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Gloucester Point in Gloucester County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

On to Richmond!

McClellan Invades the Virginia Tidewater

 
 
On to Richmond! Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Bernard Fisher, May 2, 2009
1. On to Richmond! Marker
Inscription. “It is indispensable to you that you strike a blow...you must act.” President Abraham Lincoln to General George B. McClellan, April 6, 1862

The York River Confederate defenses were tested early in the Civil War. A large Union force, the Army of the Potomac, commanded by Major General George B. McClellan, steamed down the Chesapeake Bay from Washington D.C. in March, 1862. McClellan, called “Little Mac” by his adoring troops, intended to use the York and James Rivers to capture Richmond. The general had created a world class army but was a cautious field commander.

A spirited defense of the James River turned McClellan toward the York. His Union army faced strong forts at Gloucester Point and Yorktown. When the Union navy refused to attack the Gloucester guns on April 5, the Army of the Potomac settled in for a siege on the Yorktown side of the river.

General McClellan was befuddled by a daring Confederate army, one-third the size of his own force. He spent a month bringing in huge mortars and siege guns. A few days before he was ready to begin his massive bombardment, the Confederates withdrew and moved to defenses closer to Richmond. Only the Gloucester Point artillery kept firing. Thomas J. Page, boldly commanding the Confederate cannons, finally ordered a retreat on May
Tyndallís Point Park Walkway. Photo, Click for full size
By Bernard Fisher, May 2, 2009
2. Tyndallís Point Park Walkway.
4th as the Union forces closed in.

(sidebar)
The Search for Dependable Siege Guns
In the 1860s, rifled and large cannons were revolutionizing siege warfare. Firing artillery, however, could be as dangerous for the crew as their intended target. Bags of gunpowder and projectiles were still loaded at the muzzle and giant cast iron guns often blew up. The nearby gun breech belongs to a Parrott Rifle that fired a rifled shell. It was a new style cast iron cannon, invented by Robert Parrott in 1860, and featured a heavy band added to reinforce the breech. The reason this gun exploded is lost to history.
 
Erected by Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network.
 
Location. 37° 14.99′ N, 76° 30.133′ W. Marker is in Gloucester Point, Virginia, in Gloucester County. Marker can be reached from Vernon Street near Riverview Street. Click for map. The marker is on the Tyndallís Point Park Walkway. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1376 Vernon Street, Gloucester Point VA 23062, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Where North Meets South (here, next to this marker); Classic Camp Life (within shouting distance of this marker); Still Defending Virginiaís Shores
Parts of a Parrott Rifle. Photo, Click for full size
By Bernard Fisher, May 2, 2009
3. Parts of a Parrott Rifle.
(within shouting distance of this marker); The British Safety Valve (within shouting distance of this marker); Gloucester Point (within shouting distance of this marker); Attacking with “Decisive Vigor” (within shouting distance of this marker); A Vital British Outpost at Gloucester Point (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Gloucester Point (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line). Click for a list of all markers in Gloucester Point.
 
More about this marker. On the lower left is a watercolor with the caption, “A Union observation balloon goes up during the month long 1862 Siege of Yorktown. The balloonist has a good view of the Confederate forts, with flag flying, at Gloucester Point across the York River.” Courtesy of the Virginia Historical Society.

On the lower right is a photo with the caption, “A Confederate smoothbore cannon on a naval carriage lies silent after the 1862 Yorktown siege. Soldiers look out at the Union fleet in the York River from the captured Gloucester Point water battery.” Courtesy
Breech of a Parrot Rifle Photo, Click for full size
By Bernard Fisher, May 2, 2009
4. Breech of a Parrot Rifle
of the U.S. Army Military History Institute, U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center.

 
Categories. War, US Civil
 
Confederate fortifications at Gloucester Point, Va., opposite Yorktown, Va. Photo, Click for full size
By George N. Barnard, June 1862
5. Confederate fortifications at Gloucester Point, Va., opposite Yorktown, Va.
Library of Congress [LC-USZ62-76208]
Tyndallís Point Park Entrance. Photo, Click for full size
By Bernard Fisher, May 2, 2009
6. Tyndallís Point Park Entrance.
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 650 times since then and 45 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on , by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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