About James Henry "Little Jim" Lane
James Henry Lane (July 28, 1833 – September 21, 1907) was a university professor and Confederate general in the American Civil War.
He is considered to be the father of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and is the namesake of the University's oldest building, Lane Hall.
Lane was born in Mathews Court House, Virginia. He graduated from Virginia Military Institute (VMI) in 1854 and received a masters degree from the University of Virginia in 1857. He was a professor of mathematics at VMI and then of natural philosophy at the North Carolina Military Institute until the start of the Civil War.
Lane was commissioned as a major in the Confederate Army and assigned to the 1st North Carolina Infantry regiment on May 11, 1861. Promotions came quickly and he was a colonel and commander of the 28th North Carolina by September 15. In the Seven Days Battles of 1862 he was twice wounded leading his regiment. He served in Maj. Gen. A.P. Hill's division of Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson's Second Corps for Second Bull Run and received his own brigade following the death of Brig. Gen. Lawrence O'Bryan Branch at the Battle of Antietam. He was promoted to brigadier general on November 1, 1862, and assumed command of the 2nd Brigade in William Dorsey Pender's Division of Hill's Third Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia the following May, during the beginning of the Gettysburg Campaign.
At the Battle of Gettysburg, Lane's brigade fought on the first day (July 1, 1863) and Lane briefly assumed command of Pender's division following that officer's mortal wounding on the second day. He was replaced in division command by Maj. Gen. Isaac R. Trimble and returned to lead his brigade during Pickett's Charge, during which he was wounded when his horse was shot from under him. Over the three-day battle, his brigade suffered almost 50% casualties.
In 1864, Lane continued in brigade command, through the Overland Campaign and Siege of Petersburg. On April 2 at the Battle of Cold Harbor, he was wounded in the groin. In February and March 1865, he commanded Cadmus M. Wilcox's division. He continued to serve during the Appomattox Campaign, where he was paroled from Appomattox Court House after Robert E. Lee's surrender on April 9.
Lane returned to academic life, as professor of civil engineering and commerce at Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College (VAMC)—founded in 1872, name changed to Virginia Polytechnic Institute (VPI) in 1896—and from 1881 until his death, professor of civil engineering at Alabama Polytechnic Institute, now known as Auburn University.
Lane served as the first Commandant of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets at VAMC. Before resigning, he had an argument with President Charles Minor, who wanted the college to eliminate strict military restrictions.
Lane died in Auburn, Alabama, and is interred there in Pine Hill Cemetery