Battle of Swift Creek

Battle of Swift Creek (HM9HW)

Location: Colonial Heights, VA 23834
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Country: United States of America
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N 37° 17.02', W 77° 24.722'

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"Brave to Madness"

You are standing in the middle of the Union line that faced the Confederate route of attack up the Richmond Turnpike on May 9, 1864, during Union Gen. Benjamin F. Butler's Bermuda Hundred Campaign. Here, along Swift Creek, elements of Butler's Army of the James clashed with part of Confederate Gen. Bushrod R. Johnson's command. The Federals were attempting to disrupt supply lines - especially the Richmond and Petersburg Railroad - to Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, which was fighting north of Richmond.

Johnson's force was dug in from Brander's Bridge almost to Fort Clifton, behind you on the Appomattox River. The massive Federal "demonstration" met resistance here, where the Union troops encountered the 11th South Carolina Infantry, a part of Gen. Johnson Hagood's command that was forward of the main Confederate position. Union Gen. Charles A. Heckman's brigade had formed its line here when another South Carolina regiment, the 21st, charged across the Swift Creek bridge and up the turnpike to support the 11th. When the Confederates were but fifty yards away, Heckman's brigade began firing volleys that cut the South Carolinians down. A post-battle Confederate report termed them "brave to madness." The survivors withdrew across the creek.

Skirmishing and artillery fire continued through the night. The 8th Connecticut Infantry, a unit partially armed with Sharps "revolving rifles," repulsed a Confederate advance across the railroad bridge east of the turnpike. The 63rd Tennessee Infantry turned back some Union gunners who got a cannon down to the creek bank. In the morning, Butler ordered a withdrawal. The Confederates had the railroad repaired by the next day.
HM NumberHM9HW
Series This marker is part of the Virginia Civil War Trails series
Placed ByVirginia Civil War Trails
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Thursday, October 16th, 2014 at 12:27am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 286169 N 4129068
Decimal Degrees37.28366667, -77.41203333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 37° 17.02', W 77° 24.722'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds37° 17' 1.20" N, 77° 24' 43.32" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)804
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 17371-17421 Boulevard, Colonial Heights VA 23834, US
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