Hanover in Hanover County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
The Colonial River Road
The Colonial River Road
After centuries of use by native people and the colonists of New Kent County, the road along the Pamunkey River was extended past the tobacco ports of Newcastle and Page’s Warehouse (later Hanovertown) to the newly established Hanover Court House around 1720. One mile north of this site, the Northern Stage Road left the River Road and continued toward Bowling Green and Fredericksburg. South of the existing Court House building (ca. 1735) the River Road passed across what is now this park through Hanover, New Kent and James City counties to the colonial capital at Williamsburg. A section of the original colonial road can be seen at the southeastern edge of this park.
In addition to being used by colonists traveling to and from the Hanover Court House, the River Road is said to have supported Patrick Henry and his wife Sarah Shelton as they operated a small retail store while Patrick studied law. The buried foundation of what was likely that store was recently uncovered (and reburied) on the original trace some 100 yards north of this park. In 1760 Patrick passed the
In 1774 Patrick Henry and his half-brother John Syme were directed by their constituents to call for a congress of all 13 colonies to renounce the right of the King to tax his subjects except through local representatives. In 1775, at Francis Smith’s Tavern, Patrick Henry organized what was likely Virginia’s first company of armed volunteers to support the Revolutionary cause. Two months after his “…liberty or death.” speech at St. John’s Church in Richmond, Henry led the Independent Company of Hanover and other volunteers down this River Road toward Newcastle and Williamsburg to demand that the Colonial Governor surrender the gunpowder which had been removed from the public magazine (and all public magazines from Maine to South Carolina) under orders from the Secretary for the Colonies in London. At Doncastle’s ordinary (later Bird’s Tavern) in James City County, the Governor’s agents appeased the approaching colonists by paying for the missing gunpowder, effectively stopping Patrick Henry’s march 16 miles short of the Capital.
The Revolutionary War in Virginia
In April of 1781 French volunteer and American Major General Gilbert du Motier, marquis de Lafayette, with 1300 Continental Light Infantry supported by
Lt. General Charles, Earl Cornwallis took the offensive and moved north through Prince George, Charles City, New Kent and Hanover counties to arrive on this site with some 6000 men on May 30, 1781. During June, Cornwallis pursued Lafayette’s troops as far west as Goochland and Fluvanna counties but failed to corner them. In July, the British Army marched back along the James River to Richmond and beyond, and after a sharp skirmish with Lafayette’s forces at Green Spring Farm, crossed the James River into Surry County, moved on to Suffolk, then Portsmouth, where they took ship to Yorktown.
Later in 1781, as thousands of American and French infantry were transported down the Chesapeake Bay toward Hampton Roads and the James River near Williamsburg in over 150 small ships (called the Mosquito Fleet by one participant) the American and French wagon trains with over 200 wagons, 600 oxen and 1500 horses, passed down this
Jefferson - Frye Map, Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Map and Geography
On November 5, 1781, Lt. General Washington traveled from Williamsburg to Eltham Plantation in New Kent County where his step-son John Parke “Jackie” Custis lay gravely
The French Head Home
On July 1, 1782, the comte de Rochambeau’s army which had wintered in and around Williamsburg, broke camp and headed for New York and Boston, their final destination in North America. The four French Infantry Regiments which had sailed into the James River ten months earlier set off one day apart. The Bourbonnois, the Royal Deux Ponts, the Soissonnois and the Saintonge regiments headed from Williamsburg through New Kent County to Hanover County’s River Road; camping about every 15 miles. French cavalry, infantry and artillery of Lauzun’s Legion which had come north from winter quarters in Charlotte County by way of Petersburg, arrived in this park on July 8, 1782. They were followed by the French infantry from Williamsburg and all crossed the Pamunkey River into Caroline County. On the 15th of July, 1782 the French Army crossed the Rappahannock
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Colonial Era • Roads & Vehicles • War, US Revolutionary. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #01 George Washington series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1720.
Location. 37° 45.114′ N, 77° 21.453′ W. Marker is in Hanover, Virginia, in Hanover County. Marker can be reached from Courtland Farm Road (Virginia Route 820) 0.2 miles east of Hanover Courthouse Road (U.S. 301), on the right when traveling east. Located in Courthouse Park. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 7232 Courtland Farm Rd, Hanover VA 23069, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. John Henry Smyth (approx. 0.3 miles away); Cornwallis’s Route (approx. 0.3 miles away); Hanover Tavern (approx. 0.9 miles away); a different marker also named Hanover Tavern (approx. 0.9 miles away); a different marker also named Hanover Tavern (approx. 0.9 miles away); Patrick Henry (approx. 0.9 miles away); Hanover Courthouse (approx. 0.9 miles away); Hanover Confederate Soldiers Monument (approx. 0.9 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Hanover.
Also see . . . American Revolution Round Table - Richmond(Submitted on March 23, 2012.)
Credits. This page was last revised on July 2, 2020. It was originally submitted on March 22, 2012, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia. This page has been viewed 931 times since then and 54 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11. submitted on March 22, 2012, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia.