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

Drewry's Bluff

Drewry's Bluff Panels image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Bernard Fisher, October 17, 2010
1. Drewry's Bluff Panels
Inscription.  (left panel)
Visiting Richmond National Battlefield Park
The concentration of Civil War resources found in the Richmond area is unparalleled. The National Park Service manages 13 sites, giving visitors an opportunity to examine the battlefield landscapes, to hear the stories of the combatants and civilian residents, and to understand the complex reasons why Richmond came to symbolize the heart and soul of the Confederacy.

This is a partial list of park regulations. Site is open sunrise to sunset. Report suspicious activities to any park employee or call 804-795-5018. In emergencies call 911.

Alcoholic beverages are prohibited.
All natural and cultural resources are protected by law.
Relic hunting is prohibited. Possession of a metal detector in the park is illegal.
Hunting, trapping, feeding, or otherwise disturbing wildlife is prohibited.
Weapons are prohibited inside all park buildings.
Pets must be on a leash.
Recreation activities like kite-flying, ball-playing, and frisbee throwing are prohibited.
Motor vehicles and
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bicycles must remain on established roads.

(center panel)
Drewry’s Bluff 1862

As capital of the Confederate States of America, Richmond, Virginia, became the constant target of Northern armies. It was vulnerable by water as well as by land. Gunboats could navigate the James River all the way to Richmond.

Drewry’s Bluff, named for local landowner Captain Augustus H. Drewry, rose 90 feet above the water and commanded a sharp bend in the James River, making it a logical site for defensive fortifications. By May 1862, workers had constructed earthworks, dug artillery emplacements, and mounted three large seacoast guns inside the fort.

On May 10-11, 1862, retreating Confederates abandoned Norfolk and destroyed their only ironclad, the CSS Virginia. The James River was now open to the U.S. Navy. Five well-armed ships, including the ironclads Galena and Monitor, ascended the James River under Commander John Rodgers. Their mission: shell Richmond into submission. The city’s fate rested with 300 or 400 Southern troops manning the large cannon at this small earthen fort, just seven miles south of the capital. The stage was set for the first epic battles for control of Richmond.

May 11
Two forts guarded a narrow part of the James River, but the Confederate retreat
Peninsula Campaign Map image. Click for full size.
October 17, 2010
2. Peninsula Campaign Map
up the peninsula made them untenable. Rodgers stopped off at Jamestown Island and investigated. The route upriver toward Richmond seemed to be clear.

May 13
The five-ship Union squadron anchored off City Point, where the James and Appomattox rivers join. Some 30 miles of the twisty and narrow James River lay between the warships and Richmond. So did the Confederate strongpoint at Drewry’s Bluff.

May 15
The Union Army approached White House Landing as it continued its march on Richmond. General Joseph E. Johnston ordered the Confederate army to fall back across the Chickahominy River.

(right panel)
Drewry’s Bluff Trail

Along this trail the first shots were fired in a series of campaigns designed to capture Richmond, which lasted from 1862 to 1865.

This one-mile trail takes you to the Confederate stronghold named Fort Drewry by Southerners and Fort Darling by Northerners. The well-preserved earthen fortification still survives; remains of its walls, bombproofs, and artillery emplacements still stand. An 8-inch Columbiad cannon, cast at the Bellona Aresenal just upriver from Richmond in Chesterfield County, is on exhibit inside the fort.

“Drewry’s Bluff, a most commanding point, where the James River is narrowest, about 7 miles below Richmond, has been selected
Drewry's Bluff Trail image. Click for full size.
October 17, 2010
3. Drewry's Bluff Trail
as the best point for a battery, coupled with obstructions.”

Alfred L. Rives, Confederate engineer

“The Monitor and Stevens are both up the James River at this moment with orders to go to Richmond and shell the place into a surrender.”
Louis M. Goldsborough, Commander, North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, U.S. Navy

Erected 2010 by Richmond National Battlefield Park.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Forts and CastlesWar, US CivilWaterways & Vessels. A significant historical month for this entry is May 1862.
Location. 37° 25.201′ N, 77° 25.58′ W. Marker is near Richmond, Virginia, in Chesterfield County. Marker is on Fort Darling Road, half a mile north of Bellwood Road, on the left. Marker is located in the Drewry’s Bluff (Fort Darling) unit of Richmond National Battlefield Park. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 7600 Fort Darling Road, Richmond VA 23237, 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 Drewry’s Bluff (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); Drewry’s Bluff Trail (about 700 feet away); Covered Way (approx. ¼ mile away); Camp Beall (approx. ¼ mile away); Fort Darling (approx. ¼ mile
Drewry's Bluff Trailhead image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Bernard Fisher, October 17, 2010
4. Drewry's Bluff Trailhead
away); A Permanent Post (approx. ¼ mile away); "A Very Neat Chapel" (approx. ¼ mile away); The First Marine Medal of Honor (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Richmond.
More about this marker. On the left panel is a map of Richmond National Battlefield Park showing the location of the various park units.

On the center panel is a map showing the Union advance up the James River in May of 1862.

On the right panel is a "Photograph taken in 1865 from the 90-foot bluff above the James River. The heavy Confederate artillery at Drewry’s Bluff presented a formidable challenge to any Union vessel attempting an advance on Richmond."
Also see . . .
1. Drewry's Bluff. Richmond National Battlefield Park (Submitted on October 18, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia.) 

2. Old Marker at this Location. This marker replaced an older one at this location also titled “Drewry’s Bluff” (Submitted on October 18, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia.) 

3. Old Marker at this Location. This marker replaced an older one at this location titled “Drewry’s Bluff Trail” (Submitted on October 18, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia.) 
View downriver from Drewry's Bluff image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Bernard Fisher, October 17, 2010
5. View downriver from Drewry's Bluff
Columbiad gun in Fort Darling on James image. Click for full size.
6. Columbiad gun in Fort Darling on James
Library of Congress[LC-B811-3346]
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on October 18, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,527 times since then and 56 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on October 18, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia.

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May. 28, 2023