Fearlessly Into the Fight: The Life and Battles of Confederate General William Barksdale from the Halls of Congress to the Fields of Gettysburg

Current Stock:
J. Douglas Ashton
Pub Date:
Fall 2019
Hardcover, 6 x 9
55 images, 11 maps, 384 pp.
Signed bookplates:

eBook coming soon!

About the Book

William Barksdale, a prominent Mississippi attorney and newspaper editor, won a seat in the U.S. Congress in 1853. His pro-slavery views and vocal support for states’ rights earned the democrat national prominence and helped push the country closer to civil war. When his home state seceded in 1861, he was elected colonel of the 13th Mississippi and rose to brigadier general, leading one of the finest brigades in Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. His tenure as brigade commander ended during the early evening hours of July 2, 1863 at Gettysburg when he fell mortally wounded. J. Douglas Ashton’s Fearlessly into the Fight: The Life and Battles of Confederate General William Barksdale from the Halls of Congress to the Fields of Gettysburg is the first full-length biography of this larger-than-life historical figure.

Barksdale’s independent streak and challenge of authority was as evident in the school boy as it was during his tenure as a lawyer, newspaperman, Mexican War veteran, and politician. Although he reflected Southern heritage and values, his dominant and colorful personality, antics, character, and innate abilities set him apart from most men of his era. Barksdale’s speeches and interactions, including an infamous brawl on the House floor, highlight this turbulent period preceding secession.

As the Civil War progressed, the aggressive, utterly fearless, and fiery-tempered Barksdale earned the loyalty and respect of his men (known affectionately as “Barksdale’s Boys”) to become one of the most beloved commanders in the entire Virginia army. Under his capable leadership, Barksdale’s Mississippi Brigade was widely recognized as a hard-fighting reliable command. Its unprecedented defense in the face of Union bridge-builders along the Rappahannock River and the bitter street fight in Fredericksburg that followed are legendary. “Barksdale’s Charge” against the Peach Orchard salient at Gettysburg on the evening of the battle’s second day was described by eyewitnesses as the “most magnificent charge of the war,” and considered by many as the true high tide of the Confederacy.

Ashton’s Fearlessly into the Fight is based upon exhaustive research grounded upon a wide array of primary and secondary sources enhanced by in-depth analysis, original maps, and photographs. Readers will learn a host of heretofore unknown details about the remarkable life whose fame in the South and notoriety in the North gradually diminished until he became Mississippi’s forgotten son. The publication of Ashton’s fine study guarantees he shall be forgotten no more.


J. Douglas Ashton is a former materials testing executive and distinguished metallurgical engineer. His lifelong fascination with the Civil War began in 1961 at the age of ten with a visit to Gettysburg, and has continued unabated. Doug was a founding member and later Chairman of the Southern Ontario Civil War Roundtable, and served as a guest lecturer at Sheridan College. His deep interest in William Barksdale dates to the 1980s while re-enacting as a member of Co. B Benton Rifles, 18th Mississippi, part of Barksdale’s famed Mississippi Brigade. Now retired, Doug resides with his wife Sue in Port Rowan, Ontario. This is his first book.