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The Black Horse Troop Memorial Page

Captain Alexander Dixon Payne

Birth:  September 30, 1837, Fauquier County, Virginia

Death:  March 8, 1893, Fauquier County, Virginia

Burial:  Warrenton Cemetery, Warrenton, Fauquier County, Virginia

Alexander Dixon Payne was born the son of Richards Payne and Alice Fitzhugh Dixon of “Granville”.  Payne studied law at William and Mary College, graduating first in his class in 1856.  He studied further at the University of Virginia and entered law practice in 1858.  With the coming of war, Alexander Payne enlisted in the Black Horse Cavalry on April 25, 1861.

Stonewall Jackson had discovered what good troopers composed the Black Horse Cavalry.  He detailed the company to act at his headquarters as guides and couriers. In this capacity Lt. Payne was sent back with half of the troopers to meet General Lee, who was following Jackson when marching against Pope's great army to the Battle of Second Manassas. It is said that the Black Horse looked like a company of holiday soldiers, happy in demeanor with well-groomed horses. At the second battle of Manassas, they were engaged in carrying General Jackson's orders between the commanders of the troops in action, thus witnessing and fulfilling their part in that famous struggle.  A number of the company were seriously wounded and several killed. Two privates of the Black Horse offered their beautiful chargers to Generals Lee and Jackson when they marched into Maryland.

In the first Maryland campaign, before Jackson's corps entered Boonesboro, the general sent a squad of the Black Horse, commanded by Lt. Payne, through the town to picket the approaches from the opposite direction. Union cavalry had entered one end of the town.  Lt. Payne “at the other end of town had heard the firing and raced to the rescue with his usual vigor.”  The Confederates dodged gunfire from hostile Boonsboro residents.

Payne had nineteen men and the charge was against twenty times their number, but General Jackson was saved from capture. It was a desperate charge and the enemy was deceived and routed.

General Jackson commended Payne for his services during the Battles of Second Manassas and Sharpsburg (Antietam).  He was elected 1st Lieutenant on September 19, 1862.

Lieutenant A.D. Payne followed Captain Randolph as commander of the Black Horse Cavalry.  He was promoted to captain on September 1, 1863 and was its last captain.  Payne saved the 4th Virginia Cavalry’s colors on April 9, 1865, at Appomattox after leading the Army of Northern Virginia’s last cavalry in an effort to break through Union forces.  At the surrender the 55 men of the Black Horse Cavalry were not in attendance.  Instead they headed for home.  Capt. Payne was captured on his way to Warrenton.

Remaining members of the Black Horse Cavalry assembled at Fauquier Springs to consider joining the forces of Gen. Johnston in North Carolina.  Col. John Scott arrived during this meeting and informed those gathered that Johnston had surrendered.  With this news the men dispersed to their homes.  Capt. Payne was paroled on April 24, 1865, at Winchester, VA.  Most members of the Black Horse Cavalry were paroled in May in Winchester or other locations in Northern Virginia.  The long ride of the Black Horse Cavalry and Capt. Alexander Dixon Payne was over.

Following the war Capt. Payne followed his profession as a lawyer in Warrenton.  He was elected to the Virginia General Assembly and served as mayor of Warrenton three times.  During those years he was counsel for the Richmond and Danville system of the Southern Railroad.  During these years, one incident of note was a challenge to a duel with John Singleton Mosby. The duel was narrowly avoided, when Mosby withdrew his offense against Payne. 

Captain A.D. Payne passed away on March 8, 1893.  He had achieved distinction and success as a lawyer, legislator, and as a soldier.  His death was deeply lamented in Virginia.  A tribute to his memory by the members of the Warrenton bar appears on the minutes of the court.

He was a cousin of General William H.F. Payne.  Captain Alexander Dixon Payne is buried in the Warrenton Cemetery.

Text and image complied from public domain and copyright free official records; and composed by Camp Historian, Scott VanNess.