The Tracy Family History
Three months after Guilford Courthouse, Cornwallis sent Col.Tarleton on a lightening fast raid into the middle of our country, Albemarle County. He hoped to rescue British prisoners there from Cowpens, and probably other battles. I have not researched this, but I am assuming that after the enemy troops evacuated the Barracks that this prison camp was then used for British prisoners captured in the Southern Campaign battles.
Also, Charlottesville was an important supply depot for the Patriots.
During the entire war this would be the first time that the enemy came to our people. We sent our people to war, but we were relatively free from attack in Albemarle County. Remember, the British controlled the port of Charlestown and had a string of forts, but they controlled little of the actual countryside.
The British remained in Charlottesville for two days, destroying war supplies which included: 1,000 firelocks, 400 barrels of powder, and a large inventory of clothing and tobacco. However, of historical importance was the fact that Tarleton also destroyed the public records.
The county records for the years 1748 to 1783 were greatly interrupted: Recreated years later, but not with the same accuracy. (Apparently, Tarleton did not realize that I was going to write the family history some 200 years later.)
Home of Mr. L. W. McVeigh
Tarleton moved so fast that he trapped in this Maxfield house, Colonel Walker and his guests, several members of the legislature, all of whom were taken prisoners.
Tarleton made a dash for Monticello to capture the governor, Thomas Jefferson. The British desperately wanted Jefferson. He did write the "Declaration of Independence!" An American spy rode ahead of Tarleton, warned our friend and neighbor who made his escape.
Richmond had become to risky so the legislature had been moved to Charlottesville.
(Green Mountain Neighborhood)
Home of Mr. Albert H. Morrill
It was to this plantation of “Enniscorthy,” that Thomas Jefferson made his escape and took refuge from Tarleton.
This was the home of Colonel John Coles II, who was the commander of the “Convention Troops” at “The Barracks.” Colonel Coles was an enthusiastic turfman, and owned one of the finest stables in Virginia.
You will remember the lady of the house at “Bleinheim,” Sally Coles. She was the wife of Andrew Stevenson, Congressman, Speaker of the House, and Minister to England. It was Sally who presented the Albemarle pippins to Queen Victoria. This was Sally Coles of “Enniscorthy.”
Albemarle County is on the east side of the
Blue Ridge. Augusta County is on the west side. As Tarleton does his destruction
in Albemarle, the fear was widespread that the British would continue their raid
across the Blue Ridge Mountains. (Again, it is the legislature that has the
greatest fear of the enemy. So fast do they flee that Patrick Henry was wearing
only one shoe.)
Tarleton is serious. He sends a spy into Augusta County to reconnoiter. The Americans counter by sending General McDowell with nearly 1,000 troops to defend Rockfish Gap. (Some of the men are armed only with rocks.)
With only 250 men, Tarleton decides not to force the gap. This is the only scare our people in Augusta County would have during the war-- for this was still frontier, always far away from British rule.
Old House at The Farm
Owned by Mr. George R. B. Michie
Home of the grandson and heir of Nicholas
Meriwether, Colonel Nicholas Lewis, whose wife was Mary. As Colonel Lewis was
uncle to Meriwether Lewis the explorer and one of the guardians of Thomas
Jefferson, they were in youth frequent guests in this house.
It was here that Tarleton in 1781, dashing up from the ford where the Woolen Mills now stand, turned and established his headquarters.
"Madam, you dwell in a little paradise," was his greeting to Mrs. Lewis, who acted with great dignity and courage."
Tarleton remained here during his one night in Charlottesville, sleeping upon the parlor floor and "wrapt" in his military cloak. Tarelton always suffered the privations of his men and did not sleep in a bed in the plantation. And it was on the next day, following his swift retreat, that Mrs. Lewis dispatched after him a servant bearing the lone survivor of her ducks, with the message that as he had taken the rest of her flock he might as well take this one too.
Note: Tarleton had scorched earth policy. The British really hated Jefferson. He had taken Virginia out of the empire by way of rebellion. Although the British still considered it their colony. They just had to put down the disturbances. On his Albemarle raid Tarleton burned plantation houses and fields of crop. Strangely, at Monticello, he ordered that "nothing be injured."
My family history web site has 79 chapters. If you would like to know more about the other chapters then go to my
Home Page www.thetracyfamilyhistory.net