Charlottesville, Virginia, General George Armstrong Custer, General Robert Edward Lee

Major General Thomas Lafayette Rosser – A Roommate Of General George Armstrong Custer, At The United States Military Academy, Who Fought Under General Robert Edward Lee Until Appomatox

On October 15th, 1836, Major General Thomas Lafayette Rosser was born in Campbell County, Virginia. The Rosser family would later move to the the Texas, the state from where Thomas Lafayette Rosser would apply to join the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York. While attending West Point, Rosser was roommates with future General George Armstrong Custer. Custer, who was from Ohio, nicknamed Rosser “Tex” since his family was from Texas.

After West Point, Major General Rosser served in the Confederacy and later for the United States Army during the Spanish-American War. Between those two wars, Major General Rosser was the Chief Engineer of the Northern Pacific Railroad and for the Canadian Pacific Railroad. On March 29th, 1910, Major General Rosser died in Charlottesville, Virginia and was buried in the Riverview Cemetery, that had been established eighteen years prior.

Albemarle County, Albemarle County, Virginia, Confederate Captain Marcellus Newton Moorman, General George Armstrong Custer, Jefferson Finis Davis, Kilpatrick-Dahlgren Raid, Stuart Horse Artillery

February 29th, 1864 – General George Armstrong Custer Leads A Calvary Charge At Rio Hill

On February 29th, 1864, General George Armstrong Custer led about 1,500 Union calvary members into Albemarle County, Virginia, for a diversionary raid, at Rio Hill, that was to pull Confederate troops away from the forces defending the outskirts of Richmond. As General Custer’s raid was occurring, Kilpatrick and Dahlgren were conducting a series of raids, outside of Richmond, in an attempt to liberate Union soldiers from the Libby Prison and to attempt to assassinate Confederate President Jefferson Finis Davis.

General Custer’s men destroyed the winter camp of the Stuart Horse Artillery. In response, about 200 Confederates, under the leadership of Captain Marcellus Newton Moorman, rallied for a counter attack against General Custer’s calvary forces. Since the diversion was successful, instead of continuing the engagement, General Custer had his men withdraw from skirmish in Albemarle County.

After the end of General Custer’s raid, what became known as the “Kilpatrick-Dahlgren Raid” ended up becoming an abject failure, since no one was liberated at Libby Prison and no assassination attempt was made on President Davis.

Brigadier General Charles Gustavus Ulrich Dahlgren, Brigadier General Judson Kilpatrick, Colonel Ulric Dalhgren, General George Armstrong Custer, Kilpatrick-Dahlgren Raid, Major General James Ewell Brown "Jeb" Stuart

The Kilpatrick-Dahlgren Raid Of Richmond

In 1864, Union Brigadier General Judson Kilpatrick devised a plan to send hundreds of calvary soldiers to liberate Union prisoners in Belle Isle, burn down the Confederate Capital of Richmond, and to assassinate Confederate President Jefferson Finis Davis. Colonel Ulric Dalhgren, the son of Union Navy Rear Admiral John Adolphus Bernard Dahlgren and nephew of Confederate Brigadier General Charles Gustavus Ulrich Dahlgren, and Brigadier General Judson Kilpatrick lead the Union forces during that calvary raid.

Sketch of Colonel Ulrich Dalhgren.

General George Armstrong Custer led a force to attack the Confederacy, outside of Charlottesville, as a distraction from the main Kilpatrick-Dahlgren raid in Richmond. Major General James Ewell Brown “Jeb” Stuart took command of the counter attack, against General Custer’s soldiers, after Stuart’s Horse Artillery was captured. General Custer withdrew his forces from the Charlottesville area after hearing train whistle, which he took to be Confederate reinforcements.

Outside of Richmond, the Union Calvary burned down various structures along the way to the city, but faced more resistance than expected. Ultimately, the mission failed as no prisoners were released, the City of Richmond was not burnt down, only buildings outside of the city were burnt, and President Jefferson Davis was not assasinated.

Author’s Note:

While reading the book, “Kill Jeff Davis”, which is about the attempted raid on the Confederate Capital of Richmond, I decided to visit one of the historical markers dedicated to that military action during the United States Civil War.

Athens of the South, Charlottesville Manufacturing Company, Charlottesville, Virginia, General George Armstrong Custer, General Philip Henry Sheridan, Henry Clay Marchant, Virginia Center Railroad

The Charlottesville Textile Mill, Within The “Athens Of The South”, That Was Accidently Burnt Down By Union Forces In March 1865

In 1795, a grist mill, a mile from Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, was established in the area around Moore’s Creek and the Rivanna River. In the early 1800s, locks and dams were built around the grist mill and the area became known as the “Athens of the South” and as the “Port of Piraeus”. After a textile mill was established by the Farish, Jones and Company, near the existing grist mill, the area later became known as the Charlottesville Woolen Mills. In 1852, John A. Marchant retained ownership of Farish, Jones and Company and renamed it to the Charlottesville Manufacturing Company.

During the course of the United States Civil War, the textiles produced uniforms for the Confederate military. In 1864, Henry Clay Marchant, the son of John A. Marchant, bought the Charlottesville Manufacturing Company. Towards the end of the war, during General Philip Henry Sheridan’s occupation of the city, the Union accidently burnt down the textile mill while attempting to burn down a railroad trestle, that had been built a few yards away from the mill for the Virginia Center Railroad in 1850. The same month that General Sheridan occupied Charlottesville, General George Armstrong Custer established a headquarters at a historic home known as, “The Farm”.

In 1867, a new brick textile mill was created, by the Charlottesville Manufacturing Company, and uniforms continued to be processed until the closure of the mill in 1964.