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 Major 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, 2,047 men served in the Sixtieth over the course of four years, and three hundred & forty-four men of this regiment gave their lives as the ultimate sacrifice for the Cause. Fourteen officers and 139 enlisted men died as a result of battle where their regimental flag fluttered overhead. Essentially, 50% of this regiment were casualties at some time during the war.
60th Virginia War Record
July 17, 1861 - Scary Creek
September 2, 1861 - Skirmish at Hawk's Nest
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
September - October, 1862 - Charleston, WV Campaign
May 19, 1863 - Fayetteville
May 9, 1864 - Cloyds Mountain
May 10, 1864 - New River Bridge
June 5, 1864 - Piedmont/ New Hope
June 17–18, 1864 - Lynchburg
July 9, 1864 - Monocacy
July 11-12, 1864 - Fort Stevens
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
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.
60th Virginia Infantry Regiment
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, August 13, 1861.
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.
Reference to Surgeon Harris and the Christian brothers, 60th Virginia Regiment,
as written by Major General John B. Gordon in his book, “Reminiscences of the Civil War”
Among the excellent soldiers who participated in all that Valley campaign was a Virginian, who is now Dr. Charles H. Harris of Cedartown, Georgia. Dr. Harris's high character as a man and his familiarity with the facts justify me in giving his written account of the marvelous fatality which attended the representatives of a Virginia family which contributed perhaps a larger number of soldiers to the Confederate army than any other in the Southern States. Two companies of the Sixtieth Virginia Regiment were enlisted in and around Christiansburg, which seems to have received its name from the family which contributed eighteen of its members— brothers and cousins—to those two Confederate companies. These eighteen kinsmen had inherited their love of liberty from Revolutionary ancestors, and had imbibed from the history and traditions of the Old Dominion those lofty ideals of manhood of which her great people are so justly proud. When, therefore, Virginia passed the solemn ordinance of secession and cast her lot with that of her sister States, these high-spirited young men enlisted in the Confederate army. I recall nothing in history or even in romance which equals in uniqueness and pathos the fate that befell them. The decrees of that fate were uniform and inexorable. One by one, these kinsmen fell in succeeding engagements. In every fight in which the regiment was engaged one of this brave family was numbered among the dead. As battle succeeded battle, and each, with appalling regularity, claimed its victim, there ran through company and regiment the unvarying question, "Which one of the Christians was killed to-day, and which one will go next. Yet among the survivors there was no wavering, no effort to escape the doom which seemed surely awaiting each in his turn. With a consecration truly sublime, each took his place in line, ready for the sacrifice which duty demanded. For seventeen successive engagements the gruesome record of death had not varied. Then came Cedar Creek. Only one of the gallant eighteen was left. His record for courage was unsurpassed. A number of times he had been wounded, and in the deadly hand-to-hand struggle at Cold Harbor he had been pierced by a bayonet. Faithful to every duty, he had never missed a fight. When the orders were issued for the night march and the assault at dawn upon Sheridan's army, a deep fraternal concern for this last survivor of the Christians was manifested by all of his comrades. He was privately importuned to stay out of the fight; or, if unwilling to remain in camp while his comrades fought, he was urged to go home. Whether he yielded to these warnings and entreaties will probably never be known. He was seen by his comrades no more after that night march to Cedar Creek. Many believe that he was loyal "even unto death," and that he lies with the heroic and " unknown dead" who fell upon that eventful field.
|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|
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