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

New Market Heights

A Charge For Honor


—Siege of Petersburg & Richmond 1864 - 1865 —

New Market Heights CWT Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, October 11, 2015
1. New Market Heights CWT Marker
Inscription. (preface)
For almost ten months beginning in mid-June 1864, the Army of the Potomac besieged the cities of Petersburg and Richmond from the east and south. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant ordered the Union fortifications extended west Petersburg and launched frequent attacks there and near Richmond, forcing Confederate Gen. Robert E Lee to stretch his thin defensive lines and move his outnumbered troops to counter the attacks. On April 3, 1865, Lee evacuated his army west after the Federal breakthrough at Petersburg, and the Union army occupied both cities.

(main text)
On September 29, 1864, this ground was the scene of combat as Union Gen. Benjamin F. Butler directed a two-pronged attack on Confederate defenses here. Part of his force crossed the James River at Deep Bottom, about two miles southeast, and marched toward you. One wing attacked Fort Harrison, three miles to your right front, while the other assaulted the Confederate earthworks across the road in front of you. To slow the attack, the defenders placed abatis—felled trees with intertwined branches pointing south—between the earthworks and swampy Four Mile Creek about three-quarters of a mile away.

Col. Samuel A. Duncan's brigade of U.S. Colored Troops (USCTs), the 4th and 6th USCT, got tangled in the abatis in the initial assault
New Market Heights Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, October 11, 2015
2. New Market Heights Marker
and was bloodily repulsed. Gen. Charles J. Paine then led his other USCT brigades toward you. Hardened Confederate veterans defended the line on New Market Road, including Gen. John Gregg's Texas brigade, the 1st Rockbridge Artillery, and part of Gen. Martin Gary's dismounted cavalry. Additional attacks, combined with the news that Fort Harrison had fallen, compelled the Confederates here to retreat with the USCTs in pursuit.

Of 20 Medals of Honor awarded to black soldiers and sailors for Civil War service, 14 were given for bravery at New Market Heights. The battle proved that USCTs could fight and win largely on their own. Their courage inspired the African Americans who followed them. By war's end, they comprised 10 percent of the entire army.

Medal of Honor recipients include two white officers.

Rescuing either the national or regimental flags:
Lt. Nathan Edgerton • Sgt. Charles Veal • Sgt. Alexander Kelly • Sgt. Christian Fleetwood • Sgt. Alfred Hilton • Sgt. Thomas Hawkins

Taking command after their officers were killed or wounded:
Sgt. Powhatan Beaty • Pvt. Edward Ratcliff • Pvt. James Bronson • Pvt. Milton Holland • Pvt. Robert Pinn

Gallantry, courage, and heroism:
Lt. William Appleton • Sgt. James Harris • Corp. Miles James • Pvt. William H. Barnes • Pvt. James Gardiner

New Market Heights Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, October 11, 2015
3. New Market Heights Marker
Charles J. Paine U.S. Army Military Institute, Carslisle, Pa.
Gen. John Gregg Courtesy Library of Congress
Christian Fleetwood wearing Medal of Honor(center) Courtesy Library of Congress
Fleetwood Seizing the Flag at the Battle of New Market Heights — Courtesy of the County of Henrico
Erected by Virginia Civil War Trails.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails marker series.
Location. 37° 26.093′ N, 77° 19.746′ W. Marker is in Varina, Virginia, in Henrico County. Marker is at the intersection of Farmers Circle Drive and New Market Road (Virginia Route 5), on the left when traveling north on Farmers Circle Drive. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Henrico VA 23231, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Henrico History (within shouting distance of this marker); Action at Osborne's (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Varina (about 300 feet away); Proposed First University in English America (about 300 feet away); Henrico Town (about 300 feet away); Pocahontas (about 300 feet away); George Thorpe (about 400 feet away); Battle of New Market Heights (approx. 0.7 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Varina.
Also see . . .
1. USCT Medal of Honor Recipients - Battle of New Market Heights. Richmond National Battlefield Park (Submitted on October 11, 2015.) 

2. The Battle of New Market Heights. Civil War Trust (Submitted on October 11, 2015.) 
Categories. African AmericansWar, US Civil
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 213 times since then and 8 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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