General Raleigh E. Colston

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General Raleigh E. Colston

Brigadier-General 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.

He was promoted brigadier-general December 24, 1861. In the
spring of 1862, he moved his brigade, composed of the
Thirteenth and Fourteenth North Carolina and Third Virginia
regiments, to Yorktown, and participated in the defense of
that post, and after the retreat to Williamsburg, in the
battle there 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.

After the battle of Fredericksburg, he was assigned, at
Stonewall Jackson's request, to the Third brigade of Jackson's
old 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, and
fighting desperately during the storm of battle which swayed
to and fro over the Federal works on Sunday morning.

On Sunday afternoon, he made an advance toward the
ford, in which his division, suffered severely. His
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
Virginia brigade commander, General Lee put a Marylander,
George H. Steuart, in command, and General Colston was ordered
to report to General Cooper at Richmond.

In October, he was assigned to command at Savannah, GA. In
April, 1864, he returned to Virginia, and was assigned by
General Wise to provisional command at Petersburg.

On the night of June 8th-9th the lines were threatened by the
Federal cavalry, and the alarm bells called out the home
guards, old men and boys, the regular troops having been
transferred to Lee's army. Immediately offering his services
to General Wise, he was ordered to take command on the line of
lunettes, which then constituted the major part of the
defenses, 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 resistance enabled
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
exploring expeditions 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

He passed the remainder of his days in the Soldiers' home at
Richmond, and died July 29, 1896.

Source: Confederate Military History, vol. IV, p. 586

Recommended Reading: Generals in Gray: Lives of the Confederate Commanders. Description: When Generals in Gray was published in 1959, scholars and critics immediately hailed it as one of the few indispensable books on the American Civil War. Historian Stanley Horn, for example, wrote, "It is difficult for a reviewer to restrain his enthusiasm in recommending a monumental book of this high quality and value." Here at last is the paperback edition of Ezra J. Warner’s magnum opus with its concise, detailed biographical sketches and—in an amazing feat of research—photographs of all 425 Confederate generals. Continued below.

The only exhaustive guide to the South’s command, Generals in Gray belongs on the shelf of anyone interested in the Civil War. Each Union and Confederate biography serves as an indispensable reference. RATED 5 STARS!

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Recommended Reading: Generals in Blue: Lives of the Union Commanders (Hardcover). Description: More than forty years after its original publication, Ezra J. Warner’s Generals in Blue is now available in paperback for the first time. Warner’s classic reference work includes intriguing biographical sketches and a rare collection of photographs of all 583 men who attained the rank of general in the Union Army. Here are the famous West Point graduates and the political appointees; the gifted, the mediocre, and the inexcusably bad; those of impeccable virtue and those who abused their position; the northern-born, the foreign-born, and the southerners who remained loyal to the Union.

Warner’s valuable introduction discusses the criteria for appointment and compares the civilian careers of both Union and Confederate generals, revealing striking differences in the two groups. A rare picture or photograph is priceless...Generals in Blue is that rare book—an essential volume for scholars, a prized item for buffs, and a biographical dictionary that the casual reader will find absorbing.

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 more of the best first-person accounts of marches, encampments, skirmishes, and full-blown battles, as seen by participants on both sides of the conflict. Continued below.
Alongside the experiences of lower-ranking officers and enlisted men are accounts from key personalities including General John Gibbon, General John C. Lee, and seven prominent generals from both sides offering views on "why the Confederacy failed." This volume includes one hundred and twenty illustrations, including sixteen previously uncollected maps of battlefields, troop movements, and fortifications.
Recommended Reading: Rebels and Yankees: Commanders of the Civil War (Hardcover), by William C. Davis (Author), Russ A. Pritchard (Author). Description: Davis and Pritchard have created a wonderful work that is sure to become a hit with anyone who studies the Civil War. This book uses words and a generous amount of pictures and photographs to tell the story of the leaders, both talented and flawed, that held together the two struggling armies in a time of chaos and devastating loss. Continued below.

Although many of the stories have been told in one form or another.... Commanders compiles this study in a single book that makes it very easy to compare and contrast the styles and techniques employed by officers of both armies. With this book, the reader will have a greater appreciation for both the Yankee and Rebel general and their respective contributions...I thoroughly enjoyed the book and highly recommend it.


Recommended Reading: Civil War High Commands (1040 pages) (Hardcover). Description: Based on nearly five decades of research, this magisterial work is a biographical register and analysis of the people who most directly influenced the course of the Civil War, its high commanders. Numbering 3,396, they include the presidents and their cabinet members, state governors, general officers of the Union and Confederate armies (regular, provisional, volunteers, and militia), and admirals and commodores of the two navies. Civil War High Commands will become a cornerstone reference work on these personalities and the meaning of their commands, and on the Civil War itself. Continued below.

Errors of fact and interpretation concerning the high commanders are legion in the Civil War literature, in reference works as well as in narrative accounts. The present work brings together for the first time in one volume the most reliable facts available, drawn from more than 1,000 sources and including the most recent research. The biographical entries include complete names, birthplaces, important relatives, education, vocations, publications, military grades, wartime assignments, wounds, captures, exchanges, paroles, honors, and place of death and interment. In addition to its main component, the biographies, the volume also includes a number of essays, tables, and synopses designed to clarify previously obscure matters such as the definition of grades and ranks; the difference between commissions in regular, provisional, volunteer, and militia services; the chronology of military laws and executive decisions before, during, and after the war; and the geographical breakdown of command structures. The book is illustrated with 84 new diagrams of all the insignias used throughout the war and with 129 portraits of the most important high commanders. It is the most comprehensive volume to any Union or Confederate general--and it can be found in here. [T]he photos alone are worth the purchase. RATED FIVE STARS by

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