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.
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).
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).
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).
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. http://www.historicgreenspring.org/plantation_history.php (Accessed April 12, 2012).
“General Cornwallis,” The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, www.history.org (accessed May 2, 2012).
“Historic Green Spring,” Historic Green Spring, www.historicgreenspring.org (accessed May 2, 2012).
Historical Marker “Green Spring W-36,” courtesy of Lindsey Smith, 2012.
“Marquis de Lafayette,” New World Encyclopedia, www.newworldencyclopedia.org (accessed May 2, 2012).