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Thomas Lafayette Rosser

1836 – 1910

Thomas Rosser was bron in Campbell County, Virginia, October 15, 1836. The family emigrated to the Sabine River country of Texas in 1849. Appointed to West Point in 1856, which at that time was a five year course, Rosser resigned on April 22, 1861, just two weeks before he would have graduated so as to enter Regular Confederate service.

He was appointed 1st lieutenant and assigned as instructor to the famous Washington Artillery of New Orleans and he commanded a company of this regiment at First Manassas. After being wounded at Mechanicsville, he was made colonel of the 5th Virginia Cavalry at the instigation of Jeb Stuart. He was wounded at Kelly’s Ford, but continued to lead the 5th Virginia until his promotion to brigadier general, September 28, 1863. Rosser succeeded Beverly Robertson in command of the famous Laurel Brigade composed of 7th, 11th,and 12th Virginia and 25th Battalion Virginia Cavalry. With these units he continued to win honors in the Overland campaign of 1864. In October of that year he assumed command of Jubal Early’s cavalry in the Shenandoah valley and was promoted major general November 1. Facing over-whelming opposition, his forces were defeated by Custer at Woodstock and Cedar Creek. After two successful raids into West Virginia, he returned in the spring of 1865 to the Petersburg lines. Rosser fought at Five Forks and the retreat to Appomattox where he refused to surrender and cut his way out. He was captured, however, and was paroled early in May.

After the war he acquired considerable means as chief engineer of the Northern pacific and Canadian Pacific Railroads. He later settled near Charlottesville, Virginia, as a gentleman farmer. On June 10, 1898 President McKinley appointed Rosser a brigadier of U S Volunteers and he donned the uniform he had taken off 37 years previous. Honorably muster out October 31, 1898, he died at Charlottesville, March 29. 1910, and is buried there in Riverview Cemetery.



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