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The Fluvanna County militia was a component of the Virginia militia during the American Revolutionary War. It was based in Fluvanna County, Virginia for the majority of the war and only saw action near the end of the conflict, in 1781.

Size[edit | edit source]

The exact size of the Fluvanna militia at different times during the war is unknown. Local writings list the station of Revolutionary War units at six companies.[1] As of January 13, 1781 Thomas Jefferson knew there to be 260 men enlisted in the militia. It is known that Thomas Jefferson asked for one quarter of the county's militia, 65 men, to fight at Green Spring, West Virginia in 1781, near the end of the war.[2]

What is known is that Fluvanna was the site of Point of Fork Arsenal, a major center of arms manufacturing for the Virginia government during the Revolution.[3]

Origins[edit | edit source]

Like other county militias, the Fluvanna militia was formed as a local branch of the Virginia militia. It was led by Captain Richard Napier.

In order to join the militia, men were required to take a "Test Oath" renouncing King George III and pledging themselves to defend the Commonwealth.[4]

Known members[edit | edit source]

This is a list of known members of the militia and their rank, if appropriate.[4][5][6][7]

KNOWN MEMBERS
LAST NAME FIRST NAME RANK KNOWN SERVICE
Adams James, Jr. 2d Lieutenant Sep 4 1777[8]
Anderson Benjamin 1st Lieutenant Sep 4 1777[8]
Beckley John 1st Lieutenant Sep 4 1777[8]
Bibee William [8]
Cole James Ensign Mar 1778
Duncan George Captain Sep 4 1777[8]
East James
Ford John, Sr. Private[5]
Grant Robert
Haden Anthony Ensign 1779
Haden Anthony Captain April 2, 1779
Haden Joseph Captain Sep 4 1777
Haden John Mozeley 1st Lieutenant Sep 4 1777
Haden John M. Ensign April 2, 1779
Haden William Ensign April 2, 1779
Hall Richard 1st Lieutenant April 2, 1779
Hancock Benj. Ensign April 2, 1779
Haslip Henry 2d Lieutenant Sep 4 1777
Henry William Lieutenant Sep 4 1777
Johnson William Ensign Sep 4 1777
Johnson Walter Ensign
King Sackville 2d Lieutenant Feb 1 1781[9]
Lee Benjamin Ensign Sep 4 1777
Logan Alexander Private
Martin Benjamin Ensign Sep 4 1777
Martin Henry 1st Lieutenant Sep 4 1777
Martin John 2d Lieutenant Sep 4 1777
Martin William 2d Lieutenant Sep 4 1777
Mays (Mayo?) Joseph 2d Lieutenant May 6, 1779
Moore Jesse 2d Lieutenant Sep 4 1777
Moss Alexander 1st Lieutenant Sep 4 1777
Napier John Captain Sep 4 1777 — April 4, 1779
Napier Richard Captain Sep 4 1777
Napier Thomas Colonel Sep 4 1777
Omohundro Richard Ensign June 4, 1778
Quarles Tunstall Major
Rice Holman Captain
Rishardson Samuel Captain
Thompson George Major Sep 4 1777
Thompson Leonard Captain Nov 6 1777
Thompson Roger Lieutenant Colonel Nov 6 1777
Thurmond Thomas Captain Sep 4 1777
Tilman Daniel 1st Lieutenant Sep 4 1777
Tilman Daniel Captain Dec 3 1778
Tinsdale Thomas 2d Lieutenant Sep 4 1777
Williamson John 2d Lieutenant Sep 4 1777
Woody William 2d Lieutenant April 2, 1779
Wynne Thomas Ensign Sep 4 1777

Timeline of Events[edit | edit source]

1775 Capt. Thos. Holt was recruiting men in this County for several months.[8]
1777 Capt. Joseph Hayden's Company was in service about three months.[8]
17 — Capt. Saml. Richardson's Company was in service at Hampton.[8]
17 — Capt. Samuel Richardson's Company was in service at Williamsburg.[8]
1779 Capt. Samuel Richardson's Company was in service at Albemarle Barracks.[8]
1779 Capt. Joseph Hayden's Company was in service about Williamsburg.[8]
1780 Capt. Anthony Henderson's [Haden's] Company was in service at Albemarle Barracks.[8]
1780 Capt. Levi [Leonard] Thompson's Company was in service at Cabin Point.[8]
1781 Capt. Anthony Hayden's Company was in service at the time of Tarleton's Raid.[8]
1781 At least one of the militiamen was engaged in making gun stocks for the army.[8]
1781 Capt. Richard Napper's [Napier's] Company was at the Siege of York.[8]

Point of Fork[edit | edit source]

In May 1781 Baron von Steuben held the arsenal at Point of Fork, where the James River and Fluvanna River meet. Stationed at Point of Fork were elements of the 5th Virginia (Gaskins' Battalion)[10] as well as elements of the local militia. Von Steuben complained of the status of the militia found at Point of Fork, stating that there were few men and fewer provisions. Immediately, von Steuben set about refitting the 5th Virginia for deployment south with General Greene in South Carolina, this despite some controversy with the Virginia General Assembly after von Steuben's plan to reinforce the American armies in South Carolina was rejected for fear of leaving Virginia's rivers undefended.

By May 1781, Cornwallis was determined to break the back of the Virginians and sent Lt. Col. Simcoe and a detachment of rangers to capture Point of Fork. Alongside this effort was a force under Col. Tarleton's cavalry, seeking to sack the Virginia General Assembly, capture then-Governor Thomas Jefferson, and burn out any warehouses or potential stores for the Marquis de Lafayette and his army to use in pursuit of Cornwallis. When Simcoe reached the arsenal, he expected to surprise the American forces and seize the stores. Von Steuben, believing that Simcoe's detachment was a sign that the entire British army under Cornwallis was nearby abandoned Point of Fork Arsenal, leaving it to the British detachment as they made their way towards Charlottesville and Governor Jefferson.

Tarleton, after failing in his mission of capturing Jefferson and the Virginia General Assembly, "destroying one thousand new muskets, four hundred barrels of powder, several hogsheads of tobacco, and a quantity of soldier's clothing"[1] returned to Point of Fork to Elk's Hill, a plantation owned by Jefferson, thoroughly destroying the stores and wares, even to the point of slitting the throats of the horses on the plantation.

Von Steuben carried the large part of the blame for the abandonment of Point of Fork arsenal, to the point Virginia's General Assembly ordered an investigation into von Steuben's conduct. Von Steuben was adamant that the provisions and men were not as stated by the legislature, and given both the condition of his hurried preparations, the sudden arrival of Cornwallis, and his belief that the entire British army was nearby, von Steuben exasperation was summarized; "Every farmer is a general … but nobody wishes to be a soldier."

Further rising to the defense of von Steuben is the notable action of the 5th Virginia Regiment during the 1781 Virginia Campaign, despite the notable lack of clothing, muskets, bayonets, and other equipment. Despite this, the 5th Virginia pushed to within 350 yards of the British lines at Yorktown before Cornwallis surrendered on October 19, 1781.[7]

References[edit | edit source]

Bibliography
  • Writings of Thomas Jefferson, [2]
  • History of the 5th Virginia Regiment, 1781, [3]
  • 5th Virginia Regiment (pre-1780), [4]
  • The Virginia Campaign of 1781, [5]
  • Action at Point of Fork Arsenal, [6]
  • Siege of Yorktown, [7]
  • Pictoral Field Book of the Revolution, [8]

External links[edit | edit source]

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