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Confederate Regiment

1st Virginia Infantry

"Williams Rifles"
Organized: Richmond, VA; mustered in 6/30/1861
Disbanded/Mustered out: Appomattox Court House, VA 4/9/1865


Commanding Officer on the Sharpsburg Campaign:
  Capt. George F. Norton


This Regiment's Chain of Command:
  Army - Army of Northern Virginia
  Corps - Longstreet's Command
  Division - Jones' Division
  Brigade - Kemper's Brigade

Unit history

The 1st Virginia Infantry of the Confederate States Army was organized on May 1, 1851 from nine militia units in the Richmond area. The first commander was Colonel Walter Gwynn. Gwynn served in that capacity until 1853, when he was replaced by Thomas Pearson August. August served until 1860 when he was promoted to Brigadier General of Militia, and given command of the 2nd Brigade, 4th Division, Virginia Militia. August was followed by Colonel Patrick Theodore Moore, who served until 1862 when he was wounded and disabled. Lewis Burwell Williams, Jr. suceeded in command and led the unit until he was killed at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on July 3, 1863. Frederick Gustavus Skinner was the final commander of the 1st Virginia, serving until the end of the war.1

The Militia units which orignally formed the 1st Virginia Infantry were:
* Richmond Light Dragoons, formed in 1807. This unit ceased to exist in 1854.
* Richmond Fayette Artillery, formed in 1824
* Richmond Grays, organized on January 29, 1844
* Richmond Eagle Infantry, organized in 1849
* Richmond Light Infantry Blues, formed on May 10, 1793
* Richmond German Rifles, formed in 1850
* Richmond Young Guard, organized in 1850
* Montgomery Guard, organized in 1850
* Caledonian Guard, organized in 1851.1

These companies went through various permatations before the outbreak of war in April 1861.

The unit was activated on April 21, 1861, and mustered into Confederate service on June 30, 1861. Several of the companies were detached and reassigned during the ensuing, confusing months. The 1st Virginia Infantry was also known as the "Williams Rifles".1

The 1st Virginia participated in the following battles and engagements (prior to South Mountain and Sharpsburg):

Blackburn Ford, VA - July 18, 1861
1st Manassas, VA - July 21, 1861
Yorktown Siege - April-May, 1862
Williamsburg, VA - May 5, 1862
Seven Pines, VA - May 31-June 1, 1862
Seven Days Campaign - June 25-July 1, 1862
Frayser's Farm, VA - June 30, 1862
2nd Manassas, VA - August 28-30, 18621

According to the report of A.P. Hill on the battle of Williamsburg (5 May 62) ... 'Colonel Williams fell severely wounded through the body about 6 o'clock, when the command devolved on Major [William H.] Palmer, who, though slightly wounded himself, held every position they had taken until directed to fall back after dark.'2

On the Sharpsburg Campaign

The regiment, with as few as 60 men present at the start of the campaign in Maryland, was briefly in action at Turner's Gap on South Mountain on 14 September 1862, and more seriously engaged just south of the town of Sharpsburg on 17 September.

Maps Showing this Unit

Battlefield Tablets for this Unit

Tablet #303: Longstreet's Command - 14 Sep, 9 PM to 15 Sep, 12 PM
Tablet #322: Jones' Division, Longstreet's Command - 14 Sep, 9 PM to 16 Sep, 9 PM
Tablet #346: Kemper's Brigade, D.R. Jones' Division - 15 Sep, 12 PM to 19 Sep, 7 AM
Tablet #368: Jones' Division, Longstreet's Command - 15 Sep, 9 AM to 16 Sep, 9 PM
Tablet #369, cont: Jones' Division, Longstreet's Command - 17 Sep, 3 PM to 18 Sep, 9 PM
Tablet #321: Jones' Division, Longstreet's Command - 17 Sep, 6 AM to 17 Sep, 3 PM
Tablet #304: Longstreet's Command - 17 Sep, 7 AM to 17 Sep, 3 PM
Tablet #369: Jones' Division, Longstreet's Command - 17 Sep, 7 AM to 17 Sep, 3 PM

After the Sharpsburg Campaign

Service after Sharpsburg:

Fredericksburg, VA - December 13, 1862
Suffolk, VA Campaign - April-May, 1863
Gettysburg, PA - July 1-3, 1863
Plymouth, NC - April 17-20, 1864
Drewry's Bluff, VA - May 16, 1864
Howlett House, VA - May 18, 1864
North Anna, VA - May 22-26, 1864
Cold Harbor, VA - June 1-3, 1864
Clay Farm, VA - June 16, 1863
Petersburg, VA Siege - June 1864-April 1865
Dinwiddie C.H., VA - March 31, 1865
Five Forks, VA - April 1, 1865
Saylor's Creek, VA - April 6, 1865
Appomattox C.H., VA - April 9, 18651

References & Notes

Unit information above from Dutcher1 [now offline] and the ORs,2 with Maryland Campaign details from Brigades.3

We have 4 individuals in the AotW database who were on the Maryland Campaign with this unit:


Co. Rank Name Casualty? Details*
DPvtDooley, Jr., John E.        We have a picture for this person We have some details for this person
DLtKeiningham, William HenryWIA   09/14     We have some details for this person
DCaptNorton, George Fisher        We have some details for this person
HPvtDaniel, John H.        We have some details for this person


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1   Dutcher, Steve, First Virginia Infantry History, Published 2004, first accessed 01 August 2004, <>  [AotW citation 209]

2   US War Department, The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (OR), 128 vols., Washington DC: US Government Printing Office, 1880-1901, Vol. 11/Part 1 (Ser #12), pp. 577  [AotW citation 210]

3   Gottfried, Bradley M. (editor), Brigades of Antietam: The Union and Confederate Brigades at the Battle of Antietam, Sharpsburg, MD: The Press of the Antietam Institute, 2021, pp. 271-272  [AotW citation 27785]