Organization of Virginia Militia Units in June 1861

Robert E. Lee’s General Orders Number 24, issued at the Headquarters of Virginia Forces in Richmond on June 1, 1861, sought to clarify Virginia’s militia organization as it continued to mobilize throughout the state. A Civil War Era regiment consisted of smaller units called companies raised from the same general geographic area (sometimes several adjacent counties), commanded by a colonel. Initially, each regiment numbered roughly 800 men, but that quickly fell the longer the war dragged on.

The order states: “Some confusion having arisen in respect to the designation, by numbers, of the regiments called into the service of the State of Virginia, it becomes necessary that they should be more clearly enumerated. Therefore, the regiments will be known hereafter by their numbers in the order below given.”

General Order Number 24 gives researchers a clear picture of the Virginia militia’s initial organization and commanders. It lists regiments currently in the field or in garrison as follows:

  • First Regiment, Colonel P. T. Moore
  • Second Regiment, Colonel J. W. Allen
  • Third Regiment, Colonel R. A. Pryor
  • Fourth Regiment, Colonel James T. Preston
  • Fifth Regiment, Colonel Kenton Harper
  • Sixth Regiment, Colonel William Mahone
  • Seventh Regiment, Colonel James L. Kemper
  • Eighth Regiment, Colonel Eppa Hunton
  • Ninth Regiment Colonel George W. Richardson
  • Tenth Regiment, Colonel Arthur C. Cummings
  • Eleventh Regiment, Colonel Samuel Garland, Jr.
  • Twelfth Regiment Colonel D. A. Weisiger
  • Thirteenth Regiment, Colonel A. P. Hill
  • Fourteenth Regiment, Colonel J. G. Hodges
  • Fifteenth Regiment, Colonel T. P. August
  • Sixteenth Regiment, Colonel Charles A. Crump
  • Seventeenth Regiment, Colonel M. D. Corse
  • Eighteenth Regiment, Colonel R. E. Whiters

Other regiments not yet fully formed were as follows:

  • Nineteenth Regiment Colonel P. St. G. Cocke
  • Twentieth Regiment, Colonel William Gilham
  • Twenty-first Regiment, Colonel Thomas J. Jackson
  • Twenty-second Regiment, Colonel C. Q. Tompkins
  • Twenty-third Regiment, Colonel William B. Taliaferro
  • Twenty-fourth Regiment Colonel Jubal A. Early
  • Twenty-fifth Regiment, Colonel George A. Porterfield
  • Twenty-sixth Regiment, Colonel R. E. Colston
  • Twenty-seventh Regiment, Colonel William W. Gordon
  • Twenty-eighth Regiment, Colonel Robert T. Preston
  • Twenty-ninth Regiment, Colonel John J. Coleman
  • Thirtieth Regiment, Colonel R. C. W. Radford
  • Thirty-first Regiment; Colonel William J. Willey
  • Thirty-second Regiment, Colonel L. Wilson
  • Thirty-third Regiment, Colonel j. B. Gibbons
  • Thirty-fourth Regiment, Colonel J. W. Ware
  • Thirty fifth Regiment, Colonel Alfred Beckley
  • Thirty-sixth Regiment, Colonel A. T. Bledsoe

This list, when checked against other sources, helps us better understand Virginia’s military situation at the onset of the war.


The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Series I, Vol. LI, Part II. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1897.

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