Documenting the American South Logo
Loading
Collections >> First-Person Narratives >> Document Menu >> Summary

Elisha Franklin Paxton, 1828-1863
Memoir and Memorials: Elisha Franklin Paxton, Brigadier-General, C.S.A.; Composed of his Letters from Camp and Field While an Officer in the Confederate Army, with an Introductory and Connecting Narrative Collected and Arranged by his Son, John Gallatin Paxton
New York: The Neale Publishing Co., 1907.

Summary

Elisha Franklin Paxton was born in Rockbridge County, Virginia in 1828. He studied at Washington College (now Washington and Lee University) and Yale before entering law school at the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1849 and practiced law in Ohio and Lexington, Virginia. In 1860, when failing eyesight forced him to give up the law profession, he became a farmer. In April 1861, Paxton joined the Confederate army as a first lieutenant with the Rockbridge Rifles. He fought at the 1st Battle of Bull Run and was elected major of the 27th Virginia regiment in October 1861. Continuing to climb through the ranks, Paxton was promoted to brigadier general in February 1862. He led the Stonewall Brigade at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, where he was killed in May 1863.

John G. Paxton, one of Elisha Paxton's four children, collected his father's letters and printed them under the title Memoir and Memorials: Elisha Franklin Paxton, Brigadier-General, C.S.A. (1905). Paxton's weekly letters written to his young wife describe the Civil War from the perspective of a Confederate soldier and officer. Covering a span of two years, the letters begin in April 1861 and continue until April 27, 1863, just six days before he was killed. John G. Paxton also includes a series of letters and telegrams written during the war, among them a telegram from General Robert E. Lee expressing his sincere regrets over Paxton's death at Chancellorsville. Letters from friends to the Paxton family offer similar condolences. The collection also contains official Union and Confederate army records documenting Paxton's military accomplishments, and extracts from the journal of Margaret J. Preston, a neighbor of the Paxtons and the author of Beechenbrook; A Rhyme of the War (1865).

See also Beechenbrook; A Rhyme of the War, written by Margaret J. Preston.

Works Consulted: Boatner, Mark Mayo, Civil War Dictionary, New York: D. McKay Co., 1959; Eicher, John H and David J., Civil War High Commands, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2001.

Armistead Lemon
Harris Henderson

Document menu