Document Type


Publication Date


Department 1

Civil War Institute

Department 2



Mount Pisgah Church had long been a place where Orange County Baptists sought salvation and spiritual comfort. Wars have a way of turning such holy places into brutal scenes of killing. Although a battle was never fought on the sacred ground of the church, Pisgah witnessed man's inhumanity on 19 August 1862, when a firing squad executed three deserters from Brig. Gen. William B. Taliaferro's division of Stonewall Jackson's command - all of whom were conscripts from the Shenandoah Valley. Until that depressing afternoon, when veterans formed a hollow square and waited for the condemned, no deserters in Jackson's command had faced execution. In almost every instance, the convicted had received clemency or a lighter punishment for being absent without leave. What these three unfortunate souls discovered, as they knelt blindfolded in front of their caskets, was that the highest law in the Confederate army was not God's, but Stonewall Jackson's. [excerpt]