The last prewar encampment of the First Regiment of Virginia Volunteers was held May 22 to 25, 1858 at Camp Robinson in newly renamed and incorporated town of Ashland near the Ashland Hotel and Mineral Well Company resort, formerly known as Slash Cottage Hotel. The encampment was largely a social occasion where men practiced and then demonstrated their marching and maneuvering skills for the crowd and then adjourned to a fancy dress ball held at the ballroom of the Hotel company.
According to the Dispatch,
The Encampment at Ashland was visited yesterday by a large number of citizens anxious to witness a soldier’s life upon the tented field…the various company and regimental drills are as rigidly conducted as if the enemy were in the neighborhood, and a bloody battle was anticipated….In the afternoon, the members of the Richmond City Council, with other invited guests, partook of a collation, prepared by the officers of the regiment; and at night the ball came off…Ashland Hotel was brilliantly lighted with gas, adding greatly to the effect produced by the lovely faces, sparkling eyes and fairy forms of the scores of beautiful damsels, as they whirled through the giddy waltz, or participated in the no less exciting cotillon [sic]. From “The Encampment at Ashland,” Dispatch, 25 May 1858.)
Camp Robinson became Camp Ashland in 1861. We know from letters and diaries of soldiers and their officers that the Confederate government took over the Ashland Hotel property, the former Camp Robinson just west of town, and the Ashland Racecourse on the southern end of town from May until about November 1861. They named it Camp Ashland and began training soldiers at first. Eventually it was devoted to cavalry training. Not much has been written about Camp Ashland, and there has been little research. The letters of Captain Thomas Rowland and those of William Corson, member of the Cumberland Light Dragoons, are especially detailed. (See the post: A Soldier’s Life at Camp Ashland on this site.)
The list of calvary units below was compiled from letters, articles, and other information most of which you will find in the footnotes. It may not be a complete list. Also, most of these units were probably not yet associated with the regiments listed here. The regiments are listed for identification purposes. Many thanks go to historian Robert Krick with the National Park Service and Bruce Haynes of Hanover County. The lithograph is from A Richmond Album, by Earl Lutz, published by Garrett & Massie in 1937.
Rosanne Groat Shalf
List of Cavalry Units who trained at Camp Ashland from May to November 1861.
Col. Richard S. Ewell
Followed by Lt. Col. Robert W. Chilton
Colonel Charles W. Field, in charge next
Captain Thomas Rowland, in charge of training, Adjutant of Cavalry Camp of six companies at first and then a full regiment often (mentions having photo taken) [i]
1st Maryland Infantry [ii]
1st Regiment of Virginia Cavalry
Company G, Amelia Light Dragoons or “the Amelia Troop”[iii]
Company D, Washington Mounted Rifles [iv]
3rd Regiment, Virginia Cavalry
Company A, Boydton Cavalry (note)
Company G, Cumberland Light Dragoons or Cumberland Troop[v]
4th Virginia Cavalry
Company G, Hanover Dragoons (possibly trained at Ashland)[vi]
Company I, Governor’s Mounted Guard, from Richmond[vii]
6th Virginia Cavalry
Company E, Pittsylvania Dragoons or “the Pittsylvania Company”[viii]
9th Virginia Cavalry
Company H, Virginia Rangers[ix]
Company G, Lunenburg Light Dragoons or “the Lunenburg Cavalry”[x]
14th Virginia Cavalry
Company B, Charlotte Cavalry or “the Charlotte Troop”[xi]
Hampton Legion Cavalry Battalion from South Carolina[xii]
For more reading about Camp Ashland, see the following:
Ashland, Ashland: the story of a turn-of-the-century railroad town, Rosanne Groat Shalf, Brunswick Publishing, 1994. Available at the Ashland Museum or through Bell Book and Candle bookstore in Ashland, VA. Check the endnotes in this book for additional sources.
“Letters of Major Thomas Rowland,” William and Mary Quarterly, First Series, Volume 24, January 1916. These are not published in book form, but they are available at the Randolph-Macon College library reference section.
My Dear Jenny, by William C. Corson, edited by Blake Corson, Dietz Press, 1982. Bell Book and Candle may be able to order this for you.
[i] “Letters of Major Thomas Rowland, CSA, from the camps at Ashland and Richmond, Virginia, 1861, William and Mary Quarterly, 1st ser., vol 24, (Jan 1916):pp145-153, 232·238.
[ii] Goldsborough, William Worthington, The Maryland Line in the Confederate States Army, Baltimore, Kelly, Piet & Co., 1869. Available at NY Public Library, Library of Congress; Same, but added 1861-65 in title, published in Baltimore by Press of Guggenheimer, Weil & Co in 1900. Virginia State Library; Index to the 1900 edition published in Annapolis 1944, Publications of the Hall of Records Commission No. 3. Available at NY Public Lib; Booth, Geo Wilson, “Personal Reminiscences of a Maryland Soldier in the War between the States: 1961-65” Baltimore Press of Fleet, McGinley & Co, 1898. Available at Emory University in Geo, NY Pub Lib, University of Texas at Austin; Booth, Geo Wilson, “Illustrated Souvenir of the Maryland Line Confederate Soldiers Home”, 1894, published by the board of governors of the home.(photocopied) Available at Museum of the Confederacy, Richmond, VA; Howard, James McHenry, “Recollections of a Maryland Confederate Soldier and Staff Officer under Johnston, Jackson and Lee,” in Baltimore by Williams & Wilkins Co,1914, Massachusetts Historical Society (pp1-71 are concerned with his service in 1st Maryland Infantry.) Available at Museum of the Confederacy; Johnson, Bradley Tyler, ”The Maryland Line in the Confederate Army” 1883, SHSP xi(1883)21-6 at Museum of the Confederacy; Johnson, Bradley Tyler, Memoir of the 1st Maryland Regiment, SHSP ix (1881) 344-53,481-8; x (1882) 46-56, 97-109,145-53,214-23.
[iii] My Dear Jennie, William Clark Corson, Blake Corson ed., printed by Dietz Press 1982, p. 7; Robert Krick states that the Amelia Troop eventually became Company G of the 1st Virginia Cavalry, email addressed to Rosanne Groat Shalf on 5/7/2010; “A Guide to the Dept. of Confederate Military Records, 1859-1996, Series II: Unit Records, Subseries 2: Cavalry,” Library of Virginia, http://www.lva.virginia.gov/findaid/27684-s2subseries2.htm
[iv] 1st Virginia Cavalry, Driver, Robert J., 1991 H.E. Howard Inc, Lynchburg, Jones’ & Mosby’s unit was Washington Mounted Rifles and became Co. D. of 1st Virginia Cavalry P.210; 43rd Battalion, Virginia Cavalry, Mosby’s Command, Hugh C. Keen and Horace Mewborn, 1993, H.E. Howard Inc., p.2 : Mosby joined William E. Jones’s Cavalry Company May 14, 1861, the company was mustered into the Confederate army on May 30, became Company L of 1st Virginia Cavalry, joined JEB Stuart at Bunker Hill shortly after.
[v] My Dear Jennie, William Clark Corson, Blake Corson ed., printed by Dietz Press 1982, p. xxi.
[vi] Information from Confederate Rosters at Library of Virginia, Vol. 8, p. 391.
[vii] The Dispatch, 17 May 1861.
[viii] My Dear Jennie, Corson mentions the Pittsylvania Troop, p21: Robert Krick states, “the Pittsylvania company probably became Company E, 6th Virginia Cavalry,” email addressed to Rosanne Groat Shalf on 5/7/2010; “A Guide to the Dept. of Confederate Military Records, 1859-1996, Series II: Unit Records, Subseries 2: Cavalry,” Library of Virginia, http://www.lva.virginia.gov/findaid/27684-s2subseries2.htm
[ix] Robert Krick states, “the Virginia Rangers became Company H, 9th Virginia Cavalry,” email addressed to Rosanne Groat Shalf on 5/7/2010; “A Guide to the Dept. of Confederate Military Records, 1859-1996, Series II: Unit Records, Subseries 2: Cavalry,” Library of Virginia, http://www.lva.virginia.gov/findaid/27684-s2subseries2.htm
[x] “Letters of Major Thomas Rowland, C.S.A. from the Camps at Ashland and Richmond, Virginia, 1861,”William and Mary Quarterly,1st ser., Vol. 24, (January 1916): p. 150.
[xi] My Dear Jennie, Corson mentions the Charlotte Troop, p. 7; Robert Krick states, “Charlotte Troop could be the unit that became Company B, 14th Virginia Cavalry,” email addressed to Rosanne Groat Shalf on 5/7/2010; “A Guide to the Dept. of Confederate Military Records, 1859-1996, Series II: Unit Records, Subseries 2: Cavalry,” Library of Virginia, http://www.lva.virginia.gov/findaid/27684-s2subseries2.htm
[xii] Mays, Samuel Elias, “Sketches from the Journal of a Confederate Soldier,” Tyler’s Quarterly Magazine, Vol. 5 (July 1923): p. 30.