Archive for the ‘Other’ Category

Seaford NP-3

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Inscription:

Settlement began here in 1636, when John Chisman patented 600 acres on Crab Neck, a peninsula bounded by Chisman Creek and Back Creek, a tributary of York River. The neck then lay in Charles River Parish in York County, one of the eight original shires created in 1634. A Confederate fortification stood near the narrowest part of the neck in 1862, and during the Civil War Union troops destroyed Zion Methodist Church here. Crab Neck post office was established in 1889; its name was changed to Seaford in 1910.

Further Research

Chief Powhatan

Tribes of the Algonquian-speaking Indians, who were united by Chief Powhatan, thrived in this area before English settlement of their colonies in the seventeenth century. (Gleach) These tribes became known as the Powhatans to the Powhatan Confederacy, with their primary village located near Glouchester, and hundreds of other villages were located throughout the Chesapeake Bay area and the Virginia coastal plain. (Spaar) The area was a prime region for fishing and seafood. (Wiggins)

Map of Southeastern Virginia

The community of Seaford was originally known as Crab Neck, Crab Rock and Calamar, and only 30 families lived there prior to the Civil War. (Quass) General John B. Magruder’s defensive lines also ran through the area, while the Confederate Ship’s Point Battery was nearby on the Poquoson River in 1862. Ship’s Point Battery contained around 16 heavy artillery guns, meant to thwart any advances by Union vessels.

During the Revolutionary War, this area was crucial to General Cornwallis’ defense of Yorktown in 1781. (Payette)

Further Reading

Gleach, Frederic W. Powhatan’s World and Colonial Virginia: A Conflict of Cultures. (Omaha, NB: University of Nebraska Press, 2000).

Payette, Pete. North American Forts. “Seaford Defenses.” Online at http://www.northamericanforts.com/East/vatide.html#seaford (Accessed April 12, 2012).

Quass, B. “Seaford Virginia” Online at http://www.quass.com/seafordvirginia.html (Accessed April 11, 2007).

Spaar, K. “The Potomac Appalachian trail club-short history of the Powhatan Indians”. Online at http://www.patc.net/history/native/ind_hist.html (Accessed April 11, 2007).

Photo Credits

Historical Marker “Seaford NP-3,” courtesy of Lindsey Smith, 2012.

“Chief Powhatan,” Find a Grave, www.findagrave.com (accessed May 2, 2012).

“Map of Southeastern Virginia,” Library of Congress, www.loc.gov (accessed May 2, 2012).

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Department of Historic Resources

Charles Church NP-1

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Inscription:

About one mile east, on north (lefthand) side of road (see stone marker and old foundations) stood the last colonial church of Charles Parish, built about 1708 and burned a century later, on the site of two earlier churches of the parish, built about 1636 and 1682. The parish was first known as New Poquoson Parish in 1635 and was renamed Charles Parish in 1692.

Further Research

Regarding Charles Parish, the House of Burgesses on Dec. 11thof 1692 ordered that, “upon the peticon of ye pishioners of New Poquoson in ye county of Yorke yt from henceforth forever hereafter ye old pish Church shall be called and named Charles Church. And ye river formerly called New Poquoson river shall from time to time and all times hereafter be called and written, Charles river.” (125) After this proclamation, the parish officially became known as Charles Church. The Register of the Parish has offered a long history of the Church’s reverends, and members. One of the first entries was made in 1687: “Ye Rev. Thomas Finney, rector of this parish, died and was buried in the chancel of New Poquoson Church.” (126)

The next minister, Rev. James Sclater served the parish for 35 years, and died in 1723. After Sclater’s death, it was reported to the Bishop of London that Charles Parish’s leadership was vacant. Rev. James Falconer was then called from Elizabeth City to serve as rector, but died shortly after in 1727. After Falconer’s death, Rev. Theodosius Staige came from Fredericksburg, and then died in 1747. The Register then mentions Rev. Thomas Warrington as the church’s rector, but was called away from the church in 1756. Rev. Samuel Shields is the last name mentioned on the register in 1789. Throughout 140 years of existence, Charles Parish had only six ministers. (127)

"Charles Parish" book

Today, The Register of Charles Parish, York County, Virginia is the oldest surviving database of Colonial Virginia genealogy that exists. It provides the records of the births and deaths of its members from 1648 to 1789.

Further Reading

Bell, Landon C. Charles Parish, York County, Virginia: History and Registers, Births, 1648-1789 and Deaths, 1665-1787. Indexed. Clearfield Co, 1999.

 Colonial Churches in the Original Colony of Virginia: a Series of Sketches by Especially Qualified Writers. Southern Churchman Co., 1908.

Photo Credits

Historical Marker “Charles Church NP-1,” courtesy of Lindsey Smith, 2012.

“Charles Parish,” The Virginia Shop at the Library of Virginia, www.thevirginiashop.org (accessed May 2, 2012).

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Department of Historic Resources

Battle of Green Spring V-39

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Inscription:

Nearby, late in the afternoon of 6 July 1781, Gen. Charles Cornwallis and cavalry commander Col. Banastre Tarleton with 5,000 British and Hessian troops clashed with 800 American troops commanded by Brig. Gen. “Mad” Anthony Wayne and the Marquis de Lafayette, believing  that the main British force was across the James River, and that  he was attacking Cornwallis’s rear, Wayne soon realized that he was facing far superior numbers. He startled the advancing British forces by charging them, exchanging volleys, and then withdrawing his troops from encirclement and certain defeat. Dusk prevented Cornwallis from pursuing the Americans.

Further Research

General Cornwallis

In the summer of 1781, General Lord Cornwallis and his 6,000 British regulars began to move from Richmond east towards Williamsburg. Tasked with the effort of quelling Virginia’s revolutionary resistance, Cornwallis put chase to the Continental Army of about 3,000 soldiers and militiamen under the Marquis de Lafayette. Lafayette was able to evade Cornwallis’ forces for about a month, until General Anthony Wayne reinforced his Continental Army. These reinforcements bolstered Lafayette’s Army to 4,000 men, and gave him the confidence to strike out against Cornwallis’ frequent raids against colonial assets.

Battle of Green Spring

The first major action that Summer occurred at Spencer’s Ordinary near Williamsburg, where two minor detachments of the British and Colonials fought to a stalemate before retreating back to their main armies. Upon his arrival in Portsmouth, Cornwallis received orders from General Sir Henry Clinton to prepare his army to depart to New York. The British intended to move Cornwallis’ army by ship, at the small town of Portsmouth on the Virginia peninsular. In order to make this maneuver, it was necessary for the British to cross the James River by ferry on the Green Spring Plantation.

Unwilling to leave Virginia without bloodying the Colonial army once more, Cornwallis planned to trap Lafayette’s forces at the James River ferry crossing. On July 6th, British General sent only John Graves Simcoe’s Queen’s Rangers across the river, and cleverly hid his main force at the bottom of a marshy slope. To complete his trap, Cornwallis sent a feint group of deserters to Lafayette, with information that the main body of their army had crossed the river. Lafayette jumped at the opportunity, and ordered General “Mad Anthony Wayne to advance with 500 soldiers against what he assumed was the rear-guard of the British Army. After a slow but successful two-hour advance upon the British position, Lafayette ordered 300 Pennsylvania reserves to bolster Wayne’s main attack group. The Colonials finally reached an abandoned British artillery piece that evening, which was the signal for the main British force to surprise the unsuspecting Americans. Cornwallis’ artillery opened up with hellacious canister fire, and then 5,000 of his infantrymen charged Wayne’s outnumbered Americans.

This shocked and thwarted the Colonial advance, but Wayne was able to reassemble his men back into formation. As Lafayette directed reinforcements to prevent his main force from utter decimation, Wayne orchestrated an infantry charge of his own. His 800 infantrymen counter charged the 5,000 British troops with fixed bayonets, which allowed Lafayette’s reserves to provide a sufficient amount of cover for the entrapped Colonials. Outraged, Cornwallis personally led an infantry a second British infantry charge, which effectively resulted in an American retreat. Lafayette’s Colonial Army retreated back to the Green Spring Plantation, and Cornwallis’ Army eventually crossed the river.

Shortly after this battle, Cornwallis received orders from Clinton to stay in Virginia and establish a naval stronghold in the peninsular. This culminated in the Siege of Yorktown in October of that year.

Further Reading

Johnston, Henry Phelps. The Yorktown Campaign and the Surrender of Cornwallis, 1781. Harper & Brothers, 1881.

Ramsay, David. The History of the American Revolution. Printed and sold by James J. Wilson, 1811.

Ward, Harry M. For Virginia and for Independence: Twenty-Eight Revolutionary War Soldiers from the Old Dominion. McFarland, 2011.

Eisenhower, John, and W. J. WOOD. Battles of the Revolutionary War. Da Capo Press, 2003.

Photo Credits

Historical Marker “Battle of Green Spring V-39,” courtesy of Lindsey Smith, 2012.

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

“Battle of Green Spring,” courtesy of Lindsey Smith, 2012.

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Department of Historic Resources

Spencer’s Ordinary W-35

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Inscription:

On this road, four miles south, the action of Spencer’s Ordinary was fought, June 24, 1781, between detachments from Lafayette and Cornwallis’s armies.

 

 

 

Further Research

General Lord Cornwallis

In the summer of 1781, General Lord Cornwallis and his 6,000 British regulars began to move from Richmond east towards Williamsburg. Tasked with the effort of quelling Virginia’s revolutionary resistance, Cornwallis put chase to the Continental Army of about 3,000 soldiers and militiamen under the Marquis de Lafayette. Lafayette was able to evade Cornwallis’ forces for about a month, until General Anthony Wayne reinforced his Continental Army. These reinforcements bolstered Lafayette’s Army to 4,000 men, and gave him the confidence to strike out against Cornwallis’ frequent raids against colonial assets.

Queen's Rangers Seal

On June 25th, Lafayette received word that Cornwallis had sent a detachment of Queen’s Rangers under Lieutenant Colonel John Graves Simcoe to forage for food and destroy colonial vessels along the Chickahominy River. Intending to intercept Simcoe’s forces, Lafayette and Wayne ordered American Colonel Richard Butler to confront Simcoe with a mixed group of Pennsylvania cavalry and infantrymen under Captain William McPherson, and two companies of Virginia riflemen led by Majors Richard Call and John Willis. The next day on the 26th, around 100 colonial infantry and cavalrymen encountered Simcoe’s vanguard near Spencer’s Ordinary. The first action occurred when Captain McPherson and his cavalry were charged by Simcoe’s own mounted troops. In this initial action McPherson fell from his horse, and several of his men were taken prisoner. After this small melee, Colonel Butler’s main force began to arrive just as Simcoe’s infantry was advancing to support his cavalry. Simcoe learned from the prisoners that Lafayette’s main force was near by, and he ordered that this information be relayed to Cornwallis in Williamsburg. Simcoe also had his men construct tree barricades near Spencer’s Ordinary to provide a defensive position against any attack.  The British Lieutenant Colonel then formed his men into a manipulative formation meant to cause Butler to assume he possessed a large amount of soldiers. This ploy initially was successful, and Simcoe ordered an infantry charge against Butler’s lines to again give off the impression that his force was much larger than it actually was. Butler’s men were able to withstand this charge, and Simcoe then ordered a cavalry charge and discharged a cannon against the Colonial forces. After this skirmish and stalemate both detachments retreated, for fear of engaging the main body of either opposing force.

John Graves Simcoe

The aftermath of this foray resulted in 9 killed, 14 wounded, and 32 captured Colonials, and 11 killed and 25 wounded British soldiers. Simcoe was forced to leave his wounded men under a flag of truce in Spencer’s Ordinary. Both army detachments retreated to their respective camps, and would meet again at the Battle of Green Spring on July 6th later that summer.

 

Further Reading

Fryer, Mary Beacock, and Christopher Dracott. John Graves Simcoe, 1752-1806: a Biography. Dundurn Press Ltd., 1998.

Johnston, Henry Phelps. The Yorktown Campaign and the Surrender of Cornwallis, 1781. Harper & Brothers, 1881.

Lossing, Benson John. The Pictorial Field-book of the Revolution: Or, Illustrations, by Pen and Pencil, of the History, Biography, Scenery, Relics, and Traditions of the War for Independence. Harper & brothers, 1860.

Lytle, Richard M. The Soldiers of America’s First Army, 1791. Scarecrow Press, 2004.

Photo Credits

Historical Marker “Spencer’s Ordinary W-35,” courtesy of Lindsey Smith, 2012.

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

“Queen’s Rangers Seal,” Historical Narratives of Early Canada, www.uppercanadahistory.ca (accessed May 2, 2012).

“John Graves Simcoe,” Historical Narratives of Early Canada, www.uppercanadahistory.ca (accessed May 2, 2012).

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Department of Historic Resources

State Shipyard W-31

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Inscription:

On this road five miles west was the State Shipyard on Chickahominy River, burned by the British General Phillips on April 21-22, 1781.

 

 

 

Further Research

Major General William Phillips British Royal Artillery (1731-1781)

In 1776, Virginian colonists destroyed the Norfolk shipyards in an attempt to deny the British Navy from utilizing its resources. A new shipyard was then constructed far up the Chickahominy River, with hopes that it would be less vulnerable to a British attack. The destruction of the Portsmouth shipyard in 1780 increased greatly increased the value of this newly constructed shipyard. This shipyard was a small operation, and was only able to produce a minute amount of Colonial warships. Accordingly, the private vessels of Virginians were mostly relied upon to resist the British navy. An officer of the shipyard, James Maxwell wrote to Thomas Jefferson in 1780 that the shipyard was in the process of dismantling and repairing a ship but the militia assigned to sail it had deserted. This was often the case as the state of the Virginia navy was poor throughout the War. In April of 1781 as the British navy began to creep into the waterways of the Peninsular, Thomas Jefferson ordered that the vessels located at the state shipyard be anchored further up the James River to avoid destruction. This tactic was effective, as the British navy under General Phillips destroyed the shipyard on the Chickahominy along with a 20-gun vessel and a warehouse on April 21st. Phillips’ victory was significant as it allowed the British to penetrate further up the James River.

Further Reading

Ward, Harry M. For Virginia and for Independence: Twenty-Eight Revolutionary War Soldiers from the Old Dominion. McFarland, 2011.

Kranish, Michael. Flight from Monticello: Thomas Jefferson at War. Oxford University Press, 2010.

Selby, John E., and Don Higginbotham. The Revolution in Virginia, 1775-1783. Williamsburg: Colonial Williamsburg, 2007.

Morgan, Timothy E. Williamsburg: A City That History Made. Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2004.

Photo Credits

Historical Marker “State Shipyard W-31,” courtesy of Lindsey Smith, 2012.

“Major General William Phillips British Royal Artillery (1731-1781),” City of Petersburg, Virginia, www.peterburg-va.org (accessed May 2, 2012).

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Department of Historic Resources

Six-Mile Ordinary W-34

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Inscription:

Six-Mile Ordinary, a popular 18th-century tavern also known as Allen’s for its proprietor Isham Allen, stood six miles from Williamsburg. On 1 July 1774, a group of free holders congregated there and drafted the James City Resolves not to import British goods. Two years later, they gathered again to declare their support for American independence. On 21 April 1781, Col. James Innes notified the governor that 500 British infantrymen, 50 horses, and 4 pieces of artillery had come ashore at Burwell’s Ferry. Because of this unexpected event, Innes and his troops retreated to Six-Mile Ordinary around midnight.

Further Research

Taproom of a Tavern

Six-Mile Ordinary was originally named based on the tavern’s distance from Williamsburg. Elizabeth D. Taylor inherited the farm that the ordinary was located on from her husband, who bought the property in 1827. The tavern stood adjacent with Old Stage Road, and Taylor managed the property until the end of the Civil War, when she became indebted to creditors. The land and building was then deeded to her son Henley L. Taylor. Later into the 19th century, Langdon T. Hankins and A.B. Tuttle acquired the deed and transformed the tavern into a merchandise exchange store.

Taproom Furnishings of an Old Tavern

Interesting Facts:

An ordinary refers to an old tavern, such as Six-Mile Ordinary and Burnt Ordinary. 

 

Further Reading

Lewis, Sara E. James City County. Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2009.

Photo Credits

Historical Marker “Six-Mile Ordinary W-34,” courtesy of Lindsey Smith, 2012.

Earle, Alice Morse. “Taproom of a Tavern,” Project Gutenberg. Stage Coach and Tavern Days. New York: MacMillan and Company, 1900, www.gutenberg.org (accessed May 2, 2012).

Earle, Alice Morse. “Taproom Furnishings of an Old Tavern,” Project Gutenberg. Stage Coach and Tavern Days. New York: MacMillan and Company, 1900, www.gutenberg.org (accessed May 2, 2012).

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Department of Historic Resources

Burnt Ordinary W-33

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Inscription:

First called John Lewis’ Ordinary and then Fox’s. Burnt Ordinary received its name in Jan. 1780 when, according to the Virginia Gazette, Fox’s Ordinary burned to the ground. Later, in Oct. 1781, when the French army’s wagon train passed by, Alexander Berthier wrote that “two old chimneys” stood here in the fork of the road. Also in 1781, Samuel Dewitt, George Washington’s cartographer, noted the site of the “Burnt Brick Ordinary”, on one of his maps. Elements of Lafayette’s army camped two miles south of here at Chickahominy Church after the Battle of Green Spring on 6 July 1781.

Further Research

Marquis de Lafayette

On January 19th of 1863, about a mile from Burnt Ordinary, the Third battalion of the 5th Pennsylvania Cavalry began a mission to scout the roadways in between Richmond and Williamsburg. Captain Cameron commanded two companies of the battalion, and ordered Lieutenant Vezin to advance with eighteen men. Of these men, Vezin ordered Sergeant Anderson to advance another two hundred yards with six of the original eighteen men. During their advance, seventy rebel cavalrymen appeared who formed a line to block the intentions of Anderson. As the small party of men turned to rejoin Lieutenant Vezin, another group of twenty rebel cavalrymen rode out to form a line in their rear. In an effort to escape their entrapment, Anderson charged the twenty rebels to reach the safety of Vezin’s larger group. Only Anderson broke through the twenty rebels, as they captured his other six men. In response, Vezin ordered a charge on these twenty rebels, and was successful as he recaptured all but one of his men. In addition the Union cavalrymen also captured four rebel soldiers and five of their horses.

Further Reading

Bracekett, Albert, and Gallatin Bracekett Albert Gallatin Bracekett. History of the United States Cavalry. Applewood Books, 2009.

The Tribune Almanac. New York Tribune, 1868.

Photo Credits

Historical Marker “Burnt Ordinary W-33,” courtesy of Lindsey Smith, 2012.

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

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Department of Historic Resources

Green Spring Road V-42

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

Inscription:

The 17th century road to Green Spring, home of Governor Sir William Berkeley, was the eastern part of the Great Road, the earliest-developed English thoroughfare in Virginia. The Great Road ran from Jamestown Island toward the falls of the James River. The road was an important thoroughfare used to transport goods and forward communications between settlements. Originally, the Green Spring Road followed close to the James River, linking Jamestown to Green Spring. On 6 July 1781, the Revolutionary War Battle of Green Spring was fought in the fields flanking this road. By this time, the lower portion of the road (a part of present day Rte. 614) had shifted eastward.

Further Research
Green Spring was known for numerous events in American history, such as a point in Nathaniel Bacon’s Rebellion as well as for the Battle of Green Spring during the Revolutionary War. The Battle of Green Spring was fought between the forces of the Marquis de Lafayette and General Charles Cornwallis on July 6, 1781. It ended in a rout of the Revolutionary troops, but was not a total defeat as General Cornwallis did not pursue the fleeing Americans (Clary, 311).

On that day, there were a number of Americans who recorded what they had seen firsthand. With the many viewpoints, the personal accounts range from strictly military to more personal views with biases. The first comes from Captain John Davis of the 1st Pennsylvania regiment, where he describes the events of July 6, 1781 with a strategic approach. He lists the numbers of units and casualties of that battle.

“At sun rise we took up the line of march for Jamestown; which place the enemy lay  at.   The Ist  Batt” was detached with some riflemen, which brought on a scattering fire that continued many  hours, when the  2nd  &  3rd  Batt’ with one  of  Infantry arrived in sight;  we formed & brought on  a  Gen’ Action.  Our advances regular at a  charge, till we got  within 8o  yds.  of their main body, under a heavy fire of  Grape shot,  at  which   distance we opened our musquettry at their line;  3 of  our artillery horses being wounded;  & then their right flanking our  left, rendered a retreat necessary, with the loss of  2  pieces of Artillery.” (Davis, 2).

William McDowell of the same regiment included more of a look on the aftermath of the battle, including the lists of those wounded and some of the events post-retreat (Rees, 6).

The most interesting accounts comes from the leading officer of the Advance Guard, Major William Galvan. His retelling is the only known detailed narrative of the battle by an American. He writes not only about the general statistics of Green Spring, but also about the battle from his own point of view. It is a good portrayal of the struggle from a commanding officer of a group of units when forced to retreat or forced into any tight position (Rees, 7-8).

Of the troops available to General George Washington before and after this battle, 542 of 830 soldiers remained as fit for duty (Rees, 9).

 

Further Reading

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

Davis, John. “Diary of Captain John Davis, of the Pennsylvania Line.” The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 1, No. 1. July, 1893.

Rees, John U. “A Smart firing commenc’d from both parties…” http://revwar75.com/library/rees/pdfs/Virginia.pdf (Accessed March 12, 2012).

Photo Credits

Historical Marker “Green Spring Road V-42,” courtesy of Lindsey Smith, 2012.


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Department of Historic Resources link not available

Quarterpath Road W-42

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

Inscription:

James Bray owned land nearby in Middle Plantation by the 1650s, and Quarterpath Road probably began as a horse path to one of Bray’s quarters or farm units. Over the years, the road was improved; it extended to Col. Lewis Burwell’s landing on the James River by the early eighteenth century. As Williamsburg grew, Quarterpath Road became one of the principal routes by which travelers and trade goods were brought into the colonial capital.

Further Research

Field school students excavating near a brick chimney foundation at the Quarterpath Road site

Very little remains in Williamsburg in regard to defenses during the Civil War. Quarterpath Road shows the placement of a Confederate line, however (Konstam, 91). It was located within site of one confederate fort named Fort Magruder. It was a highly defensible point which also had a view over the point where York and Hampton Roads met. The Confederate troops had set up earthworks of a sort to aid in defense, but the area had revolutionary works still remaining from years past. There were issues, though, such as the possibility of Williamsburg being completely bypassed via the James River (Dubbs, 69).

Depiction of a fight at Fort Magruder

General Magruder, of the fort, had requested for both reinforcements and a blockade of the James River with sunken ships. The second request did not happen, but Magruder and the Confederates did gain some reinforcements, as did the Federal troops under McClellan. Over the course of one month, the numbers of the Confederate and Union troops would increase to roughly 54,000 and 112,000 men, respectively. A series of small skirmishes would take place over the entirety of the Hampton Roads and Yorktown areas (Dubbs, 69-87). It was more or less a Union victory.

Middle Plantation was also an important place, though not for the same reasons. With the burning down of Jamestown when Nathaniel Bacon and his followers left, Virginia’s General Assembly met several times at the Middle Plantation. Of the members, one was James Bray whom served as a councilor that died in 1692. Two other major things that came about in Middle Plantation include the Bruton Parish Church, as well as the College of William and Mary (Morgan, 24).

Further Reading

Dubbs, Carol K. Defend This Old Town: Williamsburg During the Civil War. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State Press, 2002.

Konstam, Angus. Fair Oaks 1862. McClellan’s Peninsula Campaign. Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 2003.

Morgan, Timothy E. Williamsburg: A City That History Made. Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2004.

Photo Credits

“Depiction of a fight at Fort Magruder,” CWDG Online, http://cwdgonline.org (accessed May 2, 2012).

“Field school students excavating near a brick chimney foundation at the Quarterpath Road site,” The African Diaspora Archaeology Network, www.diaspora.uiuc.edu (accessed May 2, 2012).

Historical Marker “Quarterpath Road W-42,” courtesy of Lindsey Smith, 2012.

 

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Department of Historic Resources

New Kent Road W-26

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

Inscription:

By the 1720s, several taverns stood on New Kent Road (also called the Old Stage Road) between Williamsburg and New Kent Court House. During two wars, the road served opposing armies as well as travelers. In June 1781, near the end of the Revolution, British commander Gen. Charles Cornwallis marched his army from Richmond to Williamsburg on the road, with the Marquis de Lafayette and his army in cautious pursuit. During the Civil War, Gen. Joseph E. Johnston’s Confederate army withdrew west on the road toward Richmond after the Battle of Williamsburg on 5 May 1862; Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan’s Army of the Potomac slowly followed.

Further Research

Old Stage Coach

New Kent Road has been an important pathway in both the American Revolutionary and Civil Wars. It had previously been known as the “Old Stage Coach Road.”

Around the later portion of the American Revolutionary War, General Cornwallis of the British army had used this road to move his troops between Williamsburg and Richmond in June of 1781. The Marquis de Lafayette had cautiously followed. Upon watching, Lafayette had a tactic of keeping a solid defense in the case of Cornwallis turning around and launching an attack against his pursuers. This was a focus on maneuvering and complete abstinence of any general engagement (Johnston, 54).

Bottom's Bridge

The exact date in which Cornwallis had passed along this road was on June 24, 1781, and a day later he passed by the American reconnaissance group at Bottom’s Bridge. Lafayette, who arrived two weeks prior and lied in wait for the British troops to pass by, had beaten him there. The primary reason for this surveillance tactic was to enable the General Washington to know if a surprise attack would be launched against the American troops (Harris, 19).

“My Dear Sir,
By the time you receive this you must have accounts from the enemy. Should they be near us, this would be the good time for the night attack; but I am afraid we shall not have the opportunity. Whatever road the enemy take, you will please to proceed in that route, and, if opportunity offers; to attack them. You will do for the best.
Yours,
Lafayette”
(Johnston, 54)

Along the way, General Cornwallis had destroyed American goods. Some of the goods included tobacco, food, uniforms, flour, and muskets (Russell, 261)

Further Reading

Harris, Malcolm Hart. Old New Kent CountyVol. 1. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 2006.

Johnston, Henry Phelps. The Yorktown Campaign and the Surrender of Cornwallis, 1781. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1881.

McClellan, George B. Letter of the Secretary of War Transmitting Report on the Organization of the Army of the Potomac and of Its Campaigns in Virginia and Maryland Under the Command of Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan from July 26, 1861 to November 7, 1862. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1864.

Rafuse, Ethan Sapp. McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2005.

Russell, David Lee. The American Revolution in the Southern Colonies. New York: AS Barnes, 1877.

Symonds, Craig L. Joseph E. Johnston: A Civil War Biography. New York: WW Norton and Company, 1992.

Photo Credits

“Bottom’s Bridge,” The National Archives, http://arcweb.archives.gov (accessed May 2, 2012).

Earle, Alice Morse, “Old Stage Coach,” The Project Gutenberg. Stage Coach and Tavern Days. New York: The MacMillan Company, 1900 www.gutenberg.org (accessed May 2, 2012).

Historical Marker “New Kent Road W-26,” courtesy of Lindsey Smith, 2012.

Department of Historic Resources