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Elisha Franklin Paxton Papers

Identifier: WLU-Coll-0273

Scope and Contents

The Elisha Franklin Paxton Papers are comprised primarily of the personal correspondences, business and military papers of Elisha F. Paxton between 1845 and 1863. The core of the personal letters are written from Paxton to his wife Elizabeth White Paxton during their courtship in the 1850s and during the American Civil War, 1861-1863, while he served as an officer in the Confederate States Army’s 27th Virginia Infantry, a member of the staff of General Stonewall Jackson, and general in command of the Stonewall Brigade of the Army of Northern Virginia. Paxton was born in Rockbridge County, Virginia in 1828. He attended Washington College (Va.) and Yale University - both for two years. After graduating from Yale, he moved on to law school at the University of Virginia graduating in 1849. Paxton lived and practiced law primarily in Lexington, Va., but for a period in Logan County, Ohio. He had business interests in farming and real estate and was for a period the president of the Bank of Rockbridge in Lexington, Va. Paxton was an officer in the Rockbridge Rifles, a Rockbridge County (Va.) militia company formed in the wake of John Brown’s Raid on Harper’s Ferry, Va., in 1859. Paxton was a strong proponent of secession and when Virginia voted to exit the Union in the spring of 1861, Paxton marched to war as an officer with the Rockbridge Rifles company. The company became attached to the 27th Virginia Infantry, later a part of Stonewall Jackson’s Brigade. Paxton, ascended the ranks ultimately achieving full command of the Stonewall Brigade as a brigadier general. He was killed on May 3, 1863 during the Battle of Chancellorsville (Va.). There are numerous items in this collection pertaining to his death including obituaries, recollections and reflections of his life and character. Other letter writers include his brother James Gallatin Paxton, Matthew White, Samuel F. Jordan, James G. Hamilton, William A. Glasgow, and William McCorkle, each from or connected to Rockbridge County. Other highlights of the collection include various reports written by Paxton as a member of Lexington’s Franklin Society and Library Company which shed light on his perspectives on topics such as Secession. There is also a printed broadside for the sale of land at Rockbridge Baths, Virginia, in 1860.


  • Creation: Inclusive 1845-1897
  • Creation: Majority of material found within Bulk 1854-1863


Conditions Governing Use

The materials from Washington and Lee University Special Collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study, pursuant to U.S. Copyright law. The user assumes full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used should be fully credited with the source. Permission for publication of this material, in part or in full, must be secured with the Head of Special Collections.

Biographical / Historical

Elisha F. Paxton, a 1843 alumnus of Washington College was a member of a prominent pioneering family in Lexington, Virginia, members of whom are still prominent citizens.


.5 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Matthew White, Jr. & Robert O. Paxton.

Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Washington and Lee University, University Library Special Collections and Archives Repository

204 W. Washington St.
Lexington VA 24450 USA