“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Hampton, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)


A Sacrifice to the Grim God of War


—1862 Peninsula Campaign —

Hampton CWT Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, July 31, 2010
1. Hampton CWT Marker
Inscription. The control of Hampton had been disputed during the war’s first months. Brig. Gen. Benjamin F. Butler sought to expand Union control over the lower Peninsula. Despite his defeat during the June 10, 1861, Battle of Big Bethel, his troops occupied Hampton on July 3, 1861. When troops were needed to defend Washington following the Bull Run defeat, the Federals abandoned the town.

Confederate commander John Bankhead Magruder learned from an article in the New York Tribune that Butler planned to quarter Union troops and escaped slaves known as “Contraband of War” in Hampton. Magruder swiftly acted to thwart the Union plan. He ordered Hampton resident Capt. Jefferson Curle Phillips of the Old Dominion Dragoons to burn the town. Local residents including members of the Warwick Beauregards and the York Rangers carried out the harsh directive On the night of August 7, 1861.

Capt. Phillips assembled his troops at the western wall of St. John’s churchyard. He notified the citizens that the town would have to be destroyed and soon Hampton was engulfed in flames. Only the venerable charred walls of St. John’s Church and a few other scattered shells of buildings remained standing. The Philadelphia Inquirer described the eerie scene, “Nothing but a forest of blear-sided chimneys and brick houses tottering and
Carousel Park image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, July 31, 2010
2. Carousel Park
cooling in the wind, scorched trees and heaps of smoldering ruins…. A more desolate sight cannot be imagined.”

The Union continued to use the desolated town. Soldiers camped in St. John’s churchyard. African-Americans settled in the large “Grand Contraband Camp” in Hampton and “Slabtown” near Fort Monroe. They supported the Union causes as camp laborers, servants to the Federal officers, and crew members on navy ships.

“As the smoke and flames ascended to heaven, I was reminded of the ancient sacrifices on the altar…and I thought of how our little town was being made a sacrifice to the grim god of war.” – Sgt. Robert S. Hudgins, Old Dominion Dragoons
Erected by Virginia Civil War Trails.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails marker series.
Location. 37° 1.459′ N, 76° 20.612′ W. Marker is in Hampton, Virginia. Marker can be reached from the intersection of Settlers Landing Road (U.S. 60) and South King Street. Click for map. This CWT Panel is located in Carousel Park. Marker is in this post office area: Hampton VA 23669, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Langley Field: Discovering Aerospace
Hampton, Virginia. Slab-town image. Click for more information.
December 1864
3. Hampton, Virginia. Slab-town
Library of Congress Collection [LC-B815- 841 [P&P] LOT 4164-F]
Click for more information.
(a few steps from this marker); Ninteenth-Century Hampton (a few steps from this marker); Langley Field: Creating an Air Force (a few steps from this marker); Eighteenth-Century Hampton (a few steps from this marker); Twentieth-Century Hampton (within shouting distance of this marker); Seventeenth-Century Hampton (within shouting distance of this marker); British Approach to Hampton / The War of 1812 (within shouting distance of this marker); The Hampton Carousel (within shouting distance of this marker). Click for a list of all markers in Hampton.
More about this marker. On the upper left is an image carrying the caption, “Front view of St. John’s Church. Destroyed with the town of Hampton by the rebels under Gen. Magruder. Watercolor by Let. Robert K. Sneden. Copyright Virginia Historical Society, 1997

On the lower right are a sketch of the “Evacuation and Burning of the village of Hampton, August 7, 1861.” and a photo of “The Freedman’s Village, Hampton, Virginia.” Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Also see . . .  Tidewater Virginia - The 1862 Peninsula Campaign. Virginia Civil War Trails (Submitted on August 1, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.) 
Categories. African AmericansNotable EventsWar, US Civil
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,018 times since then and 94 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on , by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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