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Hampton, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Battle of Big Bethel

Aftermath

 
 
Battle of Big Bethel Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Bernard Fisher, May 28, 2017
1. Battle of Big Bethel Marker
Inscription.  For the Federals, the Big Bethel expedition ended in complete failure. Casualties totaled 76: 18 killed, 53 wounded, and 5 missing. The Northern press blamed Gen. Benjamin F. Butler for ordering his troops into battle with poor preparation and for remaining at Fort Monroe during the battle. Gen. Ebenezer W. Pierce, however, received most of the blame for losing "his presence of mind" during the engagement and failing to coordinate the attacks. Federal officers Theodore Winthrop and John Greble were lionized for their valor and sacrifice.

Southerners rejoiced. Confederate casualties were only 1 killed (Pvt. Henry L. Wyatt), 7 wounded, and 3 missing. Confederate President Jefferson Davis pronounced the battle to be a "glorious victory." Although Col. Daniel H. Hill directed most of the action on the battlefield, Col. John B. Magruder received most of the acclaim and was promoted to brigadier general a week later.

The Confederates, of course, had the advantage of secure earthworks, while the Federal commanders maneuvered green troops experiencing their first combat of the war. Ineptness and inexperience combined to produce an embarrassing
Hospital scene at Fortress Monroe, Va. image. Click for full size.
Photographed By George Stacy, 1861
2. Hospital scene at Fortress Monroe, Va.
Library of Congress LC-DIG-stereo-1s01797
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Union defeat. Compared with the scale of future battles, Big Bethel was a small affair. However, the war had just begun, and few anticipated the slaughter to come.

(captions)
Staged hospital scene, Duryée's Zouaves Courtesy Library of Congress
Gen. Ebenezer W. Pierce, from A History of the Town of Freetown (1902)
Despite the Confederate victory at Big Bethel, the Federal domination of Hampton Roads was illustrated in this engraving published two weeks later. Union ships ply the water off Fort Monroe, and the vast Federal camps appear on the left near Hampton. Harper’s Weekly, June 22, 1861. Battle of Big Bethel, Harper’s Weekly, June 19, 1861
 
Erected 2016 by Virginia Civil War Trails. (Marker Number 9.)
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: War, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails series list. A significant historical date for this entry is June 10, 1861.
 
Location. 37° 5.49′ N, 76° 25.555′ W. Marker is in Hampton, Virginia. Marker can be reached from Big Bethel Road (Virginia Route 600) 0.1 miles north of Semple Farm Road, on the left when traveling north. Located in Bethel Park. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Hampton VA 23666, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A different marker also named Battle of Big Bethel (a
View of Fortress Monroe from the Bay image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Harper's Weekly, 1861 June 22, p.396
3. View of Fortress Monroe from the Bay
few steps from this marker); a different marker also named Battle of Big Bethel (a few steps from this marker); a different marker also named Battle of Big Bethel (a few steps from this marker); a different marker also named Battle of Big Bethel (a few steps from this marker); a different marker also named Battle of Big Bethel (a few steps from this marker); a different marker also named Battle of Big Bethel (a few steps from this marker); Battle of Big Bethel Union Monument (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Battle of Big Bethel (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Hampton.
 
Battle of Big Bethel Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Bernard Fisher, May 28, 2017
4. Battle of Big Bethel Marker
Battle of Big Bethel Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Bernard Fisher, May 28, 2017
5. Battle of Big Bethel Marker
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on December 2, 2020. It was originally submitted on May 29, 2017, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia. This page has been viewed 341 times since then and 42 times this year. Last updated on November 30, 2020, by Bradley Owen of Morgantown, West Virginia. Photos:   1. submitted on May 29, 2017, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia.   2, 3. submitted on May 30, 2017.   4, 5. submitted on May 29, 2017, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia.

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Sep. 28, 2022