The 8th Virginia Infantry Regiment was organized at Leesburg, Virginia in May of 1861 and surrendered at Appomattox Court House in April of 1865. It was notable that at one point in its history its colonel, lieutenant colonel, major and one of its captains were brothers, the brothers Berkeley.
|May||Organized in Leesburg, Virginia under the command of Colonel Eppa Hunton, Lieutenant Colonel Charles B. Tebbs and Major Norborne Berkeley.|
|July 16||Final two companies join regiment|
|July 18||Ordered from Leesburg to Manassas. Marched 18 miles.|
|July 19||Marched ten miles to reach Manassas. Assigned to Colonel Philip St. George Cocke’s Fifth Brigade, Army of the Potomac|
Commanded by Colonel Eppa Hunton, the regiment lost 33 men.
|March||Brigadier General George E. Pickett took command of the brigade.|
|April||The regiment mustered 450 men.|
|April 27||Lt. Colonel Tebbs was dropped in the army reorganization. Major Norborne Berkeley was elected to lieutenant colonel and Captain James Thrift of Company G was elected to major.|
|May||Attached to Pickett’s Brigade, Longstreet’s Division, Army of Northern Virginia|
|May 31-June 1||
Battle of Seven Pines
Major James Thrift was mortally wounded. He would die in Richmond n June 2.
|June 3||Captain Edmund Berkeley of Company C was promoted to major|
Seven Days Battles
The regiment lost 10 killed and 66 wounded.
Battle of Gaines’ Mill
Brigadier General Pickett was wounded, and Colonel Hutton took command of the brigade.
|July||Attached to Pickett’s Brigade, Kemper’s Division, Longstreet’s Command|
|September||Brigadier General Richard Brooke Garnett was assigned temporary command of the brigade, which was transferred to Major General David R. Jones’ Division of Longstreet’s Command. Colonel Hunton returned to regimental command.|
The regiment was under the command of Colonel Eppa Hunton, and brought only 34 men to the field. It lost 11 casualties.
From Colonel Hunton’s Official Report for the 8th Virginia at South Mountain:
On Sunday, September 14, the regiment, with the rest of the brigade, left Hagerstown and marched toward the gap of the mountain near Boonesborough. After arriving near the gap we were marched south several miles toward another gap. When about to reach this last gap, we were countermarched and carried to the top of the mountain, on the north side of the turnpike, under heavy fire of the enemy’s batteries from the opposite side of the pike. The brigade was thrown into line of battle (the 8th Virginia Regiment on the extreme right) in a wood. The regiment formed the line within 50 yards of the enemy, and under a galling fire of musketry, which opened on us while forming the line. The regiment, with great gallantry, returned the fire of the enemy, and drove the advance on the enemy back. We maintained our ground until the rest of the brigade on our left had fallen back, and, finding that my regiment, consisting of only 34 men, had no support on the right or left, and was opposed to a very large force of the enemy, I retired my regiment to the rear of the fence, and was preparing to make there a further stand, when orders came to retire the whole command. My command sustained a loss of 11 killed and wounded.
That night we took up the line of march toward Sharpsburg.
|September 15||Arrived outside Sharpsburg and formed line of battle east of the town.|
|September 16||The Federal army arrived and opened fire with their heavy artillery.|
The regiment was commanded by Colonel Hunton. It brought only 22 men to the field, 11 of whom become casualties.
From the War Department marker to Garnett’s Brigade on the Antietam battlefield:
Garnett’s Brigade reached Sharpsburg at 11 A.M. September 15th, and took position on the southwest slope of Cemetery Hill where it remained until the morning of the 17th, when it relieved Geo. T. Anderson’s Brigade in support of the Washington Artillery. When that command was relieved by S. D. Lee’s Artillery in the afternoon, the Brigade advanced into the cornfield in front of Lee’s guns, between this point and the cemetery wall, and engaged the right of the advancing Federal line.
The right of the Confederate line west of the Burnside Bridge Road being turned, the Brigade was withdrawn, by the cross streets, to the north of the town, and cooperated with Drayton’s Brigade and A.P. Hill’s Division in the attack on the Federal left.
From Colonel Hunton’s report for the 8th Virginia at Antietam:
On Wednesday we changed our position a little to the north, and nearly all day were exposed to the most terrific fire of artillery I have ever seen. We were near the extreme right of the line of battle, Jenkins’, Drayton’s, and Kemper’s brigades being the only forces on our right.
The early part of this day was consumed by the enemy in their galling artillery fire, under cover of which they endeavored to cross their infantry over the Antietam Creek. Late in the afternoon the enemy threw large forces over the creek and advanced upon us. The Eighth and Eighteenth first and then the whole brigade were thrown forward to a fence in our front to meet the column advancing upon our position, and nobly your little command stood the shock of battle from greatly superior numbers. Not a man of my command faltered; no one left the ranks except those who had been wounded. We kept the enemy back, and the efforts of the enemy’s officers, plainly discernible, to force their men upon us, were all in vain. We could have held this position with ease if our right had been equally successful; but our right gave way-first Kemper’s brigade, and then Drayton’s. The enemy had gotten beyond our line, and we were flanked by a very large force in addition to that in front. then you gave the order to fall back, and my command retired with the rest of the brigade. The regiment numbered when it entered this fight 22 men, and came out with 11.
It gives me great pleasure to speak in terms of high commendation of the conduct of the regiment on these two occasions. It met my fullest approbation; all, officers and men, behaved very handsomely. The casualties have heretofore been specially reported.
I cannot close this report without mentioning the gallant conduct of our artillery, which fought near us-the Washington Artillery first and Colonel Lee’s artillery afterward. I am unable to give the names of the different batteries. Captain Squires’ battery twice drove back the advancing column of the enemy.
Official Records: Series 1, Vol 19, Part 1 (Antietam – Serial 27) , Pages 898 – 899
|September 18||The army left the battlefield in the evening and pulled back across the Potomac River via Boteler’s Ford.|
|November 28||Brigadier General Garnett was given permanent command of the brigade and George E. Pickett was given command of the division, assigned to to Longstreet’s newly-created 1st Corps..|
|February||Took part in Longstreet’s Suffolk Expedition, missing the Battle of Chancellorsville.|
|May||Rejoined Lee’s main army on the Rappahannock.|
The regiment was commanded by Colonel Eppa Hunton and brought 193 men to the field. It was part of Pickett’s Charge, sustaining heavy casualties. The regiment lost 39 men killed, 79 wounded, and 60 missing or captured.
The officers of the regiment were almost annihilated. Colonel Hunton was badly wounded, Lt. Colonel Norbern Berkeley was wounded and captured, and Major Edmund Berkeley was wounded. Captains John Green and Alexander Grayson were killed. Captain William R. Bissell and Lieutenants Edwin T. Adams, William Ayre, Fielding F. Payne, John R. Presgraves, and George Swink were mortally wounded and captured. Captain Albert Matthews and Lieutenants Joseph Cooper, Elias Harington, E.A. Milholland, and Joseph Tavenner were wounded. Captains William Berkeley and Edward Carter were wounded and captured. Lieutenants Charles Berkley, Charles Dawson, Edward C. Gibson, Benjamin Hutchinson, John McNealea, and Samuel Leslie were captured.
From the marker on the Gettysburg battlefield:
July 2. Arrived about sunset and bivouacked on the western border of Spangler’s Woods.
July 3. In the forenoon formed line on Kemper’s left in the field east of the woods. At the cessation of the cannonade advanced and took part in Longstreet’s assault on the Union position in the vicinity of the Angle. This advance was made in good order under a storm of shells and grape and a deadly fire of musketry after passing the Emmitsburg Road. The lines were much broken in crossing the post and rail fences on both sides of that road but with shattered ranks the Brigade pushed on and took part in the final struggle at the Angle. Gen. R. B. Garnett fell dead from his saddle in front of the stone wall.
July 4. Spent the day in reorganization and during the night began the march to Hagerstown.
|August 9||Colonel Hunton was promoted to brigadier general and given command of the brigade. Lieutenant Colonel Norborne Berkeley was promoted to colonel (although still a prisoner), Major Edmund Berkeley was promoted to lieutenant colonel and Captain William N. Berkeley of Company D was promoted to major.|
|September 9||Detached from the 1st Corps and transferred to the Richmond area as part of the Department of of Southern Virginia.|
|March 18||Colonel Norborne Berkeley was exchanged and returned to the regiment, although he would often be absent with illness.|
|April 15||Milford Station|
|May 21-23||Returned north of the James river and rejoined the Army of Northern Virginia attached to the 1st Corps under Major General Richard Anderson.|
Battle of the North Anna
|June 18||Siege of Petersburg begins|
|March 2||Colonel Norborne Berkeley resigned due to chronic illness. Lieutenant Colonel Edmund Berkeley took command of the regiment.|
The regiment suffered heavy casualties.
Almost all the survivors of the regiment were captured.
One surgeon and 11 enlisted men who had eluded capture at Sayler’s Creek surrendered.