James Alexander Walker: a biography

TR Number
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

James Alexander was born on August 21, 1832. Raised in Augusta County, Virginia, he was an active youth. In 1848, he entered the Virginia Military Institute. Though a fine student, in 1852, he was dismissed for his poor conduct in the class of Major Thomas J. Jackson.

In the years before the Civil War, Walker worked as an engineer, teacher and lawyer. Settling in New Bern in southwest Virginia’s Pulaski County, Walker became a captain of the “Pulaski Guard.” During the war, Walker rose from captain of Company C of the 4th Virginia, to lieutenant colonel of the 4th, to colonel of the 13th Virginia and finally to brigadier general and last commander of the famed Stonewall Brigade.

After the war, Walker made his fortune through his legal practice and land investments in Pulaski and Wythe counties. He was a success in politics, he was twice a member of Virginia’s House of Delegates, a lieutenant governor of Virginia and a member of the Fifty-Fourth and Fifty-Fifth Congresses.

On October 22, 1901, he died as a man who made his mark on Virginia history.