By Land And By Sea

By Land And By Sea (HM1F38)

Location: North, VA 23128 Mathews County
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Country: United States of America
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N 37° 28.015', W 76° 26.676'

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Federal Incursions in Mathews County

Although no major battles were fought in Mathews County, Union forces made several incursions during the war. One occurred in November 1862 to disrupt salt production and "contraband [military supplies] trade" with Maryland Confederates. It included a detachment of the 52nd Pennsylvania Infantry under Maj. John B. Conyngham, as well as naval vessels under Cmdr. Foxhall A. Parker. The raiders destroyed numerous vessels and salt works. On November 25, a Federal gunboat destroyed a Confederate gunboat construction site on the North River.

Another joint army-navy incursion took place in October 1863 to thwart Confederate Navy Capt. John Taylor Wood's and Acting Master John Yates Beall's commerce raiding. Union Gen. Isaac Wistar led the expedition and occupied the "isthmus" of Mathews County, with pickets stationed "near an old rebel breastwork." His command consisted of cavalry, artillery, and infantry regiments, including the 4th U.S. Colored Troops. Elements of the Potomac Flotilla and the North Atlantic Blocking Squadron also took part in this campaign to eradicate Beall's Confederate Volunteer Coast Guard. As naval vessels blocked any water escape route, Wistar's cavalry raided throughout the countryside. Although Beall escaped, Wistar declared success and reported that "about 150 boats and sloops were destroyed, 80 head of cattle captured and approximately 100 prisoners associated with blockade running were arrested." One Union soldier was killed by elderly farmer Sands Smith II, one of the county's most revered citizens. As Wistar reported the event, "One man was murdered by a bushwhacker named Smith, who was promptly hung, being taken in the act."

(lower left) Sands Smith II - Courtesy Mathews County Historical Society; Gen. Isaac J. Wister - Courtesy U.S. Army Military History Institute; Capt. John T. Wood Courtesy U.S. Naval Historical Center; Acting Master John Y. Beall Courtesy West Virginia Satte Archives
(upper right) "Military Map of South-Eastern Virginia," 1865, detail of Mathews County Courtesy Library of Congress
HM NumberHM1F38
Series This marker is part of the Virginia Civil War Trails series
Year Placed2014
Placed ByVirginia Civil WarTrails
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Saturday, September 13th, 2014 at 6:50am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 372251 N 4147650
Decimal Degrees37.46691667, -76.44460000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 37° 28.015', W 76° 26.676'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds37° 28' 0.90" N, 76° 26' 40.56" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)804
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 1140-1198 Windsor Rd, North VA 23128, US
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