Inclusive dates
Letters, 1861, of Walter Gwynn (1802-1882), brigadier general commanding the defenses of Norfolk, Virginia, consisting of a letter, 25 May 1861, from William W. Lamb (1804-1874), mayor of Norfolk, to Gwynn and transcripts of letters, both dated 20 May 1861, from Gwynn to R. S. Garnett (1819-1861), adjutant general of Virginia forces, and to Robert E. Lee (1807-1870), commander of the forces of Virginia, concerning an assault by Union vessels on an unfinished battery at Sewell's Point and Gwynn's defense of it during the early days of the Civil War. Also includes a photocopy of the first page of an article on the 1864 assault on Fort Fisher in North Carolina
Member of
  • Accessioned
  • Described
Biographical or historical data
Walter Gwynn was born in Jefferson County, Virginia, the son of Humphrey Gwynn of Gloucester County, Virginia. He graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point and was commissioned in the artillery in 1822. In 1830 he was employed by the Petersburg and Roanoke Railroad Company as an engineer charged to locate and survey the route. In 1832 he resigned his military post to continue his career as a civil engineer. After years of service to the railroad and transportation industry, Gwynn succeeded Joseph Carrington Cabell as president of the James River and Kanawha Canal Company in 1846. At the start of the Civil War, Gwynn was living in Charleston, South Carolina. It was there in March 1861 that he was given the rank of major in the Provisional Army of the Confederate States of America. In Charleston, Gwynn was charged with the construction of batteries at several strategic points. For his efforts Gwynn was recognized by his commanding officers and subsequently nominated by Governor John Letcher of Virginia to the rank of major general of the Virginia Volunteers and given command of the forces defending Norfolk. After Confederate States of America leaders determined that Robert E. Lee should be the only officer in the Volunteers with the rank of major general, Gwynn was confirmed a rank below Lee as brigadier general. In late May 1861, Gwynn accepted a commission as brigadier general in the North Carolina Volunteers and assumed command of the outer coastal defenses of the state. After the war Gwynn returned to North Carolina where he lived with his wife Elizabeth Rush. The couple had married circa 1829 and had six children. He died in Baltimore, Maryland in 1882. His body was returned to Richmond, Virginia for interment in Hollywood Cemetery.
Cataloging source
Form designation
  • The Library of Virginia
Immediate source of acquisition
Raab, Steven S.
Type of unit

Library Locations

    • Library of VirginiaBorrow it
      800 East Broad Street, Richmond, VA, 23219, US
      37.5415632 -77.4360805
Processing Feedback ...