28th Virginia Infantry Regiment
On April 15, 1861, President Abraham Lincoln called for 75,000 militiamen to serve for three months “in order to suppress said combinations and cause the laws to be duly executed.” With this proclamation, Virginia could not bring herself bear arms against her sister southern states. So, two days later, on April 17, 1861, Virginia voted to secede from the Union. With the hostile tensions that had existed between the North and the South over the past several years, many militia units were already formed throughout the South.
Company A – “Blue Ridge Rifles” from Botetourt County under the command of Captain William T Patton;
Company H - “Patty Layne Rifles” from Bedford County commanded by Captain Augustus F Minter;
Company I - “Mountain Rifles” from Botetourt County commanded by Captain Joseph W Anderson;
Company K - “Roanoke Grays” from Roanoke County commanded by Captain Madison P Deyerle.
Some of the men in the ranks voiced great displeasure to their officers for being issued old flintlock muskets and no ammunition. Older companies felt slighted because some of the younger companies were issued more modern weapons. Colonel Preston stated that it was now each soldier’s duty to force Yankee invaders from Virginia even if “He had to do it with brickbat and clubs!”. Colonel Early informed the men that the altered percussion flintlocks they were issued were “The best the state had to offer”, and any soldier who refused to accept the weapon would be discharged from the army. Eight of the men of the 28th Virginia put Colonel Early to the test and were “hooted out of camp” and sent home without pay or a means of transportation.
On May 26, General Lee ordered the 28th Virginia to Manassas Junction to help bolster the defenses of the railroad in that area. The 28th Virginia boarded trains in Lynchburg for the trip to Manassas. After reaching Charlottes-ville, the troops were eagerly anticipating a special dinner prepared in their honor by the local citizenry; however, a scheduling error caused the troops to arrive too late.
Around 6 PM on May 28, the regiment arrived in Manassas ready for combat only to find that no Federal troops were within sight. The men of the 28th then made camp at Camp Pickens, just outside of town.
The soldierly life of drill, picket duty, and breastwork construction oc-cupied much of the soldiers’ time for the next few weeks. Major Robert C Allen continuously drilled the men in order to make seasoned troops of them. Then on June 21, the 28th Virginia was assigned to Colonel Phillip St George Cocke’s Fifth Brigade in the army under command of Brigadier General Pierre G T Beauregard. The brigade now consisted of the 1st Louisiana Battalion, the 8th, 18th, 19th, 28th and 49th Virginia Infantry regiments.
The first taste of battle would come for the 28th Virginia at the First Battle of Manassas on July 21. The 28th Virginia was initially deployed on July 16 to prepare defenses at Suspension Bridge over Cub Run near Centerville. Then on the 17th, the 28th was placed at the Lewis House. On the 19th the regiment was ordered to assist the 18th Virginia in defense of Ball’s Ford. At around 1 PM, on July 21, the brigade was dispatched to assist Bee, Bartow, Evans and Jackson at Henry House Hill. While rushing to Henry House Hill, the 28th Virginia ran into the 1st Michigan Infantry of Colonel O B Wilcox’s Brigade. Before they realized what was happening, the 1st Michigan became surrounded by butternut uniformed soldiers. Abruptly, an officer of the 1st Michigan surrendered the entire regiment, including Colonel Wilcox.