Robert C. Daniels
Author / Adjunct History Professor
- 1220 Days: the story of U.S. Marine Edmond Babler and his experiences in Japanese Prisoner of War Camps during World War II
- World War II in Mid-America: Experiences from rural Mid-American during the Second World War
- Several published military history articles at www.militaryhistoryonline.com.
Articles within this website:
The following are licensed as for free use under Creative Commons (CC BY 4.0)
Read Some of My Published Articles:
American Civil War Battle-Sites and Other Notable Pictures of the War
(Due to the amount of pictures, this current page is continued at http://www.robertcdaniels.com/Civil_War_PicturesII.htm.)
The following pictures were taken by Robert Daniels over various years
(American Civil War Battle-Sites and Other Notable Pictures of the War by Robert Daniels is licensed under CC BY 4.0.)
The American Civil War, fought between 12 April 1861 and 9 May 1865 was one of the bloodiest wars fought by the United States. Fought mostly in the southern states, it cost the lives of between 620,000 and 750,000 soldiers (both Union and Confederate. Many of the battlefields that remain today and are open to the public are under the protection of and administered by the U.S. National Park Service, while others are protected and managed by state or local governments. What follows are pictures of some of these sites that I visited. These pictures were taken over numerous years. I hope you enjoy viewing them.
The site of Fortress Monroe, situated in Hampton, VA, at the junction of the James River, Elizabeth River, and the Chesapeake Bay, has a long history both before and after the Civil War. Native Americans were present at the site centuries before the Jamestown Expedition arrived in 1607. Once the English expedition arrived, Captain John Ratcliffe was instrumental in stationing a group of settlers there at what they called Fort Algernourne as an early warning post to warn the fledgling colony of any Spanish ships coming into view on the Chesapeake Bay, the Spanish and English being enemies at the time and the Spanish claiming all of North America as their territory. A few years later, on 25 August 1619, the first 20 African slaves in what would be the United States arrived at the site. Several other forts would also be built and manned at the location, including what was only known as "the fort at Old Point Comfort," constructed in 1632, and Fort George, built in 1728. After the War of 1812, the United States, realizing the need to protect the surrounding land and waterways, collectively known as Hampton Roads, from attack by sea, President James Monroe, whom today's fort is named for, commissioned the building of a network of coastal forts, including Fortress Monroe. Construction of Fortress Monroe began in 1819 and would continue for nearly 25 years. It would eventually be the largest fort in area ever built in the Unites States. Robert E. Lee, as a young Army first lieutenant, played a major role in its final construction between 1831 and 1834.
The fort would become the U.S. Army's artillery school, training decades worth of troops the art of artillery. Prior to the outbreak of the Civil War, troops from Fortress Monroe, many of which whom were students of the artillery school, were converted to infantry and departed the fort for the 1832 Black Hawk War, in 1833 as members of a Federal force to keep peace between white settler and Creek Indians. and in 1838 for the Second Seminole War. Besides a young Robert E. Lee, also stationed at the fort was Lieutenant Joseph E. Johnston and 1st Lieutenant Jefferson Davis, who would escort Black Hawk and other leaders of his British Band of Sauks and Foxes to the fort as priosoners at the end of the Black Hawk War. Black Hawk and his fellow British Band leaders would be incarcerated at the fort from May to June 1833. These three young officers - Lee, Johnston, and Davis - would all hold commanding posiitions in the Confederacy during the Civil War, Lee and Johnston as generals and Davis as the President of the Confederacy.
During the Civil War, Fortress Monroe became not only the sole Federal fort in the South that did not to fall to the Confederacy, but a major logistics base and starting off point for Union invasions of Norfolk just southeast of the fort and the Peninsula towards Richmond to the northwest. It was also at this fort that Union General Benjamin Butler labeled escaped slaves as "contraband of war," effectively allowing the legal excuse not to return the slaves to their owners. After the war, the fort would continue use as a shore battery to defend the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay and the Norfolk area, including the every growing U.S. presence in the area. Today the fort is decommissioned, but contains a museum called the Casemate Museum, which with well worth the visit. Included in the museum are displays featuring, among other topics, the two most famous/infamous prisoners held in the fort, Blackhawk and Jefferson Davis, the later imprisoned for nearly a year and a half upon his capture at the end of the war.
First Battle of Ironclads
Approximately 3 or 4 miles west-south-west of Fort Monroe in what is know as Hampton Roads (the intersection of the Elizabeth and James Rivers), on 9 March 1862, was fought the first sea battle between ironclad warships, the USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia (the latter commonly referred to as the Merrimack).
Fort Norfolk is located at 801 Front St., Norfolk, VA. Currently maintained in collaboration with the Army Corps of Engineers and the Norfolk Historical Society, the fort was first first authorized by Congress in 1794 and was completed the following year to defend the harbor of Norfolk and the Gosport Naval Yards (now Portsmouth Naval Shipyard). It played a part in the War of 1812 in defending Norfolk from sea attack by the British, and during the Civil War would first be manned by Union troops until Norfolk fell to the Confederacy. Soon, however, when the Union again occupied Norfolk, the fort would be re-manned by Union troops and used as a prison for captured Confederate blockade runners. After the war it would be used as a U.S. Naval ammunition storage site, then the Army Corps of Engineers used it as office space until 1983, when they moved to their new, current building. To visit the fort, sign in at the Army Corps of Engineer guard shack - the fort is normally only open on Sunday afternoons - park in the Corps' parking area, and enjoy the visit. Docents at times man the site and guided tours are offered.
Mystery Fort on Jollif Road in Chesapeake, Virginia
In the Western Branch Area of Chesapeake, Virginia, is what has been labeled the Mystery Fort. It is called this because little is actually known of the origins of the fort, as well as if it was a Confederate bastion or a Union fort or possibly even originally a Confederate fortification that was later taken over and manned by Union forces. It is still to be restored and opened to the public, but a paper written by Gerald Kinney, including pictures and maps, is available at https://www.cityofchesapeake.net/As...s/planning/EARTHWORK+FORT+AT+JOLLIFF+ROAD.pdf. Please note that this document and its contents is NOT licensed for free use under Creative Commons (CC BY 4.0).
The Battle of Big Bethel
On 10 June 1861 occurred the first land battle of the Civil War in Virginia. Called the Battle of Big Bethel it was merely a skirmish compared to battles that would later come in the war. It would be fought between what was then Little Bethel and Big Bethel Churches, on Big Bethel Road near where the Bethel Park now stands at the border between the cities of Hampton and Tabb, VA. At the end of the battle, the Confederates, under then Colonel Magruder, would withdraw to Magruder's fortifications along the Warwick River, while the Union forces returned to Fortress Monroe. The entrance of the park contains a historical marker, ten plaques, and two monuments commemorating the battle, as well as memorial to Confederate Private Henry Lawson Wyatt. The actual site of where Big Bethel Church stood is north across the bridge on Big Bethel Road. Nothing remains of the church other than the church cemetery. Please note that these following pictures were taken just after the Christmas Holiday season, hence the red-bowed wreaths on the two monuments and the Wyatt memorial.
The Battle of Dam No. 1 - also called The Battle of Burnt Chimneys
On 16 April 1862, at the outset of the Peninsula Campaign, the Battle of Dam No.1 was fought. Departing Fortress Monroe several weeks prior on their trek to the Richmond, VA, area, the first real obstacle Union General George B. McClellan's army came across were the dug-in troops of Confederate General John Bankhead Magruder at the site of Dam No. 1, one of three dams Magruder had directed to be constructed along the Warwick River in what is today the Newport News City Park on the west side of the city - 13560 Jefferson Ave., Newport News, VA. This represented the center of Magruder's second of three fortified lines along the peninsula in Newport News, the 12-mile long fortifications known as the Warwick Line, which extended from Yorktown in the east to the Skiffes Creek and Mulberry Island along the James River in the west. The battle itself only lasted one day, but would hold up the ever cautious McClellan's advance towards Richmond for a month.
The First Confederate Line of defense of the Peninsula, the southern most line, includes a redoubt at Young's Mill, located in Newport News at the corner of Warwick Blvd (Highway 60) and Old Grist Mill Lane.
The actual redoubt at Young's Mill, is located across the parking lot of the Mill.
About five miles south of Young's Mill is a historical marker Commemorating the death of Lt. Colonel Charles D. Dreux as the first Confederate field grade officer (major or above) killed in the war. The marker is located at the back parking lot of the Town Bank at the corner of Warwick Blvd and Cedar. Lane
Between the first and second lines is the Warwick Courthouse. It is located at the corners of Old Courthouse Way and Grissom Way nearly directly west of the intersection of Denbigh Road and Warwick Blvd (Highway 60).
The Second (or middle) Confederate Line of defense of the Peninsula, also known as The Warwick-Yorktown Line, contains not only the actual battle site of the Battle of Dam No. 1, but also includes the Lee's Mill fortification, positioned a mile or so west of Dam No. 1, and another redoubt at Skiffes Creek, located a mile or so north of Lee's Mill.
The site of Lee's Mill is location is at 280-310 Rivers Ridge Cir, Newport News. A small skirmish occurred here on 5 April 1862. The fortification contains several historical plaques covering the fortification, the skirmish, called the Battle of Lee's Mill, and early English settlements.
As mentioned, this site also contains a couple of historical plaques of early English settlers that lived on or near the area, including the Balthrope (or Boldrup) Estate and the Stanley Hundred.
The redoubt at Skiffes Creek 22 Enterprise Dr, Newport News
This map is from the Skiffes Creek Plaque
The Battle of Dam No. 1 is located in the Newport News City part at 13560 Jefferson Ave, Newport News
If you are into nature hikes, this site offers several miles of wooden trails, several of which pass through the differing trench sites of the battlefield.
As can be seen from the below pictures, the trenches of the site have been left as they were, but are now overgrown with trees and other vegetation. During the battle it was all cleared farmland. The following eight pictures are of where the battle actually occurred.
It is my humble opinion that the fall, winter, and early spring, while the leaves are off the trees, is the best time to view these fortifications. It is also a timeframe when the bugs and snakes and such are in hibernation.
About a half mile or so east of the actual battle was situated the Confederate left, centered around what was then Wynne's Mill. Although the actual battle did not occur here, the fortifications are worth visiting. As a matter of fact, it is, once again, my humble opinion that these fortifications are even better preserved and more expansive than those of the actual battle-site.
From the above Wynne's Mill marker.
From the Wynne's Mill marker.
From the above Wynne's Mill marker.
Roughly directly across the James River from Young's Mill fortifications, about 4.5 direct miles due north of the downtown area of modern-day Smithfield, Virginia, is Fort Boykin. Its address is 7410 Fort Boykin Trail, Smithfield, VA. Fort Boykin was the third fort built on the site, with two others, one called the Castle (built in 1623) and another called Fort Francis Boykin (built 1776), predating it. At the outset of the war, the remnants of Fort Francis Boykin, which had also been manned during the War of 1812, was re-manned and refortified by the Confederacy as a shore battery and part of Magruder's Second Confederate Line of defense of the Peninsula in attempts to prevent Union ships from sailing north along the James River to Richmond.
Please note that the sun was not necessarily cooperative for picture taking during my visit.
North of and about 5.5 miles across Burwell Bay from Fort Boykin is the site of Fort Huger, another Confederate battery constructed to oppose Union ships along the James River. It is located at 15080 Talcott Ter, Smithfield, VA 23430. Not a well known site and, like Fort Boykin, not one where a major battle occurred, and somewhat out of the way, it is still a site that is well worth the visit.
On the way to both Forts Boykin and Huger from the Norfolk area stands the small city of Smithfield, VA. A two-day naval engagement occurred here on 1 January and 2 February of 1864. The following marker commemorating that engagement as well as the founding of Smithfield, is located at 403 South Church Street, Smithfield.
National Cemetery - Yorktown, Virginia
Many Civil War battle sites contain national cemeteries. One of these is located just outside of Yorktown (it is actually located on part of the Colonial National Historical Park, at the corner of Cook Road and Goosley Road), near the eastern terminus of the Warwick Line. It contains the remains of 2,183 Union soldiers.
Fortifications at Tyndall's Point - Gloucester Point, Virginia
Across the York River from the eastern portion of the Warwick Line (just across the river from the village of Yorktown, Virginia) the Confederates built fortifications at what was called Tyndall's Point. These would be evacuated by the Confederates around the same time they evacuated the Warwick Line, at which time the Union would man the fortifications until the end of the war. These fortifications are located just west of the toll plaza on the north side of the Coleman Bridge, which spans the York River along Highway 17.
The fortification were built at the same site that the British had build fortifications during the American Revolutionary War. The site is also predated by earlier British setters, with Tyndall's Point (spelled "Tendales Poynt") appearing on a 1624 map, as well as even earlier occupation by Native-Americans. The site contains numerous plaques and historical markers relating to all of these eras. I will only, for the most part, post pictures here of the plaques and such that relate to the Civil War.
After the Battle of Dam No. 1, General Magruder formed his troops along his third line of defense on the Virginia Peninsula leading to Richmond. This line would be called the Williamsburg Line, which was made up not of interconnected trenches as was most of the Warwick Line, but 14 redoubts scattered across the peninsula with the left flank near the York River and the right flank near the James River. A battle occurred between the Union and Confederate forces on 5 May 1862 near the center of the Williamsburg Line at Redoubt Number 6, also known as Fort Magruder. What is left of the fort can be viewed on Penniman Rd. across the street from its intersection with Queens Creek Rd. in the south eastern portion of Williamsburg, VA.
To the west of Fort Magruder and positioned at the far right of the third line of defense are Redoubts 1 and 2. The two share the same parking lot and are located at 510 Quarterpath Road, Williamsburg. The two sites contain numerous historical plaques.
The above map is an inset of the above Defending the Peninsula plaque.
The above map is an inset of the above Quarterpath Road plaque.
The above map is an inset of the above Redoubt 1 plaque.
Redoubt 2 is approximately 1/3 of a mile due north of Redoubt 1. I can be reached one of two ways. First by walking a marked trail from the parking lot over a rather rugged landscape through the woods. Although certainly scenic, this trail is not for the faint of heart, since it includes traversing rather steep hills. The second way is to simply walk up the side of Quarterpath Road, which is a sparsely travelled road and a much easier walk.
The above map is an inset of the above Redoubt 2 plaque.
Musket Ball and Shell Fragment
The above is a picture of a steel canon shell fragment from an exploding shell (effectively shrapnel) and a musket ball (called a mini-ball), both from the Civil War. Notice the pen for size comparison. The shell fragment weighs 1.5 pounds, while the mini-ball's weighs is 1.1 ounce.
Battle of Antietam/Sharpsburg
The Battle of Antietam, also called the Battle of Sharpsburg,* was fought on 17 September 1862 along the Antietam Creek near the town of Sharpsburg, Maryland, not far from Harpers Ferry in what is now West Virginia. It proved to be the most costly one-day battle of the war, with a combined (Union and Confederacy) 22,717 dead, wounded, or missing. Although both sides remained on the battlefield at the end of the battle, since Confederate General Robert E. Lee, who led the Confederate army at the battle, would take his force back across the nearby Potomac River during the night after the war, the Union declared the battle as a victory...the first real major victory of the war for the Union. It was this victory that President Abraham would use to announce the Emancipation Proclamation.
*Battles of the war normally had two titles, one by the Union and one by the Confederacy. The Union, unless actually fought in a city, normally entitled the battles for a nearby geological site - a creek, river, mountain, etc. - while the Confederacy tended to name the same battle for the nearest town or city.
The battle was actually made up of what amounted to three mini-battles, each fought, not in conjunction with each other, but one after the other - the Battle of the Cornfield, The Battle of the Sunken Road, and the Battle of the Burnside Bridge. We will look at these in the order they were fought. Please note that it had snowed the evening before my visit, so the white you see on the ground in some of these pictures is snow.
The Battle of the Cornfield:
The Dunker Church, the focal point of the Union's initial attack of the battle. It is located behind and to the left of the cornfield (facing the approaching Union Army) of the Confederate forces.
The far side of the split rail fence is the site of cornfield the Union forces attacked through on their way to the Dunker Church. Many thousands, both Union and Confederate forces, died or were wounded in this cornfield.
The Battle of the Sunken Road:
The following six pictures are of different angles of what was known as the Sunken Road, also called the Bloody Lane. The road/lane amounted to an natural entrenchment from which the Confederates held off the Union during several Union charges across the open fields. At the end of the day, the road/lane was filled with Confederate dead. Psychic friends of mine and my wife state that they can see and hear hundreds of dead in this trench.
The next three pictures were taken from the top of the observation tower (seen in the distance on the first of the above pictures). The Dunker Church can just be made out in the right and upper left of the two below pictures, respectively. It looks like a small white square in these pictures.
In the above picture, the field to the right is the field that the Union troops marched across into the guns of the Confederate soldiers manning the Sunken Road; the Sunken road is seen to the left side of the rail fence.
The above picture shows both the Sunken Road and field that the Confederates first traversed when finally abandoning the Sunken Road, then unsuccessfully counter-attacking their old position. The Dunker Church can just be made out in the upper far right of the picture.
The Battle of the Burnside Bridge:
The following six pictures are of the Burnside Bridge, also known as the Lower Bridge, spanning the Antietam Creek. The Union forces of General Ambrose Everett Burnside, under orders from General McClellan, conducted several thrusts to take the hill on the south side of creek manned by a few hundred Confederates.
These above pictures are views of the bridge from the Confederate side of the creek. The three below pictures are views from the northern side of the creek, where Burnside's troops were positioned prior to attempting to cross the bridge. Notice the hill in the background f the below pictures. The hill is where the Confederate troops were positioned, raining musket shots into the advancing Union troops as they crowded together on the bridge as they attempted to cross it. Of interest, there is at least one other stone bridge in the area that is still used by modern vehicles on a country road. It is identical to the Burnside Bridge and, as such, is a one-lane bridge.
On the grounds of Hampton University, in Hampton, VA, not far from Fortress Monroe, stands the Emancipation Oak. It was at this oak tree that newly freed African-Americans were read the Emancipation Proclamation in January 1863. The tree and marker is located on Emancipation Drive behind a university parking lot.
Hampton National Cemetery
Also on the grounds of Hampton University is a national cemetery, containing the graves of numerous Union soldiers, as well as many veterans from other wars and eras. One of these is my great, great, great Uncle, Baron Stueben Daniels, who died in Portsmouth, VA, in 1862 from a disease.
The Battle of the Wilderness
The Battle of the Wilderness was fought on on 5-7 May 1864 along the edges of Spotsylvania and Orange Counties, Virginia. It was during this battle that Confederate General Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson shot by mistake by his own Confederate soldiers. He would first loose his arm, then his life to this wound.
The Ellwood Manor, which was used as a field hospital by the Confederacy during the battle. It is here that "Stonewall" Jackson's arm was amputated.
The site of Jackson's arm's burial. It is on the grounds of the Ellwood Manor house.
This is a real tree trunk embedded with two solid shot canon balls from the Wilderness Battle.
The Siege of Petersburg, VA
Union forces, under General Ulysses S. Grant laid siege of Petersburg, VA, from 9 June 1864 to 25 March 1865. The trench lines spanned 30 miles on the eastern side of the city of Petersburg. Just to the northeast of the siege lines, Grant had his headquarters at Hopewell, VA.
Appomattox Manor in Hopewell, Virginia.
While most Union general officers would make their headquarters in southern homes, especially the larger plantation homes, during the Siege of Petersburg, Grant had this modest cabin built for his headquarters on the grounds of Appomattox Manor.
The following five pictures are of a replica of the "Dictator" and its powder magazine. The Dictator was a 13-inch, 17,000 pound seacoast mortar used by Union forces to lob 225-pound explosive shells more than two miles into the Confederate trenches.
Local life and death did not stand in the way of the war.
Confederate battery No. 6.
The following six pictures are of reproductions of fortifications and encampments of the siege.
The infamous Crater. Union miners tunneled under the Confederate lines, placed explosives in the mine, then exploded it killing scores of Confederate soldiers.
The entrance of the tunnel dug under the Confederate line where explosives were packed.
The remains of the crater.
Memorials to those who fought and died.
The McLean House at Appomattox Courthouse, Appomattox County, VA
On 9 April 1865, Confederate General Robert E. Lee officially surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at the McLean House in Appomattox Courthouse, effectively ending the war.
The Assassination of President Abraham Lincoln
On 14 April 1865, President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth at th4 Ford's Theater in Washington, D.C. What follows are pictures of the theater, the Peterson House where Lincoln actually died, and a historical marker designating the location of the Garrett farm where John Wilkes Booth was shot by his persuers and died.
Fort's Theater, where Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth.
The Paterson House, across the street from Ford's Theater. It is here that Lincoln was taken after his assassination and where he actually died.
Near the site where John Wilkes Booth was shot and died in the Garrett family barn. The marker is located along the north bound lanes of Highway 301, about two miles south of Port Royal Crossroad (the intersection of Highway 17 and Highway 301). The actual site of the barn is located in the wooden medium strip of Highway 301. Nothing is left of the barn or the rest of the Garrett farm buildings, but there is a stone marker near the site placed there by the Daughters of the Confederacy.
Last updated on 13 Jul 2022 .
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