25th Virginia Flag

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    John C. Higginbotham left Lynchburg Military Institute as an 18 year old cadet to form a Confederate infantry company, the Upshur Grays, in April 1861.  
 A brave and thorough soldier, Higginbotham advanced rapidly, rising from Captain to become Colonel of the 25th Virginia Infantry Regiment within two years, at only 20 years old.  His gallantry on many fields earned him the respect of his men and his superiors.  He was promoted to Brigadier General in May 1864 when he was only 21 years old.  Ironically, the commission arrived just days after Higginbotham was shot through the heart and killed at the “Mule Shoe” during the battle of The Wilderness.  He had been wounded 7 times in battle previously.

On April 30, 1861, a flag bearing Virtue standing over a defeated Tyranny surrounded by the motto “Virginia” and “Sic Semper Tyrannis” (thus ever to tyrants) was adopted when Ordinance No. 30 was embraced by the Virginia Secession Convention of 1861.  This ordinance was ratified by a vote of the electorate in May.  Following its adoption, Virginia Governor Letcher ordered flags made for each Virginia Regiment.

The 25th Virginia Infantry fought on:

June 3, 1861: a Skirmish at Philippi, followed by retreat to Beverly.
July 7, 1861: a Skirmish at Middle Fork Bridge.
July 11, 1861: The Battle of Rich Mountain.
Oct. 3, 1861: a Skirmish at Greenbrier River.  This same October, Governor Letcher presented each Virginia Regiment with a state flag.

Dec. 13, 1861: The Battle of Allegheny Mountain where the 25th Virginia lost 9 killed, 23 wounded, 10 captured.
May 8, 1862: The Battle of McDowell where the 25th Virginia lost 86 killed or wounded.    
June 8, 1862: The Battle of Cross Keys where they defeated Union forces under Gen. John C. Fremont.  The 25th Virginia lost 6 killed and 5 wounded.
June 9, 1862: The Battle of Port Republic, here Confederates defeated Union forces under Gen. Shields.  The 25th Virginia lost 4 killed and 5 wounded.
June 25-July 1, 1862: The Seven Days Battles around Richmond, including Beaver Dam Creek, Gaines’ Mill, Malvern Hill.  The 25th’s casualties in these engagements are unknown.
Aug. 9, 1862: The Battle of Cedar Mountain/Slaughter Mountain where the 25th Virginia lost 1 killed, 28 wounded, 6 captured and 1 missing.
Aug. 28, 1862: The Battle Groveton, where the 25th Virginia lost 4 wounded and 1 captured.
Aug. 29, 1862:  The Battle of 2nd Manassas/2nd Bull Run.  Here they defeated Union forces under Gen. Pope, while losing 5 killed and 15 wounded.
Sept. 1, 1862: The Skirmish at Chantilly/Ox Hill where the 25th Virginia casualties where 7 wounded.

Sept. 15, 1862: The Siege of Harpers Ferry, which quickly captured the town with virtually no casualties.
Sept. 17, 1862: Battle of Sharpsburg/Antietam where was fought the bloodiest single day’s battle in the War.  The 25th Virginia lost 8 killed, 20 wounded, 6 captured and 1 missing.
Dec. 13, 1862 The Battle of Fredericksburg, here Confederates defeated Union troops under Gen. Ambrose Burnside, with 25th fighting under Stonewall Jackson at Hamilton’s Crossing. The 25th’s casualties were 1 killed and 21 wounded.

April 24, 1863: The Skirmish at Beverly under command of Col. John D. Imboden.
July 2-3, 1863: The Battle of Gettysburg.  The 25th Virginia assaulted Culp’s Hill with much success, but when their supports failed to advance, the men had to relinquish their forward positions.  In this battle they suffered grievously, having 72 killed, wounded or captured.
July 5, 1863: The Skirmishes near Hagerstown, here the 25th Virginia lost 8 to capture.

July 13-14, 1863: Skirmishes near Potomac River, 25th Virginia casualties: 3 captured.   The total losses in the Pennsylvania invasion were 6 killed, 38 wounded brought off of the field, and 21 wounded and taken prisoner.  An additional 26 uninjured were captured and one man was missing in action.
Nov. 27-28, 1863: The Skirmishes at Payne’s Farm.  The 25th Virginia lost 1 killed and 8 wounded.

On May 5, the 25th Virginia of Brig. Gen. John M. Jones' brigade formed on the western edge of Saunders Field south of the Orange Turnpike (modern-day State Route 20).  During the afternoon fighting, the Federals had a brief success, forcing Jones' Virginians back.

Jones rode up to rally his troops.  One of his men heard him say he "would rather die before he would go back another inch."  Moments later, he was shot and killed.  Higginbotham, now commanding the Brigade, tried to rally the Virginians, but without success.  With defenses in depth, the Confederates counterattacked to stabilize the situation.

Colonel Higginbotham took command of the brigade.  Both the 25th Virginia's regimental history and the Higginbotham family's genealogy website claim that Higginbotham was promoted to brigadier general.

On the night of May 7, the armies departed the thickets of the Wilderness and moved to Spotsylvania.  The 25th Virginia held the southern side of a giant salient in the Confederate lines known as the Mule Shoe.  In reaction to Upton's breakthrough on the west side of the Mule Shoe, Higginbotham faced his men about, and charged Upton’s men, the Confederate counterattack repulsed Upton's attack.  But Higginbotham did not live to see it.  As his regiment approached the breakthrough, Higginbotham was hit in the heart.

The spring campaign had begun as the most ferocious of the War.  At the Battle of The Wilderness the 25th Virginia suffered 6 killed and 2 wounded and taken prisoner.

It would be much worse at Spotsylvania, where the 25th, as a regiment was destroyed, losing 266 men, including Colonel/General Higginbotham.  A letter the next day to Higginbotham's father said the Colonel died as the sun was setting.  The letter-writer added that the body would be sent home for burial.  The ferocity of the campaign did not allow time to return the Colonel’s body, so it never was sent home.  In the unknown section of the Spotsylvania Confederate Cemetery, is a row of nine known soldiers, lies the remains of the highest-ranking officer in the entire cemetery.  The first stone from the left in this row bears the name "John C. Higginbotham," without rank or unit.

 

 

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