Battle of Big Bethel

Battle of Big Bethel (HM1YLL)

Location: Hampton, VA 23666
Buy Virginia State flags at!
Country: United States of America
Buy United States of America flags at!

N 37° 5.49', W 76° 25.555'

  • 0 check ins
  • 0 favorites


For the Federals, the Big Bethel expedition ended in complete failure. Casualties totaled 76: 18 killed, 53 wounded, and 5 missing. The Northern press blamed Gen. Benjamin F Butler for ordering his troops into battle with poor preparation and for remaining at Fort Monroe during the battle. Gen. Ebenezer W. Pierce, however, received most of the blame for losing "his presence of mind" during the engagement and failing to coordinate the attacks. Federal officers Theodore Winthrop and John Greble were lionized for their valor and sacrifice.
Southerners rejoiced. Confederate casualties were only 1 killed (Pvt. Henry L. Wyatt), 7 wounded, and 3 missing. Confederate President Jefferson Davis pronounced the battle to be a "glorious victory." Although Col. Daniel H. Hill directed most of the action on the battlefield, Col. John B. Magruder received most of the acclaim and was promoted to brigadier general a week later.
The Confederates, of course, had the advantage of secure earthworks, while the Federal commanders maneuvered green troops experiencing their first combat of the war. Ineptness and inexperience combined to produce an embarrassing Union defeat. Compared with the scale of future battles, Big Bethel was a small affair. However, the war had just begun, and few anticipated the slaughter to come.
hospital scene, Duryée's Zouaves Courtesy Library of Congress
Gen. Ebenezer W. Pierce, from A History of the Town of Freetwon (1902)
Despite the Confederate victory at Big Bethel, the Federal domination of Hampton Roads was illustrated in this engraving published two weeks later. Union ships ply the water off Fort Monroe, and the vast Federal camps appear on the left near Hampton. Harper's Weekly, June 22, 1861.
Battle of Big Bethel, Harper's Weekly, June 19, 1861
Series This marker is part of the Virginia Civil War Trails series
Year Placed2016
Placed ByVirginia Civil War Trails
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Tuesday, May 30th, 2017 at 9:01am PDT -07:00
Sorry, but we don't have a picture of this historical marker yet. If you have a picture, please share it with us. It's simple to do. 1) Become a member. 2) Adopt this historical marker listing. 3) Upload the picture.
Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 373276 N 4105973
Decimal Degrees37.09150000, -76.42591667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 37° 5.49', W 76° 25.555'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds37° 5' 29.4" N, 76° 25' 33.3" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)757
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling South
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 1645 Big Bethel Rd, Hampton VA 23666, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

Is this marker missing? Are the coordinates wrong? Do you have additional information that you would like to share with us? If so, check in.

Nearby Markersshow on map
Check Ins  check in   |    all

Have you seen this marker? If so, check in and tell us about it.

Comments 0 comments

Maintenance Issues
  1. What historical period does the marker represent?
  2. What historical place does the marker represent?
  3. What type of marker is it?
  4. What class is the marker?
  5. What style is the marker?
  6. Does the marker have a number?
  7. This marker needs at least one picture.
  8. Can this marker be seen from the road?
  9. Is the marker in the median?