Civil War

The Charlottesville-Albemarle area escaped many of the large Civil War engagements that were ever so common in Virginia. However, despite the lack of any major battlefield, the area has a strong narrative pertaining to the Civil War.

Within the borders of Albemarle County, the Confederate war effort was aided with a large contingent of enlistees, the production of uniforms, the production of some sword weaponry and the manufacture of artificial limbs.

Recognizing the central location of Charlottesville with its two major rail lines, the Confederate authorities established a hospital in Charlottesville to tend to the war wounded. This hospital opened in July 1861, just in time to receive the wounded by railroad from the 1st Battle of Manassas. Treating nearly 23,000 patients during the course of the war, the deceased soldiers were laid to rest in a cemetery that still sits within the grounds of the University of Virginia. Just south of Charlottesville, Scottsville was the site of a hospital from 1862-1863 and still houses a Confederate cemetery.

While Confederate forces were in and around the area, sometimes using Charlottesville-Albemarle to establish winter camps, the first incursion of Union forces occurred in February 1864 when a cavalry raid was directed toward Charlottesville with 1500 men under the command of Union General George A. Custer.  This raid resulted in the Battle of Rio Hill. Mistaking the true strength of the Confederate presence, Custer decided to withdraw after initially capturing a Confederate encampment. 

The second incursion occurred with just a month left before the end of the war. Union General Philip H. Sheridan along with Custer, made a raid through Albemarle County in March 1865. In this raid, they accepted the surrender of Charlottesville and proceeded with the destruction of mills, major bridges, and railroads leading in and out of the city. Further actions included the disruption of the James River Canal and the destruction of industry along the canal.

Charlottesville Spotlight


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