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Near Charlottesville in Albemarle County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
Rio Hill 1864 Skirmish
George A. Custer Attacks a Confederate Winter Camp
 
Rio Hill 1864 Skirmish Marker Photo, Click for full size
By J. J. Prats, May 11, 2008
1. Rio Hill 1864 Skirmish Marker
 
Inscription. In December 1863, Confederate troops established winter quarters here. The approximately 200 soldiers, under the command of Capt. Marcellus N. Moorman, were from Stuartís Horse Artillery Battalion and were equipped with 16 cannons. The men built huts and their horses grazed on surrounding fields during the encampment.

While the artillery troops rested through the early months of 1864, Union Generals Ulric Dahlgren and Judson Kilpatrick raided Richmond in an unsuccessful attempt to free about 15,000 Union prisoners. Two minor diversionary raids were initiated at the same time. Gen. George A. Custer led one with approximately 1,500 cavalrymen into Albemarle County.

Custerís mission was to divert Confederate forces away from Richmond and to destroy Confederate supplies in Charlottesville as well as a key railroad bridge at the woolen mills east of town.

On February 29, 1864, a detachment of about 60 of Custerís men charged into the camped Confederates, burned huts and destroyed artillery equipment. Confederate artillery guns, guarding the camp from higher ground to the south, were fired into the melee. Mounted Confederate artillery troops formed a battle line simulating cavalry. According to some accounts, many men were armed only with sticks and
 
Two Civil War Trails Markers at the Subway Sandwich Shop Photo, Click for full size
By J. J. Prats, May 11, 2008
2. Two Civil War Trails Markers at the Subway Sandwich Shop
 
clubs.

Cannon ammunition stored in a Confederate caisson exploded within the camp just as more Union troops arrived. Amidst confusion and chaos, Custerís troops began firing at each other, then broke off the encounter.

Custer, thinking he was outnumbered, ordered a withdrawal. He burned the wooden bridge and a large flour mill near the Rivanna River before returning north toward Stanardsville. One Union cavalryman was wounded and two Confederate soldiers were captured during the skirmish. The only armed engagement to take place in Albemarle County during the Civil War had ended.
 
Erected by Civil War Trails.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails marker series.
 
Location. 38° 5.19′ N, 78° 28.356′ W. Marker is near Charlottesville, Virginia, in Albemarle County. Marker can be reached from Woodbrook Drive west of Seminole Trail (U.S. 29). Click for map. It is in Rio Hill Center, in a large case on the wall next to the Subway sandwich shop. The restaurant is on the roadway that parallels Route 29 on the western edge of the shopping center between Woodbrook Drive and Myers Drive. If you are heading south on Route 29, go past Woodbrook and turn on Myers drive. Then take the first right into the shopping center. Continue straight ahead and it will be on left. If you are traveling north, youíll have to turn left on Woodbrook, left into the shopping center, and then work your way through the parking lots back towards Route 29. Marker is in this post office area: Charlottesville VA 22901, United States of America.
 
Closeup of Drawing on Marker Photo, Click for full size
By J. J. Prats, May 11, 2008
3. Closeup of Drawing on Marker
“A 1864 drawing of Custerís cavalrymen charging into the Confederate camp.”
 

 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 4 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Rio Hill (here, next to this marker); Skirmish at Rio Hill (within shouting distance of this marker); Monacan Indian Village (approx. 1.3 miles away); Rio Mills (approx. 1.3 miles away); Albemarle Barracks Burial Site (approx. 2.8 miles away); Convention Army The Barracks (approx. 3 miles away); Proffit Historic District (approx. 3 miles away); Walter “Rock” Greene Albert “AP” Moore Gymnasium (approx. 3.3 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Charlottesville.
 
More about this marker. There are three illustrations on the marker. In the center is “an 1864 drawing of Custerís cavalrymen charging into the Confederate camp,” and to the right are portraits of General George A. Custer and Captain Marcellus N. Moorman. In the case surrounding the marker are a number of artifacts recovered from the site before the shopping center was built.
 
Regarding Rio Hill 1864 Skirmish. The word “Rio” in “Rio Hill” and “Rio Road” is pronounced “Ryo” locally.
 
Additional comments.
 
General George A, Custer and Captain Marcellus N. Moorman Photo, Click for full size
By J. J. Prats, May 11, 2008
4. General George A, Custer and Captain Marcellus N. Moorman
 
1. Marker has been changed
The Contents of the Display case have been changed, and don't match the description anymore. Note To Editor only visible by Contributor and editor    
    — Submitted August 10, 2014, by Bernd Henrik Franke of Gordonsville, Virginia.
 
Mule Shoe Photo, Click for full size
By J. J. Prats, May 11, 2008
5. Mule Shoe
“Mules and horses were used as pack animals and for pulling the cannons and caissons.”
 
 
Pocket Knife Photo, Click for full size
By J. J. Prats, May 11, 2008
6. Pocket Knife
 
 
Tent Grommets and Nail Photo, Click for full size
By J. J. Prats, May 11, 2008
7. Tent Grommets and Nail
 
 
Buttons Photo, Click for full size
By J. J. Prats, May 11, 2008
8. Buttons
Confederate artillery “A” uniform button and Union eagle uniform buttons.
 
 
Skillet or Pot Handle Photo, Click for full size
By J. J. Prats, May 11, 2008
9. Skillet or Pot Handle
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on May 14, 2008, by J. J. Prats of Springfield, Virginia. This page has been viewed 3,269 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. submitted on May 14, 2008, by J. J. Prats of Springfield, Virginia. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.
 
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