First called John Lewis’ Ordinary and then Fox’s. Burnt Ordinary received its name in Jan. 1780 when, according to the Virginia Gazette, Fox’s Ordinary burned to the ground. Later, in Oct. 1781, when the French army’s wagon train passed by, Alexander Berthier wrote that “two old chimneys” stood here in the fork of the road. Also in 1781, Samuel Dewitt, George Washington’s cartographer, noted the site of the “Burnt Brick Ordinary”, on one of his maps. Elements of Lafayette’s army camped two miles south of here at Chickahominy Church after the Battle of Green Spring on 6 July 1781.
On January 19th of 1863, about a mile from Burnt Ordinary, the Third battalion of the 5th Pennsylvania Cavalry began a mission to scout the roadways in between Richmond and Williamsburg. Captain Cameron commanded two companies of the battalion, and ordered Lieutenant Vezin to advance with eighteen men. Of these men, Vezin ordered Sergeant Anderson to advance another two hundred yards with six of the original eighteen men. During their advance, seventy rebel cavalrymen appeared who formed a line to block the intentions of Anderson. As the small party of men turned to rejoin Lieutenant Vezin, another group of twenty rebel cavalrymen rode out to form a line in their rear. In an effort to escape their entrapment, Anderson charged the twenty rebels to reach the safety of Vezin’s larger group. Only Anderson broke through the twenty rebels, as they captured his other six men. In response, Vezin ordered a charge on these twenty rebels, and was successful as he recaptured all but one of his men. In addition the Union cavalrymen also captured four rebel soldiers and five of their horses.
Bracekett, Albert, and Gallatin Bracekett Albert Gallatin Bracekett. History of the United States Cavalry. Applewood Books, 2009.
The Tribune Almanac. New York Tribune, 1868.
Historical Marker “Burnt Ordinary W-33,” courtesy of Lindsey Smith, 2012.
“Marquis de Lafayette,” New World Encyclopedia, www.newworldencyclopedia.org (accessed May 2, 2012).