PRE-CIVIL WAR DOCUMENT SIGNED BY FUTURE CONFEDERATE GENERAL WILLIAM E. “GRUMBLE” JONES

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Done on blue stationery this handwritten document lists items worn out in the public service at Fort Ewell, Texas in 1853. In this case the items are 3 camp kettles and 230 tent pins.

The document is signed at bottom by Lieutenant William E. Jones Acting Assistant Quartermaster of the Regiment of Mounted Rifles.

William Edmondson Jones was born in Washington County, Virginia on May 9, 1824. After graduating from Emory and Henry College in 1844, he attended the United States Military Academy and graduated in 1848, ranking twelfth out of 48 cadets. He was commissioned a brevet second lieutenant in the U.S. Mounted Rifles and served with them fighting Indians in the west.

In 1852 Lt. jones married and while taking his wife to Texas by ship she was washed from his arms and drowned in a shipwreck.

Jones was promoted to first lieutenant in 1854 but resigned his commission in 1857. It was during his service that he earned the nickname of "Grumble" reflecting his irritable disposition.  After resigning Jones took up farming near Glade Spring, Virginia.

At the start of the Civil War, Jones joined the 1st Virginia Cavalry Regiment as a captain, commanding a company he had raised. On May 9 he was promoted to major in Virginia's Provisional Army, and later that month both Jones and the regiment were transferred into the Confederate Army. Jones served under Col. J.E.B. Stuart in the First Battle of Bull Run in July 1861. The following month he was promoted to the rank of colonel and was given command of the 1st Virginia Cavalry. Jones put his new volunteers through meticulous training and personally upbraided anyone who was slow to learn.

In September 1861 Jones was appointed to command the 7th Virginia Cavalry. He led the regiment into Western Virginia, along the Potomac River. In March 1862 Jones was given command of all cavalry in the Valley District.

Returning to eastern Virginia, Jones was wounded in a skirmish at Orange Court House on August 2 and his cavalry rendered distinguished service in the Second Bull Run Campaign. Despite being considered a "superb outpost officer" Jones was at odds with his commander Jeb Stuart who expressed the opinion that Jones was the most difficult man in the army. General Robert E. Lee promoted Jones to brigadier general, and assigned to him to command the 4th Brigade of Stuart's Cavalry Division in the Army of Northern Virginia. This brigade was known as the "Laurel brigade" and consisted entirely of Virginians;

Jones and his command fought in the largest cavalry engagement of the war, the Battle of Brandy Station on June 9, 1863. He was surprised by Union cavalry under Maj. Gen. Alfred Pleasonton. Jones's brigade held its own and ended the fight with two of the enemy’s regimental colors, an artillery battery, and about 250 prisoners.

Being at odds with Jeb Stuart, Jones and his brigade were held of the periphery during the Gettysburg Campaign seeing action in a small affair at Fairfield, Pennsylvania on July 3, 1863. Lee eventually intervened in the squabble and had Jones transferred to the Trans-Allegheny Department in West Virginia. He recruited a brigade of cavalry there and campaigned in eastern Tennessee with Lt. Gen. James Longstreet's forces during the winter and spring of 1864.

In May, Jones assumed command of the Confederate forces in the Shenandoah Valley who were defending against the advance of Maj. Gen. David Hunter towards Lynchburg.

In the Battle of Piedmont on June 5, 1864, Jones was shot in the head and killed while leading a charge against a superior attacking force.

Grumble Jones is buried in the Old Glade Spring Presbyterian Church graveyard, Glade Spring, Virginia. His fellow cavalryman, Brig. Gen. John Imboden, wrote that Jones

... was an old army officer, brave as a lion and had seen much service, and was known as a hard fighter. He was a man, however, of high temper, morose and fretful. He held the fighting qualities of the enemy in great contempt, and never would admit the possibility of defeat where the odds against him were not much over two to one.  [ad]

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