The Civil War in the Shenandoah Valley


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Lee Chapel at Washington and Lee University

Stonewall Jackson Home Museum

Virginia Military Institute

VMI Museum

VMI Archives

Rockbridge Area Genealogical Society

Wade's Mill

Lee Chapel

Lee and Jackson in Lexington

As the nation’s ninth oldest college, Washington and Lee’s history dates back to its founding as Augusta Academy in 1749. With the American Revolution, the school’s name became Liberty Hall Academy. In the 1790s, after George Washington saved the school from financial ruin through a gift of canal stock, the Board of Trustees honored the general by renaming the school Washington Academy, and later Washington College.

After the Civil War, Robert E. Lee became President of Washington College and played a central role in shaping the institution that exists today. He took the first steps in broadening the liberal arts curriculum to include pre-professional disciplines, such as engineering, journalism, and business. Lee also expanded the geographical scope of the student body and persuaded the Lexington Law School to become an integral part of the institution. Lee's most distinguished legacy at Washington and Lee, however, remains to be the Honor System, which continues to set the standard of honor for the University community. Following his death, the Board honored Lee by re-naming the school Washington and Lee University.

Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery

The Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery began as the burial ground for the old Lexington Presbyterian Church in 1789. General Stonewall Jackson, 144 Confederate veterans, two Virginia governors (John Letcher and James McDowell) and Margaret Junkin Preston, the Civil War Poet Laureate of the South are buried in the cemetery. The statue of Stonewall Jackson was sculpted by Edward V. Valentine and dedicated July 21, 1891. Jackson and his family are buried beneath the statue. From I-64 Take exit #55. Follow Rt. 11 south. As you go over the Maury River Bridge, Rt. 11 will split. Merge to the right (Rt. 11 Business). As you come into downtown Lexington Rt. 11 will turn into Jefferson Street. Follow Jefferson Street to the end where it meets White Street Turn left on White Street and then turn left on Main Street, the cemetery is on the right.

Lexington Visitor Center to Stonewall Jackson House Walk one block west of the visitors center to the intersection of Washington and Main streets. The Stonewall Jackson House is at 8 E. Washington Street.

Stonewall Jackson House

8 E. Washington St., Lexington, Va. • (540) 463-2552 CSA Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, an instructor at VMI and one of Lexington’s most celebrated former residents, lived in the community 10 years before going off to the Civil War. This house, made of brick and stone, was the only one Jackson owned. While living at the house, he married Elinor Junkin, suffered Elinor’s death, travelled abroad, engaged in business, joined a debating society and worshiped at Lexington Presbyterian Church.

Jackson married a second time, to Mary Anna Morrison, and the couple moved into the house in 1859. Of her husband’s home, Mary Anna Jackson once wrote: “. . . it was genuine happiness to him to have a home of his own: it was the first one he had ever possessed, and it was truly his castle. He lost no time in going to work to repair it and make it comfortable and attractive. His tastes were simple, but he liked to have everything in perfect order — every door ‘on golden hinges softly turning,’ as he expressed it; ‘a place for everything, and everything in its place.’ . . .”

Two years later, in 1861, Jackson rode off to war. The house was used as a hospital for a number of years before it was restored and opened to visitors. A national landmark, the house displays a number of Jackson’s personal effects. It is open Monday through Saturday from 9 AM to 5 PM and Sunday from 1 to 5 PM. In the summer, it is open until 6 PM. A $5 admission fee is charged for adults; children and students pay $2.50. Tours begin on the hour and half-hour, with the last beginning at 4:30 PM (in the summer, the last begins at 5:30 PM). To keep young visitors involved, guides provide each child with a slate that lists items on the house tour, and the youngster can circle each item when they see the object. Accommodations are made for handicapped visitors.

Stonewall Jackson House to Lexington Presbyterian Church
From the intersection of Washington and Main streets, go one block south on Main Street to the intersection of Nelson Street.

Lexington Presbyterian Church

Main and Nelson Sts., Lexington, Va.
Lexington Presbyterian Church, built in 1845, is where “Stonewall” Jackson worshiped, taught Sunday school and served as a deacon, all prior to the Civil War. The church is open for Sunday services.

Lexington Presbyterian Church to Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery
From the intersection of Main and Nelson streets, walk two blocks south on Main Street, beyond the intersection of McDowell Street, to the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery.

Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery

S. Main St., Lexington, Va.
“Stonewall” Jackson is buried here at the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery, as are a number of other Confederate veterans. Jackson’s statue, sculpted by Richmonder Edward Valentine, was dedicated in 1891, 23 years after Jackson’s death after the Battle of Chancellorsville (T-16). The cemetery’s setting fulfills CSA Gen. Jackson’s dying wish: “Let us pass over the river, and rest under the shade of the trees.” Admission to the cemetery, open dawn to dusk, is free.

Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery to Washington and Lee University
From the cemetery, return north on Main Street to Washington Street, turn left (west) and go one block on Washington Street, just beyond Jefferson Street, to the Washington & Lee campus.

Washington & Lee University

The university was founded by Scotch-Irish pioneers in the 1740s as Augusta Academy. Later, renamed Liberty Hall Academy, it was just north of Lexington. The school was saved from bankruptcy when former President George Washington bequeathed $50,000. The school was renamed Washington University. After the Civil War, CSA Gen. Lee accepted the university’s presidency and infused new vitality into the school. After Lee died in 1870, the school name was changed to Washington and Lee to honor the two most prominent men in its history. The 55-acre campus has 30 principal buildings, including the historic Washington College group that forms the colonnade facing Lee Chapel. The following four-building cluster is worth noting:

Robert E. Lee Memorial Episcopal Church

This Episcopal church was founded in 1840, mainly through the efforts of Gen. Francis H. Smith, the first superintendent of VMI and a colleague and friend of CSA Gen. Lee. Lee was a senior warden of Grace Episcopal Church. In 1870, a few days before his death, Lee approved plans for a new church building. This church was completed in 1883.

Lee House

Lee House, the college president’s residence, is closed to the public. It was built for Gen. Lee while he was president of W&L. He died in a room on the first floor. The large porch was included for Mrs. Lee, who was confined to a wheelchair, and the garage was formerly used as a stable for Lee’s famous horse, Traveller.

Lee-Jackson House

The Lee-Jackson House, also closed to the public, is where CSA Gen. “Stonewall” Jackson married Elinor Junkin, the daughter of George Junkin, then-president of W&L. The Jacksons, married in 1853, lived in the north wing of the house for a number of years. Gen. and Mrs. Lee lived in the house after he became president of the college and before the adjacent Lee House was constructed.

Lee Chapel

Lee Chapel is a memorial to Gen. Lee and his family. The general and his father, Revolutionary patriot Henry “Light Horse” Harry Lee, are among several family members interred in a crypt beneath the chapel. The Recumbent Statue of R. E. Lee, by Edward Valentine, the centerpiece of the chapel, portrays Lee sleeping — not dead — on the field of battle. A plaque honors the Liberty Hall Volunteers of the Stonewall Brigade, a Virginia militia unit that fought in the Confederacy during the Civil War. From April to October, the chapel is open on Sunday from 2 to 5 PM and Monday through Saturday from 9 AM to 5 PM. During winter, the chapel closes daily at 4 PM. In the chapel is Lee’s office, preserved as he left it in 1870. It is open the same hours and admission to both locations is free. Lee’s famous horse, Traveller, is buried outside the chapel.

Lee Chapel to Virginia Military Institute
Just to the north of the W&L campus, along Letcher Avenue in Lexington, is VMI, founded in 1839 on the site of an arsenal.

Virginia Military Institute

VMI is known as the West Point of the South. It is the nation’s oldest state-supported military school, and it has sent graduates to every American conflict since the Mexican War in the 1840s.

CSA Gen. “Stonewall” Jackson, a graduate of West Point, is the big hero at VMI, where he taught natural philosophy and artillery tactics. He was austere, and he chose to stand while preparing his school lessons. He also stood while he ate because he thought it was better for digestion. His cadets thought he was crazy; they called him “Tom Fool.” A plain, silent, polite man, he was shabbily dressed, sucked on lemons, and believed passionately in the sternest aspects of Presbyterianism and predestination. John Mercer Brooke, chief of naval ordinance for the Confederacy, also taught at VMI as did Matthew Fontaine Maury, the “Pathfinder of the Sea” (see listing below, T-10 and T-17). In May 1864, VMI cadets made up a portion of the Confederate strength at the Battle of New Market, north of Harrisonburg (see T-3: New Market). More information follows on several buildings of note clustered around the parade field at VMI.

Commandant's Quarters

Built in 1852, the Commandant’s Quarters served as the home of VMI professor Matthew Fontaine Maury from 1868 to 1872. This building is closed to the public.

The Barracks

VMI cadets live in the Barracks, where one arch is named in honor of “Stonewall” Jackson. The Jackson statue in front of the arch depicts the general surveying the field at Chancellorsville, where he was mortally wounded in 1863. The cannons beside the statue were cast in 1848, and they were the ones used by Jackson to teach artillery at VMI. This building is closed to the public.

Jackson Memorial Hall-VMI Museum VMI campus, Lexington, Va. • (540) 464-7232 Jackson Memorial Hall, also named to honor Jackson, is the assembly hall for VMI cadets. Inside, the prominent oil painting depicts the VMI cadets who fought in the Battle of New Market in Shenandoah County in 1864. It was painted by Benjamin West Clinedinst, an 1880 VMI graduate.

The VMI Museum, downstairs in Jackson Memorial Hall, displays a variety of Jackson memorabilia. There is also a display of a typical VMI cadet’s room. The museum is open every day from 9 AM to 5 PM. It is handicapped-accessible, and admission is free. Adjacent to Jackson Memorial Hall is a statue, Virginia Mourning Her Dead, which honors the VMI cadets who fought at the Battle of New Market. Six of the 10 cadets killed in the Battle of New Market are buried behind the monument.

 

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