The Bermuda Hundred Campaign

Dodd Park at Point of Rocks

Prior to Union occupation of the Point of Rocks area, a Confederate signal station was located there. On June 28, 1862, Federal gunboats approached Point of Rocks during McClellan's Peninsula Campaign. The foray was turned back by the Surry Light Artillery who had their guns placed on top of the large rock outcropping just downriver form the current park. A lucky shot by one of the Surry Artillery's antiquated guns disabled a Federal gunboat. The boat was set on fire and abandoned in the Appomattox River. 

The memoirs of Private B. W. Jones recount this episode where a small band of Confederates at Point of Rocks repulsed the Union Army three years before the siege of Petersburg. The elevated location of Point of Rocks provided a logical point for a signal station or observation tower. The clearest accounts of this action were printed under the Stars and Bars: A history of The Surry Light Artillery, Reflections of a Private Solider in the War Between the Stares. The Everett Waddy Company privately printed this account in Richmond in 1902. Private Jones' account; recorded June 28, 1862, recounts that on June 26" as a roll call was being taken: a boom of a cannon was heard downriver, and a shell flew through the camp signaling the approach of the Union Army gunboats on Point of Rocks. There were other rounds of fire that apparently tried to uncover where Confederate troops might be located. There were about 60 Confederate troops at Point of Rocks, concealed by the large boulders on the bluff. The leading The leading Union gunboat was some 50 yards from the Confederate position when they were halted by Confederate fire. The fall of darkness and the elevated position of the Confederate troops aided their defense. Confederate reinforcements under the command of J. T. West took up a position behind the large boulders on this bluff. They fired into the gunboat's portholes when they opened. The infantry remained sheltered by the "masses of rock that lie around on either side of the Point." The battle lasted for over two hours. The Confederates placed a shell though the hull one of the boats "that obliged them to run the craft aground," to keep it from sinking in deep water. The Union troops took off their valuables and then burned and abandoned the boat. The natural bluffs at Point of Rocks therefore checked this Union advance and probably prolonged the life of the Confederacy and the war.

A large earthwork named Fort Zabriskie (photo at right), and a 110-foot signal tower (above left side) were also constructed on the land adjacent to Point of Rocks Park (Dodd Park). The signal tower was used to observe the James River and send communications to troops north of the James and south along the Appomattox. The tower was a prominent feature that is seen in the background of many photographs taken near the end of the war.  Abraham Lincoln visited the tower site in 1865.  In June of 1864, Butler's troops built a pontoon bridge near here that crossed the Appomattox River at Broadway Landing. That bridge gave Butler's troops the ability to move from the Bermuda Hundred peninsula and support Grant in the siege of Petersburg.   This site has large parking areas and restrooms. There is also a hiking trail here that follows Union rifle pits down to Ashby's Battery, a large gun position on the Appomattox River.    Dodd Park at Point of Rocks is a Chesterfield County Public Park.  The area has historical significance, as the land was the southern end of the Union position during the Bermuda Hundred Campaign. Remnants of Union earthworks can be seen along the park road and trails. 

(View of Dodd Park at Point of Rocks in 1865.)

Dodd Park in Chesterfield County contains some preserved earthworks of the Howlett line.  It is located near the Historic Point of Rocks Park.  Click on the photo for a virtual tour.       Road Map 

Click on the below Photo for a Virtual Tour of Dodd Park



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