All About Albemarle Barracks

All About Albemarle Barracks

When anyone mentions “Barracks Road” today, everyone immediately thinks about the shopping center located a few minutes away from UVA and within minutes of Downtown and points north and south. 

Barnes & Noble also comes to mind, as does Ben & Jerry’s for a quick ice cream fix, or any of the restaurants, like Zin Burger, Hotcakes or Tara Thai (best won-ton soup in town!), as well as shopping in various boutiques.

The neighborhoods surrounding the shopping center are also known as Barracks Road and they range from Rugby Road and Avenue through to Meadowbrook Hills and on to Canterbury Hills and Bennington Road, to the Hessian Hills and Barracks West complexes, out Barracks Road to Colthurst Farm and Barracks Hill, and then back into town to the campuses of the Darden, JAG and Law Schools.

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Known for quiet tree-lined streets and lush gardens surrounding every house, Barracks Road is the perfect blend of residential and commerce.

With its proximity to UVA, houses in this area are typically occupied by professors or grad students and you can often see them walking to work or school on nice days along Rugby Road.

Back in History

The first mention of the word “Barracks” was for “Albemarle Barracks,” which was a prisoner-of-war camp for British prisoners during the American Revolutionary War. According to a local historical website, following Gen. John Burgoyne’s defeat at the Battle of Saratoga, in 1777, some 4,000 British and German (Hessian and Brunswickian) troops, of what came to be known as the Convention Army, were marched to Cambridge, MA. 

For various reasons, the Continental Congress decided to move them south. One of Congress’ members, Col. John Harvie (Harvey?), Sr. and sons offered some of his lands outside of Charlottesville. 

The remaining soldiers (some 2,000 British, upwards of 1,900 German, and roughly 300 women and children) marched south in late 1778 – arriving at the site (near Ivy Creek) in January 1779. 

As the barracks were barely sufficient in construction, the officers were paroled to live as far away as Richmond and Staunton. The camp was never adequately provisioned, and yet the prisoners managed to make something of the site, including building a theater. Hundreds escaped Albemarle Barracks, owing to lack of an adequate number of guards.

As the British army moved northward from the Carolinas, in late 1780, the remaining prisoners were moved to Frederick, MD, Winchester, VA, and elsewhere.

A memorial marker was placed on Ivy Farm Road (County Route 1015), on the left when traveling east, by the Albemarle County Historical Society in 1983 to mark the presence and graves of the “British and ‘Hessian’ prisoners during our American War of Independence.” 

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