On June 22, 1865, two months after Civil War hostilities ended, General Joseph A. J. Lightburn resigned from the U.S. Army, ending his military service.
The Pennsylvania native had moved with his family to Lewis County in 1840. As a young man, he was friends with Thomas Jackson—later to be known as “Stonewall.” Lightburn wanted to attend West Point, but Jackson received the appointment from his region instead.
At the start of the Civil War, Lightburn pledged his loyalty to the Union, went to Wheeling, and later became colonel of the 4th West Virginia Infantry. In 1862, he was placed in command of Union forces in the Kanawha Valley, with his headquarters at Gauley Bridge. In September of that year, Confederate troops temporarily won control of the valley, forcing Lightburn’s army out. Later, he was ordered to Mississippi, where he was promoted to brigadier general and participated in the Battle of Vicksburg. In 1864, he was wounded during Sherman’s advance on Atlanta.
After the war, Joseph A. J. Lightburn became a Baptist preacher. He died in Lewis County in 1901 at age 76.