History of Louisa

Origins


Formed in 1742 from Hanover County, Louisa County was named for Princess Louisa, daughter of King George II and Queen Caroline of England and wife of King Frederick V of Denmark. Its central Virginia location put it squarely in the path of Revolutionary and Civil War action and other historical events.

Princess Louisa

Black and white image of painting of Princess Louisa
Black  Silhouette of Jack Jouett

Jack Jouett


In the summer of 1781 the Revolutionary War was in full swing, and British Colonel Banastre Tarleton and his band of 180 dragoons and 70 mounted infantrymen were en route to Charlottesville. Thomas Jefferson and other members of the legislature had regrouped there, having been forced to flee Richmond.
Young Jack Jouett, a 27-year old 6 foot 4 inch captain in the Virginia militia, was in Cuckoo Tavern in the eastern part of the County. His father provided supplies to the Continental Army from his Louisa County farm, and Jack was in the area lending a hand. Seeing Colonel Tarleton's troops ride by on the main Charlottesville road, he at once suspected the objective.

The late Virginia historian Virginius Dabney wrote that "Captain Jouett leapt upon his thoroughbred, resolved to dash for Monticello and Charlottesville and to warn the Assembly." He covered the almost 40 miles without stopping, arriving at about 4:30 a.m. several hours ahead of Tarleton and his troops. Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Edmund Randolph and many others were able to escape.

Dabney eloquently concluded that "Jack Jouett's ride from Cuckoo Tavern to Monticello cries out for a ballad that will seize the fancy of the American people. The hoof beats of his steed, toiling and sweating through the warm June night across forty miles of Virginia countryside, come echoing down the years. Jack Jouett gave some of America's greatest patriots a timely warning in one of the Revolution's dark(est) hours, but his valorous deed has been well-nigh forgotten. He deserves a kinder fate."



Notable Historical Facts


  • It was from Cuckoo Tavern in Louisa County that on June 3, 1781, Jack Jouett rode through the night to Charlottesville and Monticello warning Governor Thomas Jefferson and the Virginia Assemblymen of the approaching British army.
  • The Battle of Trevilian Station, the largest cavalry battle of the War Between the States, was fought in western Louisa County.
  • Always primarily agricultural, the county still has many lovely homes from the 18th and 19th centuries.
County history in a little more depth can be found on the Town of Louisa website. Please do come back.


Historical Society


The Louisa County Historical Society also has sponsored a project to photograph all tombstones in the county.