Charles W. Adams
Place of Birth: Fairfax County
Place of Death: Fairfax County
Buried: Adams Family Cemetery, located one mile east of
Hunter Mill Road in the Hunter Mill Forest Subdivision
How died: Unknown
Military service: Confederate Army
Military ranks held: Private
Units: Co I, 11th Virginia Calvary, 2nd Co F, 5th VA Cavalry,
Ball’s Fairfax Cavalry
Charles W. Adams was born in Fairfax County and grew up on his father’s farm located about 1.5 miles east of George Hunters’ Mill on Difficult Run. He was without a doubt one of the area’s most colorful characters, probably most famous for attending the vote for secession at Lydecker’s Store in Vienna, VA with a drawn pistol, threatening to kill anyone who voted for the Union.
That vote was taken on May 23, 1861. Just one month earlier, Adams had enlisted as a Private in Captain Mottrom Dulaney Ball’s Fairfax Cavalry. Ball’s Cavalry was in Alexandria on May 24, 1861 to cover the retreat of Virginia Volunteers when federal troops crossed the Potomac and occupied the city. On that same day, Ball and 35 of his men were taken prisoner while covering the rear of the retreat; they were paroled June 7, 1861 after taking the oath of loyalty. It is unclear whether Adams was among those captured. Ball’s Fairfax Cavalry was reorganized into the second Co F, 5th VA Cavalry and later transferred to Co I, 11th VA Cavalry.
Adams military record shows him mostly absent or AWOL beginning 1863, around the time he was ordered to transfer to the 11th, and then NFR (no further record). It is said that many of Ball’s men enlisted under different names following the parole and the subsequent reorganization, so it is unclear whether he sat the rest of the war out or served under an alias.
We do know that Charles Adams was arrested by Brigadier General Irvin McDowell on February 21, 1862, and accused of spying for the Confederacy. A Falls Church resident, Albert Orcutt, gave deposition that “We were members of Ball’s Cavalry Company. He has always been looked upon as a rebel spy and scout. He has always been looked upon as a perfect desperado, drinking and fighting, stabbing and shooting.” This description is true to his reputation in the community before the war. County Court proceedings have many instances of suits brought against Charles Adams by neighbors and family members. His case with McDowell for spying was postponed due to his admittance to the military hospital with measles.
After the war, Adams remained in the Hunter Mill area, farming and raising a family with his wife, Adeline Saunders. They had ten children, though not all survived. He died in 1877.
1. Brothers and Cousins: Soldiers and Sailors of Fairfax County, VA, compiled by William Page Johnson
2. Yearbook: The Historical Society of Fairfax County, Virginia, volume 24, 1993-1994
3. Fairfax County in 1860 A Collective Biography, by Edith Sprouse
4. Blog, All Not so Quiet Along the Potomac: A DC Lawyer on the Civil War, ”The Confederates Evacuate Alexandria for the Second and Final Time,” Tuesday, May 24, 2011
5. Website Ancestry.com
Larger image of marker
Researched and written by Cameron Stewart and Sue Stewart