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“Smyth Blues” 4th Virginia Infantry by Charles Rees

Stonewall Brigade

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Item No. HA2009CP Category


Sixth plate ambrotype by Richmond’s highly regarded photographer, Charles Rees. This is a rarely seen view of an unidentified member of “D” Company, 4th Virginia Infantry, otherwise known as the “Smyth Blues”. The regiment would be assembled at Winchester, Virginia, in July, 1861. Primarily its companies were from the counties of Wythe, Montgomery, Pulaski, Smyth, Grayson, and Rockbridge. It would become part of the famed Stonewall Brigade serving under Generals T.J. Jackson, T.B. Garnett, Winder, Paxton, J.A. Walker, and W. Terry. They would serve with the Army of Northern Virginia and in doing so, they would see no shortage of fighting, beginning with the First Battle of Bull Run. Following the battle, the remainder of 1861 would be relatively quiet for the regiment. In March of 1862, the regiment would take part in the Battle of Kernstown and then play a pivotal role in Jackson’s Valley Campaign. The year would prove to be a constant string of battles. Winchester, Port Republic, The Seven Days, Gaine’s Mill and Malvern Hill. And that was only the first half of the year. Yet to come was Cedar Mountain, Groveton, 2nd Bull Run, Chantilly, Antietam and Fredericksburg at years end. The Chancellorsville Campaign would begin in the spring of 1863, bringing with it two of the years bloodiest battles for the regiment. Chancellorsville and the Battle of Gettysburg. Between the two, the regiment would lose over 300 men. The following year would start with the Battle of the Wilderness, followed by Spotsylvania. Cold Harbor and nearly a dozen other engagements. As the last year of the war dawned, the regiment would fight at Hatcher’s Run, Fort Steadman, Sayler’s Creek and lastly, Appomattox. The regiment surrendered 7 officers and 38 men under the command of Captain Hamilton D. Wade, of whom only 17 were armed. A testament to the hard fighting which the regiment endured. This image originally surfaced in Wythe County, Virginia where portions of the regiment were originally raised. It is unquestionably the work of famed Richmond photographer, Charles Rees, and there are a number of other known photographs of members of the 4th Virginia photographed by Rees as well. It is however void of Rees’s signature. This view was most certainly taken around the time the regiment was being formed. The subject stands dressed in a mix of both civilian and military attire, suggesting he had yet to be fully equipped. Sporting a pair of civilian trousers, he wears a military from and kepi with “SMYTH BLUES” clearly shown across the front of the cap leaving no doubt to this mans association. Wonderful image of one of the wars most highly regarded units.

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