22nd Virginia

22nd Virginia

Victor Vernon says:

Can anyone add any information on the 22nd Va. Btn? Supposedly Harry Heth requested this unit to be disbanded for cowardice. He sighted events during Pickett's Charge where part of the unit ran from the enemy at the start of the barrage. (Guess they were still looking for LA Gear). Interesting because in Dec of '64 they were ordered disbanded but the order was never carried out before the war ended.


the 22nd was in Brockenbrough's Brigade. Many blamed this brigade for breaking early in the charge (it was on the extreme left, and in retiring exposed the rest of Heth's division to flanking fire) and leaving the field. I've also heard it was unsteady during the barrage.

According to Krick - THE ARMY OF ROBERT E. LEE - the disbandment was carried out on 22 December 1864. Had Lee felt they were somehow unworthy, I doubt he' have waited more than a year to break them up. Likely simple losses dictated the disbandment.

Dave Powell

Ben Maryniak says

Don't believe the sensationalistic article in a past CW Times Illustrated concerning the 22nd Va Btn. A friend of mine, here in western NY, had an ancestor in the 22nd Virginia Btn and, using that designation, he established this locale's premier CSA reenacting unit.

There was a good picture of the unit presented in Volume 1 Number 3 of CW Regiments journal, published by Regimental Studies Inc (T Savas & DA Woodbury) in California. I don't have their current address.

The 22nd Btn, along with the rest of Brockenbrough's Brigade, got whacked by the famous July 3 flank fire of the 8th Ohio Vols (are there ghostly replays of this in the rooms of the Home Sweet Home Motel?).

Mayo's report of the action did not find its way into the OR, although Heth refers to it in his report. Other reports . . . suggest a 'conspiracy of silence' surrounding the details of the brigade's performance at Gburg. Recriminations abounded almost immediately, with some suggestions that the unit did not even participate in the assault. However, the casualties suffered by the Virginians reveal a different story. Brigade losses totaled some 171 casualties during the battle, a loss of almost 18%. Twenty-four of those, 3 killed and 21 wounded, were inflicted on the 22nd Btn, a loss of 10.1%. Following the hard fighting of Chancellorsville & McPherson's Ridge, it is questionable whether any brigade as small and chewed up as Brockenbrough's could have performed better, deployed as it was in an unsupported flank position."

The author of this article, Tom Brooks, is an old friend. He lives way north of Toronto (eh?), rides his horse way too much, and is not on line. But I'm sure he'd answer any mail (mention me) sent to, 139 Pratt Crescent, Gravenhurst, Ontario P1P 1P5, Canada.

Tom is currently hawking his well-done history of the Tenth Louisiana and would be very glad to sell a copy or two.

Dpowell334@aol.com says:


While I read this with interest, I'm not sure I agree.

On losses: In fact, I see the relatively light losses in the Brigade, and even more so in the 22nd VA Bn, as indications of an early withdrawl - too soon, in fact.. Davis, the next command in line next to Brockenbrough, had losses of about 3 times that of Brockenbrough's, mostly from that same flank fire of the 8th Ohio, and yet they kept going. In fact, Brockenbrough's losses were by far the lightest in the entire attack. Brockenbrough's job was to deal with that flank fire: in fact the precipitous retreat of his command made things all the worse for the rest of the attacking column.

The difference between good troops and bad is, almost without exception, the leadership. Somewhere along the line here, this command suffered a failure of leadership that took it out of the action early, at a time when it was very much needed to protect the flank. That is the reason Mayo's report never saw much daylight, I suspect.

Dave Powell

Brockenbrough's brigade. Esteemed member whtstar@ro.com (Doug Cubbison White Star Consulting) contributes: >Doug, > >not trying to do a disservice to your ancestors, but Brockenbrough took the >lightest losses of the Division on Day One - they lost about 100 men, just >about 10% of engaged. On Day Three, they lost less than 100 more men - for an >overall loss rate of about 18%: sustantially less than the other brigades in >the charge, who all lost 50% or more. Little official was said about >Brockenbrough's proformance, but the commander was never promoted to >brigadier. This was often Lee's manner of expressing displeasure: quietly get >rid of the offending party. I think in this case, he was displeased with the >way the unit was handled on the 3rd Day. > >Dave Powell Dave: Actually, I concur in your assessment of the 47th Virginia and Brockenbrough's brigade. Everything I have seen indicates that both that regiment, and the brigade as a whole, suffered from poor leadership and morale problems from their inception. Certainly they were not fought particularly well on July 1st. Their performance on the left flank of Pickett's Charge must be ranked as "dismal" at best, in fact the regiment and brigade both had problems even getting starting. They broke before they reached Emmitsburg Pike, although certainly there were mitigating circumstances there. Both my relatives were privates, so certainly no disservice to their memory there. They went where they were told, and did what they were told to do, even with lousy leaders. That is the saga of an infantry soldier...... Doug Cubbison 124th New York