Stonewall Brigade Band

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Stonewall Brigade Band
OriginStaunton, Virginia, United States
GenresBrass band
Marching band
Concert Band
Years active1855–present
Past membersA. J. Turner, T. M. Turner

The Stonewall Brigade Band is a community concert band based in Staunton, Virginia. It is the United States's oldest continuous community band sponsored by local government and funded, in part, by tax monies.[1] Originally a brass band, the band was formed in 1855 as the Mountain Sax Horn Band. It was also called Turner's Silver Cornet Band by 1859,[2][3][4] for its first director, A. J. Turner. At the onset of the American Civil War, the band was mustered into the 5th Virginia Infantry Regiment, part of the Stonewall Brigade under Stonewall Jackson.[5]

Antebellum history[edit]

Alto saxhorn used in the band's antebellum performances.

In Staunton, Virginia in 1855 one David W. Drake wished to found a band. He enlisted the help of his former music teacher in Newtown. Drake prevailed upon A. J. Turner to move to Staunton.[1][6] These two and other white, male citizens of the city formed the Mountain Saxhorn Band.[7][8][9] The band's first formal concert occurred on July 17, 1857 at Union Hall on Beverley Street in Staunton.

During the 1850s, the band began a tradition of playing for civic occasions, including political rallies held for Presidents Millard Fillmore and Franklin Pierce and candidates Stephen A. Douglas and John C. Breckinridge.[10]

On April 4, 1861, Turner's Silver Cornet Band, together with the Staunton Musical Association and the Glee Club, presented at Armory Hall the last concert that was to be given before the Civil War.

Civil War[edit]

The band earned the name Stonewall Brigade Band soon after First Manassas,[11] and has been known as such ever since. In addition to their instruments, the band members also fought and acted as couriers and letter bearers[12] or medical assistants.[11] In addition to entertaining the troops in the field, they frequently appeared in concerts in Fredericksburg, Richmond, Staunton, and elsewhere to help recruiting rallies, clothing drives, and war relief fund raising.

The band was in Stonewall Jackson's (pictured) brigade

On August 22, 1861, Stonewall Jackson wrote to his wife "I wish my darling could be with me now and enjoy the sweet music of the brass band of the Fifth Regiment. It is an excellent band."[13] Jackson was fond of music, but had no talent for it, and confessed he could not recognize one song from another.

Post war reorganization[edit]

The band was reorganized in 1869 with A. J. serving as leader. His son T. M. Turner served as assistant leader.[14]

By 1875 the band was formally known as the Stonewall Brigade Band. The band's instruments from the time of the Civil War are still exhibited in their band room. They were apparently allowed to keep them as they were considered personal possessions, but several legends grew that Ulysses S. Grant allowed the band to keep their instruments through some special order. Perhaps due to the legend, the band grew a certain fondness for Grant, and on June 30, 1874, the band greeted Grant in Staunton with several songs. Upon being asked, Mayor Trout identified the band as the Stonewall Brigade Band. Grant responded with a murmur: "The Immortal Jackson". The Band also played at Grant's funeral in 1885.

On April Fools Day 1878, the band was sent a letter that the Governor had appointed them to play in Paris.[15]

In 1885 the band presented the daughter of Stonewall Jackson a wedding gift of a souvenir band roster printed on white satin.[16] The band and its war-time instruments were exhibited at the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago.

Gypsy Hill Park[edit]

The band has a bandstand in Gypsy Hill Park. The band performed in Gypsy Hill Park for Arbor Day, 1889.


Original members[edit]

The earliest records list fourteen original members:[17]

Original war-time members[edit]

These men made up the original, officially authorized Fifth Regiment Band:[18]

List of directors[edit]

Directors of the Stonewall Brigade Band include:

  • A. J. Turner (1855–1884)
  • F. R. Webb (1884–1892)
  • Francisco Touchon (1892–1892)
  • Thomas Prosho (1892–1893)
  • J. M. Brereton (1893–1904)
  • Thomas H. Beardsworth (1904–1922)
  • Martin G. Manch
  • Arthur Johnson (1922–1925)
  • Roy W. Wonson
  • William H. Ruebush
  • Josef Studeny (1940–1948)
  • John P. Swiecki (1948–1958)
  • Paul B. Sanger (1958–1966)
  • Raymond Borrell (1966–1975)
  • Robert N. Moody (1975–2018)
  • Kevin Haynes (2018–)


  1. ^ a b "History". Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 20 December 2015.
  2. ^ "The Concert". Staunton Vindicator. June 1, 1860. p. 2.
  3. ^ "Staunton's Stonewall Brigade Band". Archived from the original on February 28, 2015. Retrieved February 28, 2015.
  4. ^ "We call attention to the advertisement..." Republican Vindicator. June 4, 1859. Archived from the original on February 28, 2015.
  5. ^ John Overton Casler (1906). Four Years in the Stonewall Brigade. Appeal Publishing Company. p. 48.
  6. ^ "Deaths During the Week". Staunton Spectator and vindicator. October 29, 1909.
  7. ^ Marshall Moore Brice. The Stonewall Brigade Band.
  8. ^ Acts of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia. 3. p. 2583.
  9. ^ J. A. Hiner. "The Stonewall Brigade Band". Confederate Veteran: Published Monthly in the Interest of Confederate Veterans and Kindred Topics. 8: 304.
  10. ^
  11. ^ a b James I. Robertson. The Stonewall Brigade. p. 47.
  12. ^ The Civil War Paintings of Mort Künstler. p. 142.
  13. ^ Memoirs of Stonewall Jackson. p. 184.
  14. ^ "Reorganized". Republican Vindicator. November 19, 1869.
  15. ^
  16. ^ "Handsomely Done". Staunton Spectator. June 3, 1885.
  17. ^ Brice 1967, p. 4
  18. ^ Brice 1967, p. 27
  • Brice, Marshall Moore (1967). The Stonewall Brigade Band.

External links[edit]