William T Robins

William T Robins

Civil War (Confederate) · Confederate Army
Civil War (Confederate) (1861 - 1865)

Confederate Army

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Conflict Period

Civil War (Confederate)

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Twenty-fourth Cavalry

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Served For

United States of America

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Stories about William T Robins

William Todd Robins

    The ranks of the veterans of the great war between the States are thinning with fearful rapidity. The Confederate veterans have illustrated, no less in the peaceful avocations of life than on the battlefield, that heroism which astonished the world. When the end came and all hope seemed crushed, they returned to their desolated homes, and by patient industry built up the waste places. They had no government to pension them. The same men who, amid screaming shells and hissing bullets, had carried the banner of constitutional freedom to so many victories, went to the peaceful pursuits of life with such indomitable patience and quiet industry, that ere a generation had passed their beloved Southland began to bloom and blossom like the rose. As we contemplate the heroic lives and the honored graves of such men we can say—

    On fame's eternal camping ground
    Their silent tents are spread,
    And Glory guards with solemn round
    The bivouac of the dead.

    Among these heroic men, William Todd Robins bore no inconspicuous part. Born at the home of his maternal grandfather in the county of King and Queen, on the 22d day of November, 1835, he was in his twenty-sixth year when the War between the States [276] began. His father was Agustine Warner Robins, of Gloucester county, Va. He was a lineal decendant of John Robins, who came to Virginia in 1622. This John Robins was a member of the House of Burgesses in 1646. In 1642 there had been patented to him 3,000 acres of land in Gloucester county. The peninsula between the Ware and Severn Rivers is still known as ‘Robins' Neck.’ Agustine Wrner Robins at one time represented Gloucester in the Legislature. The mother of the subject of this sketch was from King and Queen county, and died at his birth. He was reared at the old Robins homestead, ‘Level Green,’ in Gloucester, by his grandfather, William Robins.

    When the first tocsin of war sounded in 1861, William Todd Robins enlisted as a private soldier in the Lee Rangers—a cavalry company recruited by W. H. F. Lee, who was its first captain. The company was attached to the Ninth Regiment of the Virginia Cavalry, of which Captain Lee became the Colonel. In January, 1862, William Todd Robins was made sergeant-major of the regiment. In April, 1862, he became its adjutant, with the rank of first lieutenant. In October, 1862, he was made assistant adjutant-general and chief of staff of Brigadier-General W. H. F. Lee, with the rank of captain. In August, 1863, he was made the commander of the Forty-eighth Battalion of Virginia Cavalry, with the rank of lieutenant-colonel, and in January, 1864, he was made the colonel of the Twenty fourth Regiment of Virginia Cavalry. Colonel Robins had eight horses shot under him in battle, and was wounded three times. He was riding by the side of Captain Latane when he (Latane) was killed.

    In his report of the celebrated ride around McClellan's army, Colonel Lee says: ‘I should like to call your attention to the conduct of my adjutant, Lieutenant W. T. Robins, who conducted in a very handsome manner the advance of my regiment when it was in front, and the rear when it was in the rear. He was also in both of the charges.’ General Stuart, in his report, says: ‘The regiment in front was the Ninth Virginia Cavalry (Colonel W. H. F. Lee), whose advance guard, entrusted to the command of the adjutant (Lieutenant Robins) did admirable service. Lieutenant Robins handled it in the most skilful manner, managing to clear the way for the march with little delay, and infusing by a sudden dash at a picket such wholesome terror that it never paused to take [277] a second look. On, on, dashed Robins—here skirting a field, there leaping a fence or ditch and clearing the woods beyond. First-Lieutenant W. T. Robins, adjutant of the Ninth Virginia Cavalry, would be a valuable addition to the regular army.’

    In the famous charge at Samaria Church, on the 24th of June, 1864, Colonel Robins was wounded. It was there that, with eight companies from the Twenty-fourth Regiment, dismounted from their horses, he led a charge on the enemy, heavily entrenched in a pine woods. The entrenchments were scaled and the enemy driven out. A captain in the Federal army told the writer that a division of men were behind those entrenchments. If Colonel Robins' modesty had not equaled his valor, that charge would have immortalized him. He took it merely as a matter of course. The writer served with Colonel Robins, and can testify of his own knowledge of his gallantry and devotion.

    He was twice married, first to Miss Martha Smith, of Gloucester, a niece of Mr. Alexander Seddon, and second, to Miss Sally Berkeley Nelson, also of Gloucester.

    About twelve years ago Colonel Robins moved from Gloucester to Richmond, where he died on the 28th day of October, 1906. He left a widow and six children.

    His body was carried to Gloucester for interment. He had requested that there should be no display at his funeral, but that his coffin should be wrapped in the Confederate flag. His wishes were respected. The crowd that met the body at the steamer attested the affection his people bore him. Tenderly his comrades laid the body of the old hero to rest to await the resurrection morn.

    SOURCE: Southern Historical Society Papers Volume 34

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