Rousseau’s Raiders ~ The Battles for the Armory 21st Annual Event

They were known as Rousseau’s Raiders because of their destruction in Alabama. General Rousseau rode at the head of twenty-five hundred Union Calvary that were carrying Spencer repeating carbines. Their destination was a small town twenty-seven miles northeast of Montgomery that was built on the Tallapoosa river.  Their final objective was to destroy the gun works manufacturing the model .58 caliber muzzle-loading carbine. Little did they realize what was ahead.

The sleeping villa of Tallassee, Alabama, was built in 1844, eight years after the Indian Removal Act relocated the Creek Indian village that had been on the banks of the river for ages.  Tom Barnett and Bill Mark saw the location and realized it was perfect for the Tallassee Falls Manufacturing Company.  They built a four-story building and began manufacturing wool, twill, and cotton items.

In 1864, with the war escalating around Richmond, Virginia, Chief of the Confederate Ordinance Bureau, Colonel Gorgas, recommending moving the Richmond Carbine Company deeper into the south. The location on the Tallapoosa river was approved, and the operation was moved to Tallassee, Alabama.  The new weapon had been tested and modified by General James Ewell Brown Stuart and approved by General Robert E. Lee.

On July 14, 1864, after a major engagement of forces, Rousseau’s raiders left Decatur and headed towards the armory.  General Rousseau had wreaked havoc on the railroads, bridges, and buildings with plans to continue doing at the armory. On July 18, 1864, the Federal forces encountered an Alabama home guard, along with a train carrying a battalion of young cadets ranging in age from sixteen to seventeen.  They in turn, were reinforced by Tuskegee mounted militia and the Federal forces withdrew.  Due to the stiff resistance of the cadets, home guard, and mounted militia, the ‘raiders’ did not reach their objective and turned back into Georgia. Other attempts were made to destroy the armory but they too failed.

On November 9-11, 2018, the 21st annual Battles for the Armory was held, as the history of the War Between the States came alive, with emphasis on the Battle of Chehaw Station and skirmish at Franklin, Alabama.  Thursday evening, a pot luck dinner was held at the Benjamin Micou House, which is now owned by the Tallassee Armory Guards, SCV Camp 1921.  The dinner was sponsored by the Talisi Cotton Belles.  They are number 020 of the founding Order of the Confederate Rose and were chaptered on February 26, 2017.  They mission statement is to assist with projects and activities honoring Southern history, heritage and promote the honorable names of their ancestors.

After a delicious southern style dinner, General Lee (Dave Chaltas) and President Davis (Scott Myers) offered a presentation.  On Friday over four hundred plus students attended school day.  They learned of medical practices, talked to blacksmith, practiced period dancing, watched an artillery demonstration, participated in a presentation by General Lee, visited the camp and witness camp life and walked sutler row.

Saturday’s officers’ call was motivating with several officers planning and agreeing with the overall commanders on the daily scenarios.  The Ladies Tea and Social was hosted by the Talisi Cotton Belles.  They went above and beyond in their endeavors. Some of the highlights of the social included an outstanding tea, presentation by Jefferson Davis (Scott Myers) giving his farewell speech to Congress, ballet performance set to the letter of Major Sullivan Ballou (by the Huntsville Ballet), and auction.

The battle began at 2 o’clock and the spectators were presented with a grand exchange of gunfire.  The artillery exploded with a cannonade, as the cavalry clashed head on with their adversaries, and the infantry fired upon each other as they marched forward. The fighting was intense and nonstop.  The result was a final charge, as the Federal troops stormed into the Confederate line resulting in a Union victory. Both commanders did an outstanding job, as did the troops.  A pass and review honored all American Veterans.  Any one who had served was asked to come forward and be recognized, along with being honored with a volley.   The spectators were moved by what all they had witnessed.  The evening dance was well attended and the Camp 1921 String Band, known as Whistlin Dixie, did an outstanding performance in playing  (Contact Marion Patrick at (334) 283-4693 for booking engagements).

Sunday began with church service at Anthony’s barn and another battle.  This time the Confederate forces prevailed and pushed the Federal troops off the field.     Special thanks to the Gibson’s View Plantation for keeping history of the War Between the States alive. For more information about next year’s event, go to www.tallasseearmoryguards.com, who sponsored the event, email at Tallasseearmoryguards@outlook.com, or the 53rd Alabama Cavalry who hosted the event.

By David Chaltas (The Old General)