Near Varina in Henrico County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
Advancing On Richmond
Engagement at Laurel Hill Church
— Siege of Petersburg & Richmond 1864-1865 —
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 of 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.
Laurel Hill Church marked the farthest extent of the Federal advance west toward Richmond during the two-pronged attacks on the city’s Confederate defenses on September 29, 1864. After helping capture New Market Heights (two miles east), Union Gen. Robert S. Foster’s X Corps division reached this location early in the afternoon. Foster found that the 3rd Richmond Howitzers and Confederate Gen. Martin W. Gary’s dismounted Confederate cavalry blocked New Market Road. Foster formed his brigades in two lines and advanced. Although the Federals
Instead of advancing toward Richmond, Foster chose to silence Fort Gilmer. U.S. Colored Troops (USCT), who had fought earlier in the morning’s victory at New Market Heights, soon joined the attack on the fort. The Confederates repulsed the assault and abruptly ended the Federal strike at Richmond.
Laurel Hill Methodist Church (built 1857) served a rural congregation. The church may have taken its name from nearby laurel trees. The building was operated as a ﬁeld hospital after the battles on September 29, 1864, and survived the war. The original church was destroyed by ﬁre in 1951.
Gen. Robert S. Foster Courtesy Library of Congress
Gen. Martin W. Gary Courtesy Duke University
Unidentiﬁed soldier, Richmond Howitzers Courtesy Library of Congress
Laurel Hill Church, by artist Edna Shiﬂet Courtesy Laurel Hill Church
Erected by Virginia Civil War Trails.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Churches & Religion • War, US CivilVirginia Civil War Trails series list.
Location. 37° 27.525′ N, 77° 22.6′ W. Marker is near Varina, Virginia, in Henrico County. Marker is on New Market Road (Virginia Route 5) east of Laurel Hill Lane, on the right when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1919 New Market Rd, Henrico VA 23231, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Fort Gilmer (approx. 0.3 miles away); Fort Harrison (approx. 0.4 miles away); First Successful Colonial Tobacco Crop (approx. half a mile away); Black Troops Attack at Chaffin’s Farm (approx. 0.8 miles away); Hopeless Attacks (approx. 0.8 miles away); Richmond Battlefields (approx. 0.8 miles away); a different marker also named Fort Gilmer (approx. 0.8 miles away); Galaxy (approx. one mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Varina.
Also see . . . Laurel Hill United Methodist Church. (Submitted on November 8, 2016.)
Credits. This page was last revised on January 15, 2021. It was originally submitted on November 8, 2016, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia. This page has been viewed 327 times since then and 9 times this year. Last updated on January 11, 2021, by Bradley Owen of Morgantown, West Virginia. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on November 8, 2016, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia.