Chesterfield Historical Society of Virginia

MIssion:   to collect, preserve, interpret and promote the county’s  past  for the education and enjoyment of present and future generations

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Fort Stevens

Fort Stevens was the main bastion of the Confederate inner defense line built in 1862 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. The fort was the pivotal point for a Confederate counter-attack during the Second Battle of Drewry's Bluff on May 16, 1864.  Fort Stevens had not been 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.   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.  Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard, on the morning of May 16, 1864, took the initiative by ordering a counterattack.   Hankins' battery and Hagood NC'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 until April 1865.  (See the 2nd Battle of Drury's Bluff).

The Surry Light Artillery was organized as infantry and assigned to the 3rd Regiment Virginia Infantry. During April, 1862, it was transferred to the artillery. The unit was assigned to the Richmond defenses and later to C.E. Lightfoot's Battalion, Department of North Carolina and Southern Virginia.  It ended the war at Appomattox with 19 men. Its commanders were Captains James D. Hankins and Thomas W. Ruffin.

Fort Stevens was constructed in 1862 after the Seven Days Campaign, as part of the defenses of Richmond. The fort was the pivotal point for a Confederate counter-attack during the Second Battle of Drewry’s Bluff on May 16, 1864, where Confederates halted Gen. Butler’s Army of the James in its advance toward Richmond. This was the largest battle of the Bermuda Hundred Campaign, involving over 35,000 troops. The park includes picnic areas and a trail along the earthworks

Howlett Line