General William E. “Grumble” Jones, Receipt Signed, KIA


Jones, William E. (1824-1864). CSA General. 1p,  2 x 6.25 in., receipt signed. Condition: Light foxing but otherwise fine.


William Edmondson Jones (1824-1864) was born in Virginia and educated at Emory and Henry College where he earned a Master of Arts degree and USMA (1848, 10/38, Cullum 1378). Too late for Mexico, after graduation Jones first went to Missouri and Kansas, then to Washington/Oregon region where he fought Indians for two years. After 1851 he was primarily in Texas until his resignation in 1857 with the rank of 1st Lieut., regiment mounted rifles. It was at this rank that he signed this receipt (“Lieut. RMR & A.A.C.S.”).

JEB Stuart, having graduated from USMA in 1854 (and had also attended Emory and Henry College, though a bit younger than Jones) along with Fitzhugh Lee, was also assigned to Texas in the US Regiment of Mounted Rifles. (Robert E. Lee was appointed superintendent of the Academy in 1852, and Stuart became a personal friend of the Lee family.) The three men likely began their association in Texas. Jones resigned in 1857 and returned to farming in Virginia.

Then came secession. When the ordinance was signed by Virginia, Jones had already raised a company of cavalry, known as the Washington Mounted Rifles, at the rank of Captain. He joined Stuart in the Shenandoah and participated in the first battle at Manassas. The discipline of his cavalry caught the attention of General J.E. Johnston, who recommended Stuart for a brigade command and promotion of Jones to colonel and Fitzhugh Lee to lieut. colonel. Jones was voted out of his position the following year, possibly as a result of his terrible disposition, which earned him the nickname “Grumble.” He was still an able commander and so was reassigned to the 7th regiment. He fought in the second Manassas campaign, Brandy Station and other major battles. He was promoted to brigadier general on Nov. 8, 1862, given command of the “Laurel brigade,” then a month later assigned to command of the Valley District, having been chosen by Stonewall Jackson for the position.

With the spring campaign he made a raid on the B&O railroad west of Cumberland, inflicting significant damage. He covered Lee’s rear and flank as the ANV advanced into Pennsylvania.

The following spring Jones had a falling out with Stuart and was sent to southwest Virginia. In late May he was given command of the department (SW VA) in Breckinridge’s absence. The region was in great turmoil with a number of Union incursions. In early June he faced Hunter’s Union forces at Piedmont. In the ensuing fight, on June 5, Jones was killed.




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