Richard Henry Toler Adams, known as “Dear Old Dick” to his friends, was a Lynchburg native. He was born on November 6th, 1839. He lived a quiet and happy life. He was a family man, devoted to his wife and children. He led a successful business, which still exists today in Lynchburg. He enjoyed traveling and spent much of his life traveling throughout Europe and abroad.
Adams first enlisted in Company G of the 11th Virginia Infantry, and later served as a Captain and Signal Officer in A. P. Hill’s 3rd Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia (Robert E. Lee’s army). As a part of the Army of Northern Virginia, Adams experienced the Civil War in one the main Confederate fighting forces. He would serve in the 3rd Corps from the First Battle of Bull Run until the surrender at Appomattox. He participated in many of the major campaigns of the Civil War (Gettysburg, Spotsylvania, Wilderness, Cold Harbor, Petersburg, etc.). To gain an appreciation for the scope of Adams’s involvement in the Civil War, glance through the maps above showing the location of the battles he participated in. The maps are in chronological order and show the distance between each of the battles that Adams would have walked or ridden on horseback.
Adams was at the First Battle of Bull Run, and described it as horrific and frightening at the time, but later perspective would show it to just be a skirmish. Adams also shows the level of brotherhood the Civil War inspired. One of his comrades, Murray F. Taylor, would prove to be a life long friend. They continued to write one another and visit with one another. Taylor described Adams as one of the best soldiers and men he had ever known. When Adams’s son wrote to Taylor to inform him of his death. Murray F. Taylor (Pictured Left) wrote back,
“It is one of the deepest sorrows of my life to hear of your father’s passing. To never gaze upon his face or hold him in my arms again grieves me deeply.” – Murray F. Taylor
After the war, Adams would live out the rest of his life in Lynchburg as a banker and businessman. He married and had nine children. His son, Richard Henry Toler Adams Jr., would follow in his father’s footsteps and serve in the U.S. Army in the Spanish American War. Adams was an exemplary man who lived by the advice given to him by General Robert E. Lee to continue to serve the country as he had served the Confederacy. Adams would dedicate his life to being a devoted father, husband, and American citizen. Adams was a man who lived in the moment and focused on love and generosity. In his own words,
“Life is too short to harbor any animosities.” – Richard Henry Toler Adams, March 22, 1895