He Served His Country Faithfully

Every successful army needs them, the dedicated few soldiers who will undergo any sacrifice to make the unit work. Audie Murphy said in his book, To Hell and Back, that every platoon needed three to four soldiers ready to kill without flinching. That is what he meant, that every military unit relied on those few who were very good at their craft and were ruthless in the execution of that craft.

Virginius “Jinny” Petty was one such soldier. At the Second Battle of Manassas, he was First Sergeant of Co. E, Fifth Texas Infantry Regiment. The Fifth Texas Infantry was known as  the “Bloody Fifth,” because of its high casualties at the Second Battle of Manassas. Jinny Petty was shot in the bowels and mortally wounded. Then as now, that was the worst wound, because death was certain and it would come slow. He was said to be the most dedicated man in Co. E. He had promised he would “go naked and eat dirt” before he would fall out of line on the march.

His messmate was W.H. McCalister. Mr. McCalister did not lie to 1SGT Petty’s family, as most soldiers did. He told the family that the First Sergeant died a slow death. “He suffered a great deal before he died,” W.H. wrote to the Petty’s family. But, his last request, wrote W.H., was to tell his friends that he “died for a good cause and that he was perfectly willing to die for he had served his country faithfully.” No soldier can hope for more than that.


Susannah J. Ural, Hood’s Texas Brigade, (Baton Rouge, La.: LSU Press 2017), p. 112.

2 thoughts on “He Served His Country Faithfully

  1. Irish I often think of today’s world specifically Ukraine. I wonder would our young people go to war against an invader with the grit and determination of the Ukrainians. Unfortunately, in watching our young people I have to assume that no they would not. Oh of course there are some who would, but I don’t think we could get the total cooperation of the nation that has happened in Ukraine. I just don’t see a lot of folks who would unselfishly and faithfully give their life for the good of all the people. Too much me first in our country


  2. Good point, Rick. But, I think we are okay. My last job in the Reserves was in a Reserve Drill Sergeant Battalion in Lafayette, La. We sent Drill Sergeants to help with Basic Training every summer. This was back in 2007-2008. The DS’s had an informal policy that they would not harass Trainees during the two wars. The DS’s respected folks who would volunteer during a time of war. Except for a couple of years, the Army met its recruiting goals or came very close to the goals. They *did* have to pay a lot in bonuses. But, every year, those brave young men and women kept stepping up to the plate. I would see them, many were over-weight, but they never stopped humping ruck sacks and working out. They had a lot of heart.


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