Chesterfield Historical Society of Virginia

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Bermuda Hundred Campaign

Fort Stevens

The Bermuda Hundred Campaign of 1864    ZZZFort Stevens - The 2nd Battle of Drewry's Bluff 8900 Pams Road, Chesterfield County, VA.  

 

 

Marker at Fort Stevens Historical Park image. Click for full size.Fort Stevens was the main bastion of the Confederate inner defense line built in 1862 after the Seven Days Campaign to defend Richmond from the south. Work on the line was supervised by Col. W.H. Stevens, who was also in charge of overall construction of Richmond’s perimeter defense. However, this strong position was not tested until May 14, 1864. During the Second Battle of Drewry's Bluff on May 16, it became the pivotal point for a major Confederate counterattack which halted the advance of Gen. Butler’s Army of the James toward Richmond.  This was the largest battle of the Bermuda Hundred Campaign involving 35,000.  The fort was not challenged for two years. Then on May 14, 1864, Union Gen. Benjamin Butler marched the Army of the James within a few hundred yards of the fort. Fort Stevens was occupied by the 27th South Carolina Infantry of Hagood’s Brigade and the four guns of the Surry Light Artillery of Surry County, Va. On the morning of May 16, the Surry Light Artillery was removed and put in support of the counterattack on Gen. Butler’s army.  Inside the fort, cannoneers of the Surry Light Artillery under Capt. James Hankins, supported by infantrymen of Gen. Johnson Hagood’s brigade, exchanged fire with Butler’s batteries.    After twelve hours of dueling neither side had gained any advantage.  P.G.T. Beauregard, on the morning of May 16, 1864, took the initiative by ordering a counterattack.  Hankins’ battery and Hagood’s brigade succeeded in driving Butler’s army back several miles into entrenched positions at Bermuda Hundred.  With the defeat of Butler, Fort Stevens remained securely within Southern lines intil 1865. 

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.The Fort Stevens Park includes picnic areas and a trail along the earthwotks (Photograph by Bill Coughlin April 2007)

 

 

 

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The Park includes picnic areas and a trail along the earthwotks (Photograph by Bill Coughlin April 2007)

Bermuda Hundred Tour Guide Book