Joseph Andrew Jackson Lightburn

Joseph Andrew Jackson Lightburn was born at Webster, Pennsylvania, south of Pittsburgh, on September 21, 1824, one of eleven children. About 1838 the family moved to Lewis County (West) Virginia, where the father became a prosperous farmer and miller. In 1842 Lightburn unsuccessfully competed for a West Point cadetship against a neighbor youth who would one day become the celebrated Stonewall Jackson. From 1846 until 1851 he served in the Regular Army as private, corporal, and sergeant, mainly on recruiting duty. In 1861, as a staunch Unionist, he was elected to the loyalist convention in Wheeling which led to the establishment of the state of West Virginia in 1863. He was commissioned colonel of the 4th West Virginia Infantry in August, 1861, and took part in the unsuccessful engagements of Charleston and Gauley Bridge in 1862. In December of that year he was ordered to the theater of operations in the Vicksburg area where he commanded the 2nd Brigade of Francis P. Blair's division of the XV Corps. On March 16, 1863, he was made a brigadier general of volunteers, and at Chattanooga in November, 1863, he served under W. T. Sherman in the attack on Missionary Ridge. The following spring he took part in the Atlanta campaign in Morgan Smith's division. His brigade was roughly handled at Kennesaw, where it sustained 171 killed and wounded, but distinguished itself under the leadership of Lightburn and Smith at the Augusta railroad cut in front of Atlanta on July 22. Here in the face of Confederate fire front and rear, it retrieved a lost situation and some previously captured Federal artillery. On August 24, 1864, while taking part in the operations which shifted Sherman's forces west and south around Atlanta, Lightburn was struck in the head by a rifle bullet; after his recovery he was assigned to duty in West Virginia and Maryland. At this time he made the acquaintance of a future President, Captain William McKinley, and figured in the kidnapping of Generals George Crook and Benjamin Kelley by the Confederates in Cumberland, Maryland. At the close of the war General Lightburn resumed his former occupations at Weston (West Virginia), and in 1867 was ordained as a minister in the Baptist Church, an avocation to which he was irresistibly drawn. He was an exemplary power in his church until his death at his old home on Broad Run in Lewis County, May 17, 1901. He was buried in Broad Run Churchyard.

Previous Page

Reference: Generals in Blue. Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge.