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

Fort Harrison

Richmond-Petersburg Campaign

Fort Harrison Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, September 1, 2010
1. Fort Harrison Marker
Inscription. (left panel)
Fort Harrison

Visiting Richmond National Battlefield Park
The concentration of Civil War resources found in the Richmond area is unparalleled. The National Park Service manages 13 sites, giving visitors an opportunity to examine the battlefield landscapes, to hear the stories of the combatants and civilian residents, and to understand the complex reasons why Richmond came to symbolize the heart and soul of the Confederacy.

This is a partial list of park regulations. Site is open sunrise to sunset. Report suspicious activities to any park employee or call 804-795-5018. In emergencies call 911.
Alcoholic beverages are prohibited.
All natural and cultural resources are protected by law.
Relic hunting is prohibited. Possession of a metal detector in the park is illegal.
Hunting, trapping, feeding, or otherwise disturbing wildlife is prohibited.
Weapons are prohibited inside all park buildings.
Pets must be on a leash.
Recreation activities like kite-flying, ball-playing, and frisbee throwing are prohibited.
Motor vehicles and bicycles must remain on established roads.

(center panel)
Richmond-Petersburg Campaign
September 29, 1864

After the Battle of Cold Harbor in June
Fort Harrison (left panel) image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, September 1, 2010
2. Fort Harrison (left panel)
1864, General Ulysses S. Grant’s Union army crossed the James River, struck Petersburg’s outer defenses unsuccessfully, and then settled in for a siege against Petersburg. In response, General Robert E. Lee stretched his Confederate forces nearly to the breaking point in order to protect both Richmond and Petersburg on a line that extended nearly 35 miles.

Throughout the summer of 1864 the Federals coordinated several unsuccessful assaults against the Confederate defenses north and south of the James. Offensives against Richmond’s outer defenses always paralleled attacks against the Petersburg lines. Then in early September Atlanta fell to Union forces just before a significant victory at Winchester in the Shenandoah Valley. On September 29, encouraged by the successes, Grant ordered another wave of assaults against Richmond and Petersburg. His targets included Fort Harrison and the fortifications at New Market Heights.

Chaffin’s Farm/Fort Harrison September 29
One Union force advanced across the James River on a military bridge just after dawn and successfully stormed Fort Harrison, the largest fortification in Richmond’s exterior line of defenses. Having captured their primary objectives, the Union soldiers proved unable to take the next step. Confederate troops successfully defended Fort Gilmer, Fort Gregg, Fort Hoke, and Fort Johnson. Victories
Fort Harrison (center panel) image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, September 1, 2010
3. Fort Harrison (center panel)
there allowed the Confederates to reshape their line and block the direct road to Richmond. A stalemate followed for the final six months of the war.

New Market Heights September 29
The high ground was one of two Confederate strong points blocking the southern approaches to Richmond. Union leaders entrusted its capture to several regiments of United States Colored Troops, who took possession of the hill after a bloody morning attack. This action marked the first time in the Virginia campaigns that African American troops independently mounted a major assault.

Peebles’ Farm September 29-October 2
The battles at Fort Harrison and New Market Heights on September 29 created opportunities for the Union army south of the James River, too. Grant launched offensive operations west of Petersburg to capitalize on the absence of Confederate defenders who had been sent across the river toward Richmond as reenforcements. Preliminary movements and skirmishing on the 29th led to heavy fighting in the Peebles’ Farm vicinity on the following days. The battles consolidated the Union army’s foothold there and provided a base from which to expand still farther to the west toward the transportation arteries that supplied Lee’s army.

(right panel)
Fort Harrison

Confederate-built Fort Harrison crowned a prominent hill
Fort Harrison (right panel) image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, September 1, 2010
4. Fort Harrison (right panel)
with a commanding view toward the James River. Constructed in 1862 and 1863 it became the most heavily fortified position north of the river. Any Union push toward Richmond from the south required the capture of this fort.

Union commanders recognized the significance of Fort Harrison and chose it as the primary target of their determined efforts to reach Richmond in September 1864. The action here was one of several separate episodes connected with the Battle of Chaffin’s Farm.
Erected 2010 by Richmond National Battlefield Park.
Location. 37° 25.71′ N, 77° 22.39′ W. Marker is in Henrico, Virginia, in Henrico County. Marker can be reached from Battlefield Park Road 0.1 miles south of Picnic Road, on the left when traveling south. Click for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 8621 Battlefield Park Road, Henrico VA 23231, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. First Park Headquarters (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); a different marker also named First Park Headquarters (about 300 feet away); Freedom Fighters (about 300 feet away); Fort Harrison Trail (about 300 feet away); Confederate Counterattack
Fort Harrison Visitor Center image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, September 1, 2010
5. Fort Harrison Visitor Center
(about 400 feet away); A Unique Photograph (about 500 feet away); Counterattack (about 500 feet away); Surprise Attack (about 700 feet away). Click for a list of all markers in Henrico.
More about this marker. On the left panel is a map of Civil War sites managed by the Richmond National Battlefield Park.

On the center panel is a map of the Richmond and Petersburg defenses and the Union assaults begun on September 29, 1864.

On the right panel is a map of the NPS Fort Harrison unit with the caption, "The national park includes pieces of both Union and Confederate defensive lines. Many of the Confederate entrenchments predate the 1864 battles. The rest were built later. Some of the fortifications no longer survive." Also shown are photos of Forts Harrison and Hoke.
Also see . . .
1. Old Marker at this Location. This marker replaced an older one at this location also titled “Fort Harrison” (Submitted on September 1, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.) 

2. Richmond National Battlefield Park. (Submitted on September 1, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.)
3. Chaffin’s Farm/New Market Heights. CWSAC Battle Summary (Submitted on September 1, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.) 
Categories. Forts, CastlesWar, US Civil
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 982 times since then and 95 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on , by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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