top of page

Britons for Virginia!

Webmaster's Note: One of the most frequently visited articles of our site is 'CSS Alabama - Crew of the British Isles'. The following is a composite of short entries that appeared around 1990 in 2 editions of 'Crossfire', about Britons serving in Virginia Infantry regiments of the Confederate army. Though the sources of this material have not been confirmed, they are published here for interest to genealogists of Brits in the Civil War.


American Civil War Round Table UK / UK Heritage / John Dunlop

ohn DUNLOP(1) Born in England in 1833.

He was related to a major Petersburg tobacco family and enlisted there on April 25 1861 as a private in Co. C, 12th Virginia Infantry. He was apparently known as ‘English John’ because of his accent. On May 28 1862 he was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant and became ADC to General Lewis Armistead, who commended him in his report on the Seven Days for being ''especially much exposed in carrying orders". Dunlop resigned on February 7 1863. After the war he was a lawyer and served as counsel to Louis Ginter, a famous Richmond tobacconist. He died in 1901.

Donald FRAYSER Born Scotland.

A Clerk, he enlisted as a substitute(2) at Richmond on 15 September 1861, as a Private in Company I, 1st Virginia Infantry – aged 25. Discharged on March 17 1862 on a surgeon’s certificate.

William Brandon GALE( 1) Born on November 4 1838 at Great Cheverel, Wiltshire.

He was educated in England, specialising in music and literature. He emigrated to South America and thence to Norfolk, Virginia. There he went into business and also taught music, being known as Professor Gale.

He enlisted at Norfolk on April 19 1861 as a private in Co. H, 12th Virginia. From November 1861 to April 1862 he was detailed to work in a flourmill. On August 1 1862 he was designated regimental musician; he also served as unofficial assistant chaplain to the 12th before being discharged on August 25 1864 as a British citizen(3).

William GIBSON Born in Dumfries,

He enlisted on April 19 1861 as a Private in Co. A, 1st Virginia. Infantry (redesignated as Co.G, 12th Virginia, Infantry) - aged 34. Discharged on August 8 1862.


Another 34 year-old from Dumfries, with service record identical to William Gibson, above. Wounded in June 1862. Also discharged (as over-aged) on August 8 1862.

Thomas MIDDLETON Born in Yorkshire in 1839.

His parents brought him to America in 1848. A farmer, he enlisted on June 15 1861 in Clover Hill District, Chesterfield Co., as 1st Sgt., Co.D, 41st Virginia Infantry. Absent on special duty in Oct. 1861. Re-enlisted for the war in March 1862 and received $50 bounty. Was left behind, sick, at the camp at Drewry's Bluff when the regiment moved to Richmond. In the General Hospital at Camp Winder, Richmond, from June 26 - July 5 1862, suffering from asthma. 2nd Lieutenant: July 1862. Discharged later the same month.

Henry PALMER Born in Staffordshire in 1827.

A Miner with the Clover Hill Coal Co. in Virginia, and married, with two children. He enlisted June 15 1861 in Clover Hill District, as a Private in Company D, 41st Virginia Infantry. Refused to reenlist in March 1862, claiming to be over-aged. Drafted back April 11. Deserted June 18 1862. Returned to duty on an unknown date. Discharged in September 1862.


Enlisted in Chesterfield County on 15 June 1861 as a Private in Co. D, 41ast Virginia Infantry. Refused to re-enlist in March 1862 because he was a British subject. Deserted on 25 June 1862

John PICKUP Born in England.

Enlisted at Jerusalem, Virginia, on May 11 1861 as a Private in Co. G, 3rd Virginia Infantry - aged 38. Sergeant: 1862. Entered Chimborazo Hospital on June 10 1862, suffering from remittent fever in the General Hospital at Liberty in November & December 1862. Later served as a nurse during 1863 & 1864. Died in Meeklenburg Co. in 1895.

John PULLING Born in England.

A saddler, he enlisted as a substitute at Richmond on June 5 1863, as a Private in Co.I, 1st Virginia Infantry - aged 50. Had two fingers missing from his left hand (a pre-war amputation). Placed on detached service with the guard at the Richmond Armory in August 1864. Admitted to General Hospital No.9 at Richmond on January 11 1865. Discharged on disability.

John SHANKS Born in Glasgow.

A plumber, he enlisted on April 19 1861 as a Private in Co.A, 1st Virginia. Infantry (redesignated as Co.G, 12th Virginia Infantry - aged 29. Discharged on disability on July 15 1862.

James B. SMITH Born in Halifax.

Discharged from the 2nd U.S. Artillery Band in 1849 (was a cornetist). Leader of the Richmond Armory Band from about 1853 to 1860. Enlisted on April 21 1861 as a Private in Co.I, 1st Virginia Infantry aged 45. Detached to serve as 1st Sgt. and Leader of Regimental Band. Discharged in 1862 as over-age. Died at Richmond on November 18 1886.

James TATE Born in Edinburgh.

Cabinetmaker. Enlisted on April 21 1861 as a Private in Co.B, 1st Virginia. Infantry - aged 18. Discharged on May 30 1862.

David WILSON Born in Edinburgh.

A painter. Enlisted on April 19 1861 as a Private in Co.A, 1st Virginia. Infantry (redesignated as Co.G, 12th Virginia. Infantry) - aged 35. Wounded in June 1862. Discharged on August 8 1862. Elected 2nd Lieutenant. of Co.H, 3rd Virginia Infantry, Local Defence Troops, on February 19 1864. Elected 1st Lieutenant on September 23 1864. Took the amnesty oath at Richmond on April 19 1865.


1. 'Crossfire' No.35 - March 89

All other entries: 'Crossfire' No.39 - 1990

2. The practice of hiring a substitute to avoid conscription was widespread in both North and South, where it had produced the bitter slogan "rich man’s war, poor man’s fight". Substitution was ended in the Confederacy during December 1863. Source: James M McPherson ‘Battle Cry of Freedom’ 1988.

3. The British Consuls remaining in Charleston and Savannah had directly advised British subjects serving in the Confederate forces to lay down their arms if they met US soldiers. Source: Dean B. Mahin – ‘One War at a Time’ 1999

Recent Posts

See All


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page