Near Mechanicsville in Hanover County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
"Give me liberty or give me death!"
— Patrick Henry, March 23, 1775 —
The Shelton House received national attention in the spring of 1864 when Civil War armies clashed at Totopotomoy Creek as part of the Overland Campaign. For four days (May 29-June 1), parts of Union General Winfield Hancock’s Second Corps occupied the plantation. Entrenchments criss-crossed the fields and incoming artillery shells riddled the historic house while the Shelton family huddled in the basement.
Few Civil War soldiers knew that the battle started on Henry’s 128th birthday, and many mistook his nearby birthplace for his grave. Nevertheless, soldiers drew inspiration from the knowledge that they were fighting on ground where Patrick Henry had walked. “Halted for the night,” a Pennsylvania soldier wrote
Patrick Henry (May 29, 1736 – June 6, 1799) was the leading Virginia statesman in defending the rights of Colonial America.
Following Henrys death, John Adams wrote to Thomas Jefferson singing his praises: “In the Congress of 1774 there was not one member, except Patrick Henry, who appeared to me sensible of the Precipice or rather the Pinnacle on which he stood, and had the candour and courage enough to acknowledge it.”
Henry was the first elected governor of Virginia, a devoted father of 17 children, and the most famous orator of his day. Born in Hanover County, Henry made a name for himself as a young lawyer in the Parsons’ Cause at Hanover Courthouse in 1763. His 1765 resolutions against the Stamp Act articulated the basic principles of the American Revolution. Henry is perhaps best known for his immortal words “Give me liberty or give me death,” which he delivered during the Second Virginia Convention in a speech to fellow delegates George Washington and Thomas Jefferson at St. John’s Church in
Known as the “Voice of the Revolution,” Henry’s political career included 26 years of service in the Virginia legislature and five terms as governor. He helped draft the Virginia Constitution of 1776 and its Declaration of Rights. A leading critic of the U.S. Constitution, Henry also strongly influenced the creation of the Bill of Rights. Following his death, Henry was buried at Red Hill Plantation, now the site of the Patrick Henry National Memorial.
Erected 2010 by The Road to Revolution Heritage Trail. (Marker Number 3.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Colonial Era • Patriots & Patriotism • War, US Civil • War, US Revolutionary. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #02 John Adams, and the Former U.S. Presidents: #03 Thomas Jefferson series lists. A significant historical year for this entry is 1754.
Location. 37° 39.669′ N, 77° 20.779′ W. Marker is near Mechanicsville, Virginia, in Hanover County. Marker can be reached from Studley Road (Virginia Route 606) 0.1 miles west of Shelton Pointe Drive, on the left when travelingTouch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 7273 Studley Road, Mechanicsville VA 23116, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Totopotomoy Creek (a few steps from this marker); Shelton House Under Fire (within shouting distance of this marker); Totopotomoi (within shouting distance of this marker); Totopotomoy Line (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); Fighting at the Totopotomoy (approx. half a mile away); a different marker also named Totopotomoy Line (approx. half a mile away); Attacking the High Ground (approx. 0.6 miles away); Pine Slash (approx. 0.7 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Mechanicsville.
More about this marker. On the left is a photo with the caption, "Sarah Shelton wed Patrick Henry in 1754, purportedly while standing in front of the parlor fireplace. Patrick’s uncle, the Rev. Patrick Henry, performed the ceremony."
On the right is a war time sketch with the caption, "Famed Civil War artist Alfred Waud sketched the exterior of “Rural Plains” during the May 1864 battle. The image closely depicts the 18th-century appearance of the home, as the Sheltons made only a few exterior alterations to the structure."
Also see . . .
1. The Road to Revolution Heritage Trail. (Submitted on August 28, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia.)
2. Totopotomoy Creek Battlefield at Rural Plains. Richmond National Battlefield Park (Submitted on August 28, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia.)
3. The Battle of Totopotomoy Creek, May 29-31, 1864. Richmond National Battlefield Park (Submitted on August 28, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia.)
4. Rural Plains (pdf file). National Register of Historic Places (Submitted on August 28, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia.)
5. Totopotomoy Creek. CWSAC Battle Summary (Submitted on August 28, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia.)
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on August 28, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia. This page has been viewed 3,660 times since then and 36 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. submitted on August 28, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia.