James A. Walker

James A. Walker
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 9th district
In office
March 4, 1895  March 3, 1899
Preceded by James W. Marshall
Succeeded by William F. Rhea
13th Lieutenant Governor of Virginia
In office
January 1, 1878  January 1, 1882
Governor Frederick W. M. Holliday
Preceded by Henry W. Thomas
Succeeded by John F. Lewis
Member of the Virginia House of Delegates from Pulaski County
In office
December 6, 1871  January 1, 1874
Preceded by William J. Wall
Succeeded by John B. Alexander
Personal details
Born James Alexander Walker
(1832-08-27)August 27, 1832
Augusta County, Virginia, U.S.
Died October 21, 1901(1901-10-21) (aged 69)
Wytheville, Virginia, U.S.
Political party Republican (1893–1901)
Democratic (before 1893)
Spouse(s) Sarah A. Poage
Alma mater Virginia Military Institute
University of Virginia
Military service
Nickname(s) "Stonewall Jim"
Allegiance  Confederate States
Service/branch  Confederate States Army
Years of service 1861–1865
Rank Brigadier General
Unit 4th Virginia Infantry
Commands 13th Virginia Infantry
Stonewall Brigade
Early`s Division
Battles/wars American Civil War

James Alexander Walker (August 27, 1832 October 21, 1901) was a Virginia lawyer, politician, and Confederate general during the American Civil War, later serving as a United States Congressman for two terms. He earned the nickname "Stonewall Jim" for his days as commander of the famed Stonewall Brigade.

Early life

Walker was born near Mount Meridian in Augusta County, Virginia on August 27, 1832. He attended private schools as a youth and attended the Virginia Military Institute. In 1852, while in the class of Natural and Experimental Philosophy under then-Major Thomas Jackson, Cadet Walker perceived that Jackson was challenging his integrity. He, therefore, refused to follow a directive of Jackson to sit down and "stop talking" unless Jackson would also stop talking. Jackson excused Walker from class and charged him with disobeying an order. Cadet Walker, a cadet officer who would have graduated in only weeks, challenged Jackson to a duel to defend his honor. Walker was court-martialed and expelled from the institute for insubordination to an officer. Notably, Walker's name was added to the rolls of graduates of VMI several years later.

Afterwards Walker returned to civilian life. He studied law at the University of Virginia in 1854 and 1855, where he was a member of Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity, before being admitted to the bar the following year. He established a successful law practice in Newbern in Pulaski County. In 1858 he married Sarah A. Poage of Augusta County, Virginia. The couple would have six children. He became an attorney for the Commonwealth in 1860.

Civil War

With the outbreak of the Civil War and Virginia's eventual secession, Walker entered the Confederate Army in April 1861 as captain of the "Pulaski Guards", which soon became Company C of the 4th Virginia Infantry. In July 1861, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel and assigned to the 13th Virginia Infantry. Walker was again promoted, this time to colonel, in March 1862, leading his regiment in several actions. At Gaines Mill, he assumed brigade command after Brig. Gen Arnold Elzey was wounded. However, after only four days, Walker was replaced by the more experienced Jubal Early, who was just returning to action after a wound suffered at Williamsburg two months earlier. His regiment became a part of the Second Corps under command of Lt. Gen. Thomas Jackson. During the Maryland Campaign Walker was acting as brigade commander for the wounded Isaac Trimble; but he was wounded himself at the Battle of Antietam. At the Battle of Fredericksburg he acted as brigade commander for Jubal Early. General Jackson, on his deathbed after being shot by friendly fire at the Battle of Chancellorsville, requested the Walker be given command of the Stonewall Brigade, which Jackson had formed and led first. Walker was promoted to Brigadier General and assigned to the Stonewall Brigade in May 1863.

He led it during the Gettysburg Campaign, where the brigade participated in the attacks on Culp's Hill. For his actions Walker was given the nickname "Stonewall Jim" by his troops. He was badly wounded at the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House in 1864 and sent home to recuperate. After the death of Brig. Gen. John Pegram during the Petersburg Campaign, Walker was assigned command of the division. He led it until the surrender at Appomattox.

Postwar career

When the war ended in 1865, Walker returned to his law practice and political career, being elected as a Democrat to the House of Delegates of Virginia in 1871 and 1872. The VMI granted him an honorary degree in 1872 in recognition of his Civil War service. Five years later, he was elected the 13th Lieutenant Governor of Virginia.

In 1890, Walker was a charter member of The Virginia Bar Association. In 1893, Walker switched allegiances and joined the Republican Party. He was elected to the Fifty-fourth and Fifty-fifth Congresses, serving from 1895 until 1899. During his second term, Walker served as chairman of the Committee on Elections.

In 1898, Walker was defeated for re-election by William F. Rhea. In the subsequent contest of that election, a shootout occurred at a deposition, and Walker was wounded. In 1900, Walker ran again against Rhea and lost. Walker's contest of the 1900 election was abated by his death in 1901.

Death and legacy

Walker died in Wytheville, Virginia on October 21, 1901; and was buried in the town's East End Cemetery. He was the great-grandfather of M. Caldwell Butler.

See also


Military offices
Preceded by
Elisha F. Paxton
Commander of the Stonewall Brigade
May 14, 1863 May 12, 1864
Succeeded by
William Terry
Political offices
Preceded by
Henry W. Thomas
Lieutenant Governor of Virginia
Succeeded by
John F. Lewis
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
James W. Marshall
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 9th congressional district

March 4, 1895 March 3, 1899
Succeeded by
William F. Rhea
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