VIRTUAL MUSEUM An online collection of Stafford history and artifacts

Plans of the Patawomeck Tribe of Virginia

The Patawomeck Tribe of Virginia is planning to build a replica village and cultural center in White Oak, as 80% of the current tribe lives in that area of Stafford. The village will contain long houses and such things as dugout canoes in various stages of development along with interpretive signs.

Patawomeck Tribe is Reborn

For years the Patawomeck Indians of Stafford County desired to be recognized as an official Virginia Tribe. Due to the relentless efforts of its leaders, tribe members, and local Stafford resident and Virginia Speaker of the House, Bill Howell, their request was presented to the General Assembly in February of 2010.  

Gratitude for Resolution

Chief “Two Eagles” Robert Green wrote the following letter of gratitude in appreciation of the Resolution making the Patawomeck Indians an official Indian Tribe of Virginia:

With  the passage of House Joint Resolution 150, the Patawomeck Indians of Virginia are now the ninth formally recognized tribe in Virginia. 

Captain John Smith

Much is known of the Indians in Stafford County because of oral traditions and the writings of Captain John Smith.  In 1608, he explored Aquia and Potomac Creeks from the Potomac River. He visited the Indians at Indian Point in Marlborough Point as well as exploring the Rappahannock River.  

George Brent joins his Stafford Family

George Brent, nephew of Giles (I), Margaret, and Mary Brent, joined them in Stafford in 1673.  As a young man he was sent from England to reside with them “to learn how to live.”  He certainly accomplished this; he later became captain of the Militia, lawyer, attorney general of the Colony, and Stafford representative to the House of Burgesses in Williamsburg .  

Identifying Friend From Foe

Silver “badges” were presented to “friendly” or allied Amerindian tribes by British colonists.  They demonstrated friendship and protected the bearer from violence by colonialists.

Pocahontas and the Marlborough Point Peninsula

From the water, with homes hidden, the Marlborough Point Peninsula near the old Indian Point area, probably looks much like it did during the time of the Patawomecks.  There are two theories about Pocahontas being in this area during 1613.  Some believe that she was living with the Patawomecks and actually married an Indian named Kocoum.  

Native American Tribes in Stafford

From 2,500 years ago, tribal groups expanded in present-day tidal Virginia and in the Piedmont region. Hunting, fishing and agriculture provided reliable means of subsisting within evolved societies.  Two principal Native American tribes populated the area of present day Stafford, the Patawomecks and Manahoacs.    

Ax Head

Between 5,000 and 1,000 years ago, native-people tribal groups occupied the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Chesapeake Bay including the Stafford area. Subsisting primarily on small game and nuts, they migrated from hunting camp to camp. About 3,200 years ago the Woodland-period began.


Tracks of huge herbivore dinosaurs, such as this 60-foot long Astrodon, have been found in local rivers and streams. Not only was the Astrodon long, but it was as tall as a three story building.

Moncure Daniel Conway’s Account

“It had been long since tidings concerning my relatives in Virginia had reached me. A small parcel containing an old china cup and saucer and a silver spoon had been sent me from Washington at the request of a Union soldier who had saved them from the wreck of things at Conway House, Falmouth.

John Washington

One of those slaves was John Washington.  He was “born a slave” in Fredericksburg on May 20, 1838.  He was almost 24 years old when he escaped and crossed the Rappahannock River into Union lines.

In 1872, just seven years after his emancipation, a thirty-four-year-old John penned the story of his life, calling it “Memorys of the Past.”

On the Way to Falmouth

Lt. Charles Morton, 2nd New York Cavalry, described the events to Falmouth from his perspective:

“About nightfall on Tuesday, the 15th instant, General Augur’s brigade was ordered to advance. The General and his staff preceded the troops, and arrived at Catlett’s Station late at night, after a most disagreeable ride in the darkness, through sloughs and over bad roads, and with keen appetites for the evening lunch at the headquarters of General McDowell.

The Army of the Potomac’s primary mission

The Army of the Potomac’s (AOP’s) primary mission was the defense of Washington, D.C. Click on map to enlarge. Lee’s army (in red) occupied the Rappahannock’s right bank.

Often inaccurately depicted as a  “Winter Encampment,” the AOP’s winter of 1863 was a strategic pause in which the army occupied a 200-square-mile, gourd-shaped defensive perimeter.

Colonel Thomas Conway Waller of North Stafford

Colonel Thomas Conway Waller of North Stafford, initially Captain, Company “A” (“Stafford Rangers”), 9th Virginia Cavalry — later regimental major and lieutenant colonel – led the Leedstown cavalry raid in Westmoreland County (December 2, 1862) and rose to colonel of that regiment.

Hugh Adie of North Stafford

First Sergeant (later Lieutenant) Hugh Adie of North Stafford, Company “A” (“Stafford Rangers”), 9th Virginia Cavalry became one of the area’s Confederate officers.

Captain (later Major) Charles Jones Green of Falmouth

About 1,000 of Stafford’s Confederates (41 % of the white males) served primarily in the 9th Virginia Cavalry and the 30th, 40th, 47th, and 55th Virginia Infantry Regiments, as well as the Fredericksburg Artillery and the Stafford Light Artillery. These units all served in Stafford during the Confederate Year of April 1861-April 1862 as part of the Potomac-Rappahannock Line.

Union and Confederate operations in the area

The combination of shore artillery bombardment, mines, and infantry, artillery and cavalry units along the Potomac effectively “blockaded” Washington in the early months of the war. The subsequent movement of Confederate forces below the Rappahannock promoted growth of the Federal Potomac Flotilla and its capability to patrol the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers out into the Chesapeake Bay.

Sailors of the U.S. Potomac Flotilla

Union sailors of the Potomac Flotilla soon found out that they had to increase searching using shallow draft vessels and foot patrols.  They searched tributaries for clandestine Confederates and their concealed vessels.



First Use of Naval Mines happened in Stafford

A crude form of mine warfare first appeared early in the war in Stafford. On July 7, 1861, Captain Budd of the USS Resolute discovered this “infernal machine designed by the Confederates ” lying in wait for Pawnee and the Potomac Flotilla.

Naval Action after Aquia Landing engagement

No future naval engagements would take place at Aquia Landing, but the Union kept the Potomac Flotilla patrolling off Brent’s Point and occasionally shots were exchanged from shore or ship. On October 5, 1861, “Harper’s Weekly” (above) contained this sketch by of the “Rebel Steamer Page, now lying at Acquia Creek.”

Actions at Aquia Landing

On May 31, 1861, Union Commander James Harmon Ward (above) of the Potomac Flotilla arrived ready for action. A two to three hour fight, beginning about 10 AM, commenced. The USS Thomas Freeborn (USS Anacostia and USS Resolute lacking rifled-guns were held back) bombarded the Confederate shore battery.

Aquia Landing Naval Engagement

Exchanges of fire continued through June 1st.  Three union ships, the USS Thomas Freeborn, USS Anacostia, and the USS Resolute were fired on by the Confederate shore batteries.  The USS Reliance was also present but stayed out of range because it lacked rifled guns.  

First ship-to-shore Naval Engagement of Civil War happened in Stafford

On May 31, 1861, Stafford saw the first engagement of the Civil War between the U.S. Navy and the shore batteries of the Confederacy at Aquia Landing.  Prior to that date, the Confederates believed that Union forces might attack via the Potomac, and if they got control of Aquia Landing they could take over the RF&P Railroad.

USS Pawnee

While the Confederate forces were reinforcing Aquia Landing in Stafford, the U.S. Navy, in April of 1861, had sortied the USS Pawnee to control the Potomac opposite Alexandria.  The Pawnee, under Commander S.C. Rowan, was a 15 gun ship.  Added to the Pawnee were the steamers USS Anacostia and USS Pocahontas.