Colonel Edmund Berkeley (1824-1915)

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Edmund Berkeley was born on February 29, 1824. When six months old he was taken up in the arms of Marquis de Lafayette, who was then on his last visit to America.  Later he was a playmate in the White House of Mary Donelson, a relative of President Andrew Jackson.  Edmund Berkeley attended William and Mary College and inherited the Evergreen plantation from his father Lewis Berkeley. Edmund was guilty of marrying outside of the Tidewater aristocracy and married Mary Lawson Williams of Tennessee. Her father was a wealthy landowner and at her marriage gave her her choice of slaves or real estate and she choose the former. The slaves made the trip here with the bride and groom, the women and children in wagons, the men walking.The Berkeley’s raised 13 children at Evergreen. Get great bonuses on the site with free daily spins. Limited offer.


Some years before the start of the Civil War the chief industry on the plantation was a spoke mill. It was the first mill in Prince William County run by steam. Spokes were shipped to New York and New Orleans extensively, and at the time that it burned (shortly before the start of the Civil War) there were several thousand spokes ready for shipment. It was operated by white labor, with twelve houses for these families located close by the mill; the grouped houses had the appearance of a small village. The workers were all nearly from the North, and had no ties to the area; they went back after the mill was destroyed, as the times were too uncertain to rebuild them. In 1862, when the town of Haymarket was destroyed by fire by Union troops, Edmund’s wife, Mary Lawson Berkeley, offered these houses to the homeless townsfolk, and they were soon filled with refugees.

The 8th Virginia Volunteer Infantry

Before the start of the Civil War Edmund received his commission as captain of militia from Gov. John Letcher. He formed Company C of the 8th Virginia Volunteer Infantry. Company C was called “The Evergreen Guards.” The regiment was under the command of General Eppa Hunton of Warrenton.

Three of Edmund’s brothers also were officers of the 8th Virginia Infantry:

William N. Berkeley (1826-1907) Major: William formed Company D and was called “Champe Rifles.” He was wounded and captured at Gettysburg; he was later captured at the battle of Sayler’s Creek.


Norborne Berkeley (1828-1911) Colonel: VMI Class of 1848. Norborne was Major of the regiment at the start of the war and responsible for much of the early training. He was wounded and captured at Gettysburg.

Charles F. Berkeley (1833-1871) Captain, Company D. Charles was captured at Gettysburg; and later was captured at the battle of Sayler’s Creek.

Possibly no Confederate unit was so influenced by one family as was influenced by the Berkeley brothers. Historians refer to the 8th Virginia Infantry as the “Berkeley Regiment.”

Prince William County furnished four infantry companies and two cavalry companies. From an article from the Manassas Journal published on June 17, 1904:

It is highly probable that a Prince William farm is entitled to the record of furnishing a larger number of men than any farm in the Confederacy, the Evergreen farm of Capt. Edmund Berkeley having furnished twelve as follows: Capt. Edmund Berkeley, his son, Edmund who was wounded in the battle of New Market, George Mayhugh, Nimrod Mayhugh, Thos. Sidmonds, Greenberry Belt, George A. Belt, James Belt, William Fair, John Osborne, Uriah Fletcher and Andrew Fletcher. The last two were Pennsylvanians who were working for Capt. Berkeley at the time he raised his Company and were among the first to volunteer. Urish was elected 2nd Sergeant and was killed at Seven Pines while his brother Andrew was wounded and got back to Prince William and died.

The 8th Virginia Infantry fought in all the principal battles in Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. The regiment was almost annihilated at Gettysburg where after the famous charge of Pickett’s men there were only 10 men left of the 200 who made the charge. Edmund was wounded but was not captured.

Edmund’s son, Edmund Jr., was one of the wounded Virginia Military Institute cadets at New Market, VA when fifty-three out of two hundred and twenty five of the boys were killed and wounded.


After the war Col. Edmund Berkeley returned to farming and took a great interest in the promotion of peace. In 1911, fifty years to the date of the First Battle of Manassas, he delivered an opening poem at the Manassas National Jubilee of Peace. Confederate and Union veterans formed lines on the site of the battle and came together shaking hands. Later that day President Taft addressed the crowds.

At this time Edmund was the ranking Confederate of Prince William County and was frequently called upon as a representative of the “Lost Cause” for dedications and ceremonies.

In 1906 the New York Monuments were dedicated on land located in what is the Manassas Battlefield National Park. During this time Edmund Berkeley was Vice-President of “The Bull Run Battle Park Association.” According to an article published on May 19th, 1911 in the Manassas Journal:

This organization, after consultation with the committee of the Grand Army of the Republic and with Confederate Veterans, gave their approval to the bill now pending before Congress, known as House Bill 1330. This Bill appropriates $50,000.00 to be used in the discretion of the Secretary of War who is directed to purchase so much of the land surrounding said monuments as shall in his judgment be sufficient for the protection of the same and to enable the citizens of the United States to visit the same…

Colonel Berkeley was the “gentleman bountiful” of the neighboring farms, greatly loved by the children because of the merry jokes at his command and his pockets full of candy.

Col. Edmund Berkeley passed away at his home Evergreen at the age of 91.


© 2005 Evergreen Manor House Preservation Committee

Evergreen Manor House Preservation Committee
Box 962, Haymarket, Virginia 20168