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Bermuda Hundred Campaign

We have a rich history to tell and show our visitors.  In 1861, Chesterfield County was assured a prominent role in the Civil War due to its geographic proximity to Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy. Its location, combined with various railroads and the James and Appomattox rivers, made it an obvious target for the Union army and navy. Action began in the spring of 1862, when a Union naval fleet, led by the famous ironclad U.S.S. Monitor, steamed up the James River. The only thing that stood in their way was an unfinished fort at Drewry's Bluff, just eight miles below Richmond. On May 15, Confederate guns in the fort fired on the Union ships. When the smoke cleared, the heavily damaged Union fleet was forced to retreat. Casualties were slight on both sides, and Chesterfield County had a two-year reprieve before seeing action again.   

"On to Richmond" became the clarion call for the President Abraham Lincoln  and the Union Army.  It started in Chesterfield County, VA. The first major action of the Civil War in Chesterfield County took place on May 15, 1862 when a federal flotilla led by the Union ironclad USS Monitor headed toward Richmond on the James River. The Federals were turned back after a three hour battle with Confederate guns at Drewry’s Bluff.​

In the spring of 1864, the war again came directly to Chesterfield County when Union General Benjamin F. Butler landed the Army of the James on the Bermuda Hundred peninsula. Butler’s mission was to secure a base of operations and then advance on Richmond. During the first days of May, Butler made tentative advances forward, but then fell back to his defensive positions at Bermuda Hundred. The Battle of Drewry’s Bluff on May 16 halted Butler’s greatest attempt to move on toward Richmond. 

As Butler retreated back to his prepared positions in Bermuda Hundred, the Confederates followed and began to dig their own set of entrenchments. The Confederate fortifications and trenches became known as the Howlett Line, and prevented Butler  from making any more direct threats to Richmond. Confederate and Union troops faced each other across those trenches for the rest of the war. 

Chesterfield County contains 11 parks sites associated with the Civil War. Each of these sites has its own  unique story to tell. Collectively, these “links in a chain” tell the larger story of one of the most important military campaigns of the war but seldom told Click for a list of all Civil War road markers.  Visit the Civil War Sites in Chesterfield County.  The Bermuda Hundred Campaign was the  only Civil War campaign fought entirely in one county.  Visit the CHSV Research Library and discover the history around this campaign.

Discover your Chesterfield ancestors and their rich history.  Our volunteers are there to assist you if needed..  See our library page for more information.  See The New Film on the Library Committee     

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Chesterfield County Civil War Notables

Colonel Osborne USArmy 
After the start of the war, Thomas O. Osborn became the lieutenant colonel of the 39th Illinois Infantry on October 11, 1861, and was promoted to colonel the following year on January 1. He led the regiment in several campaigns and battles.  His command saw action in the 1862 Valley Campaign against Confederate forces under Lt. Gen. Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson, participating in the Battle of Port Republic on June 9. From July until September 1863, Osborn took part in Union operations against Charleston, South Carolina, including attacks on Fort Wagner and Fort Sumter. In 1864, Osborn commanded the 1st Brigade, 1st Division of the XXIV Corps of the Army of the James, Osborn was badly wounded at the Battle of Drewry's Bluff on May 14, 1864, when a musket ball shattered his right elbow and lodged in his arm. He stayed in the hospital until September before being released for duty. In December, he had recovered enough to report for duty. However, he suffered from ankylosis of the injured elbow for the rest of his life. During the Siege of Petersburg in 1864 into 1865, Osborn led a brigade in the XXIV Corps. He was brevetted to the rank of brigadier general on March 10, 1865

 

Johnson Gagood CSAJohnson Hagood was a brigadier general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War and the 80th Governor of South Carolina from 1880 to 1882.After defeating Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Regiment at the second Battle of Fort Wagner, commanding Confederate General Johnson Hagood returned the bodies of the other Union officers who had died, but left Shaw's where it was, using the logic of most Confederate officers that the African American soldiers were fugitive slaves and that the attack of the fort was a slave revolt led by Shaw. Hagood informed a captured Union surgeon that "had he been in command of white troops, I should have given him an honorable burial; as it is, I shall bury him in the common trench with the negroes that fell with him."


Clara BartonClarissa (Claraa) Harlowe Barton (December 25, 1821 – April 12, 1912) was an American nurse who founded the American Red Cross. She was a hospital nurse in the American Civil War, a teacher, and a patent clerk. Since nursing education was not then very formalized and she did not attend nursing school, she provided self-taught nursing care.  Barton is noteworthy for doing humanitarian work and civil rights advocacy at a time before women had the right to vote.  In 1864, she was appointed by Union General Benjamin Butler as the "lady in charge" of the hospitals at the front of the Army of the James. Among her more harrowing experiences was an incident in which a bullet tore through the sleeve of her dress without striking her and killed a man to whom she was tending. She was known as the "Florence Nightingale of America". She was also known as the "Angel of the Battlefield"


Help Save Chesterfield County's Rich History

Summerseat c. 1860"C. 1860 Summerseat"  - According to tradition, this 19th century house was used by a county magistrate as the “seat” of his court during summer months due to the muddy and rutted roads which made travel to the courthouse in the center of the county almost impossible.  The lower brick portion of the house was the “jail” or “detention center, complete with bars that held prisoners or those persons awaiting trial.  It is not a large building at 18 by 16 feet.  The house is part of Virginia State University.

 

Historic Trinity Church

C. 1879 Trinity Church - The old church sits in a stand of a few trees not quite visible from Krause Road but adjacent to Ironbridge Road where it is plainly noticeable.  It offers an unobstructed view at that corner.  Not so vacant any longer and no longer a huge storage shed for odds and ends, it serves a new purpose in its longevity of survival.  It is alive with activity once again.  Presently, the Chesterfield Historical Society of Virginia is utilizing the building as its headquarters and library until historic Castlewood is renovated.  Historic Castlewood, ca. 1817-1819, sits nearby to the church just across Krause Road and was once the parsonage for the Methodist.

 

 

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