Company B, 18th Virginia Infantry Regiment,
"The Danville Grays"
History of the Danville Grays
Since 1841, Danville had boasted of the "Danville Blues" infantry company. John Brown's raid so swelled its ranks that within two months a second company, the "Danville Grays," had organized. Scores of mothers, wives, sweethearts and sisters painstakingly sewed new uniforms. Within the next six months the Danville companies would depart for a war many would not return from. It was April 23, 1861 when the telegraph brought orders for the Danville companies to report to Richmond to begin the consolidation of Confederate forces for the coming struggle. The stay in Richmond would be short, for in May the southside companies were dispatched to Manassas. It was in route to Manassas that the “Grays” were designated Company B of the 18th Virginia Infantry.
On July 21, on the plains of Manassas aside a sleepy stream called Bull Run the ”Grays” would receive their baptism of fire in the first major land confrontation of the war. The Battle of Manassas would indoctrinate these southside men in the realities of warfare. It was a reality these men would have to face time and time again, often bearing the heaviest casualties of their brigade. From Williamsburg and Seven Pines to Gaines Mill, Frayser’s Farm and Malvern Hill the “Grays” along with the 18th fought through the Peninsula and Seven Days campaigns to stave off the Union threat to Richmond in the spring and summer of 1862. August would find them back on the plains of Manassas where they would help drive another Union army under the command of John Pope back to Washington as part of Robert E. Lee’s newly formed Army of Northern Virginia. In September they would grapple again with the Union Army of the Potomac on the slopes of South Mountain and at Sharpsburg, Maryland in the bloodiest single day of the war. The “Grays” would end 1862 in Fredericksburg, Virginia on the sidelines as assault after assault by the Union army was repulsed by the Army of Northern Virginia.
In June 1863 the Danville “Grays” along with the rest of Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia would enter Pennsylvania and on the first three days of July battle the Union Army of the Potomac in and around the small town of Gettysburg. On July 3rd the “Grays” would participate in Longstreet’s Assault, better known as Pickett’s Charge. They would traverse 1,000 yards of open ground in an attempt to break the Union center and they would meet their foes in brutal hand-to-hand combat at “the angle” along the stone wall that ran along the Union line. The attack would be repulsed and the 18th Virginia would lose their hallowed battle flag in the melee. The “Grays” along with Lee’s army would retreat back to Virginia to lick its wounds and fight again another day.
On May 16, 1864 the “Grays” would participate in the largest engagement they would be a part of that year at Drewry’s Bluff, south of Richmond before settling into 9-months of trench warfare as newly appointed Union General U.S. Grant ensnarled Lee’s army in the defenses of Richmond and Petersburg. In April of 1865 Lee’s line would be broken and the retreat from Petersburg and Richmond would begin. On April 6th at Saylor’s Creek near Farmville, Virginia a portion of Lee’s army including Pickett’s division and the 18th Virginia would be cut off and forced to fight against overwhelming Union forces. Throughout the day the battle swayed back and forth as assault after assault by the Union forces were driven back. Around 5 p.m. after Union forces had encircled their position and the men formed Hollow Square and fought on from every direction the Confederate line collapsed. The 18th Virginia entered the fight with 173 men and most all were killed, wounded or captured. Only 43 men would surrender at Appomattox three days later on April 9th.
Descriptive Muster Roll
Abell, Benjamin F.: (August 7, 1863); of Albemarle Co.; 6', blue eyes, red hair, florid complexion; reported AWOL, Dec. 25, 1863; captured Apr. 6, 1865, at Sayler's Creek; June 23, 1865: paroled at Point Lookout Prison.
Adams, Nicholas J.: (April 23, 1861); 25; clerk; wounded June 27, 1862, at Gaines' Mill.
Adkins, John J.: (November 5, 1861); substitute for J. C. Beavers; Apr. 12, 1862: admitted to Chimborazo Hospital with measles, died there, May 18, 1862, of typhoid fever.
Adkins, Wilson J.: (April 23, 1861); wounded Spet. 14, 1862, at South Mountain; returned to duty in Jan., 1863; wounded and captured at Gettysburg, July 3, 1863; died Oct. 15, 1863, at Fort Delaware Prison. Buried in Finns Point National Cemetery, N.J.
Ayres, David: (Apr. 23, 1861); born June 11, 1841; clerk; discharged from service, May 18, 1862; died June 9, 1908. Buried in Green Hill Cemetery, Danville.
Ayres, William, Jr.: (April 23, 1861); born May 14, 1840; clerk; absent sick: Aug. 26, 1861, until Mar. 6, 1862, discharge after providing a substitute; died Sept. 22, 1905. Buried in Green Hill Cemetery, Danville.
Bagley, Albert L.: (April 23, 1861); 23; mechanic; apptd. Cpl., Apr. 27, 1862; wounded June 27, 1862, at Gaines' Mill; promoted to Sgt., Nov. 28, 1862; wounded at Gettysburg, July 3, 1863; present on duty: Sept., 1863-Dec., 1864.
Baines, Thomas J.: (April 23, 1861); 21; "gentleman;" wounded June 1, 1862, at Seven pines; hospitalized: Feb.-Aug., 1863, because of syphilis; returned to duty but absent sick from July through at least Dec., 1864.
Barker, Henry F.: (April 14, 1862); 21; farmer; 5'6", blue eyes, light hair and complexion; suffered dislocated shoulder from shell wound, Sept. 17, 1862, at Sharpsburg; died Dec., 1862, of smallpox.
Barnes, James Allen: (September 1, 1863); born May 22, 1836; 5'7", brown eyes, black hair, dark complexion; Apr. 6, 1865: captured at Sayler's Creek; paroled June 23, 1865, at Point Lookout Prison. died Charlotte Co., Nov. 12, 1926.
Beavers, Jeduthan C.: (April 23, 1861); 25; farmer,5'9", blue eyes, light hair and complexion; May 6, 1862: secured J.J. Adkins as substitute.
Betterton, Nathan J.: (April 24, 1861); 23; farmer; wounded and captured at Gettysburg; Oct. 31, 1864: dropped from rolls as supposedly dead.
Blake, Ebenezer: (May 31, 1862); killed June 27, 1862, at Gaines' Mill.
Brinsley, Joseph: (August 14, 1862); substitute; deserted May 9, 1863.
Bruna, Juan: (March 14, 1862); deserted Apr. 17, 1862.
Bryan, John E.: (April 23, 1861); 23; druggist; 1st Sgt. at muster; July 21, 1861: shot in head and killed at First Manassas. Buried in Grove Street Cemetery, Danville.
Bunger, Louis F.: (April 23, 1861); born 1840; mechanic; captured Sept. 14, 1862, at South Mountain; excahnged two months later; detailed to C. S. Arsenal at Danville for remainder of war; died 1921. Buried in Green Hill Cemetery, Danville.
Cheatham, Thomas J.: (August 5, 1864); of Appomattox Co.; Dec. 31, 1863: detailed to Boykins Station on surgeon's certificate; dropped from rolls in Nov. 1864, for "varicosis of several years' duration."
Chocklett, John: (September 1, 1864); captured Apr. 6, 1865 at Sayler's Creek; died June 15, 1865, of measles at Point Lookout Prison.
Claiborne, Felix Grundy: (April 23, 1861); 20; planter; discharged from service, May 29, 1861.
Claiborne, Thomas D.: (April 23, 1861); born Dec. 25, 1835; planter; Capt. at muster; absent sick: July-Sept. 1861; died Dec. 29, 1864, at Danville.
Clay, Charles T.: (April 23, 1861); 34; laborer; on detached service as teamster for much of 1863; present with regt. through Dec. 1864.
Clements, Lewis H.: (April 1, 1863); of Albemarle Co.; 5'1", hazel eyes, black hair, dark complexion; Sept. 25, 1863-Aug. 26, 1864: absent sick with chronic rheumatism and debility; captured Apr. 3, 1865, in Amelia Co.; paroled at Point Lookout Prison, June 22, 1865.
Clopton, John P.: (April 23, 1861); 19; student; killed Sept. 14, 1862, at South Mountain.
Collins, Brice : (August 14, 1862); conscript; never reported to company because of illness; died in June 1863, of disease.
...still in progress...
From information gathered from the "18th Virginia Infantry Regimental History" by Dr. James I. Robertston