Fort Boykin

Fort Boykin (HM151)

Location: Smithfield, VA 23430 Isle of Wight County
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Country: United States of America
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N 37° 2.033', W 76° 37.07'

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True Southerners Do and Dare

— The 1862 Peninsula Campaign —

True Southerners Do and Dare. The 1862 Peninsula Campaign. Directly in front of you is the entrance to Fort Boykin. Originally built in 1623 to protect the colonists against "Spaniards by sea and Indians by land" and called "The Castle," the fort was rebuilt during the Revolutionary War and renamed Fort Boykin in honor of Major Francis Boykin. This seven-pointed star-shaped fortification was also activated to defend Virginia against the British during the War of 1812.

Fort Boykin's steep cliffs and commanding view of the James River made it an important position from which the Confederates could defend Richmond. The fort was quickly manned by Confederate forces shortly after Virginia's secession from the Union. The famous poet, Sidney Lanier, was one of the Confederate soldiers stationed at Fort Boykin during the early months of the war. While serving at Boykin Lanier wrote "Beautiful Ladies," "Hoe Cakes," and began the novel Tiger Lilies.

Fort Boykin was the south side anchor of Maj. Gen. John Bankhead Magruder's, CSA, arc of fortifications(2nd Penisula Defensive Line) which stretched from Burwell's Bay across the James River to Mulberry Island; thence followed the Warwick River to Yorktown and then across the York River to Gloucester Point. It was a formidable defensive system which, with the help of the powerful ironclad ram CSS Virginia (Merrimack), was able to block Maj. Gen. George Brinton McClellan's advance toward Richmond during the Peninsula Campaign's initial phase.

Norfolk's capture by the Union and the subsequent destruction of the Virginia opened the James River to the Union fleet. On May 8, 1862, the USS Galena, USS Minnesota, and USS Susquehanna shelled Fort Boykin and, since the Federal fleet's guns out-ranged those of the fort, the Confederates abandoned the earthwork. The Union ships returned on May 17th and blew up the fort's powder magazines. Fort Boykin's partial destruction ended its 239-year career as a defender of the Commonwealth against its enemies.
HM NumberHM151
Series This marker is part of the Virginia Civil War Trails series
Placed ByCivil War Trails
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Thursday, October 23rd, 2014 at 1:05am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 356110 N 4099854
Decimal Degrees37.03388333, -76.61783333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 37° 2.033', W 76° 37.07'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds37° 2' 1.98" N, 76° 37' 4.20" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)757
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 7400-7466 State Rte 705, Smithfield VA 23430, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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