Brigadier General John Echols, Colonel John Doak Lilley, Jedediah Hotchkiss

The Thornrose Cemetery Of Staunton – Chartered By An Act Of The Virginia General Assembly On February 24, 1849

In 1848, the Virginia General Assembly formed a committee to pursue the creation of a new burial ground in Staunton, Virginia. On February 24, 1849, the Thornrose Cemetery Company was chartered by an act of the Virginia Legislature. Twelve acres west of Staunton were bought and designated as either lots, roads and walkways. On March 29th, 1853, the first recorded interment, within the Thornrose Cemetery, was that of a slave worker. Two months later, the new cemetery being formally dedicated on May 28, 1853.

During the United States Civil War, also known as the “War Between The States”, Staunton had a military hospital, just as Charlottesville and other nearby cities in the valley had. On July 9th, 1861, Private D.C. McLeaeray, of the 3rd Arkansas Infantry, was killed in an accident involving the detachment of one of the cars from Staunton’s trian depot. Private D.C. McLeaeray became the first Confederate soldier, several hundred, to be buried in the Thornrose Cemetery. Appreciably 1,800 Confederate soldiers were buried at Thornrose Cemetery in unmarked graves.

On June 9th, 1883, a Thornrose Confederate Monument Committee was formed, per a suggestion made by Colonel John Doak Lilley, for the, “erection of a monument for the memory of the dead”. Captain J. N. MacFarland became the head of the committee that was raising funds for a monument. After the funds were raised, the contract for the proposed monument and the Confederate soldier statue was given to C. E. Ehmann of Baltimore, Maryland.

On September 25th, 1888, the Confederate Dead Monument was officially dedicated at a site within Fort Stonewall Jackson, at the top of a bill within the Thornrose Cemetery, within a stone terrace with two cannons. Virginia Governor Fitzhugh Lee, General Jubal Early, and Jedediah Hotchkiss all rode in wagons, traveling through Staunton, during the course of the dedication.

Photograph of Fitzhugh Lee, General Robert Edward Lee’s nephew, in his Confederate uniform.

On August 15th, 1840, John Echols entered the Virginia Military Insititute as a cadet. A year later he resigned from his post and was made an honorary graduate of the institution on July 2nd, 1870. Before the start of the Civil War, John Echols was serving as a Virginia State Legislator and as an attorney. During the first vote on secession convention John Echols voted no to Virginia joining the Confederacy. However, after shots were fired on Fort Sumter he joined the second session convention to vote yes to Virginia seceding from the United States.

Photograph of John Echols in his Confederate uniform.

After Virginia joined the Confederacy, John Echols was appointed as Lieutenant Colonel of the 27th Virginia. Lieutenant Colonel John Echols led his regiment in the First Battle of Bull Run and served in the Shenandoah Valley Campaign. On April 18th, 1862, he was commissioned a Brigadier General commander of the Army of Southwest Virginia. In June 1863, he served on the court of inquiry to examine the surrender of Vicksburg, Mississippi and led his brigade in the battle at Cold Harbor, November 1863. He took command of the Confederate Department of Western Virginia in 1864.

Sketch of Confederate President Jefferson Davis after the war.

After General Robert Edward Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, General John Echols helped escort Confederate President Jefferson Davis to Augusta, Georgia. Soon after, General John Echols surrendered command of his corps, to Union forces, in Augusta, Georgia shortly before Jefferson Davis was captured in Irwin County, Georgia. After the war, John Echols served again in the Virginia General Assembly, opened another legal practice, became the President of the National Valley Bank, worked as a general manager for the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad and became one of the founding members of the Stonewall Jackson Camp of Confederate Veterans. In 1886, John Echols moved to Louisville, Kentucky.

Photograph of Virginia State Senator Edward Echols.

On May 24th, 1896, John Echols passed away while visiting his son Virginia State Senator Edward Echols, who later became the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, while in Staunton. was buried at the Thornrose Cemetery on a hill next to the one where the Confederate War Dead monument was erected eight years prior.

In 1888, “The Oaks”, the last home of Jedediah Hotchkiss, General Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson’s mapmaker, was completed on a plot of land in Staunton, Virginia. In the last years of his life, Jedediah Hotchkiss spoke out against General A.P. Hill, Henry Kyd Douglas, and General James Longstreet, specifically regarding passages in his post war book, about their critical statements about General “Stonewall” Jackson.

In 1896, Jedediah Hotchkiss became the commander of the Stonewall Jackson Camp of Confederate veterans, which was designated as Camp No. 25 of the Grand Camp of Confederate Veterans of Virginia. The Stonewall Jackson Camp of Confederate veterans was the fourth such camp to be established in the Shenandoah Valley and regularly met at the first YMCA building established in Staunton. On January 17th, 1899, Jedediah Hotchkiss passed away, due to poor health, and was interred at the grounds of the Thornrose Cemetery.

Jedediah Hotchkiss’s map of the Battle of Cross Keys, during the course of General Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson’s Shenandoah Valley Campaign, which was created in June of 1862.

Author’s Note:

In the 1866 the Staunton National Cemetery was established in as a burial ground for over 700 Union soldiers.

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