Wednesday, April 14, 2010

5th Virginia Infantry - the "Fighting Fifth"

Fear not - I am still in the land of the living, though real life has been making a more than unwelcome apperance lately.. last weekend was the weekend from hell with damage sustained to both Steve the Wargamers cat and boat (it had to happen!)

I'll blog separately on the issues with the boat, but suffice to say that after spending a four figure sum, the cat is back among us.. all I can say is thank goodness for pet insurance!!!

Either way - here's what I've been working on... can I introduce you to the "Fighting Fifth"...

Like the other regiments in the "Stonewall Brigade" the Fifth trace their origins to the concentration of militia companies at to Harper's Ferry at the start of the war.

The 5th Regiment of Virginia Volunteer Infantry (to give it it's full name) was formed in April/May 1861 (sources differ). It was made up of men from Augusta, Frederick, and Rockbridge Counties, and the town of Winchester, which were all in the Shenandoah Valley.

The 5th was originally placed under the command of Colonel Kenton Harper. On July 1, 1861, the Fifth was accepted into the service of the Confederate States, and was assigned to the First Brigade, under Brigadier General Thomas J. Jackson.

There's some interesting stuff on the web about this regiment amongst which I found that "the original muster roles show that most members were between the ages of 18 and 30. The youngest was 15 and the oldest, was 60. Well over half of the men were farmers and laborers, but there was also listed seven lawyers, six teachers, five cigar makers, two dentists, a toy maker, a confectioner, a surgeon, an undertaker, a
"gentleman", and one man listed as "nothing" in the ranks".

It saw action throughout the war, and in the period we're interested in served at First Manassas, First Kernstown, and in Jackson's Valley Campaign. It reported 9 killed, 48 wounded, and 4 missing at First Kernstown, and when they finally surrendered at Appomatox numbered just 8 officers and 48 men.

At Kernstown they were commanded by Colonel William H. Harman (that's his grave over there to the right). Harman was a Mexican War veteran, where he was a 2nd Lieutenant in the 1st Virginia Volunteer Infantry. After the Mexican war he became a lawyer but retained a role in the Virginia milita. In April 1861, two days before Fort Sumter he was appointed Brigadier General of Virginia Militia.

With a brigade of almost 1,000 men, he helped take and hold Harpers Ferry, Virginia, before regular Confederate troops under Stonewall Jackson arrived to occupy it.

In May 1961 he became Lieutenant Colonel of the 5th Virginia Infantry, serving under Kenton Harper until he resigned in the September after First Bull Run. On his resignation Harman was promoted Colonel and took over the regiment until it was re-organised in April 1862 (just afer Kernstown). In the re-organisation he ended up without a command as another officer was elected as the 5th Virginia's Colonel (I wonder why??).

He went on to serve throughout the war but with his health not good he was finally given a command of the reservists. He eventually died after much service, and much fighting, on March 2nd 1865 - within spitting distance of the end of the war.

There's lots more here - he seems an interesting chap, and all other things aside you have to admire him sticking to his guns through all that adversity, right up until the end.. [click here]

Figures are Newline Designs in 20mm - for this regiment I went with the buttenut/homespun look with just the odd item of official uniform scattered among them. I quite like them - but they're a pretty dark and menacing bunch!


  1. Steve,

    I'd read about your boat EXCEPT that I can't find the link to your other blog. You have lots and lots of links . . . and it might be hidden there . . . but I haven't found it.

    And you don't have an "About Me /view my complete profile" so I can't find it that way either.

    Might I suggest that you provide an "easy-to-find" link to your other blog(s)?

    -- Jeff

  2. Sorry to hear about both. Good to see you still smiling! The rebs look great.


  3. Steve,
    My best wishes to both boat and pussy cat. I always enjoy you little regimental histories.

  4. Great post, Steve. Hope cat and boat are ok and not too traumatised.

    Best wishes


  5. I'm glad that your cat is okay. We had to take our 17-year-old Princess to the vet for the last time a week ago . . . and we know how much our pets become part of the family . . . so I rejoice that yours is still with you.

    -- Jeff

  6. coming from a fishing heritage, many boat owners and skippers here consider a cat on a ship unlucky (they also never own a green car because green is an unlucky colour).

    On the wargaming front those figures look great. Almost enough to get me interested inthe period.

  7. sorry for your troubles, I enjoy your fleshing out the history of each unit. Your blog is always enspiring makes me want to start painting those AB 15mm civil war figs I have lying around.

  8. Cheers guys - the kind comments are much appreciated...

    Fear naught Jeff - I'll provide a link when I blog on the subject...