After the Southern States that had seceded from the Union formed the Confederacy and Lincoln called for troops to put down the rebellion, there was an immediate rush of volunteers in the Southern states to form militia units or to join those already in place. These units were initially known by local names, such as Danville Blues or Danville Grays, until called into Confederate service when they became Companies in Regiments with State names and numbers assigned according to seniority with the Companies being given alphabetical designations with the letter ”J” excluded to avoid it being confused with the letter “I”. Thus the Danville Blues became Company A of the 18th Virginia Infantry, and the Danville Grays became Company B in the 18th Virginia Infantry. The organization of the Confederate Army followed the organizational scheme that had been in place in the US Army since the Mexican War with Companies, Regiments, Brigades, Divisions, Corps and Armies. (

Most of the early volunteers did not anticipate the lengthy and costly war which was to follow, and volunteered for only short periods, such as for one year, and often with leadership lacking formal military training. Reorganizations, lengthened service requirements and conscriptions were to follow later. Leadership in both the North and South seemed not to fully understand the strengths and weaknesses of their opponents and at the outset anticipated a relatively short war.

While the organization and naming of Infantry units was rather straight forward and understandable, that of Calvary and Artillery units is more difficult to understand. These units were often not tied to specific locations as closely as were Infantry units and were assigned to different levels in the military organization. Although Artillery units sometimes were numbered they often went by names rather than numbers which often makes information about them difficult to pin down. Sometimes a member of an Infantry Regiment would transfer to a Calvary or an Artillery unit.

Some of the military units from the Danville/Pittsylvania County area which we will be following throughout the course of the War are as follows:

  • Danville Artillery (Shumaker’s/Wooding’s/Rice’s/Price’s)
  • Pittsylvania Artillery (Lewis’/Penick’s)
  • Co. B, 13th Battn. Virginia Artillery, Danville-Ringgold Artillery
  • Co. E2, 6th Va. Cavalry, Pittsylvania Dragoons
  • Co. A, 18th Va. Infantry, Danville Blues
  • Co. B., 18th Va. Infantry, Danville Grays
  • Co. I, 18th Va. Infantry, Spring Garden Blues
  • Co. I, 21st Va. Infantry, Turkey Cock Grays
  • Co. H, 21st Va. Infantry, Chalk Level Grays
  • Co. A, 38th Va. Infantry, Capt. Daniel C. Townes’ Company
  • Co. B, 38th Va. Infantry, Capt. John R. Cabell’s Company
  • Co. C, 38th Va. Infantry, Laurel Grove Riflemen
  • Co. D, 38th Va. Infantry, Whitmell Guards
  • Co. E, 39th Va. Infantry, Capt. Joseph R. Cabell’s Company
  • Co. H, 38th Va. Infantry, Secession Guards
  • Co. K, 38th Va. Infantry, Cascade Rifles
  • Co. C2, 46th Va. Infantry, Pigg River Invincibles
  • Co. I, 53rd Va. Infantry, Chatham Grays
  • Co. G, 53rd Va. Infantry, Logan Guards
  • Co. D, 57th Va. Infantry, Galveston Tigers
  • Co. E, 57th Va. Infantry, Pigg River Grays
  • Co. F, 57th Va. Infantry, Henry and Pittsylvania Rifles
  • Co. G, 57th Va. Infantry, Ladies Guards
  • Co. I, 57th Va. Infantry, Pittsylvania Life Guards
  • Capt. W. Hays Otey’s Co., VA LDT
  • Co. A, 5th Battn., Va. Reserves, Capt. Cabell Hairston’s Company
  • Co. C, 5th Battn, Va. Reserves, Capt. R. G. Moorman’s Company
  • Co. E, 5th Battn., Va. Reserves, Capt. J. P. Sykes’ Company
  • Co. F, 5th Battn, Va. Reserves, Capt. W. D. Perkins’ Company
  • Co. G, 5th Battn, Va. Reserves, Capt. Christopher Arrington’s Company
  • Co.. H, 5th Battn, Va. Reserves, Capt. John D. Rice’s Company