Thomas W. Colley (1837-1919) enlisted at age 24, April 1861, and was wounded several times during the conflict. After the war, Colley returned to his home in Washington County, Virginia, where he served as Deputy Sheriff, Commissioner of Revenue, and Overseer of the Poor. Company D of the First Virginia Cavalry, was organized in Abingdon, Virginia, April 1861 as the "Washington Mounted Rifles" by Captain William E. Jones. Jones, nicknamed "Grumble" for his gruff personality, later commanded the regiment before being promoted to General. Attached to the Army of Northern Virginia, the First Virginia participated in the engagements of First Manassas, Gainesvillle, Second Manassas, Sharpsburg, Fredricksburg, Kelley's Ford, Chancellorsville, Brandy Station, Gettysburg, Bristoe Station, the Wilderness, Todd's Tavern, Spotsylvania, Bethesda Church, and Cold Harbor. Towards the close of the war, the unit was involved in Jubal Early's Shenandoah Valley Campaign, the defense of Petersburg, and the Appomattox Campaign.
For more information on the service of the First Virginia Cavalry see: Robert Driver, Jr., 1st Virginia Cavalry. Lynchburg, Virginia: H. E. Howard, Inc., 1991. A collection of Colley's wartime correspondence is held in the Special Collections at Virginia Tech.