Historic St. Luke's Church

Historic St. Luke's Church (HM1YLJ)

Location: Smithfield, VA 23430 Isle of Wight County
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Country: United States of America
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N 36° 56.352', W 76° 35.186'

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War Comes to the Old Brick Church

Early in the war, Confederate authorities were concerned that Union forces might advance up the James River from Fort Monroe. As a precaution, they constructed waterfront artillery batteries along the river, including in Isle of Wight County, and posted infantry regiments nearby to protect them. This brought the war to the sleepy grounds of St. Luke's Church, when Col. W. Dorsey Pender's 3rd North Carolina Volunteers (later reorganized as the 13th North Carolina Infantry) camped here. Pender's regiment was part of Gen. John Pemberton's brigade, and supported a North Carolina battery located at the mouth of Jones Creek north of the church. In July 1861, Pender wrote his wife, "You will see that I call this place Camp Ruffin. ... The location and appearance of the camp are anything but agreeable in looks and or in comfort. ... We have three camps stretching over about three and half miles."
Union Assistant Adjutant General William Whipple reported in November 1861 that escaped slaves told him of a large Confederate force on the grounds of the "old brick church near Smithfield." In the spring of 1862, Confederate forces crossed the river to oppose Union Gen. George McClellan's advance up the Peninsula toward Richmond. A subsequent article in Harper's Weekly reported that after the camp was vacated, the church "was
left entirely despoiled of everything movable or destructible."
Confederate camp, 1861 - Courtesy Library of Congress
Pvt. John L. Wood, 3rd North Carolina Volunteers, 1861 Courtesy Library of Congress
St. Luke's Church, ca. 1920 photo - Courtesy Isle of Wight County Museum
Series This marker is part of the Virginia Civil War Trails series
Placed ByVirginia Civil War Trails
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Tuesday, May 30th, 2017 at 9:01am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 358728 N 4089303
Decimal Degrees36.93920000, -76.58643333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 36° 56.352', W 76° 35.186'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds36° 56' 21.12" N, 76° 35' 11.16" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)757
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling West
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 14477 Benns Church Blvd, Smithfield VA 23430, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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