USCTs At Dutch Gap

USCTs At Dutch Gap (HM1940)

Location: Richmond, VA 23231
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Country: United States of America
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N 37° 22.604', W 77° 21.616'

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Inscription

U.S. Colored Troops Construct the Canal

— Bermuda Hundred —

(overview)
Early in 1864, Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, commander of all Federal armies, ordered advances throughout the Confederacy in the spring. On May 5, Union Gen. Benjamin F. Butler landed his Army of the James on Bermuda Hundred to operate against Richmond, Petersburg, and Confederate lines of supply. Confederate Gen. PG.T. Beauregard countered Union advances against the Richmond and Petersburg Railroad, Drewry's Bluff, and Petersburg. In June 1864, he effectively "bottled up" Butler's army behind Confederate and Federal fortifications across the Bermuda Hundred peninsula for the rest of the war.

In August 1864, Gen. Benjamin F. Butler, commander of the Army of the James, ordered that a ditch or canal be dug across the narrow neck of land here to enable Union gunboats to evade Confederate batteries on the James River. Under brutal conditions and occasional Confederate sniper and artillery fire, Union soldiers—mostly United States Colored Troops—completed the canal on December 31, 1864, except for a slender piece of land or bulkhead between the ditch and the river. On January 1, 1865, 12,000 pounds of powder were exploded to demolish the bulkhead. The blast, however, sent much of the earth into the canal and collapsed part of its walls. The canal was not completed until April, too late to achieve Butler's objective.

Butler commanded more African American soldiers than any other general and advocated their use in combat, not merely as workmen and guards. In May 1864, his USCT regiments had seized strategic points on the James River at Wilson's Wharf, Fort Powhatan, and City Point. USCTs were among the troops assaulting the Petersburg defenses on June 9 and June 15, and took part in the Battle of the Crater on July 20. On September 29, two USCT brigades spearheaded a successful attack at New Market Heights and took part in the assault on Fort Harrison on the north side of the James River. Fourteen black soldiers and two white officers were awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions there. USCT regiments were among the first to enter Richmond on April 3, 1865.

(sidebar)
Lt. Walter Thorn, Co. G, 116th USCT, received the Medal of Honor for his actions here on January 1, 1865, when the bulk-head was blown up. Learning that the picket guard had not been withdrawn, he mounted the bulkhead and at great personal peril warned the guard of danger. The medal was awarded on December 8, 1898. (caption) The Army version of the Medal of Honor
Details
HM NumberHM1940
Series This marker is part of the Medal of Honor Recipients series
Tags
Placed ByVirginia Civil War Trails
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014 at 11:36am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 291017 N 4139279
Decimal Degrees37.37673333, -77.36026667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 37° 22.604', W 77° 21.616'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds37° 22' 36.24" N, 77° 21' 36.96" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)804
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 111 Henricus Park Rd, Richmond VA 23231, US
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