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Hampton, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Battle of Big Bethel

Aftermath

 
 
Battle of Big Bethel Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, May 28, 2017
1. Battle of Big Bethel Marker
Inscription. For the Federals, the Big Bethel expedition ended in complete failure. Casualties totaled 76: 18 killed, 53 wounded, and 5 missing. The Northern press blamed Gen. Benjamin F Butler for ordering his troops into battle with poor preparation and for remaining at Fort Monroe during the battle. Gen. Ebenezer W. Pierce, however, received most of the blame for losing "his presence of mind" during the engagement and failing to coordinate the attacks. Federal officers Theodore Winthrop and John Greble were lionized for their valor and sacrifice.

Southerners rejoiced. Confederate casualties were only 1 killed (Pvt. Henry L. Wyatt), 7 wounded, and 3 missing. Confederate President Jefferson Davis pronounced the battle to be a "glorious victory." Although Col. Daniel H. Hill directed most of the action on the battlefield, Col. John B. Magruder received most of the acclaim and was promoted to brigadier general a week later.

The Confederates, of course, had the advantage of secure earthworks, while the Federal commanders maneuvered green troops experiencing their first combat of the war. Ineptness and inexperience combined to produce an embarrassing Union defeat. Compared with the scale of future battles, Big Bethel was a small affair. However, the war had just begun, and few anticipated the slaughter to come.

(captions)
Staged
Hospital scene at Fortress Monroe, Va. image. Click for full size.
By George Stacy, 1861
2. Hospital scene at Fortress Monroe, Va.
Library of Congress LC-DIG-stereo-1s01797
hospital scene, Duryée's Zouaves Courtesy Library of Congress
Gen. Ebenezer W. Pierce, from A History of the Town of Freetwon (1902)
Despite the Confederate victory at Big Bethel, the Federal domination of Hampton Roads was illustrated in this engraving published two weeks later. Union ships ply the water off Fort Monroe, and the vast Federal camps appear on the left near Hampton. Harper’s Weekly, June 22, 1861. Battle of Big Bethel, Harper’s Weekly, June 19, 1861
 
Erected 2016 by Virginia Civil War Trails. (Marker Number 9.)
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails marker series.
 
Location. 37° 5.49′ N, 76° 25.555′ W. Marker is in Hampton, Virginia. Marker can be reached from Big Bethel Road (Virginia Route 600) 0.1 miles north of Semple Farm Road, on the left when traveling north. Touch for map. Located in Bethel Park. Marker is in this post office area: Hampton VA 23666, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A different marker also named Battle of Big Bethel (a few steps from this marker); a different marker also named Battle of Big Bethel (a few steps from this marker); a different marker also named
View of Fortress Monroe from the Bay image. Click for full size.
By Harper's Weekly, 1861 June 22, p.396
3. View of Fortress Monroe from the Bay
Battle of Big Bethel (a few steps from this marker); a different marker also named Battle of Big Bethel (a few steps from this marker); a different marker also named Battle of Big Bethel (a few steps from this marker); a different marker also named Battle of Big Bethel (a few steps from this marker); Battle of Big Bethel Union Monument (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Battle of Big Bethel (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Hampton.
 
Categories. War, US Civil
 
Battle of Big Bethel Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, May 28, 2017
4. Battle of Big Bethel Marker
Battle of Big Bethel Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, May 28, 2017
5. Battle of Big Bethel Marker
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on May 30, 2017. This page originally submitted on May 29, 2017, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 70 times since then. Photos:   1. submitted on May 29, 2017, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.   2, 3. submitted on May 30, 2017.   4, 5. submitted on May 29, 2017, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.
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