27th Virginia Volunteer Infantry
The 27th Virginia Infantry was organized in the Lexington, Virginia area for service on May 30, 1861. Company G was from the Wheeling, Virginia area (now West Virginia). From then until the unit was accepted into Confederate service on July 1, 1861, it bore the designation of the 6th Virginia State Infantry. When mustered into Confederate service, the regiment contained only seven companies. An eighth company was subsequently added. Under the provisions of War Department regulations, the 27th Virginia Infantry should have been designated as a battalion rather than as a regiment. Orders to the effect of such a designation change appear to have been issued in mid-April, 1862, but never carried out - probably originally, because the unit was actively involved in the spring campaign of 1862 and, later, because of the unit's already established reputation as part of the "Stonewall" Brigade.
Like almost all Civil War units, the Twenty-Seventh Virginia Infantry was often known by an alternate designation derived from the name of its commanding officer. Names of this type used by or for the regiment are shown below.
Upon being mustered into Confederate service the 27th Virginia Infantry was assigned to the Army of the Shenandoah. In early 1862 the unit reported in the Department of Northern Virginia and soon afterwards the Army of the Valley. In the early summer of 1862 the regiment joined the Army of Northern Virginia (ANV). It served in that Army until the summer of 1864. At that time the unit joined the Army of the Valley District, serving in that Army until the final month of 1864. The unit then rejoined the Army of Northern Virginia, serving in that Army for the remainder of the War. Throughout its career the 27th Virginia Infantry was brigaded with the 2nd, 4th, 5th, and 33rd Virginia Infantry regiments to constitute the famous "Stonewall" Brigade - the 1st Virginia Infantry Brigade. Following the severe losses sustained by this brigade at Spottsylvania Court House on May 12, 1664, all of the regiments of this brigade were consolidated to form one regimental sized organization.
As a whole, the men of the 1st Brigade were mostly of Scotch-Irish, German, Swedish, or English descent and typically from farming backgrounds due to the fertile Valley region they were from. Generally, they thought the idea of the "Union" was a good one but Virginia was their home. - Virginia, as the mother of this new nation, was their "country", not the United States. Consequently, the Valley men set out to defend their homes and homeland and cast their lots with the new Confederacy.
The 27th Virginia Infantry was engaged in over 60 skirmishes, battles, etc., in Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia during its long career.
For the Battle of First Manassas, July 21, 1861, General Johnston's army was sent to help Gen. Beauregard's Army of the Potomac (CSA) and General Thomas Jackson's 1st Brigade was poised to take it's place in history. It was after this major battle that the 1st Brigade would forever more be known as the "Stonewall Brigade". On Sunday morning, 21 July 1861, the 1st Virginia Infantry Brigade under General Jackson was ordered to move to the Confederate left at Henry House Hill. Not long after the brigade had deployed, Union forces were able to break the three Confederate brigades holding Matthew's Hill. The Confederates from Matthew's Hill began falling back and General Bee tried to rally these men near Jackson's 1st Brigade. As the Union troops steadily pushed forward to Henry House Hill, eleven federal guns were able to move into a position up the Hill and fire obliquely into Jackson's left flank. The left flank was anchored by the 33rd Virginia. The devastating fire of the federal guns began to have an effect on Jackson's line of infantry. Most of the men were new to battle and certainly none had experienced the magnitude of a major engagement. Nerves were stretched to breaking as the men lay in wait while the incessant shelling rained down upon them.
Colonel Cummings could see the Union troops getting close and felt that he could no longer hold his men at bay. Having endured enough of the bombardment, the 33rd Virginia broke from their position and dashed over the crest of Henry House Hill to attack the federal batteries. They succeeded in reaching the guns that were doing so much damage to Jackson's line and rendered them ineffective. Without immediate support (they had attacked on their own and without orders), however, the 33rd Virginia was forced back to the crest of the hill by Union infantry arriving to support the guns. But by then the tide had already begun to turn. As the Federals continued to push toward the crest of Henry House Hill, Jackson's whole 1st Brigade made a furious charge into the blue ranks and as additional Confederates came up on Jackson's left in support, the Union troops were repulsed.
It is the silencing of the federal guns by the 33rd Virginia and the charge of Jackson's 1st Brigade that is said to have turned the tide of battle. They were instrumental in giving the Confederacy it's victory at First Manassas and started the historic rout of the Union army. `"There stands Jackson like a stonewall" he shouted; "rally 'round the Virginians !". General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson and his "Stonewall Brigade" had etched their names in history.
The Stonewall Brigade would be referred to by other nicknames as well: "Stonewall's Band", "Jackson's Foot Cavalry", "Men of Manassas", and the "Valley Men". They served with distinction throughout the entire war and despite some low points along the way, they continually lived up to their nickname as the Stonewall Brigade and commanded the respect of friend and foe alike. Jackson never hesitated to call on the brigade and always took comfort when his old brigade was leading the way.
According to the paroles granted at Appomattox Court House,
9 April 1865, fewer than twenty-five officers and enlisted men of the 27th
Virginia surrendered there. General Lee, in a show of respect, graciously asked
the 210 men remaining in the old Stonewall Brigade to lead the final march of
his Army of Northern Virginia. It is this last simple act by Lee that gives the
true testimonial of the legacy left by the men of the Stonewall Brigade. The
Valley men gladly accepted this last duty probably not for themselves but for
their comrades left on the bloody battlefields of the war. Surely they also did
it for their former leader who had made them what they were and who always
considered them his own; General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson. It must have
been an amazing sight to see these troops, worn and battered from the war. They
undoubtedly marched proudly down the road, their heads held high, their tattered
battle flags flying over them - the men of the Stonewall Brigade. Behind them,
the long gray lines of the former Army of Northern Virginia.
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Compiled by Larry Kraus www.ancestry.larkcom.org