About The Chesterfield Military History Committee

We research military history and sites.

Develop educational and tourist literature on military history.

Reserve and maintain integrity of Civil War sites in the county.

Sponsor the annual Veterans Day event at the 1917 Courthouse.

WWI Items Needed

The Chesterfield Historical Society of Virginia is looking for photographs of Chesterfield Veterans and other World War One artifacts.  

 

Please call Buddy Cranford 796-7131

or

Email pastwalker@comcast.net

Need A Speaker for your event?

Call Karen Sadler at 796-7156

We can provide an engaging and educational  power point program for your next social function. A wonderful opportunity for churches, civic organizations, scouts, garden clubs and older adults to learn more about Chesterfield County's history.  We offer a wide range of horticulture and history topics such as historic trees, medicinal herbs and plants, coal mining history, ghost stories, Civil War history and many other topics. We ask for a donation of $35.00 for non-profits/ $50.00 for private groups and groups outside of Chesterfield County.

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The Civil War In

Chesterfield Virginia

Chesterfield County has 11 park sites associated with the Civil War. Each of these sites has its own unique story to tell. Collectively, these links in a chain tell the larger story of one of the most important military campaigns of the war but seldom told.  Not all sites are accessible some have just been purchased and will soon be available to the public. There are local historians dedicated to preserving the battle sites and trench-works. If we don't save them today, they will not be available tomorrow. Your donation for this worthy cause would be greatly appreciated.

Civil War Tour Guide Book:  The Bermuda Hundred Campaign Tour Guide tells about the pivotal role that Chesterfield County played during the last year of the Civil War, a role often overshadowed by bigger battles fought at the same time in Virginia.  You will not find a better self-tour guide available than this book.

The Chesterfield Historical Society of Virginia is dedicated to preserving the Civil War sites in Chesterfield County.  These sites are being maintained presently by volunteers.  If you have a passion for preservation, please consider a donation to help establish historical markers and site maintenance.  Donations are welcomed.

On to Richmond

 

On April 15, 1861, President Abraham Lincoln issued a call for 75,000 men to enlist in the Army for 90 days in order to suppress the rebellion and to cause the laws to be duly executed.  Ninety days to equip, train and fight a campaign that would begin and end the war all at once.  With Richmond Virginia a little more than 100 miles from Washington DC.

 "On to Richmond became the clarion call.  The first on to Richmond campaign began with President Lincoln giving command of the army to Major General Irwin McDowell who moved against Richmond in July 1861 on the direct overland route from Washington to Richmond. The first battle of the war was Bull Run, a defeat for the Union Army and for President Abraham Lincoln's hope for a quick war ended.

Drewery's Bluff ( Fort Darling)

 

On May 15, 1862, a Union flotilla led by the ironclads Monitor and Galena attempted to force their way past the fort to bombard Richmond. In the battle that raged for over three hours, the Galena bore the brunt of the fighting, taking dozens of direct hits and suffering 23 crew members killed or wounded. The Monitor was unable to elevate her guns high enough to fire at Drewry's Bluff and retreated to safety downriver. Realizing that the river blockade could not be breached, the Union commander withdrew. Richmond was never again seriously threatened by a water-based attack.  The ground over which this battle was fought was drenched with the blood of 7000 men; Chesterfield's most deadly field of battle.  During the Battle of Drewry's Bluff, Marine Cpl. John Mackie took charge of one of the Galena's guns after the original crew had been wounded. For his actions Cpl. Mackie became the first United States Marine to win the Congressional Medal of Honor. 

 

Soon after the river battle, Drewry's Bluff became a naval station as well as an important training center for the Confederacy. The Marine Corps Camp of Instruction and the Confederate Naval Academy were established at the site.   Drewry's Bluff remained a strong point on Richmond's southern defenses until the fall of Petersburg. The last remnants of the Confederate James River Squadron met their end here when the ironclads Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Virginia II were blown up in front of Drewry's Bluff to prevent them from falling into Union hands.  After the Confederate withdrawal to Appomattox, VA., the fort was renamed "Fort Darling" as the Union forces occupied the site.  The site is now part of the Richmond National Battlefield. Drewry's Bluff has a walking trail, interpretive signs, an artillery piece, and a platform with a magnificent view of the James River. Living history events are frequently held at the park in the Spring and Fall. 

Grants Plan

 

In April 1864 newly promoted Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant assumed command of all Federal armies.  His first task was to devise a strategic plan to destroy the Confederate armies and end the war. Grant's plan called for the main attack to be made by Major General George Meade's Army of the Potomac with 120,000 soldiers.  Meade's mission was to destroy the Army of Northern Virginia with 60,000 troops, still under the command of General Robert E. Lee.  Lee's mission was simply to defend Richmond at all costs.  Major General Franz Sigel with 6,500 soldiers in the Valley Army was given the secondary mission to advance towards Staunton, attack the Confederate forces in the Shenandoah Valley under General John Breckinridge and prevent them from reinforcing Lee. 

If the military situation allowed it, Sigel was to advance against Richmond from the west.  Major General Benjamin F. Butler was to gather 40,000 troops at Yorktown and Gloucester, and support Major General Meade's offensive by attacking Richmond from the south side of the James River. Lieutenant General Grant's plan called for the Federal forces to meet at Richmond in just ten days there to join in the final destruction of the Army of Northern Virginia, the capture of Richmond, and the end of the war.  General Grant set the morning of May 4th, 1864 at the start of his offensive. 

Bermuda Hundred Landing

 

(May 4-6, 1864): In early May 1864, Union Gen. Benjamin Butler landed his Army of the James in Chesterfield County, between Richmond and Petersburg, and threatened both cities in his drive west from landings between the James and Appomattox Rivers. The Confederates under Gen. P.G.T.  Beauregard blocked him. Within weeks, Butler was trapped between the two rivers and remained there until Petersburg was evacuated in April 1865. To deceive the Confederates as to the date and location of his attack, on May 1st Major General Butler conducts a feint up the York River and along the peninsula. Colonel Guy V. Henry's brigade is transported to West Point where work is begun to repair the port.

Colonel George W. Cole's cavalry brigade marches along the peninsula as flank protection.  On May 2, 1864, the 1st United States Colored Calvary skirmishes with Confederates forces guarding the Jones Bridge over the Chickahominy River.  The Federal Calvary on May 3, 1864, is recalled to Williamsburg.  And a day later, the Army of the Potomac crossed the Rhapadan River and entered into the "wilderness"  In the early morning hours of May 4, 1864, the Army of the James began loading aboard transport ships anchored in the mouth of the York River.  The 18th Corps embarked from its camps around Yorktown, followed by the 1oth Corps from its cam in Gloucester.  That evening the flotilla steamed into the Chesapeake Bay and anchored Fortress Monroe.  On the Morning of May 5, the Army of the James steamed up the James River, landing Brigadier General Edward A. Wild's Brigade of United States Colored Troops at Fort Pocahontas and Fort Powhatan.  General Kautz's Calvary division departs to destroy railroad bridges over the Nottoway River.  The Army of the James captures City Point and lands the 18th Corps at Bermuda Hundred.

1st Port Walthall Battle

 

(May 6th, 1864) -The 1st Battle at Port Walthall Junction, an animated map tutorial by Robert J. Forman, Author of the Civil War Tour Guide Book, Bermuda Hundred Campaign.  General Charles Heckman's Federal forces of Butler's Army of the James was initially stopped by General Hagood's Confederate forces at Port Walthall Junction in Chesterfield County.  Heckman left the field and retreated back to Point of Rocks, leaving 8 dead, and his attack was deemed a failure.  He had 60 soldiers wounded. Confederate reinforcements continued to arrive at Port Walthall Junction.   Two days later, Butler was allowed to push the Confederates back to Swift Creek fortifications effectively cutting the railroad. 

Railroad Raids

 

Major General Butler's plan was to move the 18th Corps to Port Walthall Junction and destroy the railroad line while the 10th Corps moves to destroy the railroad lines at Chester Station with the division of General Ames in the lead.  Following them were the divisions of General Turner and General Terry.  They moved along the Bermuda Hundred Road past Ware Bottom Church to Chester Station.  General White's brigade (Ame's Division) crossed the Richmond Turnpike north of Port Walthall Junction.  Moving west, the brigade reached the railroad and began to destroy track.    Soon Generals Terry and Turner arrived and did effective destruction of the railroad until General Butler ordered them to move south.  Meanwhile, Graham's Army gunboats moved against Fort Clifton and rail station, Chester Station, was burned.

Battle of Swift Creek

 

(May 9- 10, 1864)  On May 8, 1864,  General George Pickety, Commander of the Petersburg defenses on ordered 11 Confederate divisions to occupy defensive positions on the banks of Swift Creek.  On Monday, May 9, 1864, the Union forces began probing for Confederate forces along the banks of Swift Creek.  Fighting erupted with musketry and the roar of artillery as Butler's army attacked the Confederates.  Failing to make contact, the Union 10th and 18th Corps moved towards Swift Creek probing for the Confederates.  General Haygood's N.C. Brigade is ordered to attack with disastrous results, however Confederate artillery prevents a disaster.  Swift Creek had three important crossings.  Most important was the Richmond Turnpike followed by the railroad bridge to the east and Brander's Bridge Road to the west. Haygood's Brigade defended the Turnpike and Brander's Bridge.  The 51st NC Regiment defended the railroad bridge.  The Federals formed for an attack.  Firing at 40 yards apart, the Federals with four regiments effectively fired volley after volley of rifle fire into the advancing Confederates.  Confusion and unclear orders on the part of the Confederates caused major casualties on Haygood's North Carolinians and the 21st SC Troops.  They were forced to retreat.  General Butler ordered a withdrawal back to his defensive positions at Bermuda Hundred.  But before that could be done, a battle ensued at Chester Station.  On May 10, 1864, General Robert Ransom's Divsion attacks the Federal rear guard.  The Federals rush in Hawley's, Whites, and Wistar's brigades to Chester Station.

Battle of Chester Station

 

(May 9 -10th, 1864) -During the Chester Station engagement on May 10, 1864, Confederate General Robert  Ransom's troop conducted a reconnaissance-in-force against a portion of the forces of General Benjamin Butler, United States Army, estimated at from twenty to thirty thousand strong, upon the Richmond and Petersburg turnpike.  Ransom's Confederates attacked south of Drewry's Bluff. 

(May 10th, 1864)   The Winfree House (known today as the "Yellow House" ) stood at the Federal center of this battle.   Here the 67th Ohio and the 13 Indiana troops were posted.  On the night of May 1oth, 1864, the Federals consolidated their positions at Swift Creek.  During the Chester Station engagement on May 10, 1864, Confederate General Robert  Ransom's troop conducted a reconnaissance-in-force against a portion of the forces of General Benjamin Butler, United States Army, estimated at from twenty to thirty thousand strong, upon the Richmond and Petersburg turnpike.  Ransom's Confederates attacked south of Drewry's Bluff.   Barton's brigade attacked the Federal right but is repulsed when Federal reinforcements arrive.  Bow out numbered, Major General Robert Ranson breaks contact and returns his division to Drewry's Bluff.  The USA 10th Corps returns to its defensive entrenchments. 

Advance on Richmond

 

On May 11, 1864, the Army of the James recovers after the battles of Swift Creek and Chester Station.  The Confederates assemble two divisions in Petersburg and march to Drewry's Bluff.  Major General Butler had no plans for May 11 except to improve his defenses to his trench works.  The Confederates had other plans.  Richmond had been pleading for help from General Beauregard to protect the Capitol.  Beauregard pondered how he was going to do this.  However, 11,000 Confederates simply walked the ten miles to Drewry's Bluff unencumbered.  Butler's hesitation on his May 12 battle plans provided the Confederates time to strengthen their positions.  On May 12, the 18th Corps forms the attack force with a two division front. Brigadier General Adelbert Ame's Division of the 10th Corps forms as the Army rear guard.  The Army of the James halts its advance on Richmond when the Confederate rear guard engages from Redwater Creek and then withdraws.  The Federals shift to the right and extend their line to the left.  On the evening of May 12, the Army of the James halts it advance on Richmond when the Confederates rear guard attacks from Proctors Creek.  The Federals did little on May 12 except to position various divisions along the way to Drewry's Bluff.  The 18th Corps attacks the Confederates but makes no contact.  General A.V. Kautz led a cavalry raid on Chesterfield Courthouse, set prisoners free from the jail and proceeding to Midlothian to tear up tracks of the Danville & Richmond Railroad.  The next day on May 13, 1864, the 18th Corps attacks but makes no contact when the Confederates rear guard withdraws during the night.  The 18th Corps halts when confronted with the Confederate outer defenses.

Battle of Wooldridge Hill 

 

(May 11 -15th, 1864)  The Battle of Wooldridge Hill is part of the campaign for Drewry's Bluff.   On May 11, 1864, The Army of the James made an attempted thrust towards the capital of the Confederacy, Richmond, VA.  Advancing along the Richmond Petersburg Turnpike, the Union forces reached a high hill overlooking Proctors Creek in Chesterfield County.  Taking a good part of the day, the Union Army crossed Proctors Creek heading toward the Chesterfield Courthouse.  They turned east behind the Confederate line.  They were met by the Confederate forces.  Woolridge Hill is a small ridge running north to south parallel to the Richmond& Petersburg Railroad.  The battle here was no small battle.  Ransome's North Carolinians fought well against the 10th Corps but felt the pincer movement.  Major General Hoke abandoned the works at Woolridge Hill leaving his Feraeal prisoners and 13 dead.  The Union Army occupied the site.  They rested but General Beauregard arrived at Drewry's Bluff on May 14th and had plans to give them a bigger battle the next day. This battle is detailed in the "Bermuda Hundred Tour Guide book "available at our public research library and our online store.

2nd Drewery's Bluff

 

This battle actually began at Fort Stevens on May 14, 1864, with a cannon duel. Fort Stevens, the main bastion of the Drewry's Bluff inner line, was the center of the Confederate attack against Union General Butler.  Positioned here were General Hagood's South Carolinians forces and the four guns of the Virginia Surry Light Artillery.  It became the pivotal point for a major Confederate counterattack and halted the advancing Union troops.  This battle was the largest of the Bermuda Hundred Campaign.

3rd Port Walthal Battle

 

As fighting continued at Drewry's Bluff, General Whiting is unable to hear the sounds of battle, and he is wary of being attacked.  He timidly approaches the Federal rear guard.  Facing only light resistance from two regiments from Brigadier General Adelbert Ames' Division the Confederates advance, then pull back and finally withdraw to Swift Creek. The Army of the James returns from the retreat a Drewry's Bluff unhindered.

Ware Bottom Church

 

On May 20, 1864, General Beauregard's Confederates attacked General Butler's Bermuda Hundred Line around the rustic Ware Bottom Church in Chesterfield County, Virginia.  About 10,000 troops were involved in this action.  Before the day was done, 1400 dead and wounded men from fourteen American states lay sprawled and bleeding upon the ground.  After driving back Butler's advanced pickets, the Confederates constructed the Howlett Line, effectively bottling up the Federals at Bermuda Hundred.  Confederate victories at Proctor's Creek and Ware Bottom Church enabled Beauregard to detach strong reinforcements for Lee's Army in time for the fighting at Cold Harbor.

Rufin Mill Battle

 

On May 25, 1864, the 21st Connecticut is sent on a reconnaissance across Ashton Creek and returns to report no Confederate contact.The next day, Major General Smith, believing that the Confederate right flank is unsecured, sends a force under the command of Brigadier General Martindale towards Port Walthall Junction.  Colonel Deven's brigade crosses Aston Creek and engages an unknown Confederate force, Ruffin Mill. Colonel Dutton, commanding the brigade, received orders to reconnoiter the left of the Confederate position and designated the 21st Connecticut to do the work.  With night coming on, he returned the regiment to its camp.  The following day, May b26, Colonel Dutton moved his brigade again with orders to push the reconnaissance until stopped by the Confederates.  After and the advance of nearly two miles,  he found the Confederates were fully entrenched.  Colonel Dutton forms a skirmish line and as they engaged the Confederates, Colonel Dutton was killed.  Smith recalled the Union force fearing an attack by the Confederates against his center. This ended the reconnaissance of the Confederate positions at Ashton Creek.

Fort Dutton Battle

 

This fort was located 4000 feet northeast of Battery Dantzler.  It was named after Colonel Arthur Dutton who was mortally wounded on May 26, 1864 (see Battle of Ruffin Mill).  On June 2, 1864, the Confederates mounted their own reconnaissance under the command of General Bushrod Johnson.  The brigades of Wise, Ransom, and Walker advanced against the Federal picket line.  Wise had little success as Colonel Dantzler and his 22nd SC. troops attacked  Federal Battery No. 6 (renamed Ft. Dutton).Using the ravine, Dantzler moved his men with 150 yards of the fort.  As they emerged from the ravine, the Confederates pushed back a part of the 7th Connecticut before being hit with canister from the guns at the fort.  Colone Dantzler and 16 of his men were killed in the failed assault.  This incident and the arrival of Federal reinforcements forced Walker's attack to fall back in disarray.

The Battle of Old Men and Young Boys

 

The battle, fought on the outskirts of Petersburg, Virginia, was to capture the city on June 9, 1864.  Major General Butler sent 4500 calvaries and infantry against the 2500 Confederate soldiers defending the city.    Butler's plan was to storm the city, destroy its bridges and return to Bermuda Hundred.  Several miles from the city, tired from a night march and already behind schedule, the Union army split into three columns.    TheUnion infantry under Quincy Gilmore 10th Corps was composed of Hawley's brigade and the 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, 18th Corps, (a brigade of U.S. Colored Troops) led in person by the division commander, Edward Hinks.

The infantry ran up against the Dimmock Line under construction in anticipation of just such an attack.   Gillmore refused to push the action and consequently the Union infantry did almost nothing against a skeleton force of Confederate defenders.  The Union diversion failed. General Kautz's calvary division attempted to enter the city from the south using the Jerusalem Plank Road.  They ran into the Confederate Home Guard and were thrown back.    Butler withdrew his forces.    This was called the " Battle of Old Men and Young Boys" by the local residents.  Fletcher Archer's militia had stood up against a Union calvary.  Though the militia was driven away, their action allowed the 4th NC Calvary and the Graham's Petersburg Battery to establish a second line of resistance.  

The battle was important as it indicated the weakly defined defenses of the city and gave Beauregard time to strengthen the Confederate defenders.    The Union army again tried to take the city but was met with a stronger Confederate force.    Layer Archer recalled that details for special service and guard duty in Richmond had left him with barely a company of inadequately armed men in civilian clothing, combining those "with head silvered o'er with the frosts of advancing years" and others "who could scarcely boast of the down upon the cheek".    His command repelled the first attack by the Northern troops but a second assault forced him back into the city.  The arrival of Confederate calvary and artillery put a check to further Union movement, but at the cost of 76 casualties to the reserves; more than half of those who had gone into action.

Battle for Petersburg

 

On June 11, 1864, Wise's brigade is sent to Petersburg and Gracie's Brigade arrives from Chaffin's Bluff.  With those two, Holman's Brigade of U.S. Colored Troops arrives at City Point.  By June 12, 1864, the Army of the Potomac begins to disengage from the Army of Northern Virginia and begins its march to Petersburg.  In the evening of June 14, 1864, the 18th Corps arrives at Bermuda Hundred.  On the morning of June 15, the 18th Corps crosses the Appomattox River to lead Grant's attack on Petersburg. 

In the evening Hoke's Division released by General Lee from the Army of Northern Virginia arrives in Petersburg.  Leaving behind a thin skirmish line, Beauregard abandons the Howlet Line and moves to Petersburg.  The 10th U.S. Corps then occupies the Howlett Line only to be attacked by Pickett's Division.  With daylight almost gone, Corse's Brigade leads Pickett's Division in recapturing part of the Confederate line from Howlett's down to the Clay farm.  The next morning on June 17, 1864, Pickett's Division continues its attack to recapture the remainder of the once abandoned Confederate Line all the way from Clay's Farm to the Dunn Farm.  This allows Gracie's Brigade to reoccupy the last stretch of the abandoned Howlett Line.  By the end of June, the Army of the Potomac's attack on Petersburg had failed and the Army of the James was bottled up.  The Bermuda Hundred Campaign in Chesterfield County, VA had come to an end  The Howlett Line became an effective barrier protecting Richmond until the fall of Petersburg on April 2, 1865.

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World War I

Chesterfield VA

July 28, 2014, marked the anniversary of the start of World War One (1914-1918). 

 

Europe was turned upside down when that man-made calamity was declared.  How could such world events create the disasters to take the best of our young people?  Even today, a good analyst can piece events together and see a bigger picture of war forming.  These cyclic events do happen and sadly with time, we just as quickly soon forget about them.  It becomes history just as this war did. 

Veteran's Day 2018 will end the anniversary of this war and you are invited to be in attendance at the historic 1917 Courthouse to help celebrate.

We need the help of Chesterfield families who had ancestors that fought or served in the "Great War to end all wars".

 

The Chesterfield Historical Society of Virginia needs veteran photographs, their military records, and other artifacts from the war and are hoping that family members with names like Austin, Albright, Cogbill, Brown, Anderson, Childress, Bailey, Belcher, Clements, Appelman, to name a few, will respond to help tell the story of the Chesterfield veterans who served and died in France. 


Pictured are William Henry Austin (Right side), an African American soldier from Midlothian, VA who served in France and Karl Schrum (left) from Chesterfield.  He had been gassed by the Germans and survived to come home.

 

 

We have a large database of names of Chesterfield veterans of all wars. 

You can visit the CHSV at the historic 1879 Trinity Church.

10111 Iron Bridge Rd

Chesterfield, VA 23832

 

Available research is information on WWI veterans and there are other records available to help you find your Chesterfield ancestors.  

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Contact

(804) 796-7121

Address

P.O. Box 40

10111 Iron Bridge Rd, Chesterfield, VA 23832, USA

©2017 BY CHESTERFIELD HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF VIRGINIA.