Stapleton Crutchfield served as a Confederate artillerist in the American Civil War. He was closely associated with Stonewall Jackson until the latter's death. Crutchfield lost a leg in battle, removing him from service in the field. He returned to field service in the last campaign in Virginia, losing his life.
Stapleton Crutchfield junior was born in Spotsylvania County, Virginia on June 21, 1835. He attended the Virginia Military Institute, graduating in 1855. Jackson was one of his teachers. Crutchfield stayed on as an instructor of mathematics and tactics.
After the outbreak of war, Crutchfield served briefly as an infantry officer before becoming an artillerist. As a lieutenant colonel, Stapleton Crutchfield served as Stonewall Jackson’s chief of artillery in Valley Campaign, beginning on April 21, 1862. On May 23, he hurried guns to the front in the Battle of Front Royal, but they were able to do little with the available ordinance. Crutchfield saw service at the First Battle of Winchester on May 25, 1862, including carrying orders to MJ Richard S. Ewell. He was captured briefly at the Battle of Cross Keys together with Lt. Edward Willis, his assistant, on June 8. Ltc Crutchfield was back on duty the next day at the Battle of Port Republic, directing the guns, having escaped during a melee between his captors and troops from the 37th Virginia Infantry.
Crutchfield participated in the Seven Days Battles with Jackson's command. His artillery was at the head of Jackson’s column at the Battle of White Oak Swamp. His guns drove of federal gunners, permitting the Confederate infantry to cross the swamp, briefly. Union reinforcements, however, forced the Confederates to withdraw.
Crutchfield was promoted to the rank of colonel on May 5, 1862. He served under Jackson at the Battle of Cedar Mountain, the Second Battle of Bull Run, the Battle of Antietam and the Battle of Fredericksburg.
Crutchfield commanded the artillery reserve of Jackson’s corps at the Battle of Chancellorsville. He was wounded on May 2, 1863 when he brought up guns to fire on the Union batteries at Hazel Grove, losing a leg as a result. He was in an ambulance when Jackson, wounded by his own men, was placed in it too. At one point Jackson had the ambulance halted to ease his companion’s pain.
After recovering from his wound, Col Crutchfield served as an artillery inspector for coastal defenses beginning on March 16, 1864. Then he was assigned to command artillery units in the defenses of Richmond, Virginia, including the Chaffin's Bluff Defense Line. When the city was abandoned by the southern army, his gunners became an infantry brigade in the division of MG George Washington Custis Lee. In that role he lost his life at the Battle of Sayler's Creek on April 6, 1865, being shot in the head while leading an attack on the Union VI Corps.
Opinions of Crutchfield varied. Edward Porter Alexander thought him a candidate for promotion to brigadier general before the leg was lost, but Campbell Brown thought him "competent but lazy". A recent writer has opined that Jackson tolerated Crutchfield's tendency to sleep late because of his abilities.
- Brown, Campbell, Campbell Brown's Civil War: With Ewell and the Army of Northern Virginia, ed. Terry L. Jones. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-8071-2703-5
- Krick, Robert E., Staff Officers in Gray, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003.
- Sifakis, Stewart, Who Was Who in the Civil War, New York: Facts on File, 1988. ISBN 0-8160-1055-2
- Tanner, Robert G., Stonewall in the Valley, Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole, 1996. ISBN 0-8117-1708-9
- Tanner, p. 261.
- Tanner, p. 278.
- Tanner, pp. 376, 381, 388.
- Krick, p. 107.
- Campbell Brown's Civil War, p. 126.
- Tanner, pp. 165-166.