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Abbreviated Stories

Friends George Armstrong Custer and Tom Rosser arrange to visit together for a few hours, taking a break in the war:         

Back in Virginia (after Gettysburg) in early August, 1863, an interesting incident occurred, bringing Tom Rosser and George Custer together. At the Lacy house in Falmouth, Virginia, 1st Lt. Samuel Harris and his Company A of the 5th Michigan Cavalry under General Custer, were constantly being fired at by Confederate sharpshooters. General Custer visited Harris at the Lacy house to see how things were going on Harris's picket line along the Rappahannock. Upon hearing Harris's report, Custer ordered Harris to send one of his troopers down to the river under a flag of truce to find out if Colonel Rosser was on the other side. If Rosser was there, he wanted arrangements made so that he could visit his old friend. Fearing complications, Harris went himself and asked for Rosser to come down to the riverbank and guarantee Custer's safe visit and return. Rosser met Harris, and agreed to the arrangement, saying, "Send him over," and ordered his troopers, "no firing." Rosser sent a boat to get Custer, brought him over, and the two friends had a good visit for several hours. About 4:00 p.m., Custer returned and reported, "Had a fine time over there."  


Footnotes enumerated in Savior of the Valley: The Life of Major General Thomas Rosser, CSA

Tom Rosser began the war as an artilleryrman in the famed New Orleans Artillery Battery. General J.E.B. Stuart took notice of him and had him transferred to his cavalry command as colonel of the 5th Virginia Cavalry. The Richmond Dispatch, on October 14, 1861, took notice of Stuart's brigade as it returned to Fairfax Court House. A reporter described Captain Rosser:


 . . . a strong, well-made, athletic man, something over six feet in height; a naturally dark complexion, browned by exposure; dark hair, eyes and whiskers; a full, expressive face; broad, massive shoulders, and limbs that show by their roundness and perfect development, the military training that has shaped them. The head is covered with a black felt hat captured from the Yankees, a navy blue sash belted around the waist, the light blue pants of the corps, with red cord, and heavy top boots, completes the simple costume. The tout exsimble [sic] of the man is decidedly picturesque. Imagine the blending of a Texas hunter with an Italian bandit--one of those glorious, noble-looking fellows [Spanish painter Bartolomé Esteban] Murillo has made famous--and you cannot form a very bad mental picture of him who is stalking with manly stride before me. As I have stated previously, his characteristics are very similar to those of General Stuart, his present friend and commander. Sagacious, vigilant, attentive to duty, well skilled in his profession, he is said to be the best artillery officer in the service, of his age.

Reference: Richmond Dispatch, October 18, 1861.

There is a detailed story in my General Thomas Rosser biography (Custer’s Gray Rival: The Life of Confederate Major General Thomas Rosser), being released in September, which tells of Rosser’s first serious romance. It seems that young Rosser, then attending West Point, was on his only furlough, heading for his Texas home aboard a steamer on the Mississippi. He met a pretty young lady name Ellen and was immediately smitten. Upon separating they corresponded. In early 1862, during the war, Rosser was dispatched sent south to New Orleans to recruit additional artillerymen. Well, this was the perfect chance to go see Ellen, who lived just outside of Fayetteville, Mississippi. Before leaving Richmond, he purchased a diamond engagement ring. Upon reaching her home, he knocked on the door, and when it was opened by a servant, he asked for Ellen and was shown to a waiting room. Soon, Ellen appeared, showing Rosser to a sofa, where they began chatting. Soon, Rosser pulled out he engagement ring, asking Ellen to marry him. Regrettably for Rosser, Ellen declined saying, “If you survive the war, you may come claim me.” Stunned, young Rosser at first would not take “no” for an answer, assuring her the war would be a very short one. Ellen persisted in saying “no.” Well, Rosser, never taking rejection well at all, decided to hang around a couple of more days to change her mind. After three days of trying to convince Ellen, Rosser finally gave up, having to proceed to New Orleans. They parted on a sour note–the relationship was over. Ellen’s last name was unknown until my further research uncovered it.

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