The winds of war came once again to Fluvanna County in 1861. The War Between the States, or as it is most commonly known, the Civil War. Troops were raised in three ways: from the regular army, from the militia, and through volunteer companies organized by influential citizens.
At least 11 companies were organized by influential citizens in Fluvanna. The first was organized by Palmyra lawyer Robert H. Poore and was known as the Fluvanna Rifle Guard. They became part of Company C, 14th Virginia Regiment. Major Poore was killed leading his men in Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg.
Captain Thomas K. Weisiger formed the Fluvanna Hornets. They were assigned to the 44th Virginia Infantry as Company F. Doctor Arthur Lee Brent raised the Sons of Fluvanna at Fork Union and his brother-in-law Cary C. Cocke organized the Fluvanna Light Artillery.
Captain Reuben B. Boston raised a company in Northwestern Fluvanna. He was killed two days before Lee’s surrender at Appomattox and became the last Fluvanna citizen to be killed in that terrible conflict. He is buried at Lake Monticello.
In a letter home, one Fluvanna soldier who was fighting Sheridan in the valley warned his wife of Yankee raiders. He advised that she not to leave the house under any circumstances and that she bury any valuables.
Fortunately, there were no direct confrontations in Fluvanna. The closest the Union soldiers came was to nearby Scottsville in 1865 where General Philip Sheridan and General George Armstrong Custer occupied the town and made their headquarters at Cliffside, a local home. From Scottsville, the troops destroyed the James River Canal. They destroyed seven bridges at Columbia and broke the lock there. In Scottsville, they destroyed mills, factories, and bridges. In Palmyra, they burned the covered bridge and two mills. The mill at Solitude Farm was spared only because the women, on their knees, pleaded that it not be destroyed.
Following the war, the United Daughters of the Confederacy raised money to erect a monument to the fallen sons of Fluvanna. As a bevy of little girls sang “The Bonnie Blue Flag,” the cornerstone was laid on August 23, 1901. It still stands today in the little park in front of the Old Stone Jail. For years, the Confederate Veterans would hold reunions there. These included much pomp and circumstance, complete with parades and speeches. The Village Green was thronged with visitors, citizens, and old veterans who greeted each other.
The last and most memorable reunion was in 1919 when returning World War I veterans joined the remaining Confederates at the monument in Palmyra.
During opening exercises each year, the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington still honors the Fluvanna native and Confederate soldier who was the first cadet when the school opened in 1839. John Bowie “Jack Alloway” Strange was reared at Oak Hill, located below Palmyra on the Rivanna. Strange rose to the rank of colonel before being mortally wounded in 1862 during the battle of South Mountain in Maryland.
From the Revolution to the Civil War to present-day, Fluvanna has played an important role in our nation’s history.
(Most of the material in this article came from a publication entitled Historic Fluvanna edited by David W.C. Bearr and published by The Fluvanna County Historical Society, pp 94-104)
Bill Jones – Fluvanna Country Historical Society