Gloucester Point

Gloucester Point (HMC8L)

Location: Gloucester Point, VA 23062 Gloucester County
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Country: United States of America
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N 37° 14.962', W 76° 30.13'

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Ancient Defender of the York

— 1862 Peninsula Campaign —

The earthworks before you are the remains of the star-shaped "covering work" that helped to defend the York River against Union attack from 1861 to 1862. Tyndall's (Gloucester) Point was first fortified in 1667 and was officially named Fort James when it was rebuilt with brick in 1671. The narrowing of the river between Yorktown and Gloucester Point provided a good defensive position to effect control of the upper reaches of the York River and the inland countryside. These fortifications were the eastern terminus of Maj. Gen. John Bankhead Magruder's, CSA, 2nd Peninsula Defensive Line.

In June 1861, the Confederate Army fortified Gloucester Point by constructing a star-shaped fort and water battery overlooking the York River. The main battery was at the extremity of the point, its terreplain only two feet above high tide. It was a fully enclosed earthwork, 100 yards long and 75 yards wide. Its parapet was 7½ feet high on the inside and 20 feet thick, with embrasures for 12 guns. While the battery was under construction Gloucester Point came under fire from Union gunboats. The attack was repulsed and the battery completed under the instruction of Gen. Robert E. Lee, CSA. Its armament consisted of eight 9-inch Dahlgrens and four 32-pounders. The water battery was protected from land attack by the star-shaped fort constructed on the bluff above it.

Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan's concept to capture Richmond by way of the Virginia Peninsula was based on his ability to utilize the James and York rivers as avenues of approach to the Confederate capital. The emergence of the powerful ironclad ram, the CSS Virginia (Merrimack), blocked the James River to McClellan's use and forced him to concentrate his army on the York River. When McClellan's advance was blocked by Magruder's 2nd Defensive Line, the U.S. Navy refused to make any attempt to run past the batteries at Yorktown and Gloucester Point. The entire 2nd Defensive Line was abandoned by the Confederates on the evening of May 3-4, 1862. Only then was the U.S. Navy able to transport McClellan's troops and equipment up the York River to White House Landing on the Pamunkey River and continue operations against Richmond.
HM NumberHMC8L
Series This marker is part of the Virginia Civil War Trails series
Placed ByVirginia Civil War Trails
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Friday, September 19th, 2014 at 6:01pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 366776 N 4123593
Decimal Degrees37.24936667, -76.50216667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 37° 14.962', W 76° 30.13'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds37° 14' 57.72" N, 76° 30' 7.80" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)804
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 1376 Vernon St, Gloucester Point VA 23062, US
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