BG James ?Stonewall Jim? Walker

Commanded - 1864

Born August 27, 1832 - Died October 20, 1901


     James Alexander Walker was the son of Alexander Walker and Hannah Hinton and was born in Augusta County.  After receiving the best elementary education that the schools of the neighborhood afforded, he entered the fourth class at the Virginia Military Institute in 1848. Here he remained until the spring of 1852, and was in the graduating class of that year, when he was court-martialed and dismissed from the institution for attacking Professor Thomas J. Jackson. 

     In after years, when Jackson and Walker met, as officers in the field, the former saw his wayward pupil in the front of every fight, always prompt, never shirking the most arduous duties, nor flinching in the most trying and dangerous situations, he freely blotted from his remembrance all thought of the occurrence between them at the institute, and pushed him for promotion whenever there was an opportunity to do so. They became friends and no officer in the army stood higher in the esteem of Jackson than Walker. After the war General Walker's diploma was sent to him by order of the board of visitors, and he is enrolled as a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute.

     After the court martial, Walker accepted a position in the Engineer Corps, then engaged in locating the line of the Covington & Ohio (now Chesapeake & Ohio) railroad, from the Big Sandy river to Charlestown for eighteen months. He resigned and returned to his home in Augusta County.   He began to read law in the office of Col. John B. Baldwin at Staunton.  During the session of 1854-55, he took a law course at the University of Virginia, and immediately afterward began to practice his profession at Newbern, VA.  In 1860 he was elected commonwealth's attorney of Pulaski County and filled that position until the spring of 1863.  Immediately after the John Brown raid, Walker organized a local militia company, the Pulaski Guards, and being elected their captain, drilled them so faithfully that when Governor Letcher called for troops from Virginia, his was one of the best companies mustered into the service. 

     In April, 1861, Captain Walker and his company were ordered to report for duty at Harper's Ferry, and joined Stonewall Jackson's command. Captain Walker remained with the 4th Virginia Infantry until after the skirmish at Falling Waters. For conspicuous gallantry and exhibition of high soldierly qualities he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel and assigned to duty in the 13th Virginia Infantry, of which A. P. Hill was Colonel. Hill was made Brigadier in March 1862, and soon afterward Walker was made a full colonel. When General Jackson left Manassas for Yorktown, Colonel Walker's regiment formed part of General Ewell's division. Later he joined Jackson's command, and participated in the battles of the famous Valley campaign, distinguishing himself at Cross Keys on June 8, 1862. Colonel Walker commanded a brigade nearly all the year of 1862. At Sharpsburg he commanded Trimble's brigade, and at Fredericksburg, Early's. 

Said to be "a very large man with a massive head." These physical characteristics united with a fearless demeanor in battle to earn his first nickname: "Bull Dog Walker."

     In the spring of 1863 Walker was promoted to the rank of brigadier-general and, ?Stonewall? Jackson?s request was ordered to take command of the old Stonewall brigade, and the more casual nickname "Stonewall Jim" soon replaced the menacing "Bull Dog." At the head of this famous body of soldiers he fought at Winchester, Gettysburg, Mine Run, Fredericksburg, Wilderness and Spotsylvania Court House. It was at  Spotsylvania Court House on the12th of May, 1864, that he received a musket ball in the elbow of the left arm, which caused an excessively painful wound, which compelled resection of the bones and his temporary retirement from service.  It was at Spotsylvania that the general was heard to exclaim, "If this is war, may it be eternal."

     In July 1864, with his arm still in a sling and his health feeble, he was recalled to service and assigned to the defensed the Richmond & Danville and "Southside" railroads which covered Lee's main line of communication and supplies. He was successfully held back the raiding cavalry and received commendations from his superior officers. In February, 1865, General Walker asked leave to return to service and command of the brigade, which, by the death of the gallant Pegram, was left without a Brigadier, and in which was his old regiment, the 13th Virginia. His request granted and being the senior brigadier, during Early's absence in the valley of Virginia, with an independent command, he led two brigades of the division in a successful attack on Hare's hill. Still at the head of this division General Walker retreated, with General Lee, fighting all the way at Sailor's Creek, High Brigade and Farmville to Appomattox, where he surrendered himself and about 1,500 officers and men to Grant.

          AT the conclusion of hostilities, General Walker returned to his home in Pulaski County, and immediately went to farming with two mules he had brought home from the army with him.  He began to practice law full-time until the summer of 1868. In 1868, without soliciting for it, he was nominated as the conservative candidate for lieutenant-governor.   He campaigned in several counties before the election was postponed by order of the military authorities reconstruction began. When later it was found expedient to nominate a Northern Democrat and Gilbert C. Walker's name was mentioned, General Walker withdrew his name and campaigned for Walker against Wells.

          In 1871 he was elected to the House of Delegates. Election to Lieutenant Governor followed six years later. Cast aside for governor by fellow Democrats, Walker angrily joined the Republican ranks and ultimately won two terms in the U.S. Congress. Walker was crippled in a gunfight following another contested election.

          In the official records of the War, published by the government, General Walker's name, coupled with honorable mention for gallant conduct or faithful services, occurs a number of times in the reports of Confederate officers. One interesting fact connected with him is this, that he is the only officer who ever commanded the Stonewall brigade who survived the war. All of the others, Generals Jackson, Winder, Garnett, and Paxton were killed in battle. Colonels Allen, Botts, and Baylor, while in temporary command of the Stonewall Brigade, also fell at the head of their troops. As the sole surviving commander of this famous brigade, General Walker was sought after as a speaker on the subject of commanders of the War and other such things. General Walker died on October 20, 1901 and was buried in Wytheville, Virginia.


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Courtesy of the 116th Infantry Regiment Foundation, Inc.
Last Updated March 11, 2005
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