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Joseph Andrew Jackson Lightburn
September 21, 1824(1824-09-21) – May 17, 1901 (aged 76)
Place of birth Webster, Pennsylvania
Place of death Broad Run, West Virginia
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch Union Army
Years of service 1846-1851, 1861-1865
Rank Brigadier General of Volunteers
Commands held 4th West Virginia Regiment
Battles/wars Mexican War
American Civil War
Other work farmer, Baptist minister

Joseph Andrew Jackson Lightburn (September 21, 1824-May 17, 1901) was a farmer, soldier and Baptist Minister, most famous for his service as a Union general during the American Civil War.


Lightburn was born in Pennsylvania, the oldest of 5 children. His family moved to Lewis County, Virginia (later West Virginia) and worked on his family's farm prior to the Mexican War[1]. He enlisted and served in the U.S. Army until 1851 when he was discharged. In 1859 he became a licensed minister in the Baptist church.

When the Civil War began Lightburn was appointed colonel of the 4th (West) Virginia Infantry Regiment on 14 August 1861[2]. Two of his brothers, Martin Van Buren Lightburn and Calvin Luther Lightburn also joined this regiment and served with their older brother throughout the war. Another brother, John Fell Lightburn joined the Confederate Army instead[1]. Joseph Lightburn's regiment served under George McClellan during the West Virginia Campaign early in the war. For much of 1862 he commanded the 4th Brigade in the District of Kanawha. He was forced to evacuate the Kanawha Valley in the face of Confederate General William W. Loring, but helped drive these same Confederates out of the valley during Jacob D. Cox's operations in West Virginia.

On March 14, 1863 Lightburn was appointed brigadier general of volunteers[2] and ordered to report to the Army of the Tennessee. He arrived in January, 1863 but shortly after went on a leave of absence and returned to his home in West Virginia. During this time Confederate generals William "Gumble" Jones and John D. Imboden conducted a raid through the area and Lightburn was enlisted to raise troops to fend off the raid[1]. Returning to the Army of the Tennessee he assumed command of the 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, XV Corps on May 23 just after the siege of Vicksburg had begun and led the brigade throughout the rest of the siege and following expedition against Jackson, Mississippi[2]. Afterward he was temporarily in command of the 2nd Division of the XV Corps.

In November 1863 the XV Corps was transferred from Vicksburg to Chattanooga. Returning to command of his brigade, Lightburn fought under William T. Sherman in the battle of Missionary Ridge. When Sherman's attacks against Tunnel Hill failed, he sent in 200 men commanded by Lightburn to attack the position[3]. This attack fared no better than Sherman's earlier attacks.

Lightburn led his brigade during the Atlanta Campaign seeing action at the battles of Resaca, Dallas and Kennesaw Mountain. During the battle of Atlanta Lightburn rose to command the 2nd Division after the death of army commander James B. McPherson and all of Lightburn's superior officers rose in command also. When Oliver O. Howard was chosen as permanent commander of the Army of the Tennessee, Lightburn returned to command of the 2nd Brigade and fought at the battle of Ezra Church. During the following siege of Atlanta, he was engaged in light skirmishing and was shot in the head. The bullet merely grazed his skull but knocked him from his horse falling into the arms of his brother, Calvin Luther[1]. The wound ended his career with the Army of the Tennessee and he was sent home to recover. Upon recovery he first commanded a brigade then the 2nd Division in the Department of West Virginia until he resigned from the army on June 22, 1865.

General Lightburn spent the rest of his life serving as a minister, most significantly at the Broad Run Baptist Church. He died on May 17, 1901.

See also


  • Eicher, John H., & Eicher, David J., Civil War High Commands, Stanford University Press, 2001, ISBN 0-8047-3641-3.
  • Korn, Jerry, The Fight For Chattanooga: Chickamauga to Missionary Ridge, Time-Life Books, 1985
  • General Joseph A. J. Lightburn "Fighting Parson"
  1. ^ a b c d General Joseph A. J. Lightburn "Fighting Parson"
  2. ^ a b c Eicher p.348
  3. ^ Korn p.141


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