Portrait of Joseph Johnston.

On October 22, 1861, the Confederate War Department issued General Orders, No. 15 creating the Department of Northern Virginia, commanded by General Joseph E. Johnston. [Wikimedia Commons]

General Orders, No. 15 (CSA)

October 22, 1861

On October 22, 1861, the Confederate War Department issued General Orders, No. 15 creating the Department of Northern Virginia, commanded by General Joseph E. Johnston.

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GENERAL ORDERS, No 15.

ADJT. AND INSP. General ‘S OFFICE,
Richmond, Va., October 22, 1861.

1. A department is established, to be known and designated as the Department of Northern Virginia. It will be composed of the three following district, viz: The Valley District, the Potomac District, and the Aquia District. The Valley District will embrace the section of country between the Blue Ridge and the Alleghany Mountains, the Potomac District between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the left bank of Powell’s River, and the Aquia District between Powell’s River and the mouth of the Potomac, including the Northern Neck, and embracing the counties on either side of the Rappahannock River from its mouth or Fredericksburg.

2. General J. E. Johnston is assigned to the command of the Department of Northern Virginia, General P. G. T. Beauregard to the command of the Potomac District, Major General T. H. Holmes to the command of the Aquia District, and Major General T. J. Jackson to the command of the Valley District.

3. The troops saving in the Potomac District will be brigaded and formed into divisions, as follows: First division, under command of Major-General Van Dorn: First Brigade, Brigadier-General Clark, to consist of four Mississippi regiments, Second Brigade, Brigadier-General Whiting, to consist of five Mississippi regiments; Third Brigade, Brigadier-General Stuart, to consist of the cavalry of the army of this district, to be united in one brigade; Fourth Brigade, the Hampton Legion, under Colonel Hampton. Second Division, under command of Major General G. W. Smith: First Brigade, Brigadier-General Ewell, to consist of four Virginia regiments; Second Brigade, Brigadier General S. Jones, to consist of four Virginia regiments; Third Brigade, Brigadier-General Early, to consist of four Virginia regiments; Fourth Brigade Brigadier-General Crittenden, to consist of two Virginia regiments, two Tennessee regiments, and one Kentucky regiment. Third Division, under command of Major-General Longstreet: First Brigade, Brigadier General D. R. Jones, to consist of four South Carolina regiments; Second Brigade, Brigadier-General Bonham, to consist of four South Carolina regiments; Third Brigade, Brigadier-General Wilcox, to consist of four Alabama regiments; Fourth Brigade, Brigadier-General Rodes, to consist of four Alabama regiments; Fifth Brigade, Brigadier-General Taylor, to consist of five Louisiana regiments. Fourth Division, under the command of Major General E. K. Smith: First Brigade, Brigadier-General Walker, to consist of four Georgia regiments; Second Brigade, Brigadier-General Toombs, to consist of four Georgia regiments; Third Brigade, Brigadier-General Elzey, to consist of three Georgia regiments and on Maryland regiment; Fourth Brigade, Brigadier-General Evans, to consist of five North Carolina regiments; Fifth Brigade, Brigadier-General Wigfall, to consist of three Texas regiments and one Louisiana regiment.

The particular regiments of these several brigades will be designated by the commanding general of the Department of Northern Virginia, in conformity to this programme, according to States. The arrangements will be gradually carried into effect as soon as, in the judgment of the commanding general, it can be safely done under present exigencies.*

By command of the Secretary of War:

S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General.

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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title General Orders, No. 15 (CSA)
  • Coverage October 22, 1861
  • Author
  • Keywords Department of Northern Virginia, Joseph E. Johnston
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date July 28, 2021
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update February 11, 2021
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