Fort Clifton

Fort Clifton (HMB5H)

Location: Colonial Heights, VA 23834
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Country: United States of America
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N 37° 16.838', W 77° 22.041'

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Guardian of the Appomattox

Confederate Fort Clifton guarded the Appomattox River and helped protect Petersburg in 1864-1865. The three earthworks that comprised the fort's batteries still stand on the bluffs along the river. Artillerists and militiamen garrisoned the position in 1862, and the fortifications were completed early in 1864. A powder magazine, guardhouse and prison stockade, hospital, and even a "ladies quarters" stood inside the fort, while underground huts were "built into ravines and gullies" around it. Rifle pits - running northwest toward a six-gun battery on Swift Creek - protected the fort's flanks from infantry assault and are readily visible behind the main earthworks today.

In May and June 1864, Fort Clifton withstood five separate Union sorties up the Appomattox River. The most serious attack came on May 9, during the Bermuda Hundred campaign, when army gunboats commanded by Gen. Charles K. Graham bombarded the fort while Federal forces probed Confederate defenses on both sides of the river. During this engagement, the gunboat Samuel L. Brewster was disabled by Confederate fire and scuttled by her crew.

By early 1865, a Confederate artilleryman described the Clifton garrison as "ragged, barefooted, and even bareheaded," whose sparse diet consisted of worm-eaten peas, rancid pork, and unbolted corn. As the 10-month siege of Petersburg progressed, the men were constantly exposed to the fire of Federal pickets and artillery on the opposite bank of the river. Fort Clifton was evacuated on April 2, 1865, and a detail spiked its 14 guns and blew up the powder magazine. A week later, members of Fort Clifton's garrison surrendered with the remnants of the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House.
HM NumberHMB5H
Placed ByVirginia Civil War Trails
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Tuesday, September 16th, 2014 at 1:28am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 290123 N 4128631
Decimal Degrees37.28063333, -77.36735000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 37° 16.838', W 77° 22.041'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds37° 16' 50.28" N, 77° 22' 2.46" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)804
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 5216-5226 Brockwell Ln, Colonial Heights VA 23834, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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