee at Petersburg. When “Old Jube’s” campaigners arrived in mid-December, the Stonewall Brigade was stationed on the Confederate right at Hatcher’s Run. Winter quarters hastily were constructed at Camp Ewell near Burgess Mills. For the next four months, the men spent their energy “fighting famine from within and Grant from without.”
Cornbread and middling day after day weakened the constitutions of many in the Second Virginia. “Chills and fever and other malarious diseases” sent many from the trenches to the hospital during the winter of 1865. In some ways, however, the regiment’s situation improved. An inspection report of the Stonewall Brigade in late February revealed that the arms and accouterments of the command were “ample” and that all the brigade’s units were “well-clad.” Only the “great want of soap,” the inspector reported, “prevented] that perfect cleanliness which would otherwise be the case.”
March 25, 1865 (4 a.m.) - John Gordon’s Second Corps charged toward Fort Steadman in an all-out effort to loosen Grant’s stranglehold on Petersburg. Gordon’s determined Confederates rushed forward and captured the fort; but confusion followed the initial success, and in a short time Gordon’s attackers were raked by a murderous Federal countercharge. Rather than risking the return to their own lines, hundreds of Confederates surrendered, including nine veterans of the Second Virginia Infantry. Eight days after the Fort Steadman assault, Petersburg fell. The week-long retreat toward Appomattox then began.
April 9, 1865 - Robert E. Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia. Only 69 men in the Second Virginia Infantry witnessed the end.
Numbers who surrendered at Appomattox


A

B

C

D

E

F

G

H

I

K

4

13

7

7

14

0

10

10

2

2

According to the official records, 1,631 men served in the Second Virginia Infantry. The regiment reached its greatest strength on June 30, 1861, when 671 soldiers mustered near Winchester.


Company I topped the list with the largest company strength when it mustered 92 eager recruits on June 30, 1861. Company D consistently maintained the highest numbers on its roles, however, averaging 59 present for duty during the first three years of the war.
The total number who registered in each company during the war:


A

B

C

D

E

F

G

H

I

K

130

148

151

202

169

166

184

144

170

145

Nearly half of those who fought with the Second Virginia became a casualty at some point during the war.


Second Virginia Casualties:


Company

A

B

C

D

E

F

G

H

I

K

Total

KIA

6

3

7

10

7

7

3

4

7

6

60

MWIA

3

6

3

10

4

4

8

7

7

3

55

WDED

25

19

39

31

52

26

49

18

37

17

313

POW

55

39

26

53

31

33

21

16

40

30

344

TOTAL

89

67

75

104

94

70

81

45

91

56

772

Does not include the four men who were reported missing at Gettysburg or the regiment’s five field officers who were killed or mortally wounded.


The Second Virginia’s battlefield statistics are presented below. The battles with the highest casualties are listed first:
Battle Date Total KIA MWIA WDED POW

1. Spotsylvania 5/12/64 100 - 1 4 95

2. 2nd Manassas 8/28-30/62 83 13 19 49 -


3. 1st Manassas 7/21/61 76 15 8 53 -

4. Chancellorsville 5/3/63 50 8 8 34 -

5. Kernstown 3/23/62 47 3 2 8 34

6. Payne’s Farm 11/27/63 46 5 4 37 -



7. 2nd Manassas 8/28/62 39 8 7 24 -

8. Gaines Mill/Malvern Hill 6/27 & 7/1 1862 28 6 4 17 1

9. Port Republic 6/9/62 26 1 - 25 -

10. Gettysburg 7/2 & 7/3 1863 24 1 3 11 9

11. 1st Winchester 5/25/62 22 3 2 11 6

12. Fredericksburg 12/13/62 20 2 2 16 -

13. Salem Church 5/20/64 18 - - 3 15

14. Gettysburg 7/3/63 16 1 2 5 8

15. 2nd Manassas 8/30/62 14 2 7 5 -

16. Cedar Run 8/9/62 11 - 1 10 -



17. 2nd Winchester 6/15/63 2 - - 2 -

1 The Official Records list the casualties as follows: KIA = 6, WDED = 33, Missing = 51, Total=90. The numbers listed in the text above are from the Compiled Service Records. No reason exists to account for the differences.


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