Revolutionary Key Players
British Brigadier General Benedict Arnold
When the interior of Virginia became a genuine target of the British forces in January 1781, Arnold raided Richmond with ease. Chesterfield was stirred up like a hornet’s nest during the raid but was spared, though the militia at Britton’s ferry above Richmond assisted the removal of stores from the Westham foundry and the other Continentals and militia from the barracks and county were out into the field.
Archibald Cary of Ampthill
Influential writer, orator, and speaker of the Virginia Senate. Owns Cary’s Iron Furnace at Falling Creek and Cary’s Flour Mill. Key supplier for the war effort and also Army recruitment.
A free-born African American from Virginia who served as a soldier on the Patriot side in the American Revolutionary War. Born in Portsmouth, before the war he owned a prosperous livery stable. According to Continental Army, muster and payrolls, in November 1776 he served, under "Captain William Grymes’s company of the 15th Virginia Regiment", which participated in the Battles of Brandywine and Germantown and the Battle of Monmouth. Flora avoided being captured by the British in the 1780 Siege of Charleston when the majority of the regiment was captured. As his unit kept became smaller, it was consolidated, into the 11th Virginia Regiment and finally, into the 5th Virginia Regiment. Flora fought in the Battle of Yorktown in 1781.
Captain Frank Goode
The county was actively involved since the beginning of the conflict, raising Captain Frank Goode’s Minute Company that responded to the Governor Dunmore crisis and after, 1775-1776.
Col. Robert Goode
The county would raise 10-12 various companies of militia often under the command under the command of Colonel Robert Goode. They served in various capacities from guarding local depots and the iron mines to being on campaign. Members of the county militia fought in the battles of Camden, Guilford Courthouse, Petersburg, and Yorktown. Goode’s property, “Whitby” was just north of Cary’s property, “Ampthill” along the James River. In May, 1781, one militiamen wrote, “Cln Rob’t Good got leave of the Marquis to take the militia of Chesterfield County to watch and prevent the deprivations of the Enemy in that County. Coln Good quartered his men, the second or third night Tarlton and his troop got intelligence and attacked us in the morning…”
Governor Thomas Jefferson
The governor was in the saddle and directing the defense against Arnold’s Raid in January 1781. He would be present at Britton’s Ferry (Pony Pasture) when attempting to save the Westham Foundry and government records from Richmond.
Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette
French aristocrat and military officer who commanded American troops in several battles, including the Siege of Yorktown. Inspired by stories of the colonists’ struggles against British oppression, Lafayette sailed to the America in 1777 to join the uprising. He was initially rebuffed by colonial leaders, but he impressed them with his passion and willingness to serve for free, and was named a major-general in the Continental Army. In May 1781, Lafayette moves his army around Richmond and eastern Henrico, mostly at Wilton, keeping the James River between his army and Cornwallis, who arrived in Petersburg.
Major General Peter Muhlenberg
He was assigned to begin rebuilding the Virginia Continental Line at Chesterfield the summer 1780. “I hope nothing else will retard the Collection of the new Levies—The whole of the Old Soldiers at Chesterfield (:except the State Regiments & some Convalescents,:) are at present formed into five Companies of Sixty Men each, They would have gone on before this time, but there is a total want of everything necessary to fit them for the Field—there are neither Teams—Tents, or Blanketts, & it is but a few days since we have been able to procure Arms fit for Service.”
British Commander General William Phillips
Takes over command from Arnold in March at Portsmouth. A professional British artillery officer, Phillips was part of the British Army defeated by Arnold’s attacks at Saratoga in 1777 (while Arnold was still on the American side). In April, Phillips, assisted by Arnold, tore up Chesterfield County’s property, war materials and more.
Colonel John Graves Simcoe
British Queen’s Rangers made up of exiled Virginians and loyalist New Yorkers and other refugees. Included 200 infantry and 50 “hussars” (cavalry). They were the best light troops in the British Army in America and known as “destroyers of everything.”
Baron Friedrich von Steuben
Prussian who was Gen. George Washington’s chief-of-staff and served as a major general in the Revolutionary Army. In 1780, he trained the Chesterfield Militia at the Chesterfield Courthouse and is known as the great drillmaster of Valley Forge. He was assigned to serve with General Nathaniel Greene in the Southern Army. Greene left him to organize the “new levies” and defense of Virginia in the place of Muhlenberg. He transformed the Chesterfield Depot into a southern Valley Forge, December 1780-April 1781 but as a field commander, he was outmatched by every British commander – Arnold, Philips, Cornwallis. “You say to your soldier, ’Do this’ and he does it. But I am obliged to say to the American, ’This is why you ought to do this’ and then he does it.”
Colonel General Banastre Tarlton
Known as “Bloody Ban” or "the butcher" to the colonials due to his brutal tactics and actions taken at the Battle of Waxhaws in South Carolina, He leads the British Legion dragoons called “Tarlton’s Raiders” who raid Chesterfield Courthouse in May 1781. They capture militia troops during a rainstorm, and six are killed and 40 become prisoners. This action marks the last Revolutionary War combat in the county.