The Bermuda Hundred Campaign
A Bomb Proof Church ?
The purpose of this structure remains a mystery. It may be the remains of one of the "Bomb Proof" churches that were built in this part of the Howlett Line. One such church was built by men of the 17th Virginia, the 15th Virginia and Parker's Battery behind the section of the Howlett Line they were defending. Parker's Battery is located just 2,500 feet north of here. This may be the remnant of the church they constructed.
The church was described as being dug into the ground about four to ﬁve feet. The earth from the hole was piled up on all sides. A roof of tree branches was then placed on a pole frame. The ﬁnished church stood no more than 4 or 6 feet above the ground.
The church was completed on October 30th, 1864, and was at once put into use for daily prayer meetings. Visiting ministers also conducted services at the church. One member of the 17th Virginia wrote. "On December 12th Bishop Johns visited our Brigade and held regular service in the new chapel: sixteen soldiers were conﬁrmed by him."
As the church was built so close to the line, a well placed shell from the enemy would have been an unwelcome visitor.
Bomb proofs were earthen structures designed to protect troops from enemy artillery
fire. They were generally constructed by creating a chamber with walls and a roof made of heavy timbers. This chamber would then have several feet of dirt or sand bags placed on the sides and top. As can be seen in these photos, bomb proofs came in many shapes and sizes. The Bomb Proof Church had fortiﬁed walls, but only had a light roof made of tree branches.
Confederate bomb proof at Battery Dantzler in Chesterﬁeld County
A Sutler's bomb proof at Petersburg
A Union bomb proof dug into the hillside at Dutch Gap in Chesterﬁeld County
This sign was sponsored by Chester Station Camp 1503, Sons of Confederate Veterans