Confederate Officer’s Frock Coat of Capt. Richard Frayser – JEB Stuart’s Staff
Confederate Officer’s Frock Coat of Capt. Richard Frayser – JEB Stuart’s Staff - This coat came directly from the Frayser family, still in an old department store box that had a label on the top that stated: “Capt. Richard Frayser” and “Uncle Dick’s Army Uniform”. Richard Edgar Frayser enlisted in the New Kent Light Dragoons (Va.) on June 28, 1861. The Dragoons later became Company “F” of the 3rd Va. Cavalry. Born in 1830, in New Kent County, Va., The son of Rev. Richard Frayser, a Methodist minister, Richard E. Frayser was orphaned at an early age and worked in a local store to earn his keep. After several years, Frayser journeyed to Richmond, where he took a post office position. Resigning from this position in 1854, Frayser returned to New Kent to start his own mercantile business. In 1861, with the onset of the Civil War, Frayser joined a local regiment.
Although prior to the war, as well as during the first few months of his enlistment, Frayser did not seem to distinguish himself above and beyond his fellow citizens and soldiers, he came to the fore in June of 1862. With Union Gen. McClellan’s successful push up the Peninsula, the Union Army threatened nearby Richmond. Gen. R.E. Lee issued orders to famed Va. cavalry commander, JEB Stuart, to execute a reconnaissance maneuver around the Federal Army’s right flank. This reconnoitering maneuver would, of course, turn into the famous, three day “Ride Around McClellan.” With his intimate knowledge of New Kent County, Frayser became a guide, for Stuart, until the Confederate cavalry safely crossed back over the Chickahominy River. Frayser, shortly after the cessation of the reconnaissance, was instructed by Gen. Stuart to take the news of the mission’s success to Va. Governor Letcher, in Richmond. Frayser would be rewarded, by Gov. Letcher, with a gubernatorial requisition order for a sword of his choosing. For his efforts, Frayser would be chosen, by Stuart, to be his signal officer, and elevated to the rank of Captain, on Stuart’s staff.
As a signal officer, Frayser’s service occasionally took him to different theatres of the war, away from Stuart’s cavalry unit. On May 12, 1864, the day after Gen. Stuart had been mortally wounded at Yellow Tavern, Frayser was captured by Federal troops during the Battle of Spotsylvania. After three months in the Union prison camp at Ft. Delaware, Frayser, along with many fellow, imprisoned, Confederate officers, was taken on board the steamer “Crescent City”, on Auguest 20, 1864, and sent to Morris Island, in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina. On Morris Island, six hundred Confederate officers, the “Immortal 600”, endured six weeks of a most unusual of punishments, at the hands of their captors. Their placement on the island was to attempt to prevent the Confederate batteries, in and around Charleston, from firing on Union artillery positions. In essence, this was the first military use of “human shields”. Frayser and his fellow prisoners, endured poor medical treatment, meager rations and the ever present fear of being shelled by their own compatriots. Incredibly, all of the “Immortal 600” survived.
Captain Frayser was so debilitated when the rest of his fellow prisoners were sent back to Ft. Delaware, that he was exchanged, in February of 1865. He would recover sufficiently to return to duty with the Army of Northern Virginia and was paroled at Appomattox. After the war, Frayser pursued a successful newspaper career, in Richmond, as well as obtaining a law degree and establishing a small practice. He died in 1899 and is interred in Richmond’s Hollywood Cemetery.
Captain Frayer’s frock coat was in tentative condition when we obtained it. We have had the coat carefully cleaned, by a specialty cleaner in Maryland, who has done work for the Smithsonian. We have also had the coat undergo extensive restoration and conservation by noted textile conservator and former textile expert and curator for Richmond’s Valentine Museum, Colleen Callahan. The frock coat is now completely stable, strong and highly displayable. Unfortunately, the Frayser family had removed the original buttons prior to when we obtained the coat, so we have placed Federal staff officer buttons (all “Extra Quality” back marks) on the coat.
This coat represents a very important piece of Virginia history. Captain Frayser is pictured and mentioned often in Robert J. Trout’s well-known book about Jeb Stuart entitled “They Followed the Plume”. A copy of that book will accompany Captain Frayser’s frock coat.
Capt. Richard E. Frayser
In this fight the brave and deeply lamented Captain Latane was killed while charging fifteen paces in advance of his squadron. The writer saw him after he fell in the road and while in the throes of death. A more daring and fearless spirit never drew sabre. Captain Royall, a gallant officer on the Federal side, was severely wounded. The defeat and rout of the enemy at this point placed Stuart in possession of an immense camp, abundantly supplied with commissary and quartermaster stores, many of which were carried off by the Confederates. The rest, together with a large number of superb new tents pitched in the field near the roadside, were consumed by fire. Old Church had now been reached and the Federal cavalry had retreated in the direction of the Chickahominy and Stuart had penetrated far into the lines of the enemy, where he had cause to expect a most terrific attack at any moment. But he was cool and defiant.
Calling Captain Richard E. Frayser, who subsequently became his chief signal officer and a member of his staff, General Stuart ordered him to take some men and go in advance of the column and report any movements of the Federals. Between Old Church and Tunstall‘s (the latter place is situated on the York River railroad), some army wagons, loaded with stores, were captured, also teamsters, horses, and mules belonging to them. As the command neared Tunstall‘s, Captain Frayser reported a squadron of Federal cavalry drawn up in line of battle in a field and near the county road. The officer in command had evidently obtained some information as to the approach of Stuart, and was on the qui vive. Taking a position in front of his command, he hailed Frayser and interrogated him as to what command he belonged. Captain Frayser, being fully aware of the perilous situation of the officer and his command, and in order to detain both for capture, responded that he belonged to the Eighth Illinois regiment, said to be the finest in the Federal service at that time. Now, this was a ruse to delay and entrap the Federal officer and his command, and came near proving successful. But this truce was abruptly broken by the officer casting his eyes quickly to the right and discovering Stuart at the head
Plenty of Blame to Go Around: Jeb Stuart’s Controversial Ride to Gettysburg
By Eric J. Wittenberg, J. David Petruzzi – Capt. Richard E. Frayser listed as being on Jeb Stuart’s staff as Chief Signal Officer on the roster on June 30, 1863 at Union Mills, Md.
Richard E. Frayser
|Residence was not listed; 24 years old. Enlisted on 6/28/1861 at New Kent Court House, VA as a Private. On 6/28/1861 he mustered into “F” Co. VA 3rd Cavalry (date and method of discharge not given) He was listed as: * POW 7/6/1862 (place not stated) * Exchanged 8/5/1862 (place not stated) * Detailed 8/15/1862 (place not stated) (Signal Corps and Gen. Stuart’s staff) Promotions: * Capt 8/15/1862 (Promoted on Gen. Stuart’s staff)|
3rd VA Cavalry
Organized: on 10/31/61
|Sep ’61||Oct ’61||Dept of Peninsula|
|Oct ’61||Apr ’62||Cavalry||Dept of Peninsula|
|Jan ’62||Feb ’62||McLaws’||Dept of Peninsula|
|Apr ’62||Jul ’62||Cavalry||Army of Northern Virginia|
|Jul ’62||Sep ’63||Fitz. Lee’s||Cavalry||Army of Northern Virginia|
|Sep ’63||Jul ’64||Wickham’s||Fitz. Lee’s||Cavalry||Army of Northern Virginia|
|Aug ’64||Jan ’65||Wickham’s||Fitz. Lee’s/Rosser’s||Valley District||Dept of Northern Virginia|
|Feb ’65||Apr ’65||Wickham’s/Mumford’s||Fitz. Lee’s||Cavalry||Army of Northern Virginia|
Richard Edgar Frayser
(1830 – 1899)
|Before the Antietam Campaign:
Frayser, an orphan early, worked in a store and for the Post Office as a young man, before establishing his own ‘mercantile’ business in New Kent in 1854. At the start of the War he enlisted as a Private in the unit which became Company F, 3rd Virginia Cavalry. He came to General Stuart’s attention on the Peninsula in June 1862, but was captured in July. He was exchanged in August, and, on the 31st, was appointed Stuart’s Signal Officer and commissioned Captain.
In the Antietam Campaign:
The remainder of the War:
After the War:
References, Sources, and other notes:
|Birth Date: 10/1830 Place of Birth: Kent County, VA
Death Date: 12/22/1899 Death Place: Richmond, VA Burial Place: Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond, VA
1 Trout, Robert J., They Followed the Plume, Mechanicsburg (Pa): Stackpole Books, 1993, pp. 124-128 [AotW citation 957]
*Capt. Richard Edgar Frayser
Capt. Richard Edgar Frayser
August 31, 1862 to May 12, 1864
He enlisted in the New Kent Light Dragoons on June 28, 1861. The Dragoons later became Company “F” of the 3rd Virginia Cavalry. Nothing in Frayser’s records with the 3rd Va. indicate that he was anything special as a cavalry trooper; his life prior to the war is equally unimpressive. When an opportunity presented itself, however, Frayser showed that he had the kinds of abilities Stuart always looked for. In less than three months from his first contact with the cavalry’s commander-in-chief, Frayser was on Stuart’s staff.
Born in October 1830 in New Kent County, Virginia. He was orphaned at an early age and went to work in a country store to help pay his keep.
On May 12, 1864, Frayser’s service with Stuart came to an end in two ways. Sometime during the confused fighting around Spotsylvania, Frayser was captured by the Federals for a second time. A great trial lay ahead for Frayser. After being incarcerated at Fort Delaware for three months. In mid August Frayser along with a large number of his fellow inmates boarded the steamer “Crescent City,” but the plan soon turned around and 18 days later they were unloaded at Morris Island in Charleston Harbor, S.C. Here, 600 Confederate officers endured six weeks of a most unusual imprisonment. Frayser’s deteriorating physical condition led to his exchange in Feb. 1865. He died on December 22, 1899 at 4:30am of a combination of illnesses, in Richmond, Virginia.
3rd Virginia Cavalry
3rd Virginia Volunteer Cavalry Regiment
Flag of Virginia, 1861
|Active||July 1861 – April 1865|
|Allegiance||Confederate States of America|
Seven Days’ Battles
Second Battle of Bull Run
Battle of Antietam
Battle of Fredericksburg
Battle of Chancellorsville
Battle of Brandy Station
Battle of Gettysburg
Siege of Petersburg
Valley Campaigns of 1864
Battle of Five Forks
The 3rd Virginia Volunteer Cavalry Regiment was a cavalry regiment raised in Virginia for service in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. It fought mostly with the Army of Northern Virginia.
The Virginia 3rd Cavalry was organized with independent companies and entered Confederate service on July 1, 1861. The regiment was formed with eleven companies, later reduced to ten. It was also called 2nd Regiment until October.
Its members were raised in the counties of Mecklenburg, Elizabeth City, New Kent, Halifax, Nottoway, Cumberland, Dinwiddie, and Prince Edward.
For a time six companies served in the Department of the Peninsula and four in the Valley District. Later the unit was assigned to General F. Lee’s, Wickham’s, and Munford’s Brigade, Army of Northern Virginia. It fought in many conflicts from Williamsburg to Fredericksburg, then was involved in the engagements at Kelly’s Ford, Chancellorsville, Brandy Station, Upperville, Gettysburg, Bristoe, Mine Run, The Wilderness, Todd’s Tavern, Spotsylvania, Haw’s Shop, and Cold Harbor. The 3rd went on to participate in Early’s operations in the Shenandoah Valley and the Appomattox Campaign.
It took 210 effectives to Gettysburg, but only 3 surrendered on April 9, 1865. Its commanders were Colonels Thomas F. Goode, Robert Johnston, and Thomas H. Owen; Lieutenant Colonels William R. Carter, William M. Feild, and John T. Thornton; and Majors Henry Carrington and Jefferson C. Phillips.
Confederate surgeon and Civil War diarist Dr. Richard Eppes initially served with the 3rd Virginia, before furnishing a substitute to complete his term of service.