Monticello Guard

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The Monticello Guard was formed in 1857 and was descended from other military units that had served Charlottesville and Albemarle County from as early as 1758. The company served in the Meuse-Argonne and Chateau-Thierry sectors of France for most of World War I. It suffered heavy casualties in both dead and wounded.


The Monticello Guard succeeded the Charlottesville Blues, which was a reorganization of the Jefferson Guard (organized in 1832). The Monticello Guard was formed in May 1857, by William B. Mallory. On May 5, 1857, P. A. Woods was elected captain.

John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry

Brown was tried for treason against the Commonwealth of Virginia, the murder of five men, and inciting a slave insurrection. He was found guilty of all charges and was hanged on December 2, 1859, the first person executed for treason in the history of the United States. When John Brown had been condemned to death for leading the Harper’s Ferry raid, the Monticello Guard was ordered to Charles Town, VA and was there until after his execution. Capt. Wertenbaker had charge of that part of the cordon of sentries around the town immediately in front of the gallows.

Confederate service

The 19th Virginia Infantry Regiment service begins on April 17, 1861, at Charlottesville, Virginia, when Virginia secedes from the United States. Two militia companies, the Monticello Guard and the Albemarle Rifles, along with two companies, the Southern Guard and the Sons of Liberty, formed in front of the Charlottesville Court House. The Monticello Guard and the Albemarle Rifles were mustered into service on May 12, at Culpeper Court House. The other eight companies arrived later in the months.

The Monticello Guard, designed as Company “D,” 70th Regiment Virginia Volunteers was formerly known as Co. A, 19th Virginia Infantry Regiment, Pickett’s Division in the Confederate service. The unit served with the Army of Northern Virginia all the way through to the Appomattox Campaign (1865), including at Pickett's Charge (1863), where it lost 60 percent of its men. Of the approximately 1,600 men who served in the 19th Virginia's ranks over the course of the war, only 30 were left to surrender at the Battles of Sailor's Creek on April 6, 1865, just three days before Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union general-in-chief Ulysses S. Grant.

The nicknames of the companies of the regiment are as follows:

  • Company A: "The Monticello Guard" - Enlisted April 16, 1861, Charlottesville, Virginia. They were organized on May 5, 1857.
  • Company B: "The Albemarle Rifles" - Enlisted April 17, 1861, Charlottesville, Virginia.
  • Company C: "The Scottsville Guard." - Enlisted April 17, 1861, Scottsville, Virginia. They wore blue frock coats and trousers, along with white leather goods. *The blue was according to the Virginia Militia Regulations of 1858.
  • Company D: "The Howardsville Grays" -Enlisted April 19, 1861, Howardsville, Virginia. According to the Scottsville Register, published April 20, 1861, they were referred to as the Howardsville Blues. They left with Company C to join the war.
  • Company E: "The Piedmont Guards" - Enlisted May 20, 1861, Stony Point, Virginia
  • Company F: "The Montgomery Guard" - Enlisted May 20, 1861, Charlottesville, Virginia
  • Company K: "The Blue Ridge Rifles" - Enlisted May 20, 1861, Hillsboro, Virginia
Note: Companies A - F and K were recruited primarily from Albemarle County.

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Rufus Holsinger’s 1917 photo shows the Guard parading down East Main Street on their way to Camp McClellan, Alabama for training in trench warfare.[1]
The Monticello Guard was present at his execution in 1859.
1917-West Main Street Charlottesville.JPG

Aid to civil authority

Between 1895 and 1929, almost every major city in the United States experienced a streetcar strike. The Richmond strike followed on the heels of streetcar strikes in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1902 and Waterbury, Connecticut, earlier in 1903.

Richmond Street Car Strike, June-July, 1903

On June 17, 1903 conductors and motormen employed by the Virginia Passenger and Power Company went on strike in a dispute over demanding wage increases. The company responded the next day by attempting to run its cars using strike-breakers. The action precipitated riots, and by June 23 the Governor was compelled to call in the volunteer companies from around the Commonwealth, including the Monticello Guard, to assist police. After a month of rioting and disorder, troops were finally withdrawn on July 23, 1903.

Bluefields Strike

Richmond Strike

Roanoke Strike

World War I

World War II


Built in 1891, the armory stood next to "old" City Hall near the corner of 5th and East Market Street. It later became the city’s recreation center, after the Guard built another armory a block east on Market Street in 1937. Ironically, that building is also now a recreation center (currently known as the Herman Key Jr Recreation Center). The "old" Armory was torn down around 1970. The Market Street Garage occupies the site of both the armory and “old” City Hall.


  1. Web. Charlottesville Then & Now, University of Virginia Magazine, retrieved November 6, 2022.

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