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CAPTAIN GREENLEE DAVIDSON: Letters of a Virginia Soldier Edited by Charles W. Turner James L. Kemper, former governor of Virginia, when awarding the first Jackson-Hope medals at the Virginia Military Institute, July 3, 1877, said in part: Let me here remind you that among the heroes furnished to Virginia in her great struggle, by this institution, there were many whose lives are worthy of your emulation . Among them are three whom I am especially proud to have known as friends. In life and death they were glorious, and their names will be cherished through all time and peculiar affection by the people of Rockbridge. They were Stonewall Jackson , General Frank Paxton and last but not least as least honored, one who was commissioned and chosen for a hero by the sagacity of my good and illustrious friend John Letcher, then governor. I allude to Colonel Greenlee Davidson, than whom no braver, knightlier, nobler Virginian gave his life in battle for his state.1 The third hero, Greenlee Davidson, son of James D. Davidson and Hannah Greenlee, was born in Lexington, Virginia on June 21, 1834. On both sides of the family he was descended from early Scots-Irish settlers of the Valley of Virginia. His kin included the McDowell's, Grigsby's, Dorman's and Paxton's—names distinguished in the Revolution, the War of 1812 and the War Between the States. After a pleasant childhood, he entered Washington College, September, 1852 and took his masters' degree in June, 1855. After graduation in 1857, he started law practice with his father, whose practice was one of the largest in the Valley. To the duties of the profession proper, he added the job of a Master Commissioner of Chancery. The records of the Court of Rockbridge abound with evidence of his industry, fidelity and ability. These services continued until the War of 1861.2 He wrote his cousin James Greenlee in April, 1861 about the county's response to the call for troops.3 Lexington, Va. April 20, '61 Dear Cousin James, Three volunteer companies of this county, consisting of the Rifles 1 A copy of Kemper's address is in the files of the Rockbridge Historical Society, Lexington, Virginia. (Hereinafter RHS files). 2 University Memorial Biographical Sketches of the Alumni of the University of Virginia Who Fought in the Confederate War, copy in the Rockbridge Historical Society files. 3 The letters included in this article are in the RHS files. 197 198CIVIL WAR HISTORY numbering over 100 men, and the two Cavalry Companies, numbering about 200 men, have marched for Harpers Ferry, and the Rockbridge Grays, number 90 members, are now quartered in this place and will march as soon as they are supplied with arms. Notwithstanding die fact, that about 400 volunteers are now in the field from this county, not one single field officer has been called into service. Col. Davidson,4 who is our senior Colonel feels that he has been grossly slighted. He and Col. Templeton had all the trouble of organizing the Militia, when the Militia Laws were re-enacted some three years ago, and in addition to this assisted in raising all of the volunteer compames of the county—yet four companies are called out of their regiments and they are left at home. Lou is a good, efficient officer, and is anxious to go into service, and I wish you to use your influence with Letcher to have a command assigned him at once.5 If he is called into service, I go as his Adjutant. If you don't succeed in securing a command for him, ask Letcher to give me some appointment, so that I can get into actual service at once. If you get a good situation, I would prefer being with you. I have my uniform, heavy clothing, saber, pistol and every thing prepared, so as to leave at a moments notice. If you fail in securing a command for Lou and a situation for me, I shall resign my place as Adjutant of our regiment and enlist as a private in one of the volunteer companies now forming, as I am determined to take a hand in...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 197-221
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-02
Open Access
No
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