Robert Emmett (or Emmet) Rodes[1] (March 29, 1829 – September 19, 1864) was a Confederate general in the American Civil War, and the first of Robert E. Lee's divisional commanders not trained at West Point. His division led Stonewall Jackson's devastating surprise attack at the Battle of Chancellorsville; Jackson, on his deathbed, promoted Rodes to major general. Rodes then served in the corps of Richard S. Ewell at the Battle of Gettysburg and in the Overland Campaign, before that corps was sent to the Shenandoah Valley under Jubal Early, where Rodes was killed at the Third Battle of Winchester.

Robert Emmet Rodes
Robert E. Rodes2.jpg
Born(1829-03-29)March 29, 1829
Lynchburg, Virginia
DiedSeptember 19, 1864(1864-09-19) (aged 35) 
Winchester, Virginia
Presbyterian Cemetery, Lynchburg, Virginia
Allegiance Confederate States of America
Service/branch Confederate States Army
Years of service1861–1864
RankConfederate States of America General-collar.svg Major General (CSA)
CampaignsAmerican Civil War
  • David Rodes (father)
  • Martha Ann Yancey Rodes (mother)
  • Virginia Hortense Woodruff (wife)
  • Robert Emmet Rodes, Jr. (son)
  • Bell Yancey Rodes (daughter)

Education, antebellum careerEdit

Rodes was born in Lynchburg, Virginia, and graduated from Virginia Military Institute in 1848.[2] He taught at VMI as an assistant professor until 1851; he left when a promotion he wanted to full professor was given instead to Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, who was years later to become one of his commanders during the Civil War.

Rodes used his civil engineering skills to become chief engineer for the Alabama and Chattanooga Railroad in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He was chief engineer of the Alabama and Chattanooga Railroad until the start of the war. Although born a Virginian, he chose to serve his adopted state of Alabama in the armed forces of the Confederate States of America (CSA).

Civil WarEdit

Rodes started his Confederate service as a colonel in command of the 5th Alabama Infantry regiment.[3] Rodes went to First Bull Run as part of Brigader General Richard Ewell's brigade, but did not see any action. In October 1861, he was promoted to brigadier general and assigned as part of Major General D.H. Hill's division.

Rodes's first combat experience happened at the Battle of Seven Pines, where he was badly wounded. A few weeks later, he returned to brigade command just prior to the start of the Seven Days Battles. He led his brigade at Gaines Mill, but two days later had to step down due to fever and the lingering effects of his wound and was subsequently assigned to light duty in the defenses of Richmond, Virginia while he recuperated. He recovered in time for General Robert E. Lee's first invasion of the Union, in September 1862, fighting at South Mountain and Antietam. At Antietam, he commanded one of two brigades that held out so long against the Union assault on the sunken road, or "Bloody Lane", at the center of the Confederate line, suffering heavy casualties. Rodes was lightly wounded by shell fragments.

Portrait of Robert E. Rodes (c. 1863 by William D. Washington

In the Battle of Chancellorsville, Rodes was a division commander in Stonewall Jackson's corps. He was the first division-level commander in Lee's army who had not graduated from West Point.[4] Rodes led Jackson's devastating flank attack against the Union XI Corps on May 2, 1863. He was temporarily placed in command of the corps that night when Jackson was mortally wounded and Maj. Gen. A.P. Hill was also wounded. Hill immediately summoned the more senior officer Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart, and minutes later Rodes grac