Ft Stevens - CHSV

Chesterfield Historical Society of Virginia
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Ft Stevens

Bermuda Hundred Campaign in Chesterfield County, VA
Fort Stevens

The Bermuda Hundred Campaign of 1864 Fort Stevens - The 2nd Battle of Drewry's Bluff 8900, Pams Road, Chesterfield County, VA.   
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 earthworks (Photograph by Bill Coughlin April 2007)
Chester Station Battle Continued
Battle of Chester Station

​Confederates tried twice to break the line. To your left, the 9th and 38th Virginia Infantry charged down the turnpike, and part of the 169th New York Infantry gave way, abandoning that portion of the line and one cannon. The 14th, 53rd, and  57th Virginia Infantry converged from three directions to make the second assault on the Federals around the Winfree House. As the defenders' ammunition dwindled, desperately needed Union infantry and artillery reinforcements arrived just in time, deploying  directly into the Winfree House lane and along the turnpike and checking the Virginians' advance. Outnumbered, the beleaguered Southerners began to give ground.  Adding to the confusion, Federal artillery shells  ignited the woods early in the action, and the smoke and flames driving into the Confederate lines which blinded them and deranged the precision of movements. (Brig.Gen.Seth Barton C.S.A.). Both sides fought gallantly and fiercely including hand-to-hand combat. The Federals soon retired to their Bermuda Hundred lines.  Two Confederate brigades had faced an Ohio regiment, which was pushed back despite arrival of reinforcements from Hawley's brigade that arrived on the field. The growing Union reinforcements started to outnumber them, and the Confederates were compelled to retire to Drewry's Bluff, while at the same time the Federals withdrew east to Bermuda Hundred. The  result was a draw with neither side having  surrendered, been defeated, or gained any ground. The Union forces succeeded in destroying  some railroad track, and the Confederate forces succeeded in stopping them from doing any more damage. Maj.Gen.Ransom relieved Brig. Gen.Barton of his command, and Col. Voris was brevetted Brigadier General for meritorious service.
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:
Scott Williams

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.   
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