Civil War History

Drewrys Bluff-Mackie

On May 15, 1862, a Union flotilla, led by ironclads USS Monitor and Galena, was instructed to “shell [Richmond] to a surrender.” Union and Confederate Marines faced each other during the four-hour battle as Richmond’s fate hung in the balance. The Confederates prevailed and Richmond was never again seriously threatened by a water-based attack. For his bravery during the battle, Union Cpl. John Mackie became the first U.S. Marine to be awarded the Medal of Honor.

The Civil War in Chesterfield County

Many people recognize the major battles of the Civil War – Gettysburg, Manassas, Antietam, Shiloh or Cold Harbor. Yet, the smaller battles and campaigns were just as significant to the soldiers who fought and the civilians along their path. All of these engagements, big and small, tell the whole story of the Civil War, a war that was fought on the feet of men marching 15 to 40 miles a day, advancing and retreating, in victory and defeat.

In Chesterfield County, discover some of the lesser-known stories of the war. The county’s strategic location near the capital of the Confederacy meant it was the center of several major campaigns, both on land and in the water. One campaign in particular, Union Gen. Benjamin Butler’s Bermuda Hundred Campaign of 1864, might have ended the war a year sooner had Butler been successful in capturing Richmond. Explore Bermuda Hundred, Drewry’s Bluff and eight other sites throughout the county that may not be as well-known, but were every bit as important as some of the bigger battles.

Learn more about Chesterfield County’s role during the Civil War

The Bermuda Hundred Tour Guide contains information about 26 Civil War sites, represented in chronological order, associated with the Bermuda Hundred Campaign in Chesterfield County, Colonial Heights and Hopewell. The book contains 58 pages filled with photographs, narratives and maps. Modern maps were geo-referenced with historic maps, and other battle maps were created using descriptions of the roads in the official records. Driving directions are included.  

The book may be found at the Chesterfield Historical Society of Va. research library in Historic Trinity Church, at Henricus Historical Park, Pamplin Historical Park or by ordering online at chesterfieldhistory.com. The price is $12. Proceeds will be used to fund trails and new interpretive signs for the county. 

For more information, call 804-796-7131.