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Joseph A. J. Lightburn


General Joseph Andrew Jackson Lightburn (September 21, 1824-May 17, 1901) was born at Webster, Pennsylvania. He moved with his family to Lewis County in 1840. As a young man he was a friend and neighbor of Thomas Jackson, who became Gen. ‘‘Stonewall’’ Jackson during the Civil War. In 1842, Lightburn sought admission to West Point, but Jackson received the appointment. Enlisting in the army as a private in 1846, Lightburn served five years, leaving the army in 1851 with the rank of sergeant. Between that time and the outbreak of the Civil War he operated the family’s mill and farm in Lewis County.

A Union man, Lightburn went to Wheeling in 1861 and later became colonel of the 4th West Virginia Infantry. In the spring of 1862, he was ordered to Charleston, and was subsequently placed in command of U.S. forces in the Kanawha Valley, with headquarters at Gauley Bridge. In September 1862, Confederate forces won temporary control of the Kanawha Valley and Lightburn’s army was forced out. Later, he was ordered to Mississippi, where he was promoted to brigadier general and participated in the battle of Vicksburg. He also took part in the battles of Jackson, Mississippi, and Chickamauga, Tennessee. Wounded in action during Sherman’s advance on Atlanta, he returned to duty in 1865, serving in the Shenandoah Valley until resigning on June 22, 1865.

Lightburn became a Baptist preacher in 1867 and that same year was elected to the West Virginia legislature. He died in Lewis County. In 1915, a monument to General Lightburn was placed at Vicksburg National Battlefield Park.

Written by Tim McKinney


  1. Sifakis, Stewart. Who Was Who in the Civil War. New York: Facts on File, 1988.

  2. McKinney, Tim. "Miscellaneous Papers on the Life of J.A.J. Lightburn," Speech delivered to Fayette County Historical Society. 1984.