August 12th, 2013
The battle sword of General Joseph A. J. Lightburn (1824-1901), a West Virginian who fought under Ulysses S. Grant at Vicksburg, was recently donated to the West Virginia and Regional History Center. During the siege of that city a bullet struck the sword’s scabbard, leaving a deep dent and thereby sparing the general’s life. Evidence of Lightburn’s good fortune can still be seen on the scabbard to this day.
As impressive as it is, the sword is but one of many precious Civil War artifacts owned by the general that were generously donated by Lightburn’s descendants. The collection includes his .44 caliber Colt revolver (1860 model), field compass, bullet mold, epaulets, and a dress sword with scabbard.
Born in Pennsylvania, Lightburn moved with his family to Lewis County in 1840, becoming friend and neighbor of Thomas Jackson, who later achieved fame as “Stonewall” Jackson. In addition to serving at Vicksburg, General Lightburn also expelled Confederates from the Kanawha Valley in 1862, fought at Missionary Ridge in 1863, and substantially participated in the Atlanta Campaign of 1864 under General Sherman. At the war’s end, he returned home to Lewis County, serving as a minister at Broad Run Baptist Church.
All items are currently on display in the reading room of the West Virginia and Regional History Center.
Blog entry by Michael Ridderbusch.