General Raleigh E. Colston
Raleigh Edward Colston
Brigadier-General Raleigh Edward Colston was born at Paris,
France, of Virginia parentage,
October 31, 1825. When
seventeen years old he came to America with a passport, as a
citizen of the United States, issued by Minister Carr, and
entering the Virginia military institute, was graduated in
He remained at the institute
as a professor until April, 1861,
when he marched to Richmond
in command of the corps of cadets.
In May, he was commissioned colonel of the Sixteenth Virginia
regiment of infantry,
at Norfolk, and was later assigned to
command of a brigade and a district on the south
side of the
James river, with headquarters at Smithfield.
was promoted brigadier-general December 24, 1861. In the
spring of 1862, he moved his brigade, composed of the
and Fourteenth North Carolina and Third Virginia
regiments, to Yorktown, and participated in the defense of
and after the retreat to Williamsburg, in the
and at Seven Pines.
He was then disabled by illness until December, 1862, when he
was assigned to command of a
brigade in the department of
Southern Virginia and North Carolina, and from January to
March, 1863, was in command at Petersburg.
the battle of Fredericksburg, he was assigned, at
Stonewall Jackson's request, to the Third brigade of Jackson's
division, and previous to the battle of Chancellorsville
was given command of the division, which was distinguished for
heroism on the 2nd and 3rd of May, participating, under his
command, in the onslaught made in the evening of Saturday,
fighting desperately during the storm of battle which swayed
to and fro over the Federal works on Sunday morning.
Sunday afternoon, he made an advance toward the United
States ford, in which his division, suffered severely.
division lost at Chancellorsville 1,860 men out of about 6,000
including 8 brigade
commanders, 3 of whom were killed.
General Colston rendered especially valuable services in
rallying the men under
the terrific fire of the enemy's
artillery, after Jackson
fell, and again on Sunday morning
after the Federal forces had reoccupied their intrenchments.
In the latter part
of May, on account of the objection of the
colonels of North Carolina regiments to service under a
commander, General Lee put a Marylander,
George H. Steuart, in command, and General Colston was ordered
to General Cooper at Richmond.
In October, he was assigned to command at Savannah,
April, 1864, he returned to Virginia,
and was assigned by
General Wise to provisional command at Petersburg.
the night of June 8th-9th the lines were threatened by the
Federal cavalry, and the alarm bells called out the home
old men and boys, the regular troops having been
transferred to Lee's army. Immediately offering his services
Wise, he was ordered to take command on the line of
lunettes, which then constituted the major part of the
with the injunction to hold out until Wise could
bring up his reserves.
Colston joined Major Archer, who had less
than 200 at the
point attacked, and skillfully directed the desperate defense,
holding his position until almost surrounded,
when he made an
orderly retreat, in which he seized a musket and fought with
his men. The time gained by this gallant
Graham's battery and Dearing's cavalry to come up in time to
rout the Federal column, which was
about to occupy the city.
In July, General Colston was assigned to command of the post
at Lynchhurg, where he remained
until the surrender.
Subsequently, he was engaged in lecturing and in the conduct of
a military academy at Wilmington, N.C., until 1873, when he
entered the military service
of the Khedive of Egypt, in which
he remained until 1879, meanwhile conducting two important
to the Soudan.
During his last expedition, he was paralyzed, and was carried
hundreds of miles across the desert
on a litter. Returning to
Virginia, he engaged in literary work and lecturing, and from
1882 to 1894 held a position in the war department at
passed the remainder of his days in the Soldiers' home at
and died July 29, 1896.
Source: Confederate Military History, vol. IV, p. 586
Generals in Gray: Lives of the Confederate Commanders. Description: When Generals in Gray was published in 1959, scholars and critics
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Recommended Reading: Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, Volume
6 (Battles & Leaders of the Civil War) (632 pages) (University of Illinois Press) (May 30, 2007). Description: Sifting
carefully through reports from newspapers, magazines, personal memoirs, and letters, Peter Cozzens' Volume 6 brings readers
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Recommended Reading: Rebels
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Davis and Pritchard have created a wonderful work that is sure to become a hit with anyone who studies the Civil War. This
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of the stories have been told in one form or another.... Commanders compiles this study in a single book that makes
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Civil War High Commands (1040 pages) (Hardcover). Description: Based on nearly five decades
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reference work on these personalities and the meaning of their commands, and on the Civil War itself. Continued below.
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