Posts Tagged ‘Green Spring’

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

Green Spring W-36

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

Inscription:

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 Summaryhttp://www.historicgreenspring.org/plantation_history.php (Accessed April 12, 2012).

Photo Credits

“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).

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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

Sir William Berkeley V-42-A

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Inscription:

Oxford educated, Sir William Berkeley (1605-1677) was governor of Virginia from 1641 to 1652 and from 1600 to 1677, holding office longer than any other governor of Virginia, colonial or modern. Under his leadership, Virginia changed from a colonial outpost to a center of agriculture and commerce. His creation of the bicameral General Assembly helped establish the origins of American political self-rule. Nathaniel Bacon’s Rebellion in 1676 threatened Berkeley’s legacy. After Bacon suddenly died on Oct. 26, Berkeley regained his authority as governor and ended the rebellion by January 1677. The site of Berkeley’s Green Spring House is north of here.

Further Research

Sir William Berkeley

William Berkeley was born on a wintry day in 1605 to Elizabeth and Sir Maurice Berkeley of Somerset, England.  After developing a close relationship with King Charles I, Berkeley was appointed to the titles of governor and captain-general of the colony of Virginia (Billings, 32).  On March 8th of 1641, Berkeley officially assumed his duties as governor of Virginia.  He arrived in Jamestown in the spring of 1642 and upon specific instructions from King Charles I, he was to “promote stability and patriotism and stimulate economic growth” (Grizzard and Smith, 27).

Chief Opechcancanough

In 1644, Pamunkey native Chief Opechancanough attacked the colony of Jamestown in what would  come to be known as the Indian Massacre of 1644.  Berkeley quickly assumed command of the armed forces and after about six weeks, the colonists were finally able to ward off the natives.  After a few more years of colonists and natives fighting, Governor Berkeley was able to capture Opechancanough and in October of 1646, Governor Berkeley was able to negotiate a treaty with the new Pamunkey chief, Necotowance (Grizzard and Smith, 28).  In this treaty, Governor Berkeley established a land boundaries and a peace settlement that would be understood as long as the natives stayed on their land and promised to pay an annual tribute to the Governor.

During the 1660’s, tensions had begun to rise once again between the colonists and the natives.  Colonists were having difficulties economically, mostly due to crops and in many cases these problems were being blamed on the natives.  More and more attacks and fights were occurring between the colonists and the natives and ever since the formation of the treaty the Governor had established between himself and the Pamunkey natives, Berkeley had developed a very “laissez faire” attitude.  He did not perceive smaller quarrels as being anything that would amount to a large-scale attack, so he did not react to these.  Disgruntled colonists and planters all throughout the colony were angry regarding Berkeley’s complicit attitude and in the summer of 1676, one planter was desperate to make some changes.

Nathaniel Bacon

Nathaniel Bacon was a 29-year-old planter who lived in the Jamestown settlement and harbored ill will towards the natives.  He was appalled by Berkeley’s complacency and in 1676 he led a rebellion against Governor Berkeley and his assembly.  Bacon led about 500 men into Green Spring and later Jamestown, before burning it down on September 19th (Grizzard and Smith, 29).  Embarrassed, Governor Berkeley was recalled back to England by Charles II to answer for his failure at protecting the colonists.  Governor Berkeley died on July 9, 1677 and was buried at Twickenham in Middlesex.

Policy towards Natives

“Forbid all persons whatsoever to receive into their houses the person of any Indian or to converse or trade with them” (Billings, 51). Initially, Governor Berkeley harbored no ill will towards the natives of the area and he encouraged the colonists to do the same. However, in 1667 after an attack by the natives and the consequential loss of slaves, an uprising of disgruntled planters led by Nathaniel Bacon Jr. occurred in an effort to revolt against Governor Berkeley. This skirmish that came to be known as Bacon’s Rebellion resulted in the loss of many lives and the embarrassed and shame filled governor was summoned by King Charles II to return to England and he was further reprieved of his duties (Grizzard and Smith, 29).

Bacon’s Rebellion

Bacon's Rebellion

In the mid to late 1600’s, tensions between the local natives of the Virginia colony and the colonists themselves were beginning to rise. Native attacks were occurring more frequently and they were becoming more violent as well. In 1676, natives attacked the home of Nathaniel Bacon Jr. and in doing so they stole his slaves. Being as Bacon was an established planter, slaves were the key to his trade and his livelihood, and this vicious act infuriated him. Immediately, Bacon contested to Governor Berkeley of Virginia, but with no avail as Governor Berkeley maintained a strict non-violence policy towards the natives. Outraged, Bacon commanded a rebellion against the Governor and his conformist policies towards the natives and he acted out violently, burning down various houses and other buildings. As a result, Governor William Berkeley was renounced of his position as governor of Virginia and he was forced to return to England by demand of King Charles II (Billings, 235).

Bacon’s Declaration to the People

The Declaration of the People, against Sr: Wm: Berkeley, and Present Governor’s of Virginia

For having upon specious Pretences of publick Works raised unjust Taxes, upon the Commonaltie, For advancing of Private Favourites. And other sinister Ends, but noe visibile Effect, in any Measure adequate.

Nathaniel Bacon's Declaration of the People

For having abused, and rendered Contemptable, his Maties: Justice, by advancing to Places of Judicature, Scandalous and ignorant Favourites.
For having wronged his Maties: Prorogative, and Interest, by assuming the Monopolie of the Bever Trade.

For having in that unjust Gaine, betrayed and sold, His Matie: Countrie, and the Liberties of his Loyall Subjects to the Barbarous Heathen.

For having, Protected, favoured, and Emboldened, the Indians against his Maties: most Loyall Subjects; never Contriving, requiring, or appointing any due or proper Meanes of Satisfaction; for thiere many Incusrsions, Murthers, and Robberies, Committed upon Us.

For having when the Armie of the English, was upon the Tract of the Indians, which now in all Places, burne spoile, and Murder, And when Wee might with ease, have destroyed them, Who were in open hostilitie.

For having expresslie, countermanded, and sent back, our Armie, by Passing his word, for the Peaceable demeanours of the said Indians, Who Immediately prosecuted their Evill Intentions – Committing horrid Murders and Robberies, in all Places, being Protected by the said Engagement, and Word passed by Him the said Sr: Wm: Berkeley having Ruined and made Desolate, a greate Part of his Maties: Countrie, having now drawn themselves into such obscure and remote places, and are by theire success soe Emboldened, and Confirmed, and by theire Confederates strengthened. That the Cryes of Blood, are in all Places, and the Terror, and Consternation of the People soe greate, That They are not only become difficult, but a very formidable Enemie Who might with Ease bin destroyed.

When upon the loud outcries of Blood, the Assemblie had with all Care, rasied and framed an Armie, for the Prevention of future Mischeifs, and safeguard of his Maties: Colonie.

For having only with the Privacie of a fewe favourites, without the Acquainting of the People, only by Alteration of a Figure forged a Commission, by I Know not what hand, not only without, but against the Consent of the People, for the Raising and Effecting of Civill Warr, and Destruction, which being happily and without Bloodshed prevented.

For having the second time attempted the same, thereby calling down our forces from the Defence of the frontiers, and most weakened and Exposed Places, for the prevention of Civill Mischeife, and Ruine amongst our selves; whilest the Barbarous Enemie in all places did Invade Murder and spoile us, his Maties: Loyall Subjects.

Of these the aforesaid Articles Wee accuse Sr: Wm: Berkeley as guiltie of Each and Everie of the same. As one who hath Traiterouslie attempted, Violated and Injured his Maties: Interest here, by the Loss of a greate Part of his Maties: Colonie, and many of his faithfull and Loyall Subjects, by Him betrayed in a Barbarous and shamefull Manner Exposed to the Incursion, and murder of the Heathen. And We farther declare the Ensuing Persons in this List to have bin wicked and Pernicious Councellours and Confederates, Aiders, and Assisstants against the Commonaltie in these our Civill Commotions.

Sr: Henrie Chicekly Wm.: Cole
Coll: Chritopr: Wormly Rich: Whitecar Jon: Page: Clerke
Phillip Ludwell Rich: Spencer Jon: Cuffe: Clerk
Robert Beverlie Joseph Bridges Hub: Farrill
Richard Lee Wm: Claybourne John: West
Thomas Ballard Thom: Hawkins Tho: Readmuch
Wm: Sherwood Math: Kemp

And we farther Command that the said Sr: Wm: Berkeley, with all the Persons in this List bee forthwith delivered upp, or Surrender Themselves, within foure dayes after the notice hereof, or otherwise Wee declare as followeth.

That in whatsoever place, House, or Shipp, any of the said Persons shall Reside, bee hid, or protected, Wee doe declare the Owners, Masters and Inhabitants of the said Parties, to bee Confederates, Traytors to the People and ye Estates, of them; as alsoe of all the aforesaid Persons, to be Confiscated, this Wee the Commons of Virginia doe declare.

Desiring a firme union amongst our Selves, that Wee may Joyntly and with one accord defend our selves against the Common Enimie, and lett not the faults of the Guiltie, bee the Reproach of the Innocent, or the faults and Crimes of the Oppressors, devide and sepperate Us Who have suffered, by theire oppressions.

These are therefore in his Maties: Name to Command you: forthwith to seize the Persons abovementioned, as Traytors to the King, and Countrie, and Them to bring to the Middle Plantations, and there to secure them till further Order and in Case of opposition, if yu: want any farther Assisstance, you are forthwith to demand It. In the Name of the People, in all the Counties of Virginia.

-Nathaniell Bacon Generall, by Consent of the People.
[30 July 1676]
(Grizzard and Smith, 21-22)

Interesting Facts

Governor Sir William Berkeley and Nathaniel Bacon Jr. were actually cousins by marriage.
Sir William Berkeley holds the title for the longest established governor of colonial Virginia, and any colony or state for that matter.

Further Reading

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

Carson, Jane. Bacon’s Rebellion: 1676-1976. Jamestown: The Jamestown Foundation, 1976.

Grizzard, Jr. Frank E. and D. Boyd Smith. Jamestown Colony: A Political, Social, and Cultural History. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2007.

Washburn, Wilcomb E. The Governor and the Rebel: A History of Bacon’s Rebellion in Virginia. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1957.

Photo Credits

Historical Marker “Sir William Berkeley V-42-A,” courtesy of Lindsey Smith, 2012.

“Sir William Berkeley,” Friends of Green Spring, www.historicgreenspring.org (accessed May 1, 2012).

“Chief Opechcancanough,” Powhatan Museum of Indigenous Arts and Culture, www.powhatanmuseum.com (accessed May 1, 2012).

“Nathaniel Bacon,” National Park Service, www.nps.gov (accessed May 1, 2012).

“Bacon’s Rebellion,” Friends of Green Spring, www.historicgreenspring.org (accessed May 1, 2012).

“Nathaniel Bacon’s Declaration of Grievances,” Encyclopedia Virginia, www.encyclopediavirginia.org (accessed May 1, 2012).

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Department of Historic Resources link not available

Hot Water/Centerville V-47

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Inscription:

Royal Governor William Berkeley, owner of nearby Green Spring Plantation, purchased the land here by 1652, then known as Hot Water. After Berkeley’s death, the Hot Water tract passed to the Ludwell and Lee families. William Ludwell Lee inherited the property in 1796 and died in 1803. Lee’s will specified that his slaves be freed when they reached the age of 18. They were allowed to live on the property for ten years at no charge and “comfortable houses” were to be built upon the tract for them. Lee’s philanthropy gave rise to one of Virginia’s early free black settlements located at Centerville.

Further Research

Governor William Berkeley

Governor William Berkeley, also owner of Green Spring Plantation, purchased this tract of land, known as Hot Water, in 1652.  The land also served as the ancestral home of the Ludwells and Lees.  The Plantation itself housed many African American slaves who also took part in Bacon’s Rebellion and in the American Revolutionary War.  After Berkeley died, he passed the tract to the Ludwell and Lees.  When William Ludwell Lee inherited the estate, he had it assessed and completely tore down the aging mansion to build a new house (Cotton). After William Ludwell Lee died, he decreed that all of his slaves be freed and also made provisions for their continued support and education.  More than thirty slaves were freed and received farmsteads in the Hot Water Tract, which consisted of more than 8,000 acres.  They were allowed to live on the property for ten years at no charge in horses built on the property.

The Hot Water tract soon became a part of Centerville and served as the site for many

The final of three recreated cabins was completed in 2008 in Freedom Park. On this original tract is a purposefully established community whose inhabitants consisted of Free Blacks.

battles in the future. Because of Wiliam Ludwell Lee’s generosity to his former slaves, the descendants of those freed slaves were able to create one of the first Free Black communities in Centerville during the antebellum period.  Furthermore, Centerville also served as a hub for colonial activity as a central port for trade of tobacco and produce (Knight).

 

 

 

Further Reading

Cotton, Lee Pelham. Green Spring Plantation: An Historical Summary. http://www.historicgreenspring.org/plantation_history.php (accessed March 7, 2012).

Knight, Priscilla. History of Centreville and Virginia Run. http://www.virginiarun.com/system/files/CentrevilleHistory.pdf (accessed March 7, 2012).

African American Historic Sites Database. Green Spring Plantation and the Hot Water Tract. http://www.aaheritageva.org/search/sites.php?site_id=262 (accessed March 7, 2012).

Photo Credits

Historical Marker “Hot Water/Centerville V-47,” courtesy of Lindsey Smith, 2012.

“Governor William Berkeley,” Historic Green Spring, www.historicgreenspring.org (accessed May 2, 2012).

“Recreated Cabin,” Freedom Park- James City County, www.williamsburgoutside.com (accessed May 2, 2012).

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Department of Historic Resources link not available