High-born Virginia Private

25 January 2019


Researching Virginians on the Maryland Campaign I came upon Thomas Newton of Norfolk.

Although often seen in popular Civil War literature, real stories of “high-born” Confederate privates are relatively rare. He’s one such …

Thomas was a student at the University of Virginia in 1834 and 1835, the second year in the medical school, then attended the Pennsylvania Medical College, Philadelphia and graduated with an MD in 1837. He studied in Europe for two years, then practiced in Philadelphia for three. He returned home to Norfolk and opened a practice there in about 1842.

In 1861, by then age 45, he served at least briefly as Surgeon of the 6th Virginia Infantry, but resigned over some injustice he felt. In 1862 he volunteered again and mustered as a private soldier in Company F, 6th Virginia Infantry on 22 April 1862 in Norfolk.

He was mortally wounded and captured in action at Crampton’s Gap on South Mountain on 14 September 1862. Recognized by a Federal officer – probably his cousin Brigadier General John Newton, whose troops were opposite the 6th Virginia at Crampton’s – Newton was paroled to a house in nearby Burkittsville, MD.

He was tended by members of his family who were allowed to visit him, but died of wounds there on 13 March 1863.

Please Leave a Reply