“The heroism and gallantry of the second Virginia regiment I cannot help particularly mentioning; they would do honour to any country in the world. It is universally believed they behaved the best of any troops in the field.”
— Virginia Gazette, October 17, 1777
The 2nd Virginia Regiment was initially formed as a voluntary militia unit known as the “Valley Guards” and included all Harrisonburg/Rockingham County soldiers. In 1858, The Governor ordered the “Guards” to organize as the 2nd Virginia, after which they were sent to Harper’s Ferry in response to John Brown’s Raid. Their mission: to assist in the entrapment of a raiding party and to secure the Armory.
The Guards were armed and left for Harper’s Ferry by October 17, 1858. When they arrived at Camp Hill (just above the lower town), they were ordered to cross the Potomac one mile above Harper’s Ferry, march downriver on the Maryland side, and take possession of the Potomac River Railroad Bridge. The Guards faced no opposition in seizing the bridge, and effectually cut off Brown’s escape route into Maryland.
The Guards remained on duty as regular soldiers from October 17, 1859 through April 1, 1860. During this time, the Guards helped guarantee that Brown and his companions (a total of five prisoners) did not escape. The Guards also witnessed the hanging of each of the captives following their trials. There were no casualties during this action.
2d Virginia Regiment: http://www.secondvirginia.org/2d_Virginia_Regiment/Home.html