60th Virginia Infantry Regiment
The 60th Virginia Infantry Regiment consisted of soldiers from Mercer, Monroe, Greenbrier, Fayette, Roane, Botetourt, Alleghany, Braxton and Fauquier Counties. The regiment was originally organized as the 3rd Regiment in Wise's Legion in mid 1861. On August 13, 1861 the Sixtieth Virginia Regiment was formed with ten companies of the Legion which were mainly from western Virginia counties.
The unit served under General Wise in his Western Virginia campaign until they were ordered to South Carolina with General Lee to guard the coastal region. While Marse Robert was in camp he took a liking to a Confederate grey horse ridden by Captain Joseph Broun, the quartermaster of the regiment. Lee would later purchase this horse and name him Traveller. Traveller was Lee's faithful companion throughout the war and his life.
The Sixtieth returned to Virginia to defend Richmond in the Seven Days battle of 1862. This newly christened regiment received 204 casualties while fighting at Mechanicsville, Gaines Mill and Frayser's Farm. At Frayser's Farm the unit charged and recaptured six napoleon cannons while struggling hand-to-hand with the bayonet. Private Christian, of Co. I, was assailed by four Yankees. He shot one, bayoneted a second, when his brother Joseph, attracted by his cries of “Help! Help!” ran to his assistance and shot the third, and as the fourth wheeled and ran “Bob” pitched his musket at him and the bayonet entered between his shoulders protruding through his breastbone. He fell and begged piteously to have the weapon extracted, to which “Bob” replied that he was “too tired” just then, but would relieve him when rested. “Bob” was pretty well used up, bayoneted through both arms and a furrow plowed transversely across his breast. This altercation earned the Sixtieth the distinction of crossed bayonets being placed on their regimental flag, by order of General Lee.
Afterwards the regiment served under Stonewall Jackson at Cedar Mountain and then under Colonel McCausland, protecting the mountain passes of southwestern Virginia from the 1862 to early 1864. This assignment was essential for guarding the salt, niter mines and the rail lines supplying Richmond from the west.
Grant's 1864 three pronged assault induced heavy campaigning to drive the Yankee invader from their soil. In May at Cloyd's Mountain the Sixtieth received 152 causalities and the deaths of both their Lt. Colonel and Major. The following month at Piedmont their Ensign was killed and their Colonel (B.H. Jones) was captured. They defeated General Hunter at Lynchburg and then swarmed the union capital, fighting at Monocacy, Kernstown and then Winchester, where their flag was captured by Sgt. Henry Fox of the 5th Michigan Cavalry. Colonel Jones said this flag, “attracted the death-shot to half a dozen color-bearers". Private Thornton Kelly, part of the color guard, “had impaled several Yankees on its spearhead,” before being wounded in the face by a saber cut and captured for his efforts. Thornton spent the remainder of the war in Point Lookout Prison. Jones exclaimed, “What would I not give for that glorious battle-torn banner to transmit as an heir-loom?”
The regiment then fought at Fisher's Hill and Cedar Creek before relenting to the Union's overwhelming numbers at Waynesboro on March 2, 1865, where almost all the men of the regiment were captured with their commander, acting Colonel John L. Caynor, and much of General Early's Valley Army. The few men that escaped and the remaining men not present were disbanded at Christiansburg, Virginia on April 12, 1865 after learning of Lee's surrender.
Statistically, 2,011 men served in the Sixtieth over the course of four years, 495 were captured, 425 wounded, and 61 of the 425 died of their wounds. Three hundred & thirty-six men of this regiment gave their lives as the ultimate sacrifice for the Cause. Fourteen officers and 116 enlisted men died as a result of battle where this flag fluttered overhead. Essentially, 50% of this regiment were casualties at some time during the war.
60th Virginia Battle Record
July 17, 1861 - Scary Creek
September 3, 1861 - Big Creek
June 26, 1862 - Mechanicsville/ Beaver Dam Creek
June 27, 1862 - 1st Cold Harbor/ Gaines Mill
June 30, 1862 - Fraysers Farm/ Glendale
August 9, 1862 - Cedar Mountain/ Cedar Run
May 9, 1864 - Cloyds Mountain
June 5, 1864 - Piedmont/ New Hope
June 17–18, 1864 - Lynchburg
July 9, 1864 - Monocacy
July 18, 1864 - Cool Spring
July 20, 1864 -Rutherford Farm
July 24, 1864 - 2nd Kernstown
September 19, 1864 - 3rd Winchester/ Opequon
September 22, 1864 - Fishers Hill
October 17, 1864 - Cedar Creek/Belle Grove
March 2, 1865 - Waynesboro
|Company ||County or City Recruited From||Nickname|
|1H||Richmond, VA||Richmond Light Guard|
|2H||Mercer County, WV||Mercer County Sharpshooters|
|A||Monroe County, WV|
Monroe County Invincibles & Beirne's Sharpshooters
Monroe County Sharpshooters
Greenbrier County, WV
& Richmond, VA
|Greenbrier Farm Rifles|
|C||Fayette County, WV||Jackson Avengers & Dixie Rifles|
|D||Alleghany County, VA||Alleghany Rifles|
|E||Greenbrier County, WV||Bruce Rifles|
Fauquier, Botetourt & Alleghany, VA
Braxton, Clay & Nicholas, WV
|James River Riflemen & James River Rifles|
|G||Roane County, WV||Roane Rangers|
|I||Mercer County, WV||Mercer Mountain Rangers|
|K||Botetourt County, VA||Osceola Guards|
The above Recruitment Broadside enticed soldiers of the 60th Virginia to enlist in Wise's Legion. Companies A, B, C and D were the first to enlist. Company E joined as part of the 22nd Virginia Infantry before being transferred to the Sixtieth. The first four companies were known by their Captain's last name before being assigned to Wise's Legion. These original companies participated in the Battle of Scary Creek on July 17, 1861.
After the recruitment of several more companies, three infantry regiments were formed. The 3rd regiment of Wise's Legion consisted of what would become the 60th Virginia Infantry. On October 12th Colonel William E. Starke and Lt. Colonel James L. Corley were promoted and assigned to command the Sixtieth and the companies of Wise's 3rd regiment were reorganized into the newly formed 60th Virginia Infantry Regiment by General Order 81 Headquarters, Wise Brigade 8/13/61.
On November 5th the Sixtieth, detached their four companies raised in eastern Virginia and replaced them with three companies of the legion raised in Western Virginia. This would be the final consolidation of the regiment as they would serve through the rest of the war with these companies.
After a Confederate peace commission was rejected by President Lincoln, Smith’s Brigade (including the 60th Virginia) had a meeting and proposed the following resolutions on February 10, 1865. These resolutions help the modern thinker to understand who these men were and what they were truly fighting for, which was Freedom and Independence from government suppression.