Near Smithfield in Isle of Wight County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
True Southerners Do and Dare
—The 1862 Peninsula Campaign —
Fort Boykin’s steep cliffs and commanding view of the James River made it an important position from which the Confederates could defend Richmond. The fort was quickly manned by Confederate forces shortly after Virginia’s secession from the Union. The famous poet, Sidney Lanier, was one of the Confederate soldiers stationed at Fort Boykin during the early months of the war. While serving at Boykin Lanier wrote “Beautiful Ladies,” “Hoe Cakes,” and began the novel Tiger Lilies.
Fort Boykin was the south side anchor of Maj. Gen. John Bankhead Magruder’s, CSA, arc of fortifications(2nd Penisula Defensive Line) which stretched from Burwell’s Bay across the James River to Mulberry Island; thence followed the Warwick River to Yorktown and then across the York River to Gloucester Point.
Norfolk’s capture by the Union and the subsequent destruction of the Virginia opened the James River to the Union fleet. On May 8, 1862, the USS Galena, USS Minnesota, and USS Susquehanna shelled Fort Boykin and, since the Federal fleet’s guns out-ranged those of the fort, the Confederates abandoned the earthwork. The Union ships returned on May 17th and blew up the fort’s powder magazines. Fort Boykin’s partial destruction ended its 239-year career as a defender of the Commonwealth against its enemies.
Erected by Civil War Trails.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails marker series.
Location. 37° 2.033′ N, 76° 37.07′ W. Marker is near Smithfield, Virginia, in Isle of Wight County. Marker is at the intersection of Fort Boykin Trail and Mogarts Beach Road (County Route 673) on Fort Boykin Trail. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Smithfield VA 23430, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 4 miles Fort Boykin Historic Park (here, next to this marker); Welcome to Fort Boykin Historic Park (a few steps from this marker); Bennett’s Plantation (approx. 1.7 miles away); Basse’s Choice (approx. 1.7 miles away); Wrenn’s Mill (approx. 2½ miles away); Old Town (approx. 3½ miles away); Isle of Wight County War Memorial (approx. 3.6 miles away); Battle of Smithfield (approx. 3.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Smithfield.
Categories. • Forts, Castles • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on September 24, 2007, by Laura Troy of Burke, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,623 times since then. Photos: 1. submitted on September 24, 2007, by Laura Troy of Burke, Virginia. 2, 3. submitted on May 4, 2009, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. 4, 5, 6. submitted on September 24, 2007, by Laura Troy of Burke, Virginia. • J. J. Prats was the editor who published this page.