Chesapeake, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
Private William (Billy) Flora was a free black from the Portsmouth area and a member of the Norfolk County Militia who served as a sentry for Colonel Woodford’s army. On the early morning of December 9, 1775, Flora was stationed behind a pile of shingles near the Great Bridge, more than 300 yards away from the patriot line. Before leaving his dangerous post and retreating to the safety of the breastwork, he fired his musket eight times at the approaching enemy. Running across the causeway with the redcoats close behind, Flora stopped suddenly. Even though he was under heavy fire, he went back to remove a loose plank from a narrow foot bridge located in front of the breastwork to slow the enemy’s advance. He survived unscathed, and was the last sentinel to return to the breastwork’s protective barrier.
Flora would serve in the 15th and 16th Virginia Regiments in other battles in the American War for Independence, including the Battle of Yorktown. He would receive a grant of land for his participation in the Revolutionary
After the war, Flora resided in Portsmouth, Virginia, where he owned a livery stable on Middle Street and a home at the corner of Washington and King Streets. He remained ready to serve his country and was among the troops from Norfolk and Portsmouth who were called back into service briefly in 1807, following the attack on the USS Chesapeake by the HMS Leopard off the Virginia Capes. He reported for duty with “Old Betty,” the same musket he had used at Great Bridge.
Billy Flora died in 1820 and is believed to be buried in Portsmouth.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African Americans • Patriots & Patriotism • War, US Revolutionary. A significant historical date for this entry is December 9, 1775.
Location. 36° 43.283′ N, 76° 14.37′ W. Marker is in Chesapeake, Virginia. Marker can be reached from the intersection of North Battlefield Boulevard (Business Virginia Route 168) and Watson Road, on the left when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Chesapeake VA 23320, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Great Bridge Marshall Memorial (a few steps from this marker); The Marshall Family (a few steps from this marker); Battle of Great Bridge DAR MonumentThe Day is Our Own! (within shouting distance of this marker); Fort Murray (within shouting distance of this marker); Planning a Canal (within shouting distance of this marker); Site of the Original Causeway (within shouting distance of this marker); Liberty to Slaves (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Chesapeake.
Also see . . . Great Bridge Battlefield & Waterways History Foundation. (Submitted on April 29, 2012, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia.)
Credits. This page was last revised on April 29, 2021. It was originally submitted on April 29, 2012, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,177 times since then and 62 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on April 29, 2012, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia.