A COLONEL IN THE MILITIA
AFTER THE first year of the Revolution, Charles L. Lewis served in the Albemarle militia. Whether his duties took him out of the county or not is unknown, but one document does confirm that he was in Albemarle in 1777. In June the general assembly of the state passed an act which required all free men over sixteen to take an oath to renounce allegiance to the king, to swear loyalty to Virginia, to protect her freedom and independence, and to reveal to a justice of the peace “all treasons or traitorous conspiracies” which he might discover. One list of signatures of Albemarle men contained Charles L. Lewis's name. First on the list, as might be expected, was the signature of George Gilmer, among whose papers a copy of this document was found. It is likely that Gilmer was the justice of the peace who administered the oath.1
At the beginning of the Revolution, there was no public mail service in Virginia. It became imperative to establish a dependable communication system and in the early stages of the war, fifty-two Albemarle patriots pledged themselves to ride eighty miles to Fredericksburg to pick up and deliver papers and letters for the subscribers. Even though the service was voluntary, each subscriber who failed to perform or hire the duty done when his turn came, was subject to a penalty of five pounds. The route was run once a week and each subscriber was responsible for the trip once a year when his turn came around. Jefferson, Gilmer, Mazzei, the Walkers, and many other prominent and wealthy members of the gentry were among the volunteers. Charles L. Lewis and his father, Charles Lewis, Jr. of Buck Island, were also on the list of voluntary subscribers.2
In Albemarle the year 1779 began with some local excitement, for a prisoner-of-war camp was established just outside Charlottesville at a place since called the Barracks. The British and German prisoners captured at Saratoga were to be kept there because the location was thought to be beyond the reach of his Majesty's soldiers. Four thousand prisoners marched more than six hundred miles from Massachusetts, and arrived early in January during a long period of terrible cold.