VMI Alumni and Faculty General Officers

VMI Alumni and Faculty General Officers


Biographical sketches~ 1861-1865

Stories about VMI Alumni and Faculty General Officers

Raleigh E. Colston, Class of 1846

    • Biographical Information

      Early Life
      Raleigh Edward Colston, b. Paris, France on October 31, 1825. Adopted son of Dr. Raleigh Edward Colston (1796-1881) and his wife Maria Theresa, Duchess of Valmey (ca. 1775-1845). The young Colston was sent to the United States in 1842, in care of his uncle Edward Colston of Berkeley Co. [West] Virginia, to complete his education.

      VMI record
      Entered VMI on July 8, 1843; was graduated on July 4, 1846, standing 4th in a class of 14.

      Louise Meriwether Bowyer of "Thorn Hill," Rockbridge Co., Virginia. Two daughters: Mary Frances and Louise Elizabeth.

      Pre-Civil War
      Professor of French at VMI from 1846 until outbreak of war. In November 1859, he accompanied a contigent of VMI cadets assigned to guard duty at the execution of abolitionist John Brown.

      Civil War
      Commissioned Col. 16th Virginia Infantry Regiment; 1862 Dec. appointed Brigadier General and led brigade under Longstreet in the Peninsula; given brigade under Jackson in April 1863 and commanded a division at Chancellorsville; served under Beauregard in defense of Petersburg in 1864; in command at Lynchburg at end of war.

      Established military school in North Carolina;Colonel Egyptian army, 1873-1879; War Dept. clerk, 1882-1894; died 1896, at Soldiers' Home, Richmond, VA; Buried: Hollywood Cemetery
      Richmond city
      Virginia, USA

      • Professor French & Military Science Virginia Military Institute, Brigadier General Confederate States Army, Colonel Egyptian Army. He was born in Paris, France, coming to the United States in 1842. The adopted son of a Virginia physician, he entered the Virginia Military Institute, graduating 4 years later. He then joined the faculty of his alma mater as a professor of French and Military Science, remaining there until 1861. When the war began, he was appointed Colonel of the 16th Virginia. On December 24, 1861, he received promotion to Brigadier General and command of a brigade of 3 regiments. During the Peninsula Campaign he served in Major General James Longstreet's command. For his service at Williamsburg, he received a mild commendation in the reports, but for his disputed role at Seven Pines, he was mildly rebuked. After Seven Pines he was stricken with a long and obscure illness, leaving the army until December. In Spring 1863 Major General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson chose his old VMI colleague to command Brigadier General William B. Taliaferro's brigade. He was the senior Brigadier of the Stonewall Division and, when its commander, Major General Isaac Trimble, could not return to command because of a crippling wound, he assumed command divisional leadership. With limited combat experience, and having been with the division less than a month, he led it at Chancellorsville. Because of his performance there, he was relieved of his command on May 20, 1863. Assigned to General P.G.T. Beauregard at Petersburg, Virginia, he served under him during the operations there in 1864. At the end of the war, he was commanding Confederate forces at Lynchburg. After the war, he joined the Egyptian army as a Colonel. Badly crippled in a fall from a camel, he returned to the United States in 1879. He died impoverished in the Confederate Soldiers' Home in Richmond, Virginia. (bio by: Ugaalltheway)
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