For a number of months, I’ve been wanting to track down the site of Albemarle Barracks, but my travels across the Blue Ridge to Charlottesville haven’t offered an opportunity to take the time… until yesterday. There are lots of places in one particular area of “the ‘ville” that indicate the former presence of Hessians, but good luck finding anything among those places that tells you exactly where it was. You have Barracks Road, Hessian Hills, etc., etc.
Yet, the site of Albemarle Barracks isn’t to be found in and around these areas. In fact, the site is further to the west, maybe about 2 miles or so from Rt. 29. Regretfully, once you get to the general vicinity of where the barracks was actually located, there isn’t much to see… but then, maybe that is a good thing. Though horse farms dart the general area, and wooded areas are still here and there, the general location is closer to what one might expect to see at the time of the Revolution. It’s much more rural. Sure, pavement winds through the landscape, and modern homes dot the rolling hills, but… if you stand back from it, at just the right spots… and take in the scenery, looking west toward the Blue Ridge, you can, just maybe, get just a taste of what the Convention Army prisoners may have seen.
In a residential area (where the houses are not one on top of the other), there is a marker, placed in 1983 by the Albemarle County Historical Society, that let’s us know that something related to the Revolution was here.
There is nothing that would make the location of this marker obvious. No directional signs… no “here it is” signs… nothing, other than two boxwoods that flank the marker. It’s about as modest as modest can be.
… and maybe, for a burial site… that makes sense. Still, even as modest as it is, I can stand at the site and wonder what it must have been like here. I wonder what two Hessian ancestors (Christian Strohl being one of them) thought of the primitive site. I also wonder, with the two of them eventually settling in the Shenandoah Valley, if, in their travels (if they ever traveled to Charlottesville at all), if they ever stopped here to reflect on years past… or if they preferred to leave it all as a sour memory, and nothing more.
I’m also curious about those buried here. Are they still buried here, and if not, where were the bodies relocated?
By the way, Monday is the 233rd anniversary of the arrival of the Convention Army at Cambridge, Massachusetts, after having marched from their surrender at Saratoga, New York. They didn’t arrive at Albemarle Barracks until January 1779. Albemarle Barracks was the second of four stops for Christian Strohl… before the end of his time as a POW.