Author: Frank B. Atkinson

a partner in the law firm of McGuireWoods. He is the author of Virginia in the Vanguard (2006) and served as counselor and director of policy in the administration of Virginia governor George F. Allen

John H. Winder (1800–1865)

John H. Winder was a Confederate general who served as provost marshal of Richmond (1862–1864) and commissary general of Confederate prisons (1864–1865) during the American Civil War (1861–1865). A career military officer, Winder served with distinction during both the Second Seminole War (1835–1842) and the Mexican War (1846–1848), but faced criticism from Union officials and, subsequently, historians for his management of Richmond’s wartime prisons and, beginning in June 1864, the notorious Andersonville Prison in Georgia. Described by his biographer as “short-tempered” and “aloof,” Winder was responsible for the Castle Thunder, Belle Isle, and Libby prisons when they became infamous in the North for their poor conditions. While he was at Andersonville, the mortality rate of Union prisoners surged as a result of overcrowding, unsanitary conditions, and poor rations. Winder’s defenders argue that he struggled with an inefficient Confederate bureaucracy and scarce resources, and that he instituted policies, late in the war, that reduced the number of prisoner deaths. He died of a heart attack in February 1865; his subordinate at Andersonville, Henry H. Wirz, was hanged later that year.


First Rockbridge Artillery

The First Rockbridge Artillery was organized on April 29, 1861, in Lexington, Virginia, and served throughout the duration of the American Civil War (1861–1865), firing its first shot in anger at the First Battle of Manassas on July 21, 1861, and fighting in most major battles of the Army of Northern Virginia until its surrender at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865. Initially led by Lexington rector and West Point graduate William N. Pendleton, the battery quickly became renowned for its daring and firmness under fire as part of the Stonewall Brigade. Pendleton, with ecclesiastical panache, named the first four tubes of the battery “Matthew,” “Mark,” “Luke,” and “John.”


Republican Party of Virginia

The Republican Party is one of two major political parties in Virginia. Although founded in 1854 in opposition to the spread of slavery, the party did not take hold in Virginia until after the American Civil War (1861–1865). Even then, for nearly a century the Republicans were an ineffectual, minority party with only pockets of regional strength. During this period, the conservative Democratic Party dominated politics in Virginia and the rest of the South. After World War II (1939–1945), economic growth, demographic trends, electoral reforms, and policy debates combined to spur a realignment that gradually brought the Virginia parties into line philosophically with their national counterparts. As the center-right party in a conservative-leaning state, the Virginia Republican Party became consistently competitive. Following the mid-1970s, Virginia politics settled into a pattern characterized by active competition between the two major party organizations and their candidates. Partisan fortunes ebbed and flowed, but neither party established durable majority support on a statewide basis. In the twenty-first century Republican candidates in Virginia routinely compete with their Democratic rivals for the support of nonaligned voters (generally called “independents”) in addition to mobilizing fellow partisans.


John N. Dalton (1931–1986)

John N. Dalton, a successful lawyer, businessman, and farmer, was a member of the Virginia House of Delegates (1966–1972) and the Senate of Virginia (1972–1973), and served as lieutenant governor (1974–1978) and as governor (1978–1982). He was the first Republican lieutenant governor of the twentieth century. His term as governor came during a period of dramatic realignment in which the Republican Party, long overshadowed by the Democratic Byrd Organization, became competitive in state elections for the first time in nearly a century. In fact, Dalton’s rapid climb from state legislator to governor paralleled Virginia’s transition from a one-party, Democratic state, typical of the “Solid South,” to a competitive, two-party system. The third in a trio of Republican governors of Virginia during the 1970s, Dalton stressed economic development, conservative fiscal management, and Republican party-building.


Botetourt Artillery

The Botetourt Artillery was one of only a handful of Virginia units to serve in the Western Theater during the American Civil War (1861–1865). Organized in December 1861 from a company in the 28th Virginia Infantry Regiment, the unit experienced heavy combat and losses during the Vicksburg Campaign in the spring and summer of 1863. Following Vicksburg, the Botetourt Artillery returned to western Virginia, where it saw little action.