May 24, 1896: Former Confederate General John Echols Dies in Staunton

May 24, 2016

Credit e-WV Encyclopedia / Library of Congress

Former Confederate General John Echols died in Staunton, Virginia, on May 24, 1896. In 1843, the Lynchburg, Virginia, native had moved to Union in Monroe County to practice law. He remained in Union until the Civil War began in 1861.

At the Virginia Secession Convention that year, Echols represented Monroe County and voted for secession. He then organized and led a Confederate military company. As a brigadier general, Echols fought in the battles of First Manassas and Kernstown, where he was wounded. In 1862, he served in the Kanawha Valley and, the following year, commanded Confederate forces in their losing effort at the Battle of Droop Mountain. In 1864, he led the Confederate right wing at the Battle of New Market and was with Robert E. Lee at Cold Harbor. Reluctant to surrender after Appomattox, Echols joined General Joseph Johnston in North Carolina and then accompanied Confederate President Jefferson Davis in his flight to Georgia.

After the war, Echols was a founding director of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway and served as the railroad’s vice president and general manager when it was completed to Huntington.