Near Mechanicsville in Hanover County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
“Give me liberty or give me death!”
—Patrick Henry, March 23, 1775 —
The Shelton House received national attention in the spring of 1864 when Civil War armies clashed at Totopotomoy Creek as part of the Overland Campaign. For four days (May 29-June 1), parts of Union General Winfield Hancock’s Second Corps occupied the plantation. Entrenchments criss-crossed the fields and incoming artillery shells riddled the historic house while the Shelton family huddled in the basement.
Few Civil War soldiers knew that the battle started on Henry’s 128th birthday, and many mistook his nearby birthplace for his grave. Nevertheless, soldiers drew inspiration from the knowledge that they were fighting on ground where Patrick Henry had walked. “Halted for the night,” a Pennsylvania soldier wrote in his diary, “near the tomb of the illustrious Patrick Henry.” Another wrote more accurately that “we had a battle near the homestead of our old patriot and orator, Patrick Henry.”
Patrick Henry (May 29, 1736 – June 6, 1799) was the leading Virginia statesman in defending the rights of Colonial America.
Following Henrys death, John Adams wrote to Thomas Jefferson singing his praises: “In the Congress of 1774 there was not one member, except Patrick Henry, who appeared to me sensible of the Precipice or rather the Pinnacle on which he stood, and had the candour and courage enough to acknowledge it.”
Henry was the first elected governor of Virginia, a devoted father of 17 children, and the most famous orator of his day. Born in Hanover County, Henry made a name for himself as a young lawyer in the Parsons’ Cause at Hanover Courthouse in 1763. His 1765 resolutions against the Stamp Act articulated the basic principles of the American Revolution. Henry is perhaps best known for his immortal words “Give me liberty or give me death,” which he delivered during the Second Virginia Convention in a speech to fellow delegates George Washington and Thomas Jefferson at St. John’s Church in 1775. His impassioned words helped move colonists toward American independence and they continue to inspire the cause of freedom around the world.
Known as the “Voice of the Revolution,”
Erected 2010 by The Road to Revolution Heritage Trail. (Marker Number 3.)
Location. 37° 39.669′ N, 77° 20.779′ W. Marker is near Mechanicsville, Virginia, in Hanover County. Marker can be reached from Studley Road (Virginia Route 606) 0.1 miles west of Shelton Pointe Drive, on the left when traveling west. Click for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 7273 Studley Road, Mechanicsville VA 23116, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Totopotomoy Creek (a few steps from this marker); Shelton House Under Fire (within shouting distance of this marker); Totopotomoi (within shouting distance of this marker); Totopotomoy Line (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); Fighting at the Totopotomoy Totopotomoy Line (approx. half a mile away); Attacking the High Ground (approx. 0.6 miles away); Pine Slash (approx. 0.7 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Mechanicsville.
More about this marker. On the left is a photo with the caption, "Sarah Shelton wed Patrick Henry in 1754, purportedly while standing in front of the parlor fireplace. Patrick’s uncle, the Rev. Patrick Henry, performed the ceremony."
On the right is a war time sketch with the caption, "Famed Civil War artist Alfred Waud sketched the exterior of “Rural Plains” during the May 1864 battle. The image closely depicts the 18th-century appearance of the home, as the Sheltons made only a few exterior alterations to the structure."
Also see . . .
1. The Road to Revolution Heritage Trail. (Submitted on August 28, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.)
2. Totopotomoy Creek Battlefield at Rural Plains. Richmond National Battlefield Park (Submitted on August 28, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.)
3. The Battle of Totopotomoy Creek, May 29-31, 1864 (Submitted on August 28, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.)
4. Rural Plains (pdf file). National Register of Historic Places (Submitted on August 28, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.)
5. Totopotomoy Creek. CWSAC Battle Summary (Submitted on August 28, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.)
Categories. • Colonial Era • Patriots & Patriotism • War, US Civil • War, US Revolutionary •
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 3,152 times since then and 79 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. submitted on , by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.