Archive for the ‘Headquarters or Camps’ Category

Green Spring W-36

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012


On this road, five miles south, is Green Spring, home of Governor Sir William Berkeley. Bacon the Rebel occupied it in 1676. Cornwallis, after moving from Williamsburg by this road on July 4, 1781, was attacked by Lafayette near Green Spring on July 6, 1781. Anthony Wayne was the hero of this fight.


Further Research

Historic Green Spring

 Green Spring was the land given to Governor Sir William Berkeley in 1643. It was under a total of 1,000 acres, and he had borders to the North, South, and East. Should he want to expand his territory, though, the West was full of unclaimed land. There was high ground, drinkable water, timber, and water accesses scattered all across his land. He then built a house relatively close to the spring. This has been considered one of the “largest stately mansions of the day” (Billings, 59-60). By 1660, the amount of acreage had more than doubled, and an additional 3,000 acres had been set-aside as “Governor’s Land” (Cotton).

Marquis de Lafayette

 During the Revolutionary War on July 6, 1781, Green Spring was the site of an important military skirmish between the British and American troops. Both the Marquis de Lafayette and General Cornwallis were in Williamsburg. An attack from either side was near certain. Marshland surrounded the Green Spring plantation, and was hard to travel through. Upon the beginning of battle, the American forces began to push back the British into a near retreat. That would change; as it then came to light the General Cornwallis had set up a trap. It would end with the Americans in an organized retreat after some cool thinking and quick planning of Brigadier General Anthony Wayne under Lafayette. The final count of deaths as well as retreats would lead this battle to be considered a British victory. The final casualty numbers for the Americans and British were 140 and 75, respectively. (Clary, 311). Green Spring had been used to house the American Wayne and the Frenchman Lafayette, and to be a marshaling point for their troops (Cotton).

General Cornwallis

 Another thing present at Green Spring was Berkeley’s interest in horticulture. He used his land as an experimental farm for the production of unique crops. Some of the included plants would be the usual tobacco, as well as hemp, flax, cotton, rice, and fruits such as grapes and apricots (Cotton).

Further Reading

Billings, Warren M. Sir William Berkeley and the Forging of Colonial Virginia. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2004.

Clary, David A. Adopted Son: Washington, Lafayette, and the Friendship that Saved the Revolution. New York: Bantam Books, 2007.

Cotton, Lee Peltham. Green Spring Plantation: A Historical Summary (Accessed April 12, 2012).

Photo Credits

“General Cornwallis,” The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, (accessed May 2, 2012).

“Historic Green Spring,” Historic Green Spring, (accessed May 2, 2012).

Historical Marker “Green Spring W-36,” courtesy of Lindsey Smith, 2012.

“Marquis de Lafayette,” New World Encyclopedia, (accessed May 2, 2012).

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Department of Historic Resources

Magruder’s Defenses W-44

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012


Here is a redoubt in the line of the Confederate defenses, built across the James-York Peninsula in 1861-62 by General John B. Magruder.

Further Research:

John B. Magruder, Confederate General born in Port Royal, Virginia known for his military expertise in delaying federal troops during the Peninsula Campaign in 1862.

Major General John B. Magruder, or “Prince John,” was a military officer who served in the American Civil War. General Magruder was assigned to the artillery but resigned from the U.S. Army when Virginia seceded the Union.  After he resigned, he was commissioned as a colonel in the Confederate army and rose quickly through the ranks to Major General.  His most important role during the war took place during and against Major General George B. McClellan’s Peninsula campaign in 1862 (Eicher).

At the Battle of Yorktown, Magruder was able to successfully deceive McClellan in regards to his strength – he made McClellan believe that he [Magruder] was actually stronger than he was.  In order to do so, he did things such as give illusions of larger troops, move his artillery frequently and use tons of ammunition whenever Union troops were in sight.  Furthermore, Magruder had prepared three defensive lines across the Peninsula.  The first was about twelve miles north of Fort Monroe and contained infantry outposts and artillery redoubts, and though it was insufficiently manned, its sole purpose was to deceive the Union forces about the second line of defense.

Plan of the Battle of Yorktown

The second line of defense stretched from Yorktown to Mulberry Island and was called the Warwick Line.  It consisted of more redoubts, rifle pits and strong fortifications by the river.  He built dams in order to pose a strong obstacle for the Union forces.  Finally, the third line was the use of a series of forts in Williamsburg, which were left unmanned so that the army could fall back on it if they had to from Yorktown (Sears, 70). His actions successfully delayed McClellan for weeks and earned him an enlightened seat in General Johnston’s eyes.  General McClellan was convinced that Magruder was stronger than he was and thus held back while general Johnston was able to bring in serious reinforcements for Magruder – though he still was unable to gain enough to defend his lines. However, it was not long before he fell from favor because he was not aggressive enough in battle and his drunkenness proved to be a problem.  He immediately was blacklisted in the eyes of Robert E. Lee, and reassigned elsewhere (Cutrer).

Battle of Yorktown

Further Reading

Cadorph, Paul D. Prince John Magruder: His Life and Campaigns. New York: John Wiley & sons, 1996.

Cutrer, Thomas W. Magruder, John Bankhead. Handbook of Texas Online. (accessed March 10, 2012).

Eicher, John H. and David J. Eicher. Civil War High Commands. New York: Stanford University Press, 2001.

Latimer, Jon. Deception in War. London: John Murray, 2001.

Sears, Stephen W. To the Gates of Richmond: The Peninsula Campaign. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2001.

Settles, Thomas M. John Bankhead Magruder: A Military Reappraisal. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2009.

Warner, Erza J. Generals in Gray. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1959.

Photo Credits

“John B. Magruder,” National Park Service, (accessed May 2, 2012).

“Plan of the Battle of Yorktown,” U.S. History Images: Battle of Yorktown, (accessed May 2, 2012).

“Battle of Yorktown,” U.S. History Images: Battle of Yorktown, (accessed May 2, 2012).

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Department of Historic Resources– This marker has since been removed due to construction.

Battle of Williamsburg W-43

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012


To the east of the road here, centering at Fort Magruder, was fought the battle of Williamsburg on May 5, 1862. The Union General McClellan was pursuing General Johnston’s retiring army. The rearguard of which was commanded by General Longstreet. Johnston ordered Longstreet to hold off McClellan’s attacking forces until the confederate wagon trains, bogged down in mud, were out of danger. This mission was accomplished and Johnston continued his retirement.

Further Research

The Battle of Williamsburg Map

The Battle of Williamsburg, also known as the Battle of Fort Magruder, was one of the largest battlefield encounters between Union and Confederate forces during McClellan’s famous Peninsula Campaign.  After having been delayed for around a month at the Yorktown defenses, General McClellan moved his troops in hot pursuit of Johnston and his fellow Confederate soldiers, who had started to retreat for more defensible positions closer to Richmond (Rickard).  At Williamsburg, Confederate soldiers aimed to hold up parts of the defense line simply to hinder the Union forces advancement into Richmond.

The Battle of Williamsburg

Confederate forces had positioned themselves in front of For Magruder, which served as their key point during the battle.  Because of muddy conditions, the Confederate retreat was hindered and thus James Longstreet had to hold the line at Williamsburg while fellow forces moved towards Etham’s landing.  General Sumner and General William F. Smith launched the first assault on Confederate lines on May 4th; but this had to be abandoned because of the woodland between the two forces that hindered them.  The next day, however, General Hooker started the battle facing Fort Magruder, which continued most of the day (civalwar).  The fighting was tremendous and eventually General Winfield S. Hancock was able to push back the Confederate forces with heavy losses.

Battle of Williamsburg--Gen. Hancock's charge, May 5, 1862

McClellan decided that Hancock’s actions were “brilliant” and that this battle was a superior victory for the Union forces – while this fact may be slightly skewed.  Both sides had gained something from this battle in that the Union perceived it as having pushed the Confederates from a defensive line with seriously outnumbered odds.  The Confederates saw the battle as a success because it was seen that General Longstreet had successfully held off Union attack and allowed for the Confederates to withdraw with precious supplies (Rickard).

Further Reading

Civil War Trust. The Battle of Willamsburg. (accessed March 9, 2012)

Rickard, J. Battle of Williamsburg, 5 May 1862. (accessed March 9, 2012)

Salmon, John S. The Official Virginia Civil War Battlefield Guide. Harrisburg: Stackpole Books, 2001.

Sears, Stephen W. To the Gates of Richmond: The Peninsula Campaign. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2001.

Photo Credits

Historical Marker “Battle of Williamsburg W-43,” courtesy of Lindsey Smith, 2012.

“Battle of Williamsburg Map,” Civil War Trust: Maps of Williamsburg, Virginia, (accessed May 2, 2012).

“The Battle of Williamsburg,” Library of Congress, (accessed May 2, 2012).

“Battle of Williamsburg- Gen. Hancock’s Charge,” Library of Congress, www.loc.goc (accessed May 2, 2012).

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Department of Historic Resources

Olive Branch Christian Church W-28

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012


In 1833 the founders of Olive Branch Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) met for worship at Hill Pleasant Farm. By 1835, the congregation had built a brick church on land donated by Dr. Charles M. Hubbard and Mary Henley. During the Civil War, Union soldiers occupied the church; they reportedly slept in the gallery and stabled their horses in the sanctuary. The congregation worshiped in the Farthing house until 1866, when the church was restored to usable condition. With that exception, Olive Branch Christian Church, one of the oldest churches of the Disciples of Christ in Virginia, has been in continuous use since its construction.

Further Research

The Olive Branch Christian Church is one of the oldest churches of the Disciples of Christ in Virginia.  In 1833, twenty “Disciples of Christ” met at Hill Pleasant farm to worship and eventually constructed the original church building in 1835 (OBCC).  The Disciples of Christ emerged during the Second Great Awakening in the 19th century (McAlister, 27).

Olive Branch Christian Church - Present Day

During the Civil War, Union soldiers used Olive Branch as an outstation.  The cavalry used the galley as sleeping quarters and the sanctuary as a stable.  The pews and flooring of the church was used for fuel and the windows broken during this war.  The Church was not returned to usable condition until 1866, until which time the congregation worshipped in the Farthing House (OBCC).

The Church does regular services for the public today.

Further Reading

McAlister, Lester G and William E. Tucker. Journey in Faith: A History of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). St Louis: Chalice Press, 1975.

Olive Branch Christian Church. “History”. (accessed March 8, 2012).

Photo Credits

Historical Marker “Olive Branch Christian Church W-28,” courtesy of Lindsey Smith, 2012.

“Olive Branch Christian Church-Present Day,” courtesy of Lindsey Smith, 2012.

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Department of Historic Resources

Trebell’s Landing W-49

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012


 At Trebell’s Landing on the James River, a mile southwest of here, the artillery and stores of the American and French armies were landed in September 1781. They were then conveyed overland some six miles to the siege lines at Yorktown. The troops disembarked at landings near Williamsburg. During the next few weeks, the allied armies under Gen. George Washington and the comte de Rochambeau besieged the British army commanded by Gen. Charles Cornwallis until he surrendered on 19 Oct. 1781, effectively ending the Revolutionary War.

Further Research

The Siege at Yorktown

Trebell’s landing was an important place during the Revolutionary War as it served as the grouping place for all of the artillery and stores of the American and French armies in 1781 (Greene).  The convenient location allowed for General George Washington and the Comte de Rochambeau to overcome General Cornwallis’ army easily during the siege of Yorktown.

George Washington

Early in September, Lafayette moved his forces to Williamsburg in order to block movements and advances of General Cornwallis.  It was not long before General Washington joined Lafayette and thus combined French and American forces (Yorktown National Battlefield).  By late September, there were landing operations, which brought much of the army’s artillery at the shore of Trebell’s Landing.  This movement gave General Washington command of well over 18,000 combined troops (Lengal, 337).  The location allowed for Washington’s artillery to readily and newly be resupplied and thus allowed for heavy fire upon the British.  The combined forces constantly slammed Cornwallis’ troops until October 17th.  On October 17th, Cornwallis officially surrendered (Lengal, 342).

Lord Cornwallis

After a long and arduous battle, the siege of Yorktown officially ended October 19, 1781 after two days of negotiation.  Furthermore, this battle is considered a decisive victory of a combined effort of American and French forces.  It is also considered to be the last major land battle of the Revolutionary War in that this battle and Cornwallis’ ultimate surrender eventually yielded to the end of the war because it initiated the negotiations between the United States and Great Britain.

Further Reading

Forbes, Allan. “Marches and Camp Sites of the French Army: Beyond New England during the Revolutionary War.” Proceedings of the Massachusetts’s Historical Society, Third Series 67 (October., 1941 – May, 1944). (accessed March 4, 2012).

Greene, Jerome. The Guns of Independence: The Siege of Yorktown, 1781. New York: Savas Beatie LLC, 2005.

Hatch, Charles. Yorktown and the Siege of 1781. Washington, D.C.: National Park Service, 1954. (accessed March 4, 2012).

Lengal, Edward. General George Washington. New York: Random House Paperbacks, 2005.

Russell, David Lee. The American Revolution in Southern Colonies. Jefferson: McFarland & Co., 2000.

Photo Credits

Historical Marker “Trebell’s Landing W-49,” courtesy of Lindsey Smith, 2012.

“The Siege at Yorktown,” The American Revolution: The Battle of Yorktown, 1781, (accessed May 2, 2012).

“George Washington,” Library of Congress, (accessed May 2, 2012).

“Lord Cornwallis,” Library of Congress, (accessed May 2, 2012).

View on Google Maps

Department of Historical Resources

Indian School at the College of William and Mary W-229

Thursday, March 15th, 2012


Using funds from the estate of British scientist Robert Boyle, the College of William & Mary established a school to educate young Indian men in 1697, just four years after the college’s founding. To encourage enrollment, in 1711 Lt. Gov. Alexander Spotswood began remitting tributes for area tribes who sent students. Students from tribes outside Virginia also enrolled. The Brafferton was constructed in 1723 to house the school, which provided education in reading and writing English, arithmetic and religion. The American Revolution caused British financial support to cease in 1776, and soon the school closed.

Further Research

Brafferton Building, College of William and Mary Campus

Upon Sir Robert Boyle’s death in 1691, funds from his estate were used to purchase Brafferton Manor in Yorkshire, which was then used to donate money from its revenue to support the newly formed College of William and Mary. There were two other buildings put up on the college grounds in addition to their center ground. The Brafferton Manor was then converted into a building to educate the local Native American populace in 1723 (Dickon and Nichol, 11-13). It would remain an active until the Revolutionary War, where funds had been cut and the school was closed down (Lancaster, 15).

Alexander Spotswood

The school had been made up of a mix of both Indian boys and white children from Williamsburg and the outlying tribes around the town. They would be taught reading, writing, and arithmetic (W&M Quarterly, Vol. IV, 73). The Native Americans would also be taught to spread the word of God and to aid in converting the other Native Americans around Williamsburg (History of the College of William and Mary, Vol. 258, 29). In the Civil War, both Confederate and Union forces used the Brafferton. Those who were at the college at the time had primarily joined the Confederate forces, and the Brafferton became a makeshift hospital and barracks. It was then taken over by Union troops in 1862 and would be held as a Union fort up to 1865 (Dickon and Nichol, 22).

In 1915, the Brafferton was used as college dormitories (Lancaster, 15) but it is currently being used as the offices of the president and the provost of the College of William and Mary (The College of William and Mary).

Further Reading

The College of William and Mary. “The Brafferton”. William and Mary. (Accessed April 12, 2012).

Dickon, Chris. The College of William and Mary. New York: Arcadia Publishing, 2007.

Lancaster, Robert A. Jr. Historic Virginia Homes and Churches. Philadelphia: JB Lippencott Company, 1915.

Randolph, JW, and English. The History of the College of William and Mary. Richmond: Main Street, 1874.

Tyler, Lyon G, edit. The William and Mary Quarterly, Volume XIV. Richmond: Whittet and Shepperson, Publishers, 1906.

Photo Credits

“Alexander Spotswood,” Encyclopedia Virginia, accessed May 2, 2012).

“Brafferton House,” The College of William and Mary, (accessed May 2, 2012).

Historical Marker “Indian School at the College of William and Mary W-229,” courtesy of Lindsey Smith, 2012.

 View on Google Maps

Department of Historic Resources link not available

Whitaker’s House W-45

Thursday, March 15th, 2012


A mile north of the road is Whitaker’s House, headquarters of General W. F. Smith, battle of Williamsburg, May 5, 1862.




Further Research

William Farrar Smith

May 5, 1862 saw the first battle of the Peninsula Campaign, which was spearheaded by Major General George B. McClellan. This battle was the result of General Joseph E. Johnston’s shocking evacuation of the Yorktown-Warwick River line just two days prior (Salmon, 80).  As a result of Johnston’s evacuation, McClellan hastily pursued him.  McClellan sent Brig. General George Stoneman to pursue Johnston’s rear guard, which was headed by Brig. General J.E.B. Stuart’s Calvary and with whom his men skirmished many times.  Furthermore, McClellan had ordered Brig. General William B. Franklin to sail up the York River to cut Johnston off and thus prevent him from escaping.  Weary because of foul weather, Johnston decided to wall up his troops at Fort Magruder.

Map of Peninsula Campaign

General William Ferrar Smith served with one of the corps divisions under Major General Erasmus Keyes.  Smith, also known as “Baldy,” led the division that attacked Johnston from the South.  Furthermore, Smith had made Whitaker’s House his headquarters during this battle (Warner, 463).   Unfortunately for General Hooker, in the midst of battle when Hooker was expecting Smith’s support, Smith was halted more than a mile away from Hooker’s position by General Sumner because he believed that the Confederate soldiers would leave their fortifications to attack him on Yorktown Road. This belief turned out to be true, but the Confederates ended up attacking Hooker, not Sumner and Smith.

In the end, however, the battle ended up in the favor of the Union and it was portrayed as an amazing victory over superior forces.

The house itself belonged to John Whitaker, born on May 21, 1745 in Yorktown, VA.  Whitaker played a key role in the process of forming Wake County out of wilderness and establishing the County’s Government. Also known as a “Trustee of the Peace,” Whitaker served in the Wake county Militia and as a Justice of the Court in Wake County from 1777 to 1787.  In addition to his public life, he was a successful planter and businessman and thus held a substantial amount of land.

Further Reading

Eicher, John. H and David J. Eicher. Civil War High Commands. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001. “John Whitaker 1745 – 1823.” (accessed March 20, 2012).

Salmon, John S. The Official Virginia Civil War Battlefield Guide. Harrisburg: Stackpole Books, 2001.

Sears, Stephen W. To the Gates of Richmond: The Peninsula Campaign. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2001.

Smith, William F. Autobiography of Major General William F. “Baldy” Smith, 1861-1864. Edited by Herbet M. Schiller. Dayton: Morningside House, 1990.

Warner, Erza J. Generals In Blue: Lives of Union Commanders. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1964.

Photo Credits

Historical Marker “Whitaker’s House W-45,” courtesy of Lindsey Smith, 2012.

“William Farrar Smith,” House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, (accessed May 2, 2012).

“Map of Peninsula Campaign,” Civil War Trust: Maps of the Peninsular Campaign 1862, (accessed May 2, 2012).

View on Google Maps

Department of Historic Resources