Norfolk County Grays





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Web Site Updated 9/16/2011 8:44:00 PM

The Monument at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in Chesapeake, VA today.
Link to official Jackson Greys Monument Page
Link to the Media Page to view a Photo Album of the Monument

Copyright © 2011.  All Rights Reserved.  Norfolk County Grays, Camp #1549, Sons of Confederate Veterans.

The Jackson Greys


Notice:  The following information is provided with the knowledge and consent of former Norfolk County Grays Compatriot, Neale Clifton, who has graciously allowed us to repost the wealth of information about and research on the Jackson Greys, which is displayed on his web site.  Feel free to explore his original web site, as it is very informative and contains a voluminous amount of historical information, much of which is local.  Please follow this link to go directly to his original publication: Neale Clifton’s Jackson Greys Web Site




In the early summer of 1861, Samuel M. Wilson of Norfolk, VA received the authority to raise a regiment for heavy artillery service, for the protection of Norfolk and Portsmouth. Only eight companies of the unit had been organized by the time that these two cities were evacuated. These eight companies were reorganized at the Jarrett's Hotel, Petersburg, VA, as an infantry battalion as their services were no longer needed as artillerymen. As an eight company battalion, the organization was known as the Seventh Virginia Infantry Battalilon. After two additional companies were added to the battalion, bring it up to the authorized strength of a regiment, it was mustered into the Confederate service as the 61st Virginia Infantry on October 1, 1862.


Samuel M. Wilson, the organizer of the original unit, appears to have held the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, commanding The Seventh Virginia Infantry Battalion. Sources indicate that the first commanding officer of the 61st VA Regiment was  William F. Neimeyer. For some unknown reason, it appears that Wilson might not have actually led the regimental organization.


Although the entire 61st Virginia Regiment is of great interest to me, my special interest is for the first company, Co. "A." This company was recruited in the St. Bride's Parish of Norfolk County, in the section known as Pleasant Grove Magisterial District and was organized at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church on June 1, 1861. The company left Pleasant Grove on the 10th of July and marched first to Norfolk, where they paraded up Main Street to Custom House. There they were met by Major E. Bradford, the mustering officer, and on 11th of July, were mustered into the Confederate States, and on the 12th of July they took the ferry to Portsmouth and were quartered in the Norfolk County Courthouse.



Custom House

Norfolk, Virginia

Norfolk County Courthouse

Portsmouth, Virginia

Naval Hospital

Portsmouth, Virginia

Their officers at that time were:


Captain, William H. Stewart; First Lieutenant, William C. Wallace; 2nd Lieutenant, John T. West; 3rd Lieutenant, George T. Hodges.


The "Jackson Grays" were named for Mr. James P. Jackson, the proprietor of the Marshall House in Alexandria, Virginia, who was killed in that city on the 24th of May 1861, for defending the flag he had raised over his hotel. That day, a large force of Federals, numbering eight or nine thousand men, had crossed the Potomac River early in the morning, and occupied the town. Seeing the Confederate flag flying at the top of the staff on the hotel, Colonel Ellsworth, of Chicago, commanding a regiment of Fire Zouaves of New York City went up to the top of the building, with several men from his regiment and took it down. As he was descending the stairs, Mr. Jackson, who had been aroused by the noise came out from his bedroom with a double barrel gun and asked for the cause of the commotion, Colonel Ellsworth pointing to the flag in his possession said "This is my trophy." Mr. Jackson replied, "and you are mine," and immediately fired, killing Ellsworth dead. Colonel Ellsworth's companions returned the fire, shooting Mr. Jackson and running a bayonet into him, killing him. Mr. Jackson had became a martyr to the Southern cause.


After remaining at the Norfolk County Courthouse for a few days, the Grays were ordered to the batteries at Fort Nelson, on the grounds of the present Portsmouth Naval Hospital and remained on duty there, until December, 1861, when at there own request, they were sent to Sewell's Point and put in charge of a masked battery of six heavy rifled guns of the six-inch caliber known as batteries number four and five. From their position the Grays could see Rip Raps [Ft. Wool] in Hampton Roads and Fortress Monroe at Old Point Comfort in Hampton.


They were the most advanced battery amongst the defenses of the harbors of Norfolk and Portsmouth, and were within range of the Federal guns. Daily, around noon, the Union artillerymen at the Rip Raps shelled the Point with their Sawyer Gun. This was very annoying to them as they were not allowed to reply with their guns. Most of the shells buried in the sand without exploding and were dug up by the troops. After waiting and watching from December, 1861 to March, 1862, the opportunity finally came and they joined in the first battle of the ironclads.


When the Confederate ironclad CSS Virginia, went down to Hampton Roads and had her battles with the Union fleet on the 8th and 9th of March, 1862, the battery took part, with two rifled six-inch guns, in the engagement, as the naval vessels, passing to and from Fortress Monroe, passed within range of its guns. During the engagement a shell from a Sawyer gun on the Rip Raps entered their area and exploded on the breech of a gun. Three men belonging to the company were wounded in this engagement. They were Lieutenant William C. Wallace, who was slightly hurt and Privates Alex. B. Cooper and William H. Warden. Cooper's skull was fractured and his wound was so serious that he was incapacitated from further service and was discharged. Warden died a few weeks after the battle at the naval hospital from the effects of his injuries.


In the early morning of tenth of May, 1862, the company had to abandon their batteries by order of General Huger and they formed the rear guard of the troops that fell back upon Norfolk. Union General John E. Wool landed on Willoughby's Spit with six thousand troops later in the morning of the tenth of May and began a his march to Norfolk. This forced an hasty evacuation of all the fortifications at Sewell's Point. When the rear guard passed Indian Pole Bridge, it was set on fire so that when General Wool and his troops reached that point, they were unable to cross the creek. General Wool was compelled to countermarch his troops delaying his entry into Norfolk until 5:00 p.m. which gave the Confederate troops time to evacuate the City. The "Jackson Grays" marched through Norfolk and then crossed the ferry into Portsmouth and was one of the last commands which left Portsmouth by railroad, being moved out on flat cars late in the afternoon of the same day. Only one company remained after the departure of the Jackson Grays, namely the Portsmouth Rifle Company, and they marched out of Portsmouth to Suffolk.


Upon the reorganization of the company in Petersburg, Virginia, it was assigned to duty with the 61st Virginia Regiment as Company "A." At that time the regiment was under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel William F. Niemeyer. In a few days, Company A, along with Company C, the Blanchard Grays, also of Norfolk County were detached from the regiment and with a two gun battery of six pounders were ordered to the neighborhood of Bermuda Hundred in Chesterfield County to watch the movements of the Federal Fleet in the James River. While there, during the Seven Day's Battles, part of the fleet went up the Appomattox River towards Petersburg and attempted to secure a large quantity of coal which was stored at Port Walthal. Company's A and C attacked them and so annoyed them as to force them to hug the opposite shore where several of the vessels stuck in the mud and after two days the enemy was force to set fire to and abandon one gunboat, the Island Belle. This action took place on the 26th of June 1862.


On the last day of August, the Grays were marched to Richmond, where they boarded the Orange and Alexandria Railroad for Gordonsville. For the first two weeks of September, the Grays worked as carpenters and laborers constructing a bridge spanning the Rapidan River. While there, upon one occasion, while scouting near Bristoe Station, they met a Federal brigade belonging to Sigel's Corps, accompanied by a battery of artillery and a company of cavalry. Under cover of a forest, which concealed the smallness of the Confederate forces, an attack was made upon the Federals who were repelled. The company captured several prisoners and withdrew without having suffered any loss. At a nearby station, the Southerners found a number of derailed locomotives, cars and other railroad material. On the 17th of September, the men hoisted the engines and other cars on the track and the trains rumbled back to Richmond,


Simultaneously, Federal cavalry, under D. B. Birney proceeded to the area to retrieve the bodies of fallen Union soldiers. The cavalry appeared under a flag of truce before the pickets requesting permission to bury or remove their dead. Maj. William H. Stewart who was in command doubted Birney's intentions. Stewart believed Birney’s mission was to gather intelligence and discover the strength of the Southerners, therefore he refused to receive the flag of truce without first communicating with the authorities in Richmond. Stewart hastened his men to their tasks and then loaded the infantry onto flat cars. The Confederates were pulling away as the Union horsemen charged onto the scene.


After the return of General Lee's army from Maryland in October 1862, the Jackson Grays, with the rest of the 61st Virginia Regiment were assigned to Mahone's Brigade, and became a part of the Army of Northern Virginia. The 61st joined the 6th, 12th, 16th, and 41st Virginia to complete Mahone's organization. Mahone's unit and Perry's, Wilcox's, Featherson's and Wright's brigades composed Major General Richard H. Anderson's Division in General Longstreet's Corps. At the time, Longstreet's Corps and General Stonewall Jackson's Corps made up the infantry components of Lee's Army of Northern Virginia.


On the evening of the 15th of November, 1862, General Robert E. Lee directed Brigadier General W. H. F. Lee to order the 61st Virginia Regiment which included Mahone's Brigade to proceed immediately to Fredericksburg. These troops promptly moved as directed by General Lee and reached Fredericksburg on the 18th day of November. On the night of the 18th the troops were distributed throughout the woods and built many bon-fires in order to create the impression on the enemy forces that a large Confederate force confronted them. The enemy did not cross that night, and the rest of the Army of Northern Virginia came up in good time and they went into Winter Quarters.


From that time on the Grays became a part of the Army of Northern Virginia, and took part in all of its battles, victories and marches.


Of all the Jackson Grays triumphs, the Battle of the Crater was the most dramatic. Union miners and engineers tunneled under the Confederate lines and positioned tons of powder to blow a hole in the Confederate defenses. On the morning of July 30, 1864, the Union miners lit the fuse and exploded the powder. A horde of Union soldiers then poured out of their earthworks and into the Southern trenches.


General Mahone directed Anderson's Division in a great counterattack. The Savage hand-to-hand fighting left thousands killed or wounded. The clash was especially vicious since the Confederates killed Union troops, rather than accept their surrender. By the late afternoon, the men in Mahone's Brigade had captured fifteen enemy battle flags and had driven the attackers back to their former position.


The Jackson Grays surrendered with fifteen men, which included three Sergeants, three Corporals, and nine Privates, at Appomattox Court House on the 9 of April 1865 and one of the 61st Regiment flags is still on display at the Appomattox National Park.


Of the commissioned officers of the company, not one escaped the shots of the enemy. Captain William H. Stewart, its first captain was promoted to Major

and then to Lieutenant-Colonel of the regiment and was twice wounded. First Lieutenant William C. Wallace was promoted to Captain in May 1862, the promotion of Captain Stewart to Major. He was wounded slightly at Sewell's Point in the engagement of the 8th of March 1862, between the ironclad, CSS Virginia and the Federal Fleet, in which the shore battery at Sewell's Point took part and was mortally wounded on the 19th of August 1864, at the Battle of the Petersburg and Weldon Railroad, sometimes called The Battle of Davis Farm. He fell into the hands of the enemy and died within their lines. He was a little more than twenty-two years old at the time of his death. Upon the death of Captain Wallace, Lieutenant John T. West became captain of the Jackson Grays. From November 1863, until August 19, 1964, Lieutenant West was detailed from the company by order of General William Mahone and placed in command of a select company of sharp shooters, which with four other companies, one from each regiment in the brigade constituted the corps of one hundred and fifty men know as Mahone's sharp shooters, more than three-fourths of whom were killed or wounded during the campaign of 1864, but from that date until the close of the war, commanded his own company. He was wounded twice, once by a bayonet thrust at the Battle of the Crater, July 30, 1864 and once by a piece of shell on the Plank Road in February 1865. Third Lieutenant George T. Hodges, on account of the promotion of Captain Stewart and Lieutenant West and the death of Captain Wallace became First Lieutenant of the company and escaped with only a slight wound, which he received on May 3, 1863, at the Battle of Salem Church, which was a part of the Battle of Chancellorsville, which took place between Sedgwick's Corps of General Hooker's Army and a portion of General Lee's army, which had been sent to stop his advance from Fredericksburg. First Sergeant C. A. Nash was promoted to Second Lieutenant and was slightly wounded at The Battle of the Crater on July 30, 1864, but remained with the company. On the 19th of August 1864, he received a very severe wound and shortly afterwards resigned his commission and volunteered as a private in Mosby's command. The Jackson Grays lost by deaths from wounds and disease forty-three (43) men, probably more than any other company which went into service from Norfolk County and the roll which follows gives the names of seventeen (17) others who were wounded. Some of them were wounded more than once. At the Battle of the Crater, July 30, 1864, the company lost four men killed and six wounded, which was fully half of those present for duty. It lost men killed in the Battles of Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, Wilcox Farm, the Crater, Davis Farm, Burgess Mill and Hatcher's Run, while in the other battles in which it was engaged its casualties were among the wounded only. Very few of its members fell into the hands of the enemy and some of those were wounded. The Jackson Grays was a company whose war record Old Norfolk County was proud of, as she was of all of her companies.


After the war, men of the grays joined the United Confederate Veterans camps, such as the Stonewall Camp, of Portsmouth, the Pickett-Buchanan Camp of Norfolk, the Niemeyer-Shaw Camp of Berkley, and the Tom Smith Camp of Suffolk. Two of the leaders of the Jackson Grays became important members of their communities, Captain William H. Stewart became an prominent attorney in Portsmouth and in 1875 became the Commonwealth's Attorney for Norfolk County and William T. West was made the Superintendent of Norfolk County Schools in 1870 and given the job of rebuilding the schools.


On June 1, 1905 at the Pleasant Grove Baptist Church Cemetery, a Confederate Monument was unveiled by the living veterans of the Jackson Grays and dedicated to all of the men of the Jackson Grays. It is a granite monolith, which stands approximately eight feet tall. It contains a commemoration and a list of the men of the Jackson Grays. It is the only known Confederate Monument in the City of Chesapeake.



Partial view of Hampton Roads Harbor in 1859.
Sawyer gun used by Federals.

Aftermath.  Battle of the Crater as it looked in 1865.

Roster of Soldiers in the Jackson Greys



William H. Stewart, Lt Col.

William C. Wallace

John T. West



George T. Hodges

Camillus Albert Nash



William A. Dudley

Dr. Henry  Shaw Etheridge

William A. West



Laban Mansfield

George D. Old

Peleg Pritchard

Thomas Henry Sykes



William Mahoney      

James Toy              



George Warden Bright  

James Henry Butt   

Jeremiah Castine   

John T. Castine   

Alexander P. Cooper   

Columbus C. Cooper   

John A. Cooper   

Caleb Creekmore   

Isaiah Creekmore   

John W. Creekmore   

Marshall Creekmore   

Willoughby W. Creekmore   

John Culpepper   

Daniel M. Culpepper   

Daniel R. Culpepper   

Ashwell Curlin    

John W. Deford   

Benjamin F. Diggs   

Abner Grandy Duncan   

Isaac Eason    

Dennis Etheridge   

John Ferrell    

Acelius G. Foreman   

Cary Foreman    

William A. Foreman   

William H. Foreman   

James Fulford    

James E. Fulford   

Jacob A. Grimes   

John F. Grimes    

Franklin Gwinn   

James P. Halstead   

Thomas E. Halstead   

William H. Harrison   







Follow link to Neale Clifton’s Roster Page


Privates - Continued

Caleb Hodges    

Isaiah Hodges    

Thomas H. Hodges   

John Humphries   

Lemuel Jennings   

Noah M. Jennings   

Wickers P. Jennings   

Alexander Old Lee   

Abner Lewis    

John Lynch    

Leroy G. Lynch    

Simon Mathias   

Samuel  M. Mercer   

James H. Miller   

John J. Miller    

Lovitt Miller    

Andrew C. Morgan   

Wiley P. Morgan   

Thomas O. Murphy   

Cincinnatus A. Nash   

Henry E. Nash    

William Oniel    

Narariah Only    

Charles N. Overton   

Grandy Overton   

Joseph H. Pritchard   

Peleg Pritchard   

Wiley Pritchard   

William Pritchard   

William M. Reed   

Joseph Scott    

William T. Scott   

Ethelbert H. Sivells   

Daniel T. Sivills    

Benjamin F. Spraight    

Henry C. Sykes    

John C. C. Sykes   

Joseph Sykes    

Josephius Sykes   

William O. Sykes   

Richard Thompson   

George W. Waller   

James Warden (Ward)  

William H. Warden   

John T. West    

Leroy  McCain West   

William W. West   

Martin Van Buren Whitehead  

Robert B. Whitehurst   

Willoughby W. Whitehurst  

Dorustus A. Williams   

James E. Williams   

Marcellus W. Williams  

Joseph N. Wood   

Keeling Wood    

Leander Woodard   

James T. Woodard  

Peter Wright