A Guide to the John E. Roller Papers, 1862-1910 Roller, John E., Papers mss 00171

A Guide to the John E. Roller Papers, 1862-1910

A Collection in
Virginia Military Institute Archives
Collection Number mss 00171


Virginia Military Institute Archives

Virginia Military Institute Archives
Preston Library
Virginia Military Institute
Lexington, Virginia 24450-0304
Phone: (540) 464-7566
Fax: (540) 464-7279
Email: archives@vmi.edu
URL: http://www.vmi.edu/archives

© 2002 Virginia Military Institute

Funding: Web version of the finding aid funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Processed by: Virginia Military Institute Archives Staff

Archives, Preston Library, Virginia Military Institute
Accession number
mss 00171
John E. Roller Papers, 1862-1910
Physical Characteristics
The papers comprise approximately 50 items and are filed in one box.

Administrative Information


There are no restrictions.

Use Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Preferred Citation

John E. Roller Papers, mss 00171, Virginia Military Institute Archives, Lexington, Virginia.

Alternative Form

A significant number of items in the Roller Papers are available in full text format on the VMI Archives website at http://www.vmi.edu/archives/manuscripts/0171main.html

Biographical/Historical Information

John Edwin Roller was born in Rockingham Co., Virginia on October 5, 1844, the son of Peter Samuel Roller and Frances Allebach. In the summer of 1861, although underage for service, he briefly served with Company I of the First Virginia Cavalry. On December 31, 1861, he entered the Virginia Military Institute as a second classman (equivalent to Junior), and was graduated in July 1863. He subsequently taught mathematics at VMI for a few months, and then was appointed 2d Lieutenant, Company G, 2d Confederate States Engineers in October 1863. He served as an Engineer officer in the Army of Northern Virginia to the end of the war, and was paroled at Appomattox. After the war, he studied law at the University of Virginia and practiced law in Harrisonburg (Rockingham County), Virginia. He also served in the Virginia state legislature and was a Brig. General in the state militia; he was widely known in the Harrisonburg community as "General Roller." He died in Harrisonburg on August 10, 1918.

Scope and Content Information

The John E. Roller Papers consist of personal incoming and outgoing correspondence, 1862-1870, including Civil War era letters from cadet friends concerning life at VMI; Civil War dispatches and telegrams (1864), dating from his service with the Confederate States Engineers, including one document signed by General Robert E. Lee; scrapbook, ca. 1910, containing clippings about Civil War battles, veterans, unit reunions, monument dedications, and related information.; 2 photographs, of Confederate soldier Lt. Col. Samuel T. Walker (10th Virginia Infantry Regiment) and of the Virginia Legislature Centennial Committee (1871); holograph text of a cadet literary-debating society speech delivered by Cadet Norwood B. Randolph in 1870; and misc. other items.


The Roller Papers are arranged in chronological order.

Contents List

Correspondence, 1862-1876

Incoming and outgoing letters

  • Virginia Military Institute

    Letters written and received while Roller was a VMI Cadet.

    • Cadet Roller to his parents. 1862 January 24

      Cadet Roller to his parents, written shortly after he entered VMI. Mentions clothing needed; studying; upcoming inauguration of Jefferson Davis.

    • Peter S. Roller (father) to Cadet Roller. 1862 August 25

      Mentions his inability to supply Gen. Smith (Superintendent of VMI) with hired or slave labor; discussion of when son should join army.

    • Cadet Roller to VMI authorities. 1863 March 18

      Cadet Roller submits a report concerning the theft of Commandant's records

  • Personal Letters Received, Civil War. 1863-1864
    • From VMI classmate William W. Flannagan 1863 November 8

      Congratulating Roller on his army commission.

    • From Cadet Lawrence Royster. 1864 January 6

      Royster discusses examinations; mutual friends at VMI.

    • From Cadet Lawrence Royster. 1864 January 9.

      Royster is discouraged about the results of his examinations and is considering leaving VMI.

    • From Cadet Lawrence Royster. 1864 February 22.

      Royster discusses his academic problems; uncertainty about staying at VMI; mentions several recent graduates and cadets.

    • From Cadet Archibald W. Overton. 1864 April 10

      Overton discusses rumors about deployment of cadets; cadets who have left VMI.

    • From Cadet Lawrence Royster. 1864 April 21.

      Royster discusses academics; changes on faculty; hardships caused by cold weather; Gen. Rosser presents captured flag to Corps; cadets don't get enough to eat.

    • From Joseph B. Prince, Roller's classmate. 1864 May 3.

      Written from Camp Stephens, Richmond VA. Prince recently resigned from a teaching job at VMI to join the army, but is disappointed in his army position.

    • From Peter S. Roller to his son. 1864 May 17.

      Reports news of fighting in the Shenandoah Valley between forces of Gen. Breckinridge and Sigel; Battle of New Market.

    • From Cadet Lawrence Royster. 1864 July 28.

      VMI temporarily closed after Hunter's Raid; his mother a refugee after Union troops destroyed her property.

    • From Cadet Lawrence Royster. 1864 December 7.

      The Corps is in Richmond, camped on the Intermediate Line; In a few days they plan to move into VMI's temporary headquarters at the Alms House.

  • Correspondence, Post-war, Miscellaneous.

    Miscellaneous business correspondence, 10 items. Correspondents include Richard L. Gray, Nannie Lewis, G. W. Berlin, C. L. Hammond.

Civil War official documents, 1863-1864

Includes dispatches, telegrams.

  • 1863 October 14.

    From Lt. Col. A. L. Rives, C. S. Engineer Bureau, concerning receipt of recommendations.

  • Legal document. 1864 March 12.

    Certifies Thomas Hubbard born Caswell Co. NC

  • Dispatch. 1864 May 13

    Gen. Robert F. Hoke to Gen. Braxton Bragg, reporting on enemy strength.

  • Document. 1864 May 19

    Request for officer to be assigned at Weldon.

  • Dispatch to Lt. Col. J. M. Maury 1864 May 23

    From C. S. Flagship "Virginia" near Drewry's Bluff, re: enemy naval forces

  • Note, from HQ Engineers, Army of Northern Virginia 1864 August 13

    To J. W. Williams in regard to a meeting.

  • Dispatch, Gen. Robert E. Lee to General Ewell. 1864 August 14

    "I have telegraphed Hampton to return to Richmond. Send for him. Young's brigade under Col. Wright cannot be far in advance of Richmond. Get your Cavalry together, aid it with the Infantry, and drive back enemy."

  • Dispatch. 1864 August 16

    Lt. Col. Briscoe G. Baldwin (VMI Class of 1848), to J. Willcox Brown.

  • Dispatch. 1864 August 17.

    Walter H. Taylor, A.A.G., to Gen. Lee at Chaffin's Bluff. Scouting report.

  • Dispatch. 1864 August 19

    Regarding transportation for officer.

  • Dispatch. 1864 August 21

    Gen. G. T. Beauregard to Capt. Chisholm, re: matter pending before War Dept.

  • Dispatch. 1864 August 21

    Lt. Col. Briscoe Baldwin to Col. J. Gorgas, re: personnel request.

  • Dispatch. 1864 August 22

    From Lt. Col. Briscoe G. Baldwin, near Petersburg. Request for ammunition.

  • Dispatch. 1864 August 22

    Lt. Col. Briscoe G. Baldwin to Lt. Col. W. Brown; send forge to Dunlops Crossing

  • Dispatch. 1864 August 23

    Gen. Wade Hampton to HQ, requesting map of Dinwiddie

  • Dispatch. 1864 August 23

    To Medical Dept. "Send down all amputating sets on hand."

  • Dispatch. 1864 August 24

    W. H. Taylor to Gen. George E. Pickett.
    "If you should receive an unintelligible signal dispatch from Gen. Beauregard tonight or in morning take no notice of it- it is sent for a purpose."

  • Dispatch. 1864 September 2

    W. H. Taylor to Court Martial, Goldsboro. Col. Mayo too sick to attend court.

  • Dispatch. 1864 September 23

    From HQ, Engineers, ANV to Col. W. P. Smith at Chaffin's Bluff; conveying instructions and reprimand.

  • Dispatch. 1864, no day.

    To Gen. Braxton Bragg, re: troop movements (Hoke, Kemper)

  • Dispatch. 1864, no day.

    Send five dollar notes.

Scrapbook, circa 1910.

Containing clippings about Civil War battles, veterans, unit reunions, monument dedications, and related information.

  • Photograph, Lt. Col. Samuel T. Walker. ca. 1862

    Walker served with the 10th Virginia Infantry Regiment and was killed in action at the Battle of Chancellorsville in May 1863.

  • Photograph, Virginia Legislature Centennial Committee. 1871.

Includes holograph text of a cadet literary-debating society speech delivered by Virginia Military Institute Cadet Norwood B. Randolph in 1870; and misc. other items.