Alfred M. Randolph (1836-1918)

St. George’s had  two Civil War rectors – Alfred M. Randolph served October 1858 to November 1862, Magruder Maury December 1864 to April 24, 1871.

Randolph was 8th in descent from William Randolph who immigrated to Va in 1674

He was a graduate of William and Mary and in 1855 and Virginia Theological Seminary 1858 where was a friend of Philips Brooks. Randolph had originally been hired as McGuire’s assistant as his health was failing.  Coming to St. George’s in 1858, he was noted as having a gift as a speaker in college and was known for his eloquence in the pulpit here.  At his death the Diocese noted his “evangelical zeal and fervor” but also “wide and varied attainments in history, poetry and literature” as well as having “the power of true insight into human nature and human character.”  

His years at St. George’s, however, were cut short by the Civil War. Even before forces clashed Fredericksburg, we were close to the early battles in central Virginia to have an affect on life here. Confederate troops were garrisoned here and unfortunately fell victim to disease. Minutes from a City Council meeting on Nov. 1, 1861, record how a section of the city-owned Potter’s Field cemetery for indigents would be set aside “as a burying ground, exclusively for the remains of soldiers of the Army, and of such white persons, as their friends may wish to inter there.”  The Confederate section was equal to the cemetery’s length along Barton Street and ran back 100 feet from the street.  From Oct. 1861 to March, 1862 St. George’s rector Alfred M. Randolph conducted burials for 51 confederate soldiers buried in this cemetery.

Prior to the main battle on December 13, 1862, there were two distinct periods of federal occupation and incidents that involved the Church and some of its parishioners.  The earliest thrust that involved Fredericksburg occurred as the Federals mounted the Peninsula campaign to try to take Richmond from the east.

Union forces under General Irwin McDowell advanced to Fredericksburg as the Federal forces under General McClellan were advancing on Richmond. On April 18, 1862 the Confederates set fire to the bridges and military stores to delay the advance.  A group appointed by Council were instructed to inform McDowell that the Confederate forces having evacuated the town would offer no resistance but that the population was loyal to the Confederate government. This possibly saved the town from destruction at the time. The town fell to the Union army on April 19, 1862.

McDowell’s policy was to treat local citizens with dignity and to punish his soldiers that disobeyed him which reduced tensions. (This contrasts with the situation after the Battle of Fredericksburg later in the year). Probably their worst enemy was the white females who dealt with them “by the most insulting, odious, aggravating, indecent and unladylike language and deportment.”

A Union Colonel attended May 18, 1862 services at St. George’s and noted that Rev. Alfred M. Randolph skipped the prayer for the US President (though he also did not include the President of the CS which was attributed to the fact that union soldiers were attending). He conducted services through November 17, 1862.  Church life was probably not normal. Local resident Betty Herndon Maury notes in her diary a sudden closure of the Church on a Friday, May 16 without explanation.  As she noted later, “the town is intensely Yankee and looks like never had been anything else.”

Due to the Confederate victory at 2nd Manassas in August and the advance of the Confederates into Maryland, Fredericksburg was evacuated on August 21, 1862 with two bridges blown up.  

The situation heated up again after General Ambrose Burnsides was appointed by Lincoln on November 7, 1862 to relieve McClellan and command 115,000 troops. With this in mind the new commander determined to shift his army to Fredericksburg, and advanced toward Richmond by way of the Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac Railroad. The Federals began reaching Fredericksburg by November 17. Citizens were required to leave the town on Nov 21.

Randolph left Fredericksburg with a wife and infant a day old. After leaving Fredericksburg in 1862 he did not return and served as a chaplain in the Civl War serving as a Post Chaplain in Danville.  In April, 1865 the Vestry accepted his resignation. He then he became rector of Christ Church, Alexandria and then 1867 rector of Emanuel Church Baltimore.  In 1883 he became an assistant bishop.  Finally he became first Bishop in the new Diocese of Southern Virginia (1892-1918).