Stapleton Crutchfield: Stonewall Jaackson's chief of artillery

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Virginia Tech


No Virginian was more dedicated to the Confederate cause than Stapleton Crutchfield. Born into a prominent and wealthy family, Crutchfield enjoyed and embraced the southern aristocratic lifestyle. He was a Virginian first and a United States citizen second.

When Crutchfield was sixteen, he enrolled at the Virginia Military Institute. The young man had been enamored with the military tradition of his family and the extreme militancy of the South. Graduating at the top of his class in 1855, Crutchfield stayed on at the Institute as a mathematics professor.

As Virginia prepared for war in 1861, Crutchfield resigned from his post and joined the Confederate army as an officer. The former mathematician was anxious for a fight. He believed that Virginia and the southern lifestyle was endanger of being destroyed by the North. Crutchfield's military training and family connections helped him receive appointment to the rank of major.

In 1862, Gen. Thomas Jackson appointed Crutchfield to chief of artillery of his division. While Crutchfield had received training in artillery at the Institute l the instruction he received would not prepare him for the Civil War. New technology and the massive size of the armies had drastically changed the role of artillery in battle. His experience would come through trial and error on the battlefield.

As Jackson's successes catapulted him to the top of the Confederate army's hierarchy, Crutchfield assumed additional commands and responsibilities. He became one of the few men to command artillery corps in the Civil War. During his tenure as artillery chief, the "long arm" of the Army of Northern Virginia experienced its largest growth. Furthermore, it is when Lee's army had its greatest successes on the battlefield.

Yet, Stapleton Crutchfield has been overlooked by Civil War historians. They have failed to investigate the complexities of being artillery chief during the army's greatest period of growth and success. Crutchfield played an invaluable role in the shaping of the Army of Northern Virginia's artillery. His actions influenced the artillery corps even after his wound forced him to retire from his post.