Lynchburg, Virginia, History

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Lynchburg, Virginia, History

Lynchburg, VA, (shaded in red)
Lynchburg, Virginia.jpg
Lynchburg, Virginia

Lynchburg was named for its founder, John Lynch, who at the age of 17 started a ferry service across the James River in 1757. In 1786, the Virginia General Assembly granted Lynch a charter for a town, which took in the 45 acres of land that Lynch owned. Lynchburg was incorporated as a town in 1805 and as a city in 1852.

The Society of Friends, or Quakers, were the first religious group to settle in Lynchburg. The city’s first house of worship was the South River Meeting House of the Society of Friends, located on Fort Avenue. The Meeting House was restored and is now part of Quaker Memorial Presbyterian Church. Lynchburg is often called the “City of Churches” for the large number and variety of religious buildings found in the city today.

Tobacco and iron were the chief products of early Lynchburg. The extensive use of Lynch’s ferry system on the James River resulted in Lynchburg becoming one of the largest tobacco markets in the U. S. The James Calloway Furnace, which operated around 1770 until 1779, and the Davie Ross Furnace, which was in business from 1781 until 1837, supplied the Continental Army with pig iron and cannon balls during the American Revolution.

Vintage Photograph of Lynchburg, Virginia
Vintage Lynchburg Photograph.jpg
(ca. 1919 panorama)

Lynchburg served as a major storage depot during the Civil War, as well as a burial place for many of those killed during the war. Confederate Generals are buried here, including General Jubal Early, who commanded the Confederate forces during the brief Battle of Lynchburg. The breastworks for the defense of the city can still be seen at Fort Early. Lynchburg is also known for its proximity to Appomattox where the Civil War ended on April 9, 1865.

Lynchburg was not only a major target because of its hospital and supply, but it was a vital connection in the railroad that supplied the Confederate troops.

In the Civil War, during the Lynchburg Campaign, Union General David Hunter (Hunter's Raid) advanced through the Shenandoah Valley and attacked Lynchburg. Ordered by General Robert E. Lee, Gen. Jubal Early, with the 2nd Corps, was detached from the lines of Petersburg and sent to meet the threat of Hunter. Early engaged and defeated Hunter during the Battle of Lynchburg on June 17-18, 1864, and pursued the Yankees back through Bedford, then to Salem where they fought again at the Battle of Hanging Rock. (See Civil War Battle of Lynchburg and Shenandoah Valley Campaigns: The Battles.)

Almost thirty years after the Civil War, on March 2, 1894, General Jubal Early (age 77) fell down a flight of stairs and died in Lynchburg, Virginia. He was buried in the local Spring Hill Cemetery.

1864 Virginia Civil War Map of Battles
1864 Virginia Civil War Map of Battles.gif
(Battle of Lynchburg, Virginia)

Lynchburg is often referred to as the City of Seven Hills. Each of the hills has an interesting history behind its name. White Rock Hill was named for the beautiful white rocks one could see on the drive up to the hill. Franklin Hill was possibly named for Benjamin Franklin, a frequent visitor to the area. Diamond Hill was perhaps named for the lots on the turnpike that were triangular shaped. Federal Hill could have been named for the Federalist party that was very influential in the early years of Lynchburg’s development. College Hill was named for the military college sponsored by the Methodist Protestants from 1858 until the time of the Civil War. Garland Hill was named for the Garland family that lived there for more than 100 years. Daniel’s Hill was named for Judge William Daniel who owned and subsequently sold most of the land on the hill.

The Seven Hills of Lynchburg are where much of Lynchburg’s history and the projects of the Lynchburg Historical Foundation have taken place. We invite you to read a summary of our mission, programs, coalitions and plans for the future. Please consider helping Lynchburg preserve its past and its future by joining our organization today. See also: Civil War Battle of Lynchburg, Virginia and Shenandoah Valley Campaigns of 1864: The Battles.

Lynchburg, Virginia, History Map
Lynchburg, Virginia, History Map.gif
City of Lynchburg and the Civil War Map

(Sources listed at bottom of page.)

Recommended Reading: Lynchburg: 1757-2007 (VA) (Images of America). Description: In the spring of 1757, the Lynch brothers established a ferry across the James River to transport settlers on their way to the Ohio Valley. Within a decade, the settlement clustered around the ferry house became known as Lynchburg. For a century, the city was regarded as one of the most important transportation centers in the Upper South, although its real fortune lay in tobacco. Continued below…

After the Civil War, Lynchburg evolved into a manufacturing center with a broadly based economy. As it marks its 250th anniversary, Lynchburg has become a focus for higher education and tourism in Central Virginia. From the development of the modern camera to the current digital revolution, this photographic record of Lynchburg and the surrounding counties' growth is rich, varied, and traces their transformation almost from their birth to the present day. About the Author: Dorothy and Clifton Potter hold master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Virginia, and they are both members of the history faculty at Lynchburg College. Dorothy specializes in American and French history, while Clifton's area of expertise is Great Britain. This is their fourth book on Lynchburg but the first to concentrate exclusively on the photographic record of Central Virginia's past.

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Recommended Reading: Lynchburg: A City Set on Seven Hills (VA) (Making of America). Description: Once the primary hunting ground of the Monocan Indians and later a harmonious common area shared with the Quakers, Lynchburg was a crossroads for various cultures even before its founding following the French and Indian War. With roots in the prosperous tobacco fields, the City of Seven Hills became one of the nation's wealthiest communities by the Civil War. During the robust and arduous times to come, Lynchburg continued to thrive by developing diverse industries and eventually becoming a respected educational center. Continued below...

About the Author: Authors Clifton and Dorothy Potter, professors of history at Lynchburg College, create a captivating narrative that draws from their extensive knowledge and experience of this western Virginia city. Accompanied by a selection from their private collection of historic photographs, this new volume illuminates Lynchburg's colorful past.

 

Recommended Reading: The Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1864 (McFarland & Company). Description: A significant part of the Civil War was fought in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, especially in 1864. Books and articles have been written about the fighting that took place there, but they generally cover only a small period of time and focus on a particular battle or campaign. Continued below...

This work covers the entire year of 1864 so that readers can clearly see how one event led to another in the Shenandoah Valley and turned once-peaceful garden spots into gory battlefields. It tells the stories of the great leaders, ordinary men, innocent civilians, and armies large and small taking part in battles at New Market, Chambersburg, Winchester, Fisher’s Hill and Cedar Creek, but it primarily tells the stories of the soldiers, Union and Confederate, who were willing to risk their lives for their beliefs. The author has made extensive use of memoirs, letters and reports written by the soldiers of both sides who fought in the Shenandoah Valley in 1864.

 

Recommended Reading: Shenandoah Summer: The 1864 Valley Campaign. Description: Jubal A. Early’s disastrous battles in the Shenandoah Valley ultimately resulted in his ignominious dismissal. But Early’s lesser-known summer campaign of 1864, between his raid on Washington and Phil Sheridan’s renowned fall campaign, had a significant impact on the political and military landscape of the time. By focusing on military tactics and battle history in uncovering the facts and events of these little-understood battles, Scott C. Patchan offers a new perspective on Early’s contributions to the Confederate war effort—and to Union battle plans and politicking. Patchan details the previously unexplored battles at Rutherford’s Farm and Kernstown (a pinnacle of Confederate operations in the Shenandoah Valley) and examines the campaign’s influence on President Lincoln’s reelection efforts. Continued below…

He also provides insights into the personalities, careers, and roles in Shenandoah of Confederate General John C. Breckinridge, Union general George Crook, and Union colonel James A. Mulligan, with his “fighting Irish” brigade from Chicago. Finally, Patchan reconsiders the ever-colorful and controversial Early himself, whose importance in the Confederate military pantheon this book at last makes clear. About the Author: Scott C. Patchan, a Civil War battlefield guide and historian, is the author of Forgotten Fury: The Battle of Piedmont, Virginia, and a consultant and contributing writer for Shenandoah, 1862.

Review

"The author's descriptions of the battles are very detailed, full or regimental level actions, and individual incidents. He bases the accounts on commendable research in manuscript collections, newspapers, published memoirs and regimental histories, and secondary works. The words of the participants, quoted often by the author, give the narrative an immediacy. . . . A very creditable account of a neglected period."-Jeffry D. Wert, Civil War News (Jeffry D. Wert Civil War News 20070914)

"[Shenandoah Summer] contains excellent diagrams and maps of every battle and is recommended reading for those who have a passion for books on the Civil War."-Waterline (Waterline 20070831)

"The narrative is interesting and readable, with chapters of a digestible length covering many of the battles of the campaign."-Curled Up With a Good Book (Curled Up With a Good Book 20060815)

"Shenandoah Summer provides readers with detailed combat action, colorful character portrayals, and sound strategic analysis. Patchan''s book succeeds in reminding readers that there is still plenty to write about when it comes to the American Civil War."-John Deppen, Blue & Grey Magazine (John Deppen Blue & Grey Magazine 20060508)

"Scott C. Patchan has solidified his position as the leading authority of the 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign with his outstanding campaign study, Shenandoah Summer. Mr. Patchan not only unearths this vital portion of the campaign, he has brought it back to life with a crisp and suspenseful narrative. His impeccable scholarship, confident analyses, spellbinding battle scenes, and wonderful character portraits will captivate even the most demanding readers. Shenandoah Summer is a must read for the Civil War aficionado as well as for students and scholars of American military history."-Gary Ecelbarger, author of "We Are in for It!": The First Battle of Kernstown, March 23, 1862 (Gary Ecelbarger 20060903)

"Scott Patchan has given us a definitive account of the 1864 Valley Campaign. In clear prose and vivid detail, he weaves a spellbinding narrative that bristles with detail but never loses sight of the big picture. This is a campaign narrative of the first order."-Gordon C. Rhea, author of The Battle of the Wilderness: May 5-6, 1864 (Gordon C. Rhea )

"[Scott Patchan] is a `boots-on-the-ground' historian, who works not just in archives but also in the sun and the rain and tall grass. Patchan's mastery of the topography and the battlefields of the Valley is what sets him apart and, together with his deep research, gives his analysis of the campaign an unimpeachable authority."-William J. Miller, author of Mapping for Stonewall and Great Maps of the Civil War (William J. Miller)

 

Recommended Reading: Stonewall in the Valley: Thomas J. Stonewall Jackson's Shenandoah Valley Campaign, Spring 1862. Description: The Valley Campaign conducted by Maj. Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson has long fascinated those interested in the American Civil War as well as general students of military history, all of whom still question exactly what Jackson did in the Shenandoah in 1862 and how he did it. Since Robert G. Tanner answered many questions in the first edition of Stonewall in the Valley in 1976, he has continued to research the campaign. This edition offers new insights on the most significant moments of Stonewall's Shenandoah triumph. Continued below…

About the Author: Robert G. Tanner is a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute. Tanner is a native of Southern California, he now lives and practices law in Atlanta, Georgia. He has studied and lectured on the Shenandoah Valley Campaign for more than twenty-five years.

 

Recommended Reading: The Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1864 (Military Campaigns of the Civil War) (416 pages) (The University of North Carolina Press). Description: The 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign is generally regarded as one of the most important Civil War campaigns; it lasted more than four arduous months and claimed more than 25,000 casualties. The massive armies of Generals Philip H. Sheridan and Jubal A. Early had contended for immense stakes... Beyond the agricultural bounty and the boost in morale to be gained with its numerous battles, events in the Valley would affect Abraham Lincoln's chances for reelection in November 1864. Continued below...

The eleven essays in this volume reexamine common assumptions about the campaign, its major figures, and its significance. Taking advantage of the most recent scholarship and a wide range of primary sources, contributors examine strategy and tactics, the performances of key commanders on each side, the campaign's political repercussions, and the experiences of civilians caught in the path of the armies. The authors do not always agree with one another, but, taken together, their essays highlight important connections between the home front and the battlefield, as well as ways in which military affairs, civilian experiences, and politics played off one another during the campaign.

 

Recommended Reading: To The Gates of Richmond: The Peninsula Campaign, by Stephen W. Sears. From Kirkus Reviews: In George B. McClellan (1988) and his work editing the papers of the Union general, Sears established himself as the critical but indispensable authority on flawed "Little Mac." Now, in a stirring prequel to Landscape Turned Red (1983), his superb account of the Battle of Antietam, the author reaffirms his mastery of historical narrative. In March 1862, the egotistical but timorous McClellan was prodded by Lincoln into finally launching the first major offensive by the Army of the Potomac. Continued below…

Instead of marching directly overland from Washington, McClellan used Federal sea power to advance on Richmond by way of the peninsula between the York and James Rivers. The "Grand Campaign," however, soon belied its creator's Napoleonic pretensions by becoming a three-and-a-half-month nightmare of feints and pitched battles, ultimately engaging up to a combined quarter-million men on both sides and leaving one of every four men dead, wounded, or missing. Using hundreds of eyewitness accounts, Sears demonstrates how the most creative use of military technology (ironclad warships, 200-pounder rifled cannon, battlefield telegraph, and aerial reconnaissance) existed side by side with the most appalling mismanagement (Stonewall Jackson's uncharacteristic lethargy; McClellan's mistaken belief that the numerically inferior rebels possessed a two-to-one manpower advantage; out-of-sync attacks by both Confederate and Union generals). Above all, though, Sears casts the campaign as a clash of wits and wills between McClellan’s courage to command" - and Robert E. Lee - who, upon succeeding the wounded Joseph E. Johnson as head of the Army of Northern Virginia, seized the initiative, repulsed the assault in the series of "Seven Days" battles, and began his long journey into legend. An authoritative, ironic, and stirring addition to Civil War annals.

 

Recommended Reading: Shenandoah 1862: Stonewall Jackson's Valley Campaign, by Peter Cozzens (Civil War America) (Hardcover). Description: In the spring of 1862, Federal troops under the command of General George B. McClellan launched what was to be a coordinated, two-pronged attack on Richmond in the hope of taking the Confederate capital and bringing a quick end to the Civil War. The Confederate high command tasked Stonewall Jackson with diverting critical Union resources from this drive, a mission Jackson fulfilled by repeatedly defeating much larger enemy forces. His victories elevated him to near iconic status in both the North and the South and signaled a long war ahead. One of the most intriguing and storied episodes of the Civil War, the Valley Campaign has heretofore only been related from the Confederate point of view. Continued below…

With Shenandoah 1862, Peter Cozzens dramatically and conclusively corrects this shortcoming, giving equal attention to both Union and Confederate perspectives. Based on a multitude of primary sources, Cozzens's groundbreaking work offers new interpretations of the campaign and the reasons for Jackson's success. Cozzens also demonstrates instances in which the mythology that has come to shroud the campaign has masked errors on Jackson's part. In addition, Shenandoah 1862 provides the first detailed appraisal of Union leadership in the Valley Campaign, with some surprising conclusions. Moving seamlessly between tactical details and analysis of strategic significance, Cozzens presents the first balanced, comprehensive account of a campaign that has long been romanticized but never fully understood. Includes 13 illustrations and 13 maps. About the Author: Peter Cozzens is an independent scholar and Foreign Service officer with the U.S. Department of State. He is author or editor of nine highly acclaimed Civil War books, including The Darkest Days of the War: The Battles of Iuka and Corinth (from the University of North Carolina Press).

 

Recommended Reading: The Official Virginia Civil War Battlefield Guide. Review: This is one of the most useful guides I've ever read. Virginia was host to nearly one-third of all Civil War engagements, and this guide covers them all like a mini-history of the war. Unlike travel books that are organized geographically, this guide organizes them chronologically. Each campaign is prefaced by a detailed overview, followed by concise (from 1 to 4 pages, depending on the battle's importance) but engrossing descriptions of the individual engagements. Continued below…

These descriptions make this a great book to browse through when you're not in the car. Most sites' summaries touch on their condition--whether they're threatened by development (as too many are) and whether they're in private hands or protected by the park service. But the maps are where this book really stands out. Each battle features a very clear map designating army positions and historical roads, as well as historical markers (the author also wrote “A Guidebook to Virginia's Historical Markers”), parking, and visitors' centers. Best of all, though, many battles are illustrated with paintings or photographs of the sites, and the point-of-view of these pictures is marked on each map!

Sources: lynchburghistoricalfoundation.org; Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies; National Park Service.

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