The Civil War in Chesterfield County -Dantzler Park
The Bermuda Hundred Campaign of 1864
Pictured C.S.A. General Edmund Smith, a Chesterfield native.
Battery Dantzler Park 1820 Battery Dantzler Rd. Chesterfield, VA
Site of Battery Dantzler. Built in May 1864 and first named Fort Howlett, the battery was renamed after Colonel Olin M. Dantzler who was killed June 2, 1864 in an attempt to capture Fort Dutton. Leading the 22nd South Carolina Infantry Regiment the attack failed. Battery Dantzler, a Confederate battery, was constructed to stop Union naval forces from advancing up the James River. By January 1865, it was armed with two 10" columbiads, one 7" Brooke rifle and one 10" mortar. It was manned by the Johnston Artillery under Captain B.J. Epes. The battery was abandoned April 2, 1865.
In 1862 the site of Battery Dantzler was considered as the location for the main defensive river battery to block the Union navy's approach to Richmond. The site was declined in favor of Drewry's Bluff because of fears that Union forces would bypass the position by cutting a canal through at Dutch Gap. Construction of the fort here began on May 18, 1864 in response to Butler’s landing at Bermuda Hundred. The fort was briefly occupied by Union infantry on June 16th when Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard pulled his men out of Bermuda Hundred to defend against Grant's first threats at Petersburg. The guns at Dantzler were dismounted and buried where they remained hidden until the Confederates re-took the position the following day. The guns were quickly remounted and on June 21st the fort exchanged fire with Union vessels in the James River. The fort was later named Battery Dantzler in honor of Col. Olin Miller Dantzler, 22d South Carolina Infantry, who was killed in action south of here. Battery Dantzler anchored the northern end of the "Howlett Line" of earthworks that bottled up Butler’s forces on the Bermuda Hundred peninsula. The Battle of Trent’s Reach, one of the last naval actions of the war, took place at the foot of Battery Dantzler in January of 1865.
Battery Dantzler provides an excellent view of the James River from a reconstructed viewing platform. The platform is handicap accessible. The park had new interpretive signs and a Civil War Trails sign installed in 2006. The site has been adopted by the Chester Station Sons of Confederate Veterans. This organization replaced the parking lot fence, reconstructed the viewing platform and has helped keep the site mowed, and cleared of underbrush. There is a historical marker at the park. A Virginia Civil War Trails interpretive sign is located here.
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