General William Edmondson “Grumble” Jones, C.S.A.

 

I have a Civil War namesake!  I was reading about something I can’t even recall now, but I saw the name GRUMBLE, and it sure caught my attention.

 

William E. Grumble Jones was a Confederate Cavalry General under JEB Stuart, and they could NOT stand each other.  And if it be known, I blame Stuart for the loss at Gettysburg.

 

OH!  I remember.  I was looking to see how far the CSA made it into Pennsylvania.  They made it within 80 miles or so of my birthplace.  So close, yet so far.

 

Anyway, Jones skirmished at Hanover in the Summer of 1863, just south of where I was born.  He saw lots of action and was promoted a few times too.  He was in the First Battle of Bull Run in 1861, rode on Stuart’s famous ride around McClellan prior to the Seven Days Battles in the Summer of 1862, was slightly wounded at the skirmish of the Orange Courthouse during the Second Bull Run in August of 1862.  In the Spring of 1863, Grumble Jones and B.G. Imboden seized and laid waste to the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad in Maryland, then in June he rejoined Stuart in Virginia for the largest cavalry battle of the whole war, the Battle of Brandy Station just prior to Gettsyburg.

 

I’ll never understand what Stuart was thinking leaving one of his best Generals out of the action at Gettysburg.  Stuart and Jones despised each other, sure, but Stuart had also said of Jones that he’s “the best outpost officer in the army”.  Way to let Lee & Ewell down, Harrisburg slip through your fingers and let pettiness ruin everything J.E.B..

 

That Fall, the fecal matter hit the fan and Stuart had Jones court-martialed for insulting Stuart (I wonder if that was when Jones called Stuart a young “whippersnapper”?  Or if Jones made a disparaging comment about Stuart’s dressing like a dandy Cavalier?), although guilty Robert E. Lee stepped in and transferred Jones to the Trans-Allegheny Division in West Virginia where he eventually joined up with Longstreet and made way into Tennessee in early 1864.  Jones took command of the entire Shenandoah Valley force in the Valley Campaigns of 1864 – the Lynchburg Campaign (May-June), Early’s Railroad Raids (June-August), and Sheridan’s Valley Campaign (August-October).

 

It was in Virginia, during the Battle of the Piedmont on June 5, 1864 that Jones was shot in the head and killed (at age 40) while leading an attack against far superior forces.  But, that was Grumble’s way – His old Railroad raiding compatriot, B.G. Imboden said of Jones that he “… was an old army officer, brave as a lion and had seen much service, and was known as a hard fighter. He was a man, however, of high temper, morose and fretful. He held the fighting qualities of the enemy in great contempt, and never would admit the possibility of defeat where the odds against him were not much over two to one”.

 

I almost forgot to tell you how he got his nickname of Grumble.  We’ll he’s just like me, a person with an irritable disposition.  I have an excuse too, but his disposition undoubtedly comes from him losing his wife as she was washed away from his arms in a shipwreck in 1852, that’d make me pretty grumbly too.

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