Bermuda Hundred Campaign in Chesterfield County, VA
1st Battle of Drewry's Bluff
The Fort at Drewry’s Bluff was the anchor point for the main line of defenses protecting Richmond from a southerly approach. The fort, known as Fort Darling to the Union, was the only barrier protecting the water approach to Richmond in the early years of the war. The fort here was constructed in 1862 in response to the threat posed by Union general George B. McClellan’s Peninsula Campaign. Located 8 miles below Richmond, the bluff is situated 90 feet above a sharp bend in the James River and was an ideal spot to protect Richmond from a river-borne attack.
On May 15, 1862, a Union flotilla led by the ironclads Monitor and Galena attempted to force their way past the fort to bombard Richmond. In the battle that raged for over three hours, the Galena bore the brunt of the fighting, taking dozens of direct hits and suffering 23 crew members killed or wounded. The Monitor was unable to elevate her guns high enough to fire at Drewry’s Bluff, and retreated to safety downriver. Realizing that the river blockade could not be breached, the Union commander withdrew. Richmond was never again seriously threatened by a water-based attack. The ground over which this battle was fought was drenched with the blood of 7000 men; Chesterfield's most deadly field of battle. During the Battle of Drewry’s Bluff, Marine Cpl. John Mackie took charge of one of the Galena’s guns after the original crew had been wounded. For his actions Cpl. Mackie became the first United States Marine to win the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Visit here. Battle Animation (Bermuda Hundred Village)
Drewry's Bluff Battle Continued
1st Battle of Drewry's Bluff
Soon after the river battle, Drewry’s Bluff became a naval station as well as an important training center for the Confederacy. The Marine Corps Camp of Instruction and the Confederate Naval Academy were established at the site. Drewry’s Bluff remained a strong point on Richmond’s southern defenses until the fall of Petersburg. The last remnants of the Confederate James River Squadron met their end here when the ironclads Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Virginia II were blown up in front of Drewry’s Bluff to prevent them from falling into Union hands. The site is now part of the Richmond National Battlefield. Drewry’s Bluff has a walking trail, interpretive signs, an artillery piece, and a platform with a magnificent view of the James River. Living history events are frequently held at the park in the Spring and Fall.
Drewry's Bluff remained a strong point on Richmond's southern defenses until the fall of Petersburg. The last remnants of the Confederate James River Squadron met their end here when the ironclads Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Virginia II were blown up in front of Drewry's Bluff to prevent them from falling into Union hands. After the Confederate withdrawal to Appomattox, VA., the fort was renamed "Fort Darling" as the Union forces occupied the site. The site is now part of the Richmond National Battlefield. Drewry's Bluff has a walking trail, interpretive signs, an artillery piece, and a platform with a magnificent view of the James River. Living history events are frequently held at the park in the Spring and Fall.
This battle is detailed in the "Bermuda Hundred Tour Guide" book (available at Research Library of the Chesterfield Histotical Socie
Military History Committee
Military History Committee Chair:
About Us : We meet at the Historic Trinity Church in Chesterfield, VA. We research military history and historical sites within Chesterfield County and develop educational and tourist information on military history pertaining to Chesterfield County. We also help to preserve and maintain the military integrity of the Civil War sites in the county and sponsor the annual Veterans Day programs at the historic 1917 Courthouse. Our History Committee consists of two sub-committees. If you are an avid military enthusiast, we encourage you to join the CHSV and the Military History Committee.