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

Williamsburg in the Civil War

Gateway to Richmond


— 1862 Peninsula Campaign —

Williamsburg in the Civil War Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, August 10, 2008
1. Williamsburg in the Civil War Marker
Inscription.  Williamsburg, once the capital of Virginia, declined after the American Revolution. By 1861, although many colonial structures still lined the streets, the Governor’s Palace and former capitol building lay in ruins. The College of William and Mary had lost prestige. Roads were unpaved and rutted, while the population and commerce had dwindled.

When the Civil War erupted, however, Williamsburg became strategically significant. Situated 12 miles west of Yorktown on a peninsula formed by the York and James rivers, Williamsburg is located on a four-mile-wide plain with ravines, marshes, millponds, and streams – to the east and west. The topography narrowed the land approach to Williamsburg from Hampton and Yorktown. Two highways, the Yorktown-Hampton and Great Warwick (Hampton) Roads, converged a few miles east of Williamsburg and then passed through the town toward Richmond, the Confederate capital, 50 miles northwest. Fort Monroe, the only masonry fort in Virginia in Union hands throughout the war, stands 24 miles southeast on Old Point Comfort near Hampton.

Because the Confederates were determined to block any Federal advance
Marker on Quarterpath Road image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, August 10, 2008
2. Marker on Quarterpath Road
Click or scan to see
this page online
from Fort Monroe, Williamsburg became a key to their defensive system. The array of fortifications known as the Williamsburg Line was the scene of the May 5, 1862, Battle of Williamsburg. The town escaped damage then, but later, on September 5, Pennsylvania cavalrymen burned the Wren Building after a Confederate raid. The Federals occupied Williamsburg for the rest of the war.

Although Williamsburg is famous for its colonial heritage, parts of the 1862 battlefield remain intact, such as the two redoubts found here in Redoubt Park. The city of Williamsburg, Riverside Health Systems, and the Virginia War Museum Foundation cooperated to preserve them.
Erected by Virginia Civil War Trails.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Notable PlacesWar, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails series list. A significant historical month for this entry is May 1832.
Location. 37° 15.287′ N, 76° 41.1′ W. Marker is in Williamsburg, Virginia. Marker is on Quarterpath Road, on the left when traveling south. Marker is located in Redoubt Park on Quarterpath Road in Williamsburg. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Williamsburg VA 23185, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Defending the Peninsula (within shouting distance of this marker); Redoubt 1 (about 300 feet
Earthworks in Redoubt Park image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin
3. Earthworks in Redoubt Park
Extensive, well preserved fortifications are found at this location. These were part of the Confederate's third line of defense on the Peninsula.
away, measured in a direct line); Battle of Williamsburg (about 400 feet away); Quarterpath Road (approx. 0.2 miles away); History of Fort Magruder (approx. 0.6 miles away); a different marker also named Battle of Williamsburg (approx. ¾ mile away); Magruder’s Defenses (approx. ¾ mile away); Peninsula Campaign (approx. ¾ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Williamsburg.
More about this marker. The top of the marker contains a picture of “A View in Williamsburg, Va.,” showing wagons on Duke of Gloucester St., by William McIlvaine – Courtesy Library of Congress. Next to this is a map showing the locations of other Civil War Trails markers.
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Markers on the walking trail of Williamsburg’s Redoubt Park.
Also see . . .
1. Battle of Williamsburg, 5 May 1862. Williamsburg was the first large battlefield encounter between Union and Confederate forces during the Peninsula Campaign of 1862. (Submitted on August 19, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of Woodland Park, New Jersey.) 

2. The Peninsula Campaign of 1862. (Submitted on August 19, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of Woodland Park, New Jersey.)
Williamsburg's Reboubt Park image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, August 10, 2008
4. Williamsburg's Reboubt Park
This park on Quarterpath Road contains a walking path that traverses the Confederate fortifications. Several Civil War Trails signs are found along the path.
Credits. This page was last revised on April 26, 2021. It was originally submitted on August 19, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of Woodland Park, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 2,597 times since then and 22 times this year. Last updated on April 24, 2021, by Bradley Owen of Morgantown, West Virginia. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on August 19, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of Woodland Park, New Jersey. • J. Makali Bruton was the editor who published this page.

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May. 13, 2021