Posts Tagged ‘Williamsburg’

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

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

Kingsmill W-47: Not Erected

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Inscription:

Kingsmill Plantation, the home of Col. Lewis Burwell, was built in the mid-1730s and consisted of a mansion, outbuildings, garden, and 1,400 acres. The house burned in 1843. Only the office and the kitchen still stand; they are among the earliest brick dependencies in Virginia. Burwell, the naval officer (colonial customs inspector) for the upper James River, built his inspection station here at Burwell’s Landing, which included a tavern, storehouse, warehouse, and ferry house. In Nov. 1775, American riflemen skirmished nearby with British naval vessels; later, the Americans built two earthen forts here that the British captured in 1781.

Further Research

One of Remaining Houses on Kingsmill Plantation

Richard Kingsmill, who was granted one of the first land grants by the Virginia Company, initially purchased the land that Kingsmill Plantation was located. In the mid-1730s, colonial customs inspector and British Colonel Lewis Burwell III purchased 1,400 acres of Kingsmill’s original plot, and constructed a plantation with several other structures. The headquarters of his inspection station (Burwell’s Landing) was also located on the property along the James River, which included a tavern, warehouse, and ferry.

Kingsmill Archaeological Site

Kingsmill Plantation saw action in both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. As Patriot forces began to assemble near Williamsburg in the fall of 1775, the Colonial Governor of Virginia Lord Dunmore ordered that British ships patrol the James River to stop potential ferry crossings of these rebels. On Sunday, November 5th, militiamen from Chesterfield County began to assemble near Williamsburg with intentions to embark upon Norfolk. The British vessel the Kingfisher patrolled the river with three other supporting tenders, but failed in stopping a thousands Colonial militiamen from crossing the river. Despite this, the Kingfisher exchanged fire with a Colonial vessel at Burwell’s Ferry without any decisive action. At the end of the War in 1781, French forces under the Marquis de Lafayette utilized Burwell’s Landing as they docked and moved inland from there. Later that year in January, Colonial General Thomas Nelson and his militia foiled Benedict Arnold’s plan to land at Burwell’s Ferry.

Lord Dunmore

Many battles in the Civil War were also fought in the vicinity of Kingsmill Plantation. Union General George B. McClellan’s Peninsular Campaign engulfed the plantation, as an army of 120,000 men landed and moved inland through the area with the task of reaching Richmond. Several Confederate defensive lines also ran through the property such as the Warwick Line, and the Williamsburg Line. On May 6th of 1865, the Battle of Williamsburg was fought here where the Confederates lost 1,682 men and the Union lost 2,283.

Present Day Kingsmill Plantation

Today resorts, theme parks, a brewery, and a golf course have enveloped much of the Kingsmill land. Busch Gardens, Kingsmill Resort, and the community of Kingsmill on the James are all located on this former plantation.

 

Further Reading

Russell, David Lee. The American Revolution in the Southern Colonies. McFarland, 2000.

John S. Salmon, compiler. A Guidebook to Virginia’s Historical Markers, Revised and Expanded Edition. University Press of Virginia, 2001.

Sears, Stephen W. To The Gates of Richmond: The Peninsula Campaign. 1st ed. Mariner Books, 2001.

Photo Credits

“One of remaining houses on Kingsmill Plantation,” National Park Service, www.nps.gov (accessed May 2, 2012).

“Kingsmill archaeological site,” National Park Service, www.nps.gov (accessed May 2, 2012).

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

“Present Day Kingsmill Plantation,” Golf Williamsburg, www.golfwilliamsburg.com (accessed May 2, 2012).

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

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

White Hall Tavern W-27

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

Inscription:

This was a station on the Old Stage Road between Williamsburg and Richmond, before 1860.

 

 

 

 

Further Research

Original White Hall House

The original White Hall Tavern was built in 1805 by William Geddy, who was an upper middle class planter and blacksmith.  He built the home for his son who was a silversmith, James Geddy and the purpose of the home was to represent “the improving quality of housing for all Virginians during the early Republican period.” Tax records have indicated that because William Geddy was a wealthy planter, he most likely possessed a number of adult slaves as well.

During the mid-1800s in the midst of the United States Civil War, the plantation home served as a site crucial to the Confederate Army. Due to its convenient location within a somewhat close proximity to Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy, it was a site that provided important intelligence gathering and distribution of information pertinent to the South’s advancement in the war.

The 200 acres of surrounding land has been in the family since the 1760’s and remains in the Geddy family’s possession still today; however, the United States Department of the Interior declared it a national historical landmark in 2007.  It is now referred to as White Hall Plantation, and it is located in Toano, James City County, Virginia at the intersection of routes US 60 and US 30.

Further Reading

“History at Whitehall.” http://www.whitehallwilliamsburg.blogspot.com/. (Accessed April 4, 2012).

United States Department of Interior National Park Service. “National Register of Historic Places Registration Form.” http://www.dhr.virginia.gov/registers/Counties/JamesCity/0470041_Whitehall_2007_NRfinal.pdf (accessed April 4, 2012).

Photo Credits

Historical Marker “White Hall Tavern W-27,” courtesy of Lindsey Smith, 2012.

“White Hall Tavern,” White Hall,  www.whitehallwilliamsburg.blogspot.com (accessed May 1, 2012).

 

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Department of Historic Resources

Battle of Williamsburg W-43

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Inscription:

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. http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/williamsburg.html (accessed March 9, 2012)

Rickard, J. Battle of Williamsburg, 5 May 1862. http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_williamsburg.html (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, www.civilwar.org (accessed May 2, 2012).

“The Battle of Williamsburg,” Library of Congress, www.loc.gov (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

Trebell’s Landing W-49

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Inscription:

 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). http://www.jstor.org/stable/25080352 (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. http://www.cr.nps.gov/history/online_books/hh/14/index.htm (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, www.britishbattles.com (accessed May 2, 2012).

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

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

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Department of Historical Resources

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

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

Inscription:

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. http://www.wm.edu/about/history/historiccampus/brafferton/index.php (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, www.encyclopediavirginia.org accessed May 2, 2012).

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

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

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Department of Historic Resources link not available

First Balloon Flight in Virginia W-40

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

Inscription:

On May 7, 1801, J.S. Watson, a student at William and Mary, wrote a letter detailing attempts of flying hot air balloons on the Court House Green. The third balloon, decorated with sixteen stars, one for each of the existing states, and fueled with spirits of wine, was successful. Watson wrote, “I never saw so great and so universal delight as it gave to the spectators.” This is the earliest recorded evidence of aeronautics in the commonwealth.

Further Research

The Brothers De Montgolfier

In November of 1783, the Montgolfier brothers launched the first manned hot air balloon flight in France. It was a thirty minute flight that went over 8,000 feet into the air. This was an achievement that added to their prestige with their previous exploits, which explains why the French word for hot air balloon is la montgolfiere (Haven 2006, 76).

Another man who made his name with the use of the hot air balloon was Joseph Shelton Watson in Williamsburg, Virginia. He was born in 1780 and died at the age of 25 in September of 1805. A collection of his letters had been compiled from his time at the College of William and Mary between 1798 and 1801. In his letter that is dated April 1, 1801, he tells his brother David about his construction of a hot air balloon. “I have been engaged in for several evenings in the construction of an Air-balloon. I’ll let you know in my next whether it succeeds” (Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 166).

Balloon Flight

Ballooning had been an active hobby at the college. Even prior to JS Watson’s attempts to build a balloon, Thomas Jefferson had had brought back the concept with detailed explanations after the Montgolfier’s successes in France in the 1784. The Balloon Club had been organized under a science professor on campus known as Reverend James Madison. in the Spring of 1786, the club had begun to succeed in building their own hot air balloons (Crouch 1983, 99).

The College of William and Mary

“Who would have supposed a few years past that… the bold aeronaut should dare to attempt excursions in so rare a Medium, and even be able to direct his course nearer to the Wind than the best Sailing Vessels. It is probable that these aerostatic machines will in time be applied to other purposes than a mere Philosoph. Experiment, tho in that respect alone they are certainly very valuable. Yet I have seen no result of observations made by them, relating to several matters for which they seem particularly adopted. Such as the rate of decrease in the density of the atmosphere at different Elevations, also the Rate in which its Temperature varies, Meteors in general, Propagations of Sounds, Descent of bodies, etc., are all proper subject of Investigation, and which no doubt will be investigated as those Machines are more perfected (The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 1921).”

Further Reading

Crouch, Tom D. The Eagle Aloft : Two Centuries of the Balloon in America. New York: Smithsonian Institute, 1983.

Haven, Kendall. One Hundred Greatest Science Inventions of All Time. Westport: Libraries Unlimited, 2006.

“Letters of Reverend James Madison, President of the College of William and Mary, to Thomas Jefferson,” William and Mary Quarterly (April 1925).

“Letters from William and Mary College, 1798-1801.” The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, vol. 29, no. 2 (April, 1921): 166-169. http://www.jstor.org/stable/4243811 (accessed April 12, 2012).

Photo Credits

“Balloon Flights,” Circling Hawk Paragliding, www.circlinghawk.com (accessed May 2, 2012).

“The Brothers De Montgolfier,” Aeronautics Learning Laboratory for Science, Technology and Research, www.allstar.fiu.edu (accessed May 2, 2012).

“The College,” The College of William and Mary, www.wm.edu (accessed May 2, 2012).

Historical Marker “First Balloon Flight in Virginia W-40,” courtesy of Lindsey Smith, 2012.

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Department of Historic Resources link not available