The Battle of Williamsburg, Virginia (1862)

Buckeye Bill

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The Battle of Williamsburg (Battle of Fort Magruder) took place on May 5, 1862, in York County, James City County, and Williamsburg, Virginia, as part of the Peninsula Campaign of the American Civil War. It was the first pitched battle of the Peninsula Campaign, in which nearly 41,000 Federals and 32,000 Confederates were engaged, fighting an inconclusive battle that ended with the Confederates continuing their withdrawal. Following up the Confederate retreat from Yorktown, the Union division of Brig. Gen. Joseph Hooker encountered the Confederate rearguard near Williamsburg. Hooker assaulted Fort Magruder, an earthen fortification alongside the Williamsburg Road, but was repulsed. Confederate counterattacks, directed by Maj. Gen. James Longstreet, threatened to overwhelm the Union left flank, until Brig. Gen. Philip Kearny's division arrived to stabilize the Federal position. Brig. Gen. Winfield S. Hancock's brigade then moved to threaten the Confederate left flank, occupying two abandoned redoubts. The Confederates counterattacked unsuccessfully. Hancock's localized success was not exploited. The Confederate army continued its withdrawal during the night in the direction of Richmond, Virginia.

* Civil War Trust Map "Battle of Williamsburg, Va."

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* Civil War Trails Marker near Redoubt Park

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* Fort Magruder

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* Fort Magruder Monument

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* Civil War Trails Marker "Fort Magruder"

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* Fort Magruder Earthworks

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* Virginia State Marker on US 60

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* Civil War Trails Marker "The Bloody Ravine"

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* The Bloody Ravine

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* Civil War Trails Marker "Redoubt #1" off Quarter Path Road (Redoubt Park)

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* Redoubt #1 Earthworks

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* Civil War Trails Marker "Redoubt #2" with Earthworks

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* Civil War Trails Marker "Quarter Path Road"

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* The Wren Building at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg (Used as a Confederate Hospital)

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* Photos courtesy of William Bechmann (2013)
 
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pamc153PA

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You just brought back good memories. Last summer, my family and I went to Williamsburg to visit Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown. My husband and I had been there but my son, who had studied the colonies in fifth grade that year, had never been there. We had a blast in Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown. I also was able to work in a day touring many of the sights you had pictures of above, because, you know, you have to see CW history if it's there wherever you are! My son was surprised (and maybe a little tired) to find that Williamsburg and the CW are indeed connected.

My son liked Virginia in general so much that we're going back this summer, to Richmond and Monticello. More Civil War coming up!

Thanks for the pics!
 

Buckeye Bill

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Most American Civil War history buffs are not very familiar with this battle.

Our hotel (Country Inns & Suites) sits on the hallowed ground of "The Bloody Ravine" on US 60.

This city is a gold mine for history nuts!!!

Bill
 

Buckeye Bill

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The Wren Building :

Most of William and Mary’s students and faculty left the college when the Revolution began. During the Battle of Yorktown, and for months after, the Wren Building served as a French hospital.

A second fire broke out at 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. on February 8, 1859, and gutted the building. Reconstruction began October 11 with the laying of a new capstone. The extensive remodeling included the addition of two Italianate towers flanking the central doorway.

In 1861, Confederate troops used the Wren Building for quarters and later for a hospital. After the city fell to Union forces in 1862, the Fifth Pennsylvania Cavalry burned the building to prevent Confederate snipers from hiding there. Its walls became part of the Yankee line of Williamsburg’s eastern defenses. The invaders looted the chapel crypt, prying silver ornaments and valuable furnishings from the coffins.

* The Wren Building

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* Photos courtesy of William Bechmann (2013)
 

dlavin

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Just got back from a stop over in Williamsburg on route to OBX. However did not tour any of these. Though I did play golf on a course where troops were marching...Golden Horseshoe. And I couldn't convince my wife to take kids on this tour without me..lol I didn't try.
 

bdtex

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Most American Civil War history buffs are not very familiar with this battle.

Our hotel (Country Inns & Suites) sits on the hallowed ground of "The Bloody Ravine" on US 60.

This city is a gold mine for history nuts!!!

Bill
Yep. I was there for 3.5 days in June last year and knew nothing about the battle. I was actually on the William & Mary campus. Of course,it was the visit to the Mariners' Museum before I left Newport News that sparked the interest in the ACW that lead me to this forum. That just means I have to go back to Williamsburg.
 

Patrick H

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It's fortunate that colonial Williamsburg wasn't totally destroyed by the Civil War. I do know that the buildings we see today are largely the result of a massive restoration effort and that some are reconstructions. I vaguely remember reading that a temporary hurdle was encountered in the restoration of the colonial portion of the town--and that was the necessity to relocate a Confederate memorial.
 

James N.

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I first visited Williamsburg in July, 1986, on my way to the 125th anniversary reenactment of Bull Run/Manassas with a friend of mine who really looked forward to seeing it and remembered having heard great things about it ever since his childhood. After we got through the interminable orientation at the visitor center and actually arrived IN the historic area his disappointment and disgust was SO great he dubbed it "Six Flags without the rides." Despite the beastly weather it seemed incongruous to stand in long theme park-like lines, only to be hustled into an "authentic" air conditioned interior to listen to a short lecture on one aspect of Colonial craftsmanship! (Of course there was NO actual craftsmanship going on because they were too busy keeping the throngs of tourists moving like shoveling fleas across a room.) The only real impression I retain is of a bunch of knobby-kneed tourists in loud shirts with cameras hung all over. We opted to eat lunch in Chewnings Tavern, and were seated right next to the kitchen door through which each time a server passed there was a clear view into the spotless modern kitchen of tile and stainless steel. We were both so disappointed and tired from the effort we didn't even bother to use all the tickets we had, and the only attempt at craftsmanship we witnessed was a couple of smiths at an outdoor forge cutting strap hinges from bar stock!

In all fairness, I DID stop briefly by myself several years later in 1991 early on a calm morning in late August and found it much more to my liking without the throngs of tourists. However, it was still disconcerting to be able to look in any direction up or down any of the streets and plainly see automobile traffic moving freely!

Edit: On that first visit I was also suitably impressed in one of the very first buildings we entered, the House of Burgesses, where we sat and listened to a talk on Colonial government by a staff member wearing a beautiful and authentic brocaded suit, modern glasses, and a FULL BEARD!
 
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Jamieva

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You would never know a civil war battle was fought in either location. Williamsburg promotes its colonial history and Yorktown as being the surrender site for Cornwallis.

Now the running joke growing up around here was that Williamsburg is how we get our revenge on the Yankees because you come there and go shopping at all the outlet shops that are there.
 

James N.

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You would never know a civil war battle was fought in either location. Williamsburg promotes its colonial history and Yorktown as being the surrender site for Cornwallis...

According to what I was told at the NPS Visitor Center at Yorktown, the "British" works there were actually built by Magruder in 1862! After the 1781 siege, Washington ordered all the works leveled and returned to their agricultural profiles; only a single tiny British redoubt buried in some woods remains of the original earthworks.
 

marinegrunt

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Most American Civil War history buffs are not very familiar with this battle.

Our hotel (Country Inns & Suites) sits on the hallowed ground of "The Bloody Ravine" on US 60.

This city is a gold mine for history nuts!!!

Bill
I'd actually always wondered about this one, mostly because you'd think the numbers of troops involved would have led to a major engagement. Do you have much info about the redoubts on Quarter Path Rd.? They're in a park that was built pretty recently. I was wondering if they were in that condition since the war or if they've been totally rebuilt. I will say that my wife near about wrung my neck when I forced a stop at Ft. Magruder on the way to colonial Williamsburg; she expected a working fort and got a couple of dirt hills with tree growing out of them! :bounce:
 
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