General John Echols

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General John Echols
Compiled Military Service Record

John W. Echols  (Confederate)

Biographical data and notes:
- Born Mar 20 1833 in Lynchburg, VA
- Pre-enlistment occupation: Teacher
- John W. Echols died on May 24 1896 at Staunton, VA
- He is buried at Thornrose Cemetery, VA

- 28 years of age at time of enlistment
- Enlisted on May 9 1861 at Union, VA as Captain

Mustering information:
- Commissioned into D Company, 27th Infantry (Virginia)
on May 9 1861
- Discharged due to promotion from 27th Infantry (Virginia)
on Apr 16 1862
- Commissioned into General Staff on Apr 16 1862

Intra-company transfers:
- Transferred from D Company to Field and Staff on May 30 1861

- Promoted to Colonel (Full, Vol) (date not indicated)
- Promoted to Lt Colonel (Full, Vol) (date not indicated)
- Promoted to Brig-Gen (Full, Vol) (date not indicated)
- Promoted to Captain (Full, Vol) (date not indicated) (27th VA Inf)
- Promoted to Lt Col (Full, Vol) on May 30 1861
- Promoted to Colonel (Full, Vol) on Oct 14 1861
- Promoted to Brig-Gen (Full, Vol) on Apr 16 1862

Listed as:
- Wounded on Mar 23 1862 at Kernstown, VA
- Paroled on May 1 1865 at Greensboro, NC

John Echols History
General Echols Overview

John Echols was born March 20, 1823, in Lynchburg, Virginia, to
Joseph and Elizabeth Frances (Lambeth) Echols.

John attended the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) from
August 14, 1840 to August 14, 1841, at which time he resigned.
He was, however, later given the distinction of Honorary
Graduate, VMI class of 1943, by that institution.

Prior to the Civil War, he graduated from Washington College
(currently Washington and Lee University), and practiced law
in Staunton, Virginia. During the war, he commanded the 27th
Virginia Infantry Regiment.

He was severely wounded at Kernstown, and was promoted to
Brigadier General in April, 1862. He served as a brigade
commander in the Division of General John C. Breckenridge,
where, at the Battle of New Market on May 15, 1864, he
commanded an infantry brigade.

After the war, Echols returned to law practice in Staunton.
He subsequently served as President of the National Valley
Bank, and also of the Ohio and Southwestern Railroad Company.

General Echols died in Staunton, Virginia, at the age of 73 on
May 24, 1896. He is interred at Thornrose Cemetery in

General John Echols Biography

Brigadier General John Echols was born March 20, 1823, at
Lynchburg, Va, and was educated at the Virginia Military
Institute, Washington college and Harvard college. Entering
upon the practice of law at Staunton, he soon attained

He was a man of magnificent figure, standing 6 feet 4 inches,
and his mental qualities fully sustained his physical capacity
for leadership. After taking a prominent part in the Virginia
convention of 1861, he offered his military services, and was
promptly commissioned lieutenant-colonel, and ordered by
General Lee to call out and muster in the volunteer forces in
the vicinity of Staunton, including the mountain counties, for
Johnston's army.

This work done he was assigned to the Twenty-seventh regiment,
which he commanded at First Manassas, where he had a gallant
part in earning the title of the "Stonewall brigade." He was
soon afterward promoted colonel, and in this rank served with
Stonewall Jackson in the Shenandoah valley through the winter
and spring of 1861-62.

In Jackson's report of the battle of Kernstown, he related that
"Col. John Echols with his regiment, with skirmishers thrown
forward, kept in advance and opened the infantry engagement,
in which it was supported by the Twenty-first. Well did these
two regiments do their duty, driving back the enemy twice in
quick succession. Soon a severe wound compelled the noble
leader of the Twenty-seventh to leave the field. "

This wound, received March 23rd, disabled him for some time.
His gallantry was recognized by promotion to brigadier-general
in April, 1862, and a few months later he was assigned to
command of a brigade of the army of Western Virginia, with
which he was afterward prominently identified.

He participated as a brigade commander in Loring's occupation
of the Kanawha valley in September, and after Loring had
withdrawn to the mountains, Echols was assigned to the command
of the army of the department of Western Virginia, superseding

He promptly reoccupied Charleston, but was again compelled to
retire before superior forces. He resigned his department
command in the spring of 1863, and during the following summer
served upon the court of inquiry held at Richmond to
investigate the cause of the fall of Vicksburg, Gens. Howell
Cobb and Robert Ransom being the other members.

Later in the year, he commanded the Confederate forces in the
battle of Droop Mountain, West Virginia, a hard-fought
contest, in which his command, though forced to retire, gave
an effectual check to the Federal plans. In May, 1864, he
commanded Breckinridge's right wing at the successful battle
of New Market, in the Valley, and was then called with his
brigade to Lee's army on the Cold Harbor line, where he served
with credit.

On August 22, 1864, he was given charge of the district of
Southwestern Virginia, and on March 29, 1865, was ordered to
the command of the western department of Virginia, relieving
General Breckinridge. On April 2nd, he began a march to unite
with Lee, and reached Christiansburg on the 10th, where he
received a telegram announcing the surrender at Appomattox.

It was a terrible blow to his little army of 6,000 or 7,000
men, and caused indescribable consternation. At a council of
war it was determined to march to unite with Johnston's army,
and Echols set out at the head of Vaughn's and Duke's brigades
on the 11th.

Subsequently, he accompanied President Davis to Augusta, GA,
and was for a short time in command at that place.

After the close of hostilities, he re-entered the law practice
at Staunton, also exerted a beneficent influence in public
affairs as a member of the committee of nine, in restoring
Virginia to its proper relations with the general government,
and as a member of the Virginia legislature.

He was one of the early members of Stonewall Jackson camp,
Confederate veterans, at Staunton, and was always faithful to
the soldiers of the Confederacy. He was very successful both
in law and in business, displaying great executive ability;
became president of the Staunton National Valley bank, and
receiver and general manager of the Chesapeake, Ohio &
Southwestern railroad.

The duties of the latter office required his residence in
Kentucky during the last ten years of his life. He was twice
married, first to a sister of Senator Allen T. Caperton, of
West Virginia, and after her death to Mrs. Mary Cochrane Reid,
of New York.

He died at the residence of his son, State Senator Edward
Echols, at Staunton, May 24, 1896.

Sources: Confederate Military History, vol. IV, p. 591; General Officers of the Confederate States of America; National Archives.

Recommended Reading: A Brotherhood Of Valor: The Common Soldiers Of The Stonewall Brigade C.S.A. And The Iron Brigade U.S.A. Description: Confederate General Thomas J. Jackson was arguably the greatest commander of the Civil War. Yet, "Stonewall" Jackson owed much of his success to the troops who served under his command. He eagerly gave them their due: "You cannot praise these men of my brigade too much; they have fought, marched, and endured more than I even thought they would." The Stonewall Brigade, composed mainly of Virginians from the Shenandoah Valley, proved its mettle at First Manassas and never let up--even after its esteemed leader was shot down at Chancellorsville. Their equally elite counterparts in the Army of the Potomac were known as the Iron Brigade, hardy westerners drawn from Wisconsin, Indiana, and Michigan. By focusing on these two groups, historian Jeffry Wert retells the story of the Civil War's eastern theater as it was experienced by these ordinary men from North and South. Continued below.

His battle descriptions are riveting, especially when he covers Antietam:

Three times the Georgians charged towards the guns, and three times they were repelled. Union infantry west of the battery ripped apart the attacker's flank, and the artillerists unleashed more canister.... Finally, the Georgians could withstand the punishment no longer, and as more Union infantry piled into the Cornfield, Hood's wrecked division retreated towards West Woods and Dunker Church. When asked later where his command was, Hood replied, "Dead on the field."

But the book is perhaps most notable for the way in which it describes the everyday hardships befalling each side. They often lacked food, shoes, blankets, and other military necessities. When the war began, the men believed deeply in their conflicting causes. Before it was over, writes Wert, "the war itself became their common enemy." Wert is slowly but surely gaining a reputation as one of the finest popular historians writing about the Civil War; A Brotherhood of Valor will undoubtedly advance his claim.

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Recommended Reading: Four Years in the Stonewall Brigade (American Civil War Classics) (412 pages) (University of South Carolina Press). Description: From his looting of farmhouses during the Gettysburg campaign and robbing of fallen Union soldiers as opportunity allowed to his five arrests for infractions of military discipline and numerous unapproved leaves, John O. Casler’s actions during the Civil War made him as much a rogue as a Rebel. Though he was no model soldier, his forthright confessions of his service years in the Army of Northern Virginia stand among the most sought after and cited accounts by a Confederate soldier. First published in 1893 and significantly revised and expanded in 1906, Casler’s Four Years in the Stonewall Brigade recounts the truths of camp life, marches, and combat. Continued below.

Moreover, Casler’s recollections provide an unapologetic view of the effects of the harsh life in Stonewall’s ranks on an average foot soldier and his fellows. A native of Gainesboro, Virginia, with an inherent wanderlust and thirst for adventure, Casler enlisted in June 1861 in what became Company A, 33rd Virginia Infantry, and participated in major campaigns throughout the conflict, including Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. Captured in February 1865, he spent the final months of the war as a prisoner at Fort McHenry, Maryland. His postwar narrative recalls the realities of warfare for the private soldier, the moral ambiguities of thievery and survival at the front, and the deliberate cruelties of capture and imprisonment with the vivid detail, straightforward candor, and irreverent flair for storytelling that have earned Four Years in the Stonewall Brigade its place in the first rank of primary literature of the Confederacy. This edition features a new introduction by Robert K. Krick chronicling Casler’s origins and his careers after the war as a writer and organizer of Confederate veterans groups.

Recommended Reading: Lee's Lieutenants: A Study in Command (912 pages). Description: Hailed as one of the greatest Civil War books, this exhaustive study is an abridgement of the original three-volume version. It is a history of the Army of Northern Virginia from the first shot fired to the surrender at Appomattox - but what makes this book unique is that it incorporates a series of biographies of more than 150 Confederate officers. The book discusses in depth all the tradeoffs that were being made politically and militarily by the South. Continued below.

The book does an excellent job describing the battles, then at a critical decision point in the battle, the book focuses on an officer - the book stops and tells the biography of that person, and then goes back to the battle and tells what information the officer had at that point and the decision he made. At the end of the battle, the officers decisions are critiqued based on what he "could have known and what he should have known" given his experience, and that is compared with 20/20 hindsight. "It is an incredibly well written book!"

Recommended Reading: The Stonewall Brigade, by James I. Robertson (Author) (304 pages) (Louisiana State University Press). Description: Commanded by Thomas J. Jackson and comprised of the 2nd, 4th, 5th, 27th and 33rd Virginia Infantry Regiments, plus the Rockbridge Artillery Battery, the unit was officially Virginia's First Brigade. This changed forever at the Battle of First Manassas when in the face of a seemingly overwhelming Federal attack, General Bee, an adjacent Confederate brigade commander, reportedly said, "Yonder stands Jackson like a stone wall; let's go to his assistance. Rally behind the Virginians!" Continued below.

This book describes the Stonewall Brigade in combat from first mustering to bitter end, when only 210 ragged and footsore soldiers remained of the 6,000 that served through the war. Absolutely a must read for the Civil War buff!


Recommended Reading: Generals in Gray Lives of the Confederate Commanders. Description: When Generals in Gray was published in 1959, scholars and critics immediately hailed it as one of the few indispensable books on the American Civil War. Historian Stanley Horn, for example, wrote, "It is difficult for a reviewer to restrain his enthusiasm in recommending a monumental book of this high quality and value." Here at last is the paperback edition of Ezra J. Warner’s magnum opus with its concise, detailed biographical sketches and—in an amazing feat of research—photographs of all 425 Confederate generals. Continued below.

The only exhaustive guide to the South’s command, Generals in Gray belongs on the shelf of anyone interested in the Civil War. RATED 5 STARS!

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