Civil War and Revolutionary War History
Civil War and Chesterfield County
Many people recognize the major battles of the Civil War – Gettysburg, Manassas, Antietam, Shiloh or Cold Harbor. Yet, the smaller battles and campaigns were just as significant to the soldiers who fought and the civilians along their path. All of these engagements, big and small, tell the whole story of the Civil War, a war that was fought on the feet of men marching 15 to 40 miles a day, advancing and retreating, in victory and defeat.
In Chesterfield County, discover some of the lesser-known stories of the war. The county’s strategic location near the capital of the Confederacy meant it was the center of several major campaigns, both on land and in the water. One campaign in particular, Union Gen. Benjamin Butler’s Bermuda Hundred Campaign of 1864, might have ended the war a year sooner had Butler been successful in capturing Richmond. Explore Bermuda Hundred, Drewry’s Bluff and eight other sites throughout the county that may not be as well-known, but were every bit as important as some of the bigger battles.
Explore Bermuda Hundred, Drewry’s Bluff and eight other sites throughout the county that may not be as well-known, but were every bit as important as some of the bigger battles by viewing the tracing steps of county Civil War history (PDF).
Chesterfield County’s Role During the Civil War - The Bermuda Hundred Campaign
In May of 1864, Major General Benjamin F. Butler embarked 38,000 men of the Army of the James on transport ships at Yorktown. Their destination was a neck of land in Chesterfield County known as Bermuda Hundred. Butler was to land there, secure a base of operations, sever the rail link between Richmond and Petersburg, and then move on to Richmond. At the same time, Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant moved the Army of the Potomac across the Rapidan River west of Fredericksburg in an attempt to crush General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. During the first days of May, Butler made tentative advances toward both Richmond and Petersburg, but was stopped each time by Confederate soldiers and forced to fall back each time to his defensive positions at Bermuda Hundred.
Confederate commanders General George E. Pickett and General P.G.T. Beauregard scrambled to find enough spare troops to place in Butler’s path. The open door to Richmond quickly closed as more Confederate troops rushed to Chesterfield County from other parts of Virginia, North Carolina and eastern Tennessee. The Battle of Drewry’s Bluff on May 16 halted Butler’s attempt to make a direct approach on Richmond. The May 20 Battle of Ware Bottom Church forced him back again into his defensive positions in Bermuda Hundred, and this became known as “the cork in the bottle.” The construction of Confederate fortifications and trenches known as the Howlett Line held Butler in place until Lee evacuated the position on April 2, 1865.
Despite being overshadowed by other battles in Grant’s 1864 Overland Campaign, the fighting at Bermuda Hundred played a very important role during the last year of the Civil War. When Butler landed at Bermuda Hundred, there were scarcely 6,000 Confederates guarding Richmond and Petersburg. If Butler had moved more aggressively, it is possible that he could have captured those cities and hastened the end of the war. Military historians still debate whether his campaign was a failure, or whether he was successful in carrying out his orders to set up a base of operations and Grant’s arrival.
“My house was left in the Yankee lines. I had seven fine cows with calves, 52 fine hogs and a fine lot of sheep killed. My servants tried to save them but could not save themselves. I had a great deal of fine furniture; they broke all the modern and left the old. […] I was a refugee for 12 months. I got on very well with them [Federal troops] after the evacuation; they were quite kind to us, but I shall never forget Beast Butler.”
- Meg Gregory
Bermuda Hundred Tour Guide
The Bermuda Hundred Tour Guide contains information about 26 Civil War sites, represented in chronological order, associated with the Bermuda Hundred Campaign in Chesterfield County, Colonial Heights and Hopewell. The book contains 58 pages filled with photographs, narratives and maps. Modern maps were geo-referenced with historic maps, and other battle maps were created using descriptions of the roads in the official records. Driving directions are included.
The book may be found at the Chesterfield Historical Society research library in Historic Trinity Church, at Henricus Historical Park, Pamplin Historical Park or by ordering online at the Chesterfield Historical Society's website. The price is $12. Proceeds will be used to fund trails and new interpretive signs for the county. For more information, call 804-796-7131.
Civil War Activities
Bermuda Hundred Campaign, Howlett Line and Civil War on the Appomattox Tours
Tours are held from February to November. Four-hour driving tours or two-hour walking tours are offered that include National Park Service and county Civil War sites.
Historic Point of Rocks Tour
Tours are held from February to November. Two-hour walking tours are offered that focus on the military hospital located at the site and its role during the Bermuda Hundred Campaign.
Civil War History Boat Tours
Civil War Important Figures
When Union Gen. Butler landed at Bermuda Hundred, Meg Gregory, who lived at Spring Hill near present-day Henricus Historical Park, was at home with seven children under the age of 12 and was nine months pregnant. She left when battle lines formed around her home, returning after three months, but Union shelling forced her to leave again.
Maj. Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard
Commanded the opposing Confederate army during the Bermuda Hundred Campaign (the Department of North Carolina and Southern Virginia) of 18,000 troops, some of these soldiers were pieced together from the ranks of teenagers and elderly men in the Richmond-Petersburg area. The troops were responsible for the defense of both cities. Beauregard is credited for bottling up federal forces and preventing them from capturing the city of Petersburg.
Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler
Commander of the Army of the James who landed 40,000 troops on the Bermuda Hundred peninsula in Chesterfield County on May, 5 1864. His goal was to set up a base of operations at City Point which he succeeded in accomplishing and then advance toward Richmond and Petersburg. Battles fought here during May and early June 1864 prevented Butler from reaching his goal, and pushed his troops back into their defensive positions in Bermuda Hundred, where they remained for the rest of the war.
Brig. Gen. Quincy Gillmore
Commanded the X Corps of the Army of the James under the command of General Benjamin Butler. Gillmore’s troops fought in numerous battles during the Bermuda Hundred Campaign in Virginia during 1864. He was responsible for suffering the defeat at the second battle of Drewry’s Bluff.
Brig. Gen. Johnson Hagood
Commanded the brigade of 1st South Carolina that stopped the initial Federal probes at Port Walthall Junction, a junction critical to controlling the railroad. On May 7, a Union division drove Hagood’s brigades from the depot and cut the railroad. Confederate defenders retired behind Swift Run Creek and awaited reinforcements. Soldiers later melted down the railroad tracks leading to the port to manufacture cannon.
Maj. Gen. Henry Heth
Was born at “Black Heath”, his family’s coal mining estate north of Midlothian. He touched off the Battle of Gettysburg when he ordered his men to do a reconnaissance in force and ran into Union cavalry. He was wounded in that battle when a bullet struck him in the head. Heth served in the Army of Northern Virginia until the war’s end. He was a lifelong friend of Union General Winfield Scott Hancock, and was a strong supporter when Hancock ran for President of the United States in 1880. Heth died in Washington D.C. in 1899, and was buried in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond.
Brig. Gen. Edward Hinck
Commanded the Third Division of the XVIII Corps comprised of U.S. Colored Troops who were engaged in Battle of Swift Creek. The division was later part of the XXV Corps and colored troops were engaged in battles during the Petersburg Campaign.
Maj. Gen. Bushrod Johnson
During the ensuing Bermuda Hundred Campaign, Johnson’s brigade was driven back by Union troops on May 7 at the Battle of Port Walthall Junction. His brigade blocked the Union advance toward Petersburg at Swift Creek on May 9, 1864. Beauregard defeated the larger Union offensive, and Johnson was promoted to major general on May 21.
Maj. Gen. Edward Johnson
Was born at “Salisbury” in Chesterfield County. He assumed command of Stonewall Jackson’s division after Jackson’s death in 1863. Johnson was wounded several times during the war. He was captured along with most of his division at “The Mule Shoe” in the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse. Paroled by the Union, He was sent to Tennessee where he was again captured at the Battle of Nashville. After the war Johnston returned to Virginia where he was active in veterans affairs. He died in 1873.
Brig. Gen. Young M. Moody
Was born in Chesterfield County in 1822. At the outbreak of war, Moody joined the 11th Alabama as a captain. Moody fought in the western theater until his brigade was transferred to Virginia in 1864. He was severely wounded while leading his troops at the Second Battle of Drewry’s Bluff. Moody was promoted to Brig. General on 4 March 1865 just one month before the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox. After the war, Moody tried to follow a business career in Alabama, but died of yellow fever before he could get established.
Brig. Gen. William “Baldy” Smith
Commanded the XVIII Corps of the Army of the James under command of General Benjamin Butler during the Bermuda Hundred Campaign in 1864. Smith’s troops were engaged in numerous battles within Chesterfield County. His troops were engaged in the first battles for control of Petersburg in June, 1864.
Brig. Gen. David A. Weisiger
Was born at “The Grove” in 1818. He served as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Mexican War, and was officer of the day in the hanging of John Brown in 1859. He entered Confederate service as Colonel of the 12th Virginia Infantry and was badly wounded at Second Manassas. He was wounded again at The Crater. Following the war, he worked as a bank cashier and businessman. Weisiger died in 1899 and was buried in Blandford Cemetery in Petersburg.
On May 15, 1862, a Union flotilla, led by ironclads USS Monitor and Galena, was instructed to "shell [Richmond] to a surrender." Union and Confederate Marines faced each other during the four-hour battle as Richmond’s fate hung in the balance. The Confederates prevailed and Richmond was never again seriously threatened by a water-based attack. For his bravery during the battle, Union Cpl. John Mackie became the first U.S. Marine to be awarded the Medal of Honor.
Civil War Timeline in Chesterfield County
“The enemy fired at anything that moved and their shots thudded against the opposite side of our works. The order to charge meant that some who mounted that parapet would look their last on earth from its summit.”
-Veteran from the 15th Virginia Infantry after the Second Battle of Drewry’s Bluff, May 16, 1864. The unit, comprised of men from Richmond, Hanover and Henrico counties lost more than 100 men during their bloodiest day.
Throughout the Civil War, the county’s railroads carried supplies to Richmond, capital of the Confederacy, and its coal fueled the ironworks at Bellona Arsenal and Tredegar.
On May 15, the Battle of Drewry’s Bluff halts the Union approach to Richmond. The Federal flotilla, led by the ironclads USS Monitor and USS Galena, attempts to force its way past the Confederate fort at Drewry’s Bluff but they are turned back after a three-hour battle. Richmond is never again seriously threatened by a water-based attack. Cpl. John B. Mackie, U.S. Marine Corps, is the first recipient of the Medal of Honor, awarded for his brave and courageous conduct on the USS Galena during the Battle of Drewry’s Bluff.
During the Appomattox River Raid on June 28, Federal gunboats, led by the ironclads Monitor and Galena, attempt to go up the James River to destroy the railroad bridge at Swift Creek. The attack is abandoned after one ship runs aground and is destroyed. Confederate gunfire from the banks of the Appomattox also assists in turning back the attack.
Drewry’s Bluff becomes an important training ground for the Confederate Naval Academy and the Confederate Marine Corps Camp of Instruction.
- May - Bermuda Hundred Campaign – General Benjamin F. Butler lands 40,000 troops, which includes two cavalry regiments of United States Colored Troops, on the Bermuda Hundred peninsula. His goal is to set up a base of operations and then advance toward Richmond and Petersburg. Battles fought during May and early June prevent Butler from advancing and push his troops back into defensive positions at Bermuda Hundred, where they remain for the rest of the war. Casualties on both sides total approximately 6,000 killed, wounded or missing.
- May - Gen. Benjamin F. Butler constructs the southern portion of his main defensive line at Point of Rocks. His headquarters, an army hospital and a cemetery are established nearby. Clara Barton, founder of American Red Cross, nurses the wounded.
- May 16 - Fort Stevens becomes the pivotal point for a major Confederate counterattack that halts Butler’s advance toward Richmond at the Second Battle of Drewry’s Bluff.
- May 18 - During a skirmish, Union Sgt. James E. Engle volunteers to carry ammunition to soldiers at the front. He remains there for the rest of the day, under constant fire, and is awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroism.
- May 20 - The Battle of Ware Bottom Church establishes the Confederate line in Bermuda Hundred. Known as the Howlett Line, these fortifications effectively block Butler from advancing toward Richmond through Chesterfield County.
- June 2 - Col. Olin M. Dantzler leads an attack from the Howlett line toward a nearby Federal position. He and 16 of his men are killed in the failed assault.
- Sept. 29 - African American troops based in the county spearhead the attack on New Market Heights north of the James River in Henrico County. Fourteen black soldiers and two white officers are awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions.
- The Battle of Trent’s Reach was one of the last naval battles of the war. As recorded by one of the participants, “In late January, three Confederate ironclads attempted to break through at Trents Reach near Dutch Gap in order to attack Union Supply ships at City Point. The shallow water at Trents’ Reach and the powerful Union ironclad Onandaga combined to make the Confederate attempt a failure.”
- March 27 - President and Mrs. Abraham Lincoln accompany Gen. and Mrs. Ulysses Grant to Point of Rocks to visit the wounded.
- Lee’s Retreat – After the fall of Petersburg on April 2, Gen. Robert E. Lee and the bulk of his army crossed the Appomattox River into Chesterfield County and then further southwest with Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s Union Army pursuing them relentlessly. During the next week, the Union troops fought a series of battles with Confederate units, cutting off or destroying their supplies.
- April 6, 1865, the Confederate Army suffered a significant defeat at the Battle of Sailor’s Creek, in Rice, Va., where 7,700 Confederates were killed, captured or wounded. Lee continued to move his remaining army to the west but was soon cornered, outnumbered and short of food and supplies.
- Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to Grant on April 9, 1865 at Appomattox Court House, Va.
Revolutionary War and Chesterfield County
Learn more about the important events and historical figures from the Revolutionary War that have connections to Chesterfield County.
Revolutionary War Chesterfield County Important Figures
British Brigadier General Benedict Arnold
When the interior of Virginia became a genuine target of the British forces in January 1781, Arnold raided Richmond with ease. Chesterfield was stirred up like a hornet’s nest during the raid but was spared, though the militia at Britton’s ferry above Richmond assisted the removal of stores from the Westham foundry and the other Continentals and militia from the barracks and county were out into the field.
Influential writer, orator, and speaker of the Virginia Senate. Owns Cary’s Iron Furnace at Falling Creek and Cary’s Flour Mill. Key supplier for the war effort and also Army recruitment.
A free-born African American from Virginia who served as a soldier on the Patriot side in the American Revolutionary War. Born in Portsmouth, before the war he owned a prosperous livery stable. According to Continental Army, muster and payrolls, in November 1776 he served, under "Captain William Grymes’s company of the 15th Virginia Regiment", which participated in the Battles of Brandywine and Germantown and the Battle of Monmouth. Flora avoided being captured by the British in the 1780 Siege of Charleston when the majority of the regiment was captured. As his unit kept became smaller, it was consolidated, into the 11th Virginia Regiment and finally, into the 5th Virginia Regiment. Flora fought in the Battle of Yorktown in 1781.
Captain Frank Goode
The county was actively involved since the beginning of the conflict, raising Captain Frank Goode’s Minute Company that responded to the Governor Dunmore crisis and after, 1775-1776.
Col. Robert Goode
The county would raise 10-12 various companies of militia often under the command under the command of Colonel Robert Goode. They served in various capacities from guarding local depots and the iron mines to being on campaign. Members of the county militia fought in the battles of Camden, Guilford Courthouse, Petersburg, and Yorktown. Goode’s property, Whitby was just north of Cary’s property, Ampthill along the James River. In May, 1781, one militiamen wrote, “Cln Rob’t Good got leave of the Marquis to take the militia of Chesterfield County to watch and prevent the deprivations of the Enemy in that County. Coln Good quartered his men, the second or third night Tarlton and his troop got intelligence and attacked us in the morning…”
Jefferson was in the saddle and directing the defense against Arnold’s Raid in January 1781. He would be present at Britton’s Ferry (Pony Pasture) when attempting to save the Westham Foundry and government records from Richmond.
Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette
French aristocrat and military officer who commanded American troops in several battles, including the Siege of Yorktown. Inspired by stories of the colonists’ struggles against British oppression, Lafayette sailed to the America in 1777 to join the uprising. He was initially rebuffed by colonial leaders, but he impressed them with his passion and willingness to serve for free, and was named a major-general in the Continental Army. In May 1781, Lafayette moves his army around Richmond and eastern Henrico, mostly at Wilton, keeping the James River between his army and Cornwallis, who arrived in Petersburg.
Major General Peter Muhlenberg
He was assigned to begin rebuilding the Virginia Continental Line at Chesterfield the summer 1780. “I hope nothing else will retard the Collection of the new Levies—The whole of the Old Soldiers at Chesterfield (except the State Regiments and some Convalescents) are at present formed into five Companies of Sixty Men each, They would have gone on before this time, but there is a total want of everything necessary to fit them for the Field—there are neither Teams—Tents, or Blanketts, and it is but a few days since we have been able to procure Arms fit for Service.”
British Commander General William Phillips
Takes over command from Arnold in March at Portsmouth. A professional British artillery officer, Phillips was part of the British Army defeated by Arnold’s attacks at Saratoga in 1777 (while Arnold was still on the American side). In April, Phillips, assisted by Arnold, tore up Chesterfield County’s property, war materials and more.
Colonel John Graves Simcoe
British Queen’s Rangers made up of exiled Virginians and loyalist New Yorkers and other refugees. Included 200 infantry and 50 “hussars” (cavalry). They were the best light troops in the British Army in America and known as “destroyers of everything.”
Baron Friedrich von Steuben
Prussian who was Gen. George Washington’s chief-of-staff and served as a major general in the Revolutionary Army. In 1780, he trained the Chesterfield Militia at the Chesterfield Courthouse and is known as the great drillmaster of Valley Forge. He was assigned to serve with General Nathaniel Greene in the Southern Army. Greene left him to organize the “new levies” and defense of Virginia in the place of Muhlenberg. He transformed the Chesterfield Depot into a southern Valley Forge, December 1780-April 1781 but as a field commander, he was outmatched by every British commander – Arnold, Philips, Cornwallis. “You say to your soldier, ’Do this’ and he does it. But I am obliged to say to the American, ’This is why you ought to do this’ and then he does it.”
Colonel General Banastre Tarlton
Known as Bloody Ban or the butcher to the colonials due to his brutal tactics and actions taken at the Battle of Waxhaws in South Carolina. He leads the British Legion dragoons called Tarlton’s Raiders who raid Chesterfield Courthouse in May 1781. They capture militia troops during a rainstorm, and six are killed and 40 become prisoners. This action marks the last Revolutionary War combat in the county.
Revolutionary War Timeline in Chesterfield County
Time of the Revolutionary War in Chesterfield County Leading to Yorktown
A tavern and inn called the Half Way House is built on a grant of land from George II of England, by a patent dated 1743. As stop for the Petersburg Coach, all travelers going south of Richmond stop here until the late 19th century. Among its guests are George Washington, the Marquis de Lafayette, Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson.
The first county courthouse is built, which plays a key role as a recruitment and training center for the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.
Coal from Mid-Lothian Mines is used to make American cannons at Westham, located eight miles downstream from Richmond.
- Richmond become the Capital of Virginia.
- Convention prisoners arrive from the Battle of Saratoga. Barracks and prisons at Chesterfield Courthouse.
- Convention prisoners are sent to New York.
- Gen. Peter Mulenburg sets up a recruiting post at Chesterfield Courthouse. He sends 3,000 men to South Carolina in August, 500 on Sept. 3 and 3,000 on Sept. 25.
- Dec. 2 – British General Benedict Arnold arrives in the Chesapeake Bay with 27 ships, 300 British Infantry and Simcoe’s Rangers, the 78th Highland Regiment.
- Dec. 4 – Baron Von Steuben assumes command of the 600 men in the courthouse camp. The courthouse was the home of the Chesterfield Training Depot or “Continental Barracks” where huts for 2,000 men were erected in late 1780. The site was chosen over Petersburg for its cleaner environment and superb drill grounds. Almost all the Continental or state soldiers trained here were sent to the Southern Army under General Gates, but then General Greene. The Chesterfield Depot was a training center, supply center, and hospital
- Jan. 2 – Governor Jefferson call out the Militia, half go to Petersburg and half to Westham. Continentals are sent to Manchester.
- Jan. 4 – Arnold lands at Westover, marches 33 miles unopposed before camping.
- Jan. 5 – Gen. Arnold enters Richmond and the Militia flee and Jefferson escapes to Manchester. Arnold burns the tobacco warehouses and the gun foundry at Westham is destroyed.
- Jan. 6 – The British return to Westover, damage Berkley Plantation and free slaves.
- Jan. 10 – The British leave Westover and sail down the James, looting as they go.
- Jan. 10 – Hoods Landing – British fight with militia commanded by George Rogers Clark Cobham. They seize 60 hogsheads of tobacco and plunder Smithfield.
- Jan. 19 – Gen. Arnold proceeds to Portsmouth for winter quarters.
- Feb. 25 – 400 Continental soldiers are sent to South Carolina. By March, there are 2,000 in camp at Chesterfield Courthouse.
- March 14 – The Marquis de Lafayette arrives at Yorktown, troops left in Annapolis, Md.
- March 20 – British Major General William Phillips arrives at Portsmouth with 32 ships and 2,000 men.
- April 1 – The British assault Alexandria.
- April 18 – British General Simcoe’s Rangers assault Williamsburg.
- April 24 – General Phillips assaults Petersburg.
- April 25 – Battle occurs at Blandford Church with 2,300 British Infantry versus 1,000 American Militia. Americans are forced to withdraw after two hours, burning Pocahontas Island Bridge as they pull back to Chesterfield. The British burn 4,000 hogsheads of tobacco and several ships. “We marched up to Petersburg arriving late in the night. The next day, a detached party was ordered to the General’s Quarters at Blandford. The British had landed at Hood’s Fort. General Muhlenberg and his aids mounted their horses and off they went –saw them no more that day. They (the Militia) then marched to a certain hill and formed a line for battle when the British came in sight. We took off our hats, gave three or four “huzzas” and then were ordered to fire on them. We fired four rounds and were ordered to retreat in action and then marched from Petersburg to Chesterfield Courthouse.” (Private William Goode April 1781)
- April 25 - The Battle of Blandford (Petersburg) was a good showing by the Virginia Militia under General Muhlenberg. General von Steuben commands all the forces to march deeper into Chesterfield county leaving everything to Gen. Phillips and Gen. Arnold. Steuben’s Militia and Continentals reform at the Midlothian coal mines
- April 26 – Gen. Arnold burns Port Walthall.
- April 26 (27?) – Gen. Phillips takes half of the British forces and attacks Chesterfield Courthouse, destroys Branders Bridge, Goodes Bridge and Bevils Bridge. He burns the barracks, courthouse, jail, 300 barrels of flour and destroys several homes.
- April 27 - Arnold takes the other half of the forces, finds and engages the entire Virginia State Navy at Osborne’s Landing. He defeats the Navy.
- April 29 – Lafayette arrives in Richmond with his Corps of Light Infantry from the Main Army just in time to stop Phillips and Arnold.
- April 30 – British troops under Benedict Arnold burn Warwick, an important 18th-century James River port and manufacturing center. During the Revolutionary War, its craftsmen made clothing and shoes, and its mills ground flour and meal for the Continental troops. Arnold also destroys ships, warehouses, mills, tannery storehouses and ropewalks, much of which is owned by Col. Archibald Cary, of the Chesterfield Battalion. Arnold then surprises the Virginia Navy at Osborne’s Landing in the old river channel by Farrar’s Island. The American fleet, consisting of 20 ships, is no match for the cannon fire from the river banks and Commander James Maxwell orders the Americans to retreat.
- April 30 – The combined British forces attack Manchester, burning warehouses and 1,200 hogsheads of tobacco. Lafayette arrives with Continental troops and occupies Richmond. The British withdraw to Osborne’s Landing.
- May 2 – The British withdraw down river, plundering as they go.
- May 7 – The British reoccupy Petersburg to wait for General Cornwallis to arrive. The Americans re-destroy the bridge and bombard the British with cannon from Colonial Heights.
- May 15 – Gen. Phillips dies of a fever and is buried at Blandford Cemetery.
- May 20 – Gen. Cornwallis arrives and assumes command of the British forces. 1,500 British soldiers arrive from New York. There are 7,000 Continentals in Virginia. The Virginia government withdraws to Charlottesville.
- May 20 – Lafayette moves his army around Richmond and eastern Henrico, mostly at Wilton, keeping the James River between his army and Cornwallis, who arrived in Petersburg. Colonel Robert Goode moves his local militia across the James River and allows his Chesterfield companies, and others, to safeguard (or ambush) Cornwallis’ foragers.
- May 23 – Battle of Sudbury’s Farm was Chesterfield’s Bloodiest Day of the War with 60 casualties. Lafayette wrote, “…profiting by the heavy rain which rendered the Centinnels Arms unfit to fire, and having intercepted the Videtts, surprised a party of militia in Chesterfield about 2 Miles SW of Colonel Cary’s Mill.” One militiaman wrote, “…we were kept between the enemy and our Army (a forlorn hope indeed) until Colonel Tarlton came…” Militiaman John Johnston wrote, “with one hundred sixty men went to the Brittish lines, was attacked by Colonel Tarleton Troop of Horse, a severe battle was fought in which we lost sixty men taken prisoners and killed altogether, I myself escaped by charging baonets together with my fellow soldiers breaking through the British Horse and running for our lives…”
- May 23 – General Banastre Tarlton’s British Legion dragoons raid Chesterfield Courthouse and captures militia troops during a rain storm. Six are killed and 40 become prisoners. This action marks the last Revolutionary War combat in the county.
- May 24 – Gen. Cornwallis launches his campaign to attack and destroy Lafayette. Americans evacuate Richmond and withdraw north. The British pursue them to the North Anna River and then Fredericksburg.
- May 30 – Gen. Simcoe leads an assault against Point of Fork and defeats Stueben. Tarleton assaults Charlottesville and almost catches Jefferson at Monticello.
- June 7 – The British Army advances to Elk Hill and Lafayette retreats to South Anna River.
- June 10 – The Americans are re-enforced by the arrival of General Anthony Wayne with 800 Pennsylvania Continental Line troops.
- June 10 – The British forces withdraw from Elk Hill, at a leisurely pace.
- June 16 – British forces enter Richmond.
- June 25 – British forces enter Williamsburg.
- June 26 – The Battle of Spencer’s Ordinary – American Dragoons fight Simcoe’s Rangers.
- July 6 – Battle of Green Spring Plantation – The Americans, under Gen. Wayne, are defeated and the British withdraw across the James River. They attempt to fortify Old Point Comfort but the ground is too unstable for gun positions.
- Summer – General George Washington and his French ally, the Comte de Rochambeau, move their force of almost 8,000 men south to Virginia, planning to join and lead about 12,000 other militia, French troops and Continental troops.
- Sept. 5 – While the Allied army was still en route, the French fleet commanded by Admiral de Grasse guarded the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay. In the Battle of the Capes this fleet engaged and drove off a British fleet that attempted to relieve the British army at Yorktown.
- Sept. 28 – Gen. George Washington, commanding a force of 17,000 French and Continental troops, begins the siege known as the Battle of Yorktown. His forces completely encircle British General Lord Charles Cornwallis and a contingent of 9,000 British troops in the most important battle of the Revolutionary War.
- Oct. 17 – Following three weeks of non-stop bombardment, both day and night, from cannon and artillery, Cornwallis surrenders to Washington. Pleading illness, he did not attend the formal surrender ceremony, instead, his second in command, General Charles O’Hara, carried Cornwallis’ sword to the American and French commanders. Although the war persisted on the high seas and in other theaters, the Patriot victory at Yorktown ended fighting in the American colonies.
Peace negotiations began in 1782, and on Sept. 3, 1783, the Treaty of Paris was signed, formally recognizing the United States as a free and independent nation after eight years of war.