Posts Tagged ‘William Berkeley’

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

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).

View on Google Maps

Department of Historic Resources link not available