Battle of Rio Hill

The Battle of Rio Hill was a skirmish in the American Civil War in which Union cavalry raided a Confederate camp in Albemarle County, Virginia.

In the early afternoon of February 28, 1864, Union Brig. Gen. George A. Custer and 1,500 Union soldiers advanced towards Charlottesville. This raid was an attempt by the Union to divert attention toward Charlottesville while a separate attempt was made to free prisoners of war being held in Richmond.

Custer's orders were to destroy a railroad bridge across the Rivanna River. His only opposition came from Confederate Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart's "Horse Company" stationed in a camp near the Rivanna River at Carrsbrook. Custer's men raided the camp under fire from Confederate forces commanded by Capt. R. Preston Chew and Captain Marcellus N. Moorman. The Federal troopers looted the camp and set fire to it, after capturing two Confederate soldiers. During the raid, one of the Confederate caissons exploded, and Custer became confused believing that the explosion was actually the reopening of enemy artillery fire. His men fired into each other and then fled from the camp. The Confederate troops regrouped and chased Custer out of Albemarle.

Custer and Philip Sheridan returned to Charlottesville in 1865 and occupied the town from March 3 to March 7, a month before the Army of Northern Virginia surrendered at Appomattox.

Burning a Bridge on the Rivanna February 1864 by Alfred R. Waud

"Burning a bridge on the Rivanna, Feb. 1864" by Alfred R. Waud. Waud, a well-known newspaper artist, accompanied Custer's expedition. He sketched this drawing of the burning of the bridge over the Rivanna River at Rio Mills by Custer's men.