“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Smithfield in Isle of Wight County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)

Fort Boykin

True Southerners Do and Dare


—The 1862 Peninsula Campaign —

Fort Boykin Marker image. Click for full size.
By Laura Troy, September 23, 2007
1. Fort Boykin Marker
Inscription. True Southerners Do and Dare. The 1862 Peninsula Campaign. Directly in front of you is the entrance to Fort Boykin. Originally built in 1623 to protect the colonists against “Spaniards by sea and Indians by land” and called “The Castle,” the fort was rebuilt during the Revolutionary War and renamed Fort Boykin in honor of Major Francis Boykin. This seven-pointed star-shaped fortification was also activated to defend Virginia against the British during the War of 1812.

Fort Boykin’s steep cliffs and commanding view of the James River made it an important position from which the Confederates could defend Richmond. The fort was quickly manned by Confederate forces shortly after Virginia’s secession from the Union. The famous poet, Sidney Lanier, was one of the Confederate soldiers stationed at Fort Boykin during the early months of the war. While serving at Boykin Lanier wrote “Beautiful Ladies,” “Hoe Cakes,” and began the novel Tiger Lilies.

Fort Boykin was the south side anchor of Maj. Gen. John Bankhead Magruder’s, CSA, arc of fortifications(2nd Penisula Defensive Line) which stretched from Burwell’s Bay across the James River to Mulberry Island; thence followed the Warwick River to Yorktown and then across the York River to Gloucester Point.
Fort Boykin Markers image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, May 2, 2009
2. Fort Boykin Markers
It was a formidable defensive system which, with the help of the powerful ironclad ram CSS Virginia (Merrimack), was able to block Maj. Gen. George Brinton McClellan’s advance toward Richmond during the Peninsula Campaign’s initial phase.

Norfolk’s capture by the Union and the subsequent destruction of the Virginia opened the James River to the Union fleet. On May 8, 1862, the USS Galena, USS Minnesota, and USS Susquehanna shelled Fort Boykin and, since the Federal fleet’s guns out-ranged those of the fort, the Confederates abandoned the earthwork. The Union ships returned on May 17th and blew up the fort’s powder magazines. Fort Boykin’s partial destruction ended its 239-year career as a defender of the Commonwealth against its enemies.
Erected by Civil War Trails.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails marker series.
Location. 37° 2.033′ N, 76° 37.07′ W. Marker is near Smithfield, Virginia, in Isle of Wight County. Marker is at the intersection of Fort Boykin Trail and Mogarts Beach Road (County Route 673) on Fort Boykin Trail. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Smithfield VA 23430, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 4 miles
Peninsula Defenses - Fort Boykin (lower left). image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, May 2, 2009
3. Peninsula Defenses - Fort Boykin (lower left).
of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Fort Boykin Historic Park (here, next to this marker); Welcome to Fort Boykin Historic Park (a few steps from this marker); Bennett’s Plantation (approx. 1.7 miles away); Basse’s Choice (approx. 1.7 miles away); Wrenn’s Mill (approx. 2.5 miles away); Old Town (approx. 3.5 miles away); Isle of Wight County War Memorial (approx. 3.6 miles away); Battle of Smithfield (approx. 3.6 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Smithfield.
Categories. Forts, CastlesWar, US Civil
Fort Boykin Historical Park image. Click for full size.
By Laura Troy, September 23, 2007
4. Fort Boykin Historical Park
James River image. Click for full size.
By Laura Troy, September 23, 2007
5. James River
Passage to Richmond by water is possible by the James River. Primarily, this is the reason Fort Boykin was used in the Civil War to protect Richmond.
Black Walnut image. Click for full size.
By Laura Troy, September 23, 2007
6. Black Walnut
Believed to be second largest Black Walnut in the State. This tree dominates the parade ground. The approximate age of this tree is 200(+)years.
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Laura Troy of Burke, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,551 times since then and 80 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on , by Laura Troy of Burke, Virginia.   2, 3. submitted on , by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.   4, 5, 6. submitted on , by Laura Troy of Burke, Virginia. • J. J. Prats was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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