Defending the Peninsula

Defending the Peninsula (HM1H96)

Location: Williamsburg, VA 23185
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Country: United States of America
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N 37° 15.293', W 76° 41.134'

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Avenue of Attack

— 1862 Peninsula Campaign —

When Virginia seceded on April 17, 1861, Union and Confederate leaders alike saw the Peninsula as an avenue of attack against Richmond. Federal ships on the James and York rivers could guard an army flanks and escort supply vessels upstream. Fort Monroe, on Old Point Comfort overlooking lower Chesapeake Bay and Hampton Roads, could serve as a Union base.

Late in April, Lt. Col. Benjamin S. Ewell, an 1832 West Point graduate and former president of the College of William and Mary, took command of Confederate forces on the Peninsula. Although Ewell conceived a fortified line near Williamsburg, it was Gen. John B. Magruder who constructed a defensive system in depth across the Peninsula in 1861-1862. An 1830 West Point graduate dubbed Prince John for his theatrical mannerisms, Magruder enlisted the assistance of Capt. Alfred Rives, Acting Chief of the Engineering Bureau in Richmond.

Magruder forward line - closest to the Federals at Fort Monroe - began at Young Mill on Deep Creek, crossed the Peninsula to Howard Bridge on the Poquoson River, and followed that river to Ship Point. The second line began at Mulberry Island on the James River and followed the Warwick River to within a mile and a half of Yorktown, which was fortified with a series of redoubts, some constructed atop British works remaining from the 1781 siege. The final line, the Williamsburg Line, consisted of 14 redoubts between College and Queen creeks. Powerful water batteries, including one at Gloucester Point across the York River from Yorktown, defended the system flanks. Others covered the James River, including Mulberry Island Point, Fort Boykin at Burwell Bay, Fort Huger on Hardin Bluff, and Jamestown Island.
HM NumberHM1H96
Series This marker is part of the Virginia Civil War Trails series
Placed ByVirginia Civil War Trails
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Saturday, October 4th, 2014 at 10:44pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 350521 N 4124479
Decimal Degrees37.25488333, -76.68556667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 37° 15.293', W 76° 41.134'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds37° 15' 17.58" N, 76° 41' 8.04" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)757, 202
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling North
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 513-537 State Rte 637, Williamsburg VA 23185, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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