Home to Stonewall Jackson before the Civil War and to Robert E. Lee after, Lexington (founded in 1778) retains much of its 19th century charm. Located near the bottom of the Shenandoah Valley, the small town produced many soldiers who would fight and die during the Civil War.
Jackson taught at the Virginia Military Institute, “West Point of the South,” for ten years prior to the war. In April of 1861 he led the VMI Cadets to Richmond to begin training. He would not return to Lexington until his burial in 1863.
In May 1864 the VMI Cadet Corps marched from Lexington to New Market to assist in the defeat of the Union army at the Battle of New Market. One month later, Union General David Hunter led the now infamous Hunter’s Raid through Lexington, burning and shelling VMI and ransacking nearby Washington College.
After the war, Robert E. Lee served as President of Washington College. After his death in 1870, the college was renamed Washington and Lee University in his honor.
Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson are both buried in Lexington, Lee in the Chapel that bears his name, and Jackson in Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery.