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Franklin, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

The Blackwater Line

“That little stream has ... saved us”

 
 
The Blackwater Line CWT Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Bernard Fisher, April 18, 2009
1. The Blackwater Line CWT Marker
Inscription. To protect Richmond from a Union attack from Suffolk, Confederate authorities fortified the Blackwater River in 1862. You are standing on the Blackwater Line. The intermittent earthworks stretched fifty miles from north of Zuni to the North Carolina border. Up to 9,000 troops were stationed along the Blackwater Line during the next two years. Despite occasional shelling and skirmishing, the Federals failed to cross the river.

In 1863, Union Gen. John J. Peck, in Suffolk, sent Col. Samuel P. Spear of the 11th Pennsylvania Cavalry to test the defenses here. Near Carrsville at Hebron Church on the morning of March 17, Spear engaged Confederate pickets who fled to the new earthworks a mile from Franklin. Spear charged twice, then fought an artillery duel before retiring toward Suffolk.

Early in April, three of Gen. James Longstreet’s divisions marched through Franklin to besiege Suffolk, while supplies flowed west from here to Richmond. Once the siege ended and the Confederates left in May, the Blackwater Line declined in importance. In 1864, however, Union Gen. August V. Kautz diverted his planned cavalry raid from Southampton County because, from the poor results “of two years past of expeditions directed against [the Petersburg Railroad], [he] reasoned that Blackwater River was an impassable barrier.”
The Blackwater Line Map Photo, Click for full size
By Bernard Fisher, April 18, 2009
2. The Blackwater Line Map
Elliott Story, a Franklin resident, had written of the river in 1863, “That little stream has thus far saved us thousands of dollars worth of property as well as the alarm and distress that would other wise fallen to our lot.”

As Gen. Ulysses S. Grant besieged Petersburg, some local African Americans liberated themselves from slavery and slipped through the Union lines to join the 38th U.S. Colored Troops. By 1865, constant foraging and skirmishing had wearied Southampton County citizens, ravaged the economy, and devastated once-prosperous farms.
 
Erected by Virginia Civil War Trails.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails marker series.
 
Location. 36° 40.46′ N, 76° 55.164′ W. Marker is in Franklin, Virginia. Marker is at the intersection of South Main Street and South Street, on the left when traveling south on South Main Street. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Franklin VA 23851, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Confederate Commissary Center (here, next to this marker); Battle of Franklin (here, next to this marker); The Barretts: A Franklin Pioneer Family (a
The Blackwater Line Marker, The Gardner and Lee Store Photo, Click for full size
The Blackwater Line Marker, Courtesy Daniel T. Balfour
3. The Blackwater Line Marker, The Gardner and Lee Store
few steps from this marker); The Age of Steam (a few steps from this marker); War Comes to the Blackwater (a few steps from this marker); "Can't Is Not in the Camp's Vocabulary" (a few steps from this marker); The Age of Gasoline (a few steps from this marker); Recovery and Progress (a few steps from this marker). Click for a list of all markers in Franklin.
 
More about this marker. On the lower left is a photo captioned, “By the end of the Civil War, Franklin consisted of a few houses from South Street to the railroad, the depot, the hotel, and several stores on Main Street. The Gardner and Lee store was photographed about 1881.” – Courtesy Daniel T. Balfour, Southampton County and Franklin: A Pictorial History

On the upper center is a regional map of the Blackwater River Line.

On the upper right is a photo with the caption, “Elliot Story, a local resident, kept a diary during the war and described events in Franklin and Southampton Co.” – Courtesy Daniel T. Balfour, Southampton County and Franklin: A Pictorial History

On the lower
The Blackwater Line Marker Photo, Click for full size
The Blackwater Line Marker, Courtesy Library of Congress, October 15, 2011
4. The Blackwater Line Marker
“U.S. Colored Troops”
right is a photo of “U.S. Colored Troops” - Courtesy Library of Congress
 
Also see . . .  Civil War Traveler - Tidewater Virginia - More Sites. Franklin area. Battle of Franklin and Franklin During the War. (Submitted on May 18, 2009, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.) 
 
Categories. War, US Civil
 
Upper right picture : Elliot Story Photo, Click for full size
By The Blackwater Line Marker, Courtsey of Daniel T. Balfour, October 15, 2011
5. Upper right picture : Elliot Story
a local resident, kept a dairy during the war and described events in Franklin and Southampton Co.
Franklin Virginia Civil War Trails Markers Photo, Click for full size
By Bernard Fisher, April 18, 2009
6. Franklin Virginia Civil War Trails Markers
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,449 times since then and 94 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on , by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.   3, 4, 5. submitted on , by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina.   6. submitted on , by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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