The Civil War Comes to Williamsburg

Williamsburg Travel Blog

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A Southern Belle on Palace Green

Colonial Williamsburg is always associated with Colonial-era America and with the Revolutionary War. But after the Revolution, the town continued on and was witness to more events. On May 5, 1862, the Civil War caught up with Williamsburg when the Battle of Williamsburg took place just south of town.

Susan and I had decided on the weekend of May 5-6 for a return visit to Williamsburg, where we had not visited, well, since the previous Williamsburg journal entry in this blog! :) When we arrived in the historic district, we noted several ladies dressed in 1860s attire, not colonial dresses! What was up? We soon found out. Williamsburg was commemorating the 150th anniversary of the battle this very day! What historial kismet!

Soon we heard the sound of a band in the distance.

Union Troops arrive from Yorktown
Another appearance by the Colonial Williamsburg Fife and Drum Corps? No indeed! We beheld Union troops marching down Duke of Gloucester Street! A Union cannon went off on Courthouse Green! While I took photos, I heard music coming from opposite direction. The Confederates were coming up the other way along Duke of Gloucester! What would happen when they met? Fortuantely, both units stopped for review. :) Time for more photos!

After a time, both the Union and Confederate reenactors assembled on Courthouse Green for the battle sesquicentennial commemoration program. A speaker, Civil War historian James Robertson Jr, spoke on the impact and meaning of the Civil War for Virginia and the United States. The address could be heard over most of the hsitorical area. Susan and I took the opportunity to walk around a nearly empty Colonial Williamsburg, a rare event on a weekend.

Confederate Cavalry
  

Historical notes. Williamsburg was solidly in the Confederate camp during the Civil War. (A prominent citizen who continued to support  the Union found he had to leave town.) In mid-April 1862, Union forces based around Hampton Roads began moving up the Virginia Peninsula, defined by the York and James Rivers. Their objective was to capture Richmond, the Confederate capital. This action is known as the Peninsula Campaign. Yorktown was captured on May 3. The Confederates began to retreat back from the "Warwick Line" defenses across the Peninsula (now within the city limits of Newport News) to regroup to defend Richmond. Reargard troops were left behind to delay the Union Army. Union and Confederate forces clashed on the morning of May 5, 1862 along the Williamsburg Road  (now US Highway 60) just outside the town. The Battle os Williamsburg was indecisive, but losses were significant, 1,682 Confederate casualties and 2,283 Union casualties. The Confederates withdrew further up the Peninsula and the Union Army occupied Williamsburg.

Vikram says:
Very interestingly narrated as always. Keep it up!
Posted on: May 08, 2012
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A Southern Belle on Palace Green
A Southern Belle on Palace Green
Union Troops arrive from Yorktown
Union Troops arrive from Yorktown
Confederate Cavalry
Confederate Cavalry
A Confederate cavalryman chats up …
A Confederate cavalryman chats up…
Confederate troops on review
Confederate troops on review
Confederates on the march along Du…
Confederates on the march along D…
Battle of Williamsburg 150th anniv…
Battle of Williamsburg 150th anni…
Battle of Williamsburg 150th anniv…
Battle of Williamsburg 150th anni…
Union Cavalry on Palace Green
Union Cavalry on Palace Green
Williamsburg ladies of the Civil W…
Williamsburg ladies of the Civil …
Lemuel Bowden, a Union supporter, …
Lemuel Bowden, a Union supporter,…
Jubal Earlys Confederate troops c…
Jubal Early's Confederate troops …
The Wren Building at the College o…
The Wren Building at the College …
Unknown Confederate soldiers burie…
Unknown Confederate soldiers buri…
Williamsburg
photo by: Andy99